In what has become an annual tradition, I am sharing Santa’s Naughty List for 2017!
What happens when a person, company, or organization takes a shot at modern agriculture? Lots of times it turns out nothing. But Santa remembers and those doing bad will end up on his Naughty List.
Just like Santa, I populate the naughty list with individuals or companies that have done something particularly naughty related to agriculture during the preceding 12 months. That means you will see a lot of new faces, and not necessarily familiar faces from previous years. That doesn’t mean they weren’t naughty, it just means I thought others deserved a spot on the top 10 list.
So, without further ado…. Here is Santa’s Naughty List 2017!
10. Local Kids & Township Police
I’ll admit, this is a personal one. In October, we received a phone call letting us know that some kids started one of our corn fields on fire. The fire department’s report indicated the blaze was set intentionally, a fairly easy conclusion because the kids were setting new fires as the firefighters were trying to quell the flames. Appeals to the township police department originally went unheard – we weren’t even allowed to fill out a police report because “no one was hurt.” After a couple well-placed phone calls by the family attorney (yours truly), the police decided to “investigate.” What resulted was a sham investigation meant to appease us more than find out who set the fire. For not really caring about farm families, and burning up our hard work, the township police department and the local kids are both on Santa’s Naughty List this year.
9. Azure Farms
When a farm family legitimately needs help, I have no problem with them using social media to rally supporters and make a fuss. When they distort the truth to gain sympathy, I’m not amused. That’s exactly what Azure Farms did this year when it took to social media claiming that the government was forcing it to use pesticides, which would threaten its status as an organic farm. What Azure Farms failed to mention was that it had allowed noxious weeds to proliferate on its property, in violation of state and local laws, that it was negatively impacting neighboring farmers. In the end, the farm struck a deal with the county to avoid using herbicides. Hopefully, they will stick to it, clean up their farm, and earn a place on the Nice List next year.
I usually appreciate Politico’s coverage of all things agricultural politics. I was even mentioned on Morning Agriculture for my work on calling out Cargill. But then the online publication had to go and write a piece that proclaimed the vast majority of farmers couldn’t care less about soil health. In fact, they allege that most farmers completely neglect and abuse the soil. I was more than a bit perturbed, so I wrote a response and offered it to Politico. They declined. The Federalist, however, was more than happy to publish. For some reason, ticked off the writers at Politico, who apparently think farmers shouldn’t respond to hit pieces. One of the writers got nasty with me on Twitter. Seriously? Santa wasn’t amused.
7. Bombers of Monsanto Facility
Over Easter weekend this year, a Monsanto research facility in Italy was bombed. The attack seemed to be based on a resistance to genetically modified crops, though the facility only worked on traditional and hybrid corn varieties, not GMOs. Luckily, no one was hurt but bombing research facilities will always land you on the Naughty List. Special mention: all those people that continue to use the narrative that Monsanto is, quite literally, the the root of all evil. This one is on you and Santa knows it.
What would Santa’s Naughty List be without Chipotle? The fast food chain has earned its spot on the list for several years. From attacking agriculture and family farmers to giving its customers food poisoning, Chipotle doesn’t have a very good track record (really, do people still eat there?!). But someone obviously didn’t want to slip off of the Naughty List. This year, Chipotle announced it would work with the Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights activist group, to increase its animal welfare standards. Yes, because that’s what farm animals need – a chain restaurant that can’t get its own stuff together dictating new animal welfare standards to their caretakers.
Netflix has been the online go-to platform when it comes to anti-agriculture “shockumentaries.” From Food, Inc. to Cowspiracy, the top misleading movies about agriculture live at Netflix. But when the company was given the chance to offer Food Evolution, a science-based look at the safety and promise of biotechnology, Netflix declined. I checked with the producers of the movie and was assured that Netflix was offered the movie first, but it said “no thanks.” For choosing to promote anti-agriculture propaganda, and rejecting pro-science documentaries, Netflix has earned itself a lump of coal.
Being non-GMO is super trendy, despite the fact that it demonizes a safe, effective, and important technology. Most companies are content with slapping a non-GMO label on their product and leaving it at that. Not Triscuits! This year, Triscuit prepared a full-fledged marketing campaign touting its non-GMO status. Complete with prime time television commercials and celebrities, Triscuits was pretty proud about it all. Even though the company got slammed on social media by supporters of GMOs (one of my favorite moments of the year!), Triscuit still finds itself on the Naughty List.
When a company slaps a non-GMO label on its product, it annoys me but I can somewhat (in a very, very small way) understand that some consumers want to know that information. But when a company produces a product that literally has NO genetically modified ingredients and then uses its default status as non-GMO as its entire marketing campaign, I’m not even remotely amused. And neither is Santa. That’s exactly how Hunt’s started 2017 – with a full marketing campaign, including a special Facebook video, bragging that they only use non-GMO tomoates. Yeah, you and everyone else.
2. Producers of What the Health
Shockumentaries have been a great tool for activists in advancing the agenda against modern agricultural production and spurring a host of ridiculous food trends (think Food, Inc.). This year, as if it was needed, the world got another so-called documentary: What the Health? The movie promotes a plant-based diet and equates eating animal products as a death sentence. Unlike other earlier food documentaries, What the Health was immediately bombarded with negative reviews setting the record straight. That helps, but making another one of these propaganda pieces and spreading false misinformation definitely lands the producers on Santa’s Naughty List.
When non-agriculture companies decide to hook up with anti-agriculture campaigns and organizations, it sucks. When an agriculture company decides to hook up with anti-agriculture campaigns and organizations, it is an outrage. This year, Cargill decided to team up with the Non-GMO Project for certification of its non-GMO grains. In one of the poorest public relations move ever, Cargill decided to brag about it on Twitter. The backlash from farmers, scientists, and rational people was fairly swift. How can a company that works so closely with farmers partner with an organization that demonizes a technology that has provided so many benefits? Instead of doing the right thing and cutting ties, Cargill doubled down on working with the Non-GMO Project. Quite frankly, Cargill is so bad, I’m not sure Santa should even waste any coal on it.
Did I miss any? Is there anyone else you would have included on this year’s list? Share in the comments your list!