On October 19th, 2022, PhD student Sid Heeg (School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development) presented “Reap What You Sow: Refuting Misinformation about Farming and Farm Practices.” The talk was an overview of Heeg’s dissertation research focusing on the misinformation that circulates on social media about farmers and farming, including the effects and harms this misinformation has on the farmers themselves. Heeg’s interest in this research stems from their childhood experiences being raised and working on a farm. Many of the issues examined in their research have personally affected them and their community. Therefore, it is essential to them, both politically and personally, to find ways to address misinformation about farming and farmers.
A few key issues Heeg addressed misinformation around included the treatment of animals, the contribution of farming to greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainable diets. They mainly focus on livestock and dairy farming. Heeg also highlighted “Iowadairyfarmer,” a dairy farmer on TikTok who makes educational content and uses the platform to debunk myths and misunderstandings about dairy farming. They explained that TikTok as a social media platform has “given farmers an incredible amount of agency to talk about themselves and refute misinformation as it comes across them in comments or video responses.”
Lastly, Heeg spoke about how misinformation on social media can radicalize individuals and put themselves, farmers, or their families in harm’s way. They concluded by saying that “farmers are also not immune from spreading misinformation” and referenced how farmer protests have been co-opted by climate change deniers and fascists in the past.
You can watch the full recording of Heeg’s talk on the Games Institute YouTube Channel.