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Idaho Enterprise

Times they are a-changin’

Mar 15, 2024 01:16PM ● By Allison Eliason

Country music sure isn’t what it used to be.  There is no disputing the evolution of the songs from its beginnings to what is being played now has been massive.  With such a wide variety of artists and styles, there is a little something for everyone in country music.  And just about anyone can sing anything they want and call it country music.  Ask Beyonce, she can tell you.

With “Texas Hold ‘Em” topping the country music charts three weeks in a row, the predominantly R&B and Pop artist has dipped her toe in the country music sector.  Considering the song as “country” has brought about a lot of squabbling about just what is and isn’t country music.  

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a bit of a purest when it comes to country music, but I’m not here to debate that.  I’m still trying to get over the fact that superstar Beyonce wanted to sing a song about heading to a dive bar in a beat up truck instead of a fancy Lexus to play cards, drink beer and have a hoedown.

Not long ago, anything country or cowboy was not so cool.  The image that would come to mind of a farmer or a rancher was still the American Gothic painting of a farmer holding a pitchfork next to his wife by Grant Wood or toothless “Bubba” in his overalls.  But time has changed the image and reputation of farmers and ranchers and for once, it’s in a positive way.

Urban America has never been more disconnected to where their food comes from than now, and it’s understandable in some ways because there just isn’t space or sanity enough for them to all enjoy country living.  But still somehow, when they see a cowboy or hear about ranch life, the standard comment is, “That’s so cool!” quickly followed by all sorts of questions.  In the moment it might feel a little awkward or even annoying, but in the grand scheme of things, their intrigue and curiosity is a good thing for the agriculture industry.

Celebrities, government officials, and extreme environmentalists continue to shout their anti-ag rhetoric and blame the industry for climate.  But amidst all of this, people are still seeing farming in ranching in a good way.  From Yellowstone to Last American Cowboy to Farmer Needs a Wife, mainstream TV is making farming and ranching cool again.  It might not be all too accurate, but in a lot of ways, it does get the message across of what our industry is about.

Beyond the television, cowboy life is being splashed across YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and all of your other favorite social media sites.  Real life farmers and ranchers have taken snapshots and snippets of their work day to post online for all to see.  Yes it is still curated, and in some instances it may be roughly put together, but while we say consumers are disconnected more than ever, they also have more opportunity than ever to see inside the ag industry and have a conversation with a rancher.

While we might say that being concerned about our reputation is vain, I do believe it is important for consumers to have a positive relationship with agriculture and that begins with what they see of us.  And it doesn’t take much to give them that positive look.

Like so many others, sharing daily farm or ranch life on social media gives them insight consumers wouldn’t have otherwise.  Seeing cows and horses may seem ordinary to us, but if it’s not your norm, it can be exciting.  Let’s be honest, even ranchers that see cattle everyday, still stop to look at other cattle wherever they are.

Be patient if ever someone wants to ask you about life on the farm.  Cowboy hats , shiny belt buckles and manure encrusted boots are a pretty good giveaway that you live the coveted country life.  If a fan is brave enough to ask you if you ride horses or have cows, take the time to answer more than just “yes.”  Paint them a picture of what life is like.  More often than not, they are enthralled with the idea of seeing a real life cowboy.

As much as we might hate the idea of “posers” or “wanna be cowboys” , the fact that they want to give this life a try or at least put on “the look” is awesome.  So while you might be cringing inside at the backwards hats or misused jargon, recognize that their imitation is a nod to your hard work.  They recognize that farm life has merit, life lessons that are important and play a role in their life they alone can’t fulfill.  Or at the very least, they just don’t hate you for your tractors and farting cows that are ruining the planet.

It may still take some convincing me that Beyonce is a country artist, but I’ll unashamedly applaud her for wanting to put on the cowboy hat because who doesn’t want to be a cowboy when they grow up?

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