A short video of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg discussing agriculture and the industrial industry, filmed in 2016, has recently surfaced. Many are outraged, some reports have even said it will make it impossible for him to win the vote of rural America.
In the video, Bloomberg is speaking to a crowd at the Distinguished Speakers Series at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School and says, "I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer. It's a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn."
However, there is more to the video. The video deleted the first part of that statement, in which Bloomberg says, "if you think about the agrarian society (that) lasted 3,000 years, we could teach processes."
The video is simply an attempt from his competition to make him look like he is downplaying modern agriculture, while his campaign staff insists that was not at all the case.
This kind of manipulation is nothing new when it comes to candidates trying to make one another look bad, it has happened before, and it will happen again.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem slammed Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg calling the statement "incredibly insulting" and "nothing but pompous ignorance." She further explained how important knowledge of genetics, engineering, biology and chemistry are to those who farm.
I'd add that for livestock farmers that list may be altered slightly, but long and important nonetheless.
So why does it matter?
One could argue that once you know the whole story, Bloomberg is in the clear and the video is irrelevant, but I don't see it that way.
"At one point, 98% of the world worked in agriculture, today it's 2% in the United States," Bloomberg said in the 2016 video, without any credit to modern technology or advances that agriculture has made.
Bloomberg simplifying any part of agriculture at this magnitude is the reason why consumers have the misconceptions they do today. From his quotes, you could take away that process can't be taught in modern society and because of that agriculture now only accounts for 2% of the work in the U.S.
Not to mention, farming has never been easy or just a process.
On top of that, this video has gone viral on social media giving consumers the wrong idea about not only how labor-intensive farming is but also the level of skill set it takes. We can blame that on the video being shortened, but the reality is Bloomberg tried to simplify an extremely complicated process in 2016 and didn't clear the air about his beliefs on agriculture until the video went viral and forced him to.
I think the most frustrating part is that I have seen people involved with agriculture sharing the video, without explaining the entire situation. I wish that people would stop sharing videos that give false information because then it only grows in popularity allowing it to show up in more newsfeeds.
The smart approach would be to refer to the video and then rebuttal so that readers/viewers are getting the full story, plus the correct information, which in this case would be about how complex farming is.
I'm sure we will see more manipulation before this presidential campaign is over, but I hope the agriculture industry and rural America will learn from this one. Don't make manipulation popular. One should research the whole story the same way we wish everyone would research how farming works.