Every Monday night since early January, millions of Americans have tuned in to watch a farmer on primetime television. Sounds like the platform of agriculture’s dreams.
If you aren’t as big of a reality television fan as I am, you may not know that the star of this season of The Bachelor, a dating show where the star seeks a wife from a pool of women, is an Iowa farmer. According to the show, Chris Soules and his family farm 6,000 acres in northeastern Iowa. While rumors abound about how involved Chris really is in the operation, the show has certainly chosen to portray him as a full-time farmer. That is, when he’s not too busy being ‘Prince Farming.’
As this season has aired, I’ve seen discussions pop up on social media and in blogs about a farmer stepping into the national spotlight. It seems that the agriculture community has mixed opinions about one of their own taking the stage on national television on a show like The Bachelor, which fails much more frequently than it succeeds at producing successful relationships. I’ve heard multiple times the criticism that we shouldn’t want someone connected to agriculture portrayed on a show where strong morals and good decision-making aren’t encouraged.
Personally, I think Chris’ appearance on the show could have been a big win for the industry. It's always a great thing to show or remind people that farmers are just people with a unique career choice and passion for what they do. Large-scale production in particular tends to be faceless to many consumers, with the refrain, "small family farms are great, but those industrial, corporate factory farms are the issue" being all too common. Chris and his family definitely have a large-scale operation, so I’ve been watching to see how Chris talks about agriculture and his passion for remaining on the farm.
Unfortunately, Chris hasn’t done a lot of talking about agriculture. Fellow viewers will probably join me in noting he hasn’t done a whole lot of talking in general.
While I still hold out hope for the final two contenders’ visits to Chris’ farm on March 9, so far, I think Chris has missed an opportunity to shed some light on modern farmers. Beef cattle and corn fields have made cameo appearances, but have not been primary topics of conversation. Throughout the show, Chris has been adamant about staying on the farm – I think the contestants and viewers could have benefitted from hearing an explanation of why agriculture is so important to him.
Have you been watching this season of The Bachelor? What do you think of Chris’ representation of modern agriculture? Do you think farmers in the spotlight have a responsibility to promote the industry?