How to Make Farming Cool with The Peterson Farm Brothers

LISTEN TO The Peterson Brother's EPISODE HERE OR FIND US ON YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST LISTENING APP!
 

 

Show Notes

 

The Peterson Farm Brothers Greg and KendalOn this episode of the Farm Credit AgVocates Podcast, we interview Greg and Kendal Peterson of internet sensation, The Peterson Farm Brothers. You may recognize their name from their 20 different parody music videos, but the brothers are also huge advocates for the ag industry, writing "myth-busting" blogs and sharing their operation's daily happenings on social media. 

In this episode, you'll learn how they got started and why they think it's so important for other producers to start telling their stories and making the effort to educate consumers.

 

Links

The Peterson Farm Brother's Website

YouTube Channel - Watch all the Parodies Here

Blog

Transcript

 Johanna Rohrer:

Welcome to the Farm Credit AgVocates Podcast. I'm your host Johanna Rohrer, Marketing Specialist at MidAtlantic Farm Credit. Today's guests are well-known as creative influencers in agriculture, helping to positively influence and tell the story of Ag. The Peterson Farm Brothers consists of three brothers, Greg, Nathan, and Kendal Peterson. Together they produce entertaining and educational videos on their YouTube channel and blog about common misconceptions in Ag. In addition, they're known for speaking up about agriculture and encouraging others to share their farm story. We are thrilled to be able to connect with the Peterson family. Without further ado, let's welcome Greg and Kendal to the podcast. Welcome.

Peterson Brothers:

(Both) Hey.

Johanna Rohrer:

It’s great for you to join us here in the MidAtlantic region.

I thought we'd just get started and ask you to just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your farm.

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) Sure, so we live on a family farm. I'm Greg, I'm the oldest brother and I'm married to my wife BrookeAnna. Nathan is the middle brother, he’s married to his wife, Riley, and he's home taking care of the farm. A lot of times when we travel, it's just two of the three brothers and we kind of rotate around. Kendal and his wife Caelan, he's the youngest brother, and then our sister, Laura, and our parents are the family farm operation. Our farm is a fifth generation family farm. I'll let Kendal tell about what we grow.

(Kendal) Our background is feeder cattle, and we grow a lot of just typical Kansas crops, corn wheat, milo, alfalfa beans, and some forages. So that keeps us busy. And we like to joke that we raised another commodity, videos. That's kind of our diversified farm there in Kansas. That's where we filmed and where we work every day. We were where we worked together and that's where the dream kind of came up to show our friends what we do on the farm. We wanted them to be able to see what we're doing on weekends and then after school, when we were young, when we made the videos.

Johanna Rohrer:

Greg, I know one of your most popular videos a few years ago was “I'm Farming and I Grow It,” which was my first introduction in particular to your family.

Did you ever intend to make this much of a wave in Ag when you started producing your content?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) No, we never really had a big picture plan. We didn't plan to go viral. Even like Kendal said, that first video on “Farming and I grow it,” it was really more aimed at our friends and people we actually knew. We knew we were putting it on YouTube and we filmed it to be seen by more people than our friends. The most views we ever talked about it getting was 50,000. We told that to each other kind of as a joke, like this is going to go viral, we're going to get 50,000 views. And what ended up happening was we got 5 million views in just a week, so 5 million instead of 50,000. It was a surprise to all of us, especially our parents. They were pretty overwhelmed right at the beginning there. We'd had our YouTube channel for a couple months, but we hadn't really uploaded anything. That was our first kind of real video that we'd done. And it really blew up.

Johanna Rohrer:

Obviously you're managing a couple of communication channels, videos, blogs, and you have to write some of your content to make it all kind of come together and flush out.

What's your favorite part or do each of you have separate jobs in the process of when you decide to put a new video parody together?

Peterson Brothers:

(Kendal) We definitely have separate jobs. Greg's really the creative mastermind behind it all and makes sure that we're getting content out on the different social media sites. Nathan and I help with lyrics occasionally, but for the most part, it’s Greg that comes up with the lyrics. The parody videos are the big projects, they take the most time and the most creative outlet. The blogs and posts on Facebook, Instagram, and different social media are more like Nathan and I. We can just pull our phones out of our pocket and share what we're doing right then and there.  So that's a little simpler and not as much planning has to go into it.

Johanna Rohrer:

Initially when you made your first music parody, what made you want to try to do that?  Because it was something that was super creative and something that maybe wasn't well-known in that space.

What was the burning drive to want to try something like that?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) This was back in 2012 when we made that first parody and I was a junior at Kansas State University and I was majoring in Ag Communications. A lot of what my major talked about in our classes was how we can reach people outside of Ag. How can we communicate what we as farmers do to people, to consumers. And so I already kind of had that background just from school, so that was a big driving force of why I wanted to make the video. We also grew up in the middle of Kansas, so we weren't urban, but we are close to a town of 50,000 people. So at our high school, we had a lot of city kids and we were always trying to convince them that farming was cooler than they thought it was. We were just trying to make farming cool. And it just shifted from a few of our friends to a lot of people online.

Johanna Rohrer:

Absolutely, I can relate with that because having grown up in the MidAtlantic region and on a family farm myself, a part of our operation is row crops and traditional production, but another piece of it is direct marketing to consumers. As a young child, by the time I was able to make change, I was in a sales room selling fruit and vegetables to our community, so making that connection between consumers and our family story, I can definitely relate with that. And then also going to school and realizing that my elementary school that I went to, didn't really have any farm kids in it.  I think this generation shift to help tell the story of agriculture is really needed and it's really cool that you've been able to do that through your music parodies.

Another question that I've thought about is, how do you pick your songs? You get really creative with your song choices. So how do you come up with that?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) Well, not every song is able to be a parody, I mean it's not like we can truly take a song and make a parody of it. I sometimes joke that they write themselves because sometimes you'll try to come up with an idea and there'll be nothing for this song or that song but then, “oh, here’s this song, here's an idea here and this kind of works.” Sometimes we parody songs that we really like that style of music. And sometimes we parody songs where we don't even like the song, but it's popular and it works.

I think our number one goal is, will this parody be successful? Is this a song that's worth taking the time because it takes a lot of time to put these together? We’re not going to waste a bunch of time on a song that's not popular, that’s not going to be successful. We've done a couple of parodies where we really liked the music behind it, but then there's some that we're almost embarrassed of the song. This is a terrible song.

(Kendal) After we sang it a few too many times, then we really don't like the beat behind it because then it gets stuck in your head.

Johanna Rohrer:

Yeah. I'm sure having the right song makes the process a little bit more fun.

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) Yeah, it does. Sometimes, you know, it's the connection between the original and the parody, it's almost every single line. And then some songs, you've got maybe a line here, a line there, like in “I'm Farming and I Grow It.” It was the example where we were able to refer to those original lyrics or just the concept of the song and the music video on almost every single line, so that made a very good parody.

Johanna Rohrer:

Speaking of lyrics, who writes the lyrics, who's primarily the creative mind behind that space?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) I do most of the lyric writing and people ask, how do you write the lyrics? How long does it take? I don’t know, I really don’t know. I have a notes app on my phone where I jot down ideas and a lot of those come while I'm working on the farm. If I've gone through a spell where I haven't worked much on the farm, then you don't come up with as many ideas. A lot of creativity just comes from it.  It's not necessarily a quick process. You have to spend a lot of time with nothing, and then everything comes at once.

(Kendal) You can't really force it either. You can't just force a creative idea to pop in your head.

(Greg) It reminds me of writing a paper in school. Being in the Ag Communications and Journalism major, we had two papers due a week my senior year. Sometimes you'd sit there for three or four days before the paper’s due and you just got nothing. And then you'd just hammer out the whole paper in one night. It's a little like that.  Nathan and Kendal will help with a few lines or they'll pitch in an idea or provide feedback.

Johanna Rohrer:

You pick a song, you start to write the lyrics and you're in production.

What does that process look like?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) I will sit down and come up with the lyrics and that's usually the first step. That can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.  The “Highway to Sell” video took a couple months just because we were so busy working on the farm. After that, we'll record the audio first and get that finished.

(Kendal) When we go out to film, we take a piece of paper with any ideas that we have jotted to the side of each line. For the first few videos, we had tons of ideas because we could just walk anywhere on the farm and show what was going on and the different equipment that we were using, or crops that we were growing in. It was really easy and now we've kind of run out of some of our ideas. So we have to think a little harder when we're walking around the farm, making things engaging or making them relate to the original song. Once it's filmed, probably the majority of the time from that point on is spent editing, sliding the clips together, making the lips line up correctly and having transitions that are good in the video.

(Greg) There’s a lot of B roll footage that we shoot throughout the year that is thrown into the parodies. And so, it’s a process for sure.

Johanna Rohrer:

I've noticed in the last two parodies that I feel like you've engaged with a bunch of other audiences and I think that's really cool. In particular, my two nieces love to watch your parodies, they're three and seven and they love the new parody, “Corn Revolution.”  I just wonder when you were putting these videos together and you do that collaboration, what was your thought behind that?

Where did you come up with the idea to reach out to more people than just featuring you guys in your films?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) I think Kendal kind of talked about it a little bit, we’ve done so many kind of cookie cutter parodies where it's just us and it's our farm, and people have seen it. I mean, that's not a new idea anymore. And so we started featuring other YouTubers, way back in probably 2015, 2016, Farmer Derek and Little Fred, from New York.  Those were the first couple of YouTubers we parodied and there really weren't very many other farmer YouTubers at that point. Now there’s quite a few. And then of course we've received submissions from fans or from kids. We’ve done that on several parodies. We did it on “Taking Care of Livestock,” “We Will Milk Cows,” and “Corn Revolution.”

(Kendal) When you bring in other families, they bring a lot of excitement to the video and that's their five second spot or two second spot, and so they can fit a lot of excitement in that one spot. It helps that they can share the video and say, “I'm in this video.” And so that “Corn Revolution” video, had a lot of kids in that who were very excited to watch it and see themselves in the clip.

(Greg) I really wrote that song with featuring kids in mind, with the chorus. So that one was actually a creative process from the running of the music to the extra amount of work out. I put in a lot of work in the “Corn Revolution” for sure.

Johanna Rohrer:

Oh, well, I can reassure you that there are some really young agricultural families that I think are enjoying that video quite a bit. And I guess that just leads me to ask you a question. There are a lot of younger kids that I think do look up to you in this space, and did you ever think that when you started this whole video process, that would happen as farmers and agriculturalists? We're less than 2% of the population and at the end of the day, we kind of all have that common ground of being connected to the land and growing up from generation to generation.

Did you ever think, when you started this that there's going to be little kids that are going to look up to you?

Peterson Brothers:

(Kendal) Well, we didn't even feel that old yet, I don't think. And so, I was 15 when we made the first video and so we were going to FFA conventions and going to these things, and I felt like I was the same age as a lot of people. I was advocating to a bunch of ranchers who had been working for 50 years and they were experts in their field and I hadn't even been to college yet. Then, looking towards the kids, you can definitely see how they just eat up the videos and they want to watch it, and their parents even tell us that they can't get them to stop watching the videos. They watch it and they ask for it over and over.  Our mom always told us to be leaders for good and so I think that part has kind of carried over into this part of our life, where we want to set that good example. It’s definitely been a motivating factor for us too. We feel like we can get the younger generation excited about agriculture and taking over the reins and working on their own projects, and working with the land and that legacy that you're talking about. That is definitely a driving force for us. And we think about it a lot more now than we probably did during that first video.

(Greg) It’s something we take very seriously as being role models for kids. It’s something that was recognized by the very first video. We were sent hundreds of videos of kids watching what we were doing. And then of course, when we started doing speaking engagements and traveling, we would meet thousands of kids over the years who just look up to you and it's such a responsibility. We don't take that for granted. We were in FFA, 4-H and leadership organizations growing up and that's always been a part of who we are and we’ve tried not to change from that.  

Johanna Rohrer:

It’s such a good reminder to realize for those of us that are growing up in the industry, that really every day we have an opportunity to lead and it's not only just within our industry, but it's also within our community.

I’m just curious, what other types of advice would you have for farmers who want to help share the story of agriculture? You said you know you're a little bit younger and just getting started in your career and your farming operations, but for those folks that have been around for a number of years or are brand new to agriculture, what advice would you have for them?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) What we've learned is just sometimes you just want to farm and you don't feel like sharing. It takes effort, it takes work to reach out, to share what you're doing. We always encourage people to take the initiative and it's something that you don't just do once. You have to continue to take that step, continue to do it and it’s important. At the same time, don't be too hard on yourself. We’ve talked a little bit about how every little bit counts. You don't have to make a YouTube video that reaches millions of people to make a difference, even if you're just reaching out to a couple of people who are in your family or your friends, or your community, that helps.

(Kendal) I would also say don’t take for granted the stuff that you kind of just learned and you inherently knew, whether that's growing up on the farm or growing up with an organization such as FFA or 4-H . A lot of people can learn a lot from the simple things, such as doing chores and what it takes to take care of livestock, and sharing the simple things that are regulars for our day. Whether you know, doing chores and stuff, they can learn this is what a farmer is doing and this is what it takes to raise food, livestock, and milk, or whatever it is in your region. Then, when they see that they might have a question about that part of the industry, they'll come to you and they'll ask because they've seen a clip of it, or they've heard that’s something you've talked about in your group of friends. And that's a good way to get known as kind of a token person to be asked questions about

Johanna Rohrer:

In Ag it's important that we all continue to help tell the story of agriculture. I think we have a responsibility to help share what we've all grown up to know in our homes.  I think some things you have to be deliberate in how you want to share, and also become that trusted community member. Whether that's in the digital space or just in your home environment, there's always an opportunity to connect with people.

I'm just curious what motivates you to keep coming up with creative ideas? You’ve had “Corn Revolution” that's come out recently and a new video here just recently “Highway to Sell.”

What’s that burning passion that helps motivate you to say, “I want to do another video”?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) I think there's been times over the last eight years where we've done a video because it's been awhile and we needed to do a video, but most of them are a desire from me to create. I've always been a creator. Even before the YouTube videos, I think anyone who has a creative mind like that, they can relate to that, whether it's a musician or an author.  There is kind of this burning sensation to create and to be able to look back at what you've created in the past and then think about what you want to create in the future. Also, social media has changed a lot.  We weren’t really making any money when we first started, and now YouTube and Facebook, they pay something.  We’ve tried to create even more content than just the music videos as it has become even more of an actual job than just volunteering your time. So there’s a little bit of both of that.  I've always lived life with the goal of trying to make a difference, and so that's probably the number one thing for me.

(Kendal) I would say we can see the difference that we've made both in encouraging kids to pursue Ag and also in reaching people who knew nothing about Ag and to see the impact of that with different videos, the comment section, and when meeting people. I would say that's what pushes me, and also just knowing that for some reason, there are thousands of people out there that care that I'm out walking with my cows.  I can pull my phone out and just show them what I'm doing.  I think it's funny, but it's also motivating at the same time. I like that part of things, that even though I'm out in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, there's people that care, they want to see how my cows are doing.

Johanna Rohrer:

That leads me to kind of talk a little bit about misconceptions in agriculture, because we do have quite a few of them in our industry, and it is encouraging for us to be able to have people like you who are sharing that very authentic, real story of, “Hey, I'm out here in the field, feeding my cows, caring for them.”

What helps you select those agricultural misconceptions that you choose to share with? Or is it just what you're feeling that day? “I really want to share about this” or is there ever any particular strategy towards what you share in that space?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) I don’t know if there’s strategy. We see a lot of our comments on our videos and you can tell obviously the comments are from people outside of Ag and you really start to pick up on things that they hear and they ask if a lot of these things are really true. Our first topic we tackled was GMOs back in 2014, which was our first blog. It took a while to get to the point where I felt like I knew what I was talking about. Kendal talked about how we didn't feel like experts and I think part of it is we've learned how to answer some of these questions. From talking to people smarter than us, talking to the experts, and then being able to convert that into video form. Just because someone is a scientist, doesn't mean they're necessarily good at conveying that information to people.

Honestly, we started with the blogs and now my plan is to actually transition those blogs into video content that's short and engaging. As good as the blogs have been, I do think that people are more apt to watch videos and that there's a different level of trust when you can see the person whose talking to you and actually visually see what's going on. I think that’s a big part of what we need to do in the future, and continue to do. And that's another motivation for advocacy.

Johanna Rohrer:

So before we sign off today, I have one final question for both of you.

Greg, I'll start with you. What do you advocate for in agriculture?

Peterson Brothers:

(Greg) That's a good question. I advocate for probably families. We've met so many thousands of families on the road as we travel, speak, and perform. There’s a lot of large Ag businesses and we're thankful for those, but at the core of the Ag industry are the farm families who are working around this country and around the world. That is who I advocate for. I know those families from meeting them. I know my family, I know my community, and for people to assume that we would be purposefully doing something to harm the environment, animals, or the food supply, it doesn't make sense. I truly feel if [consumers] can connect with the actual people [working] in agriculture, they would realize that they're not being misled. We’re not perfect, of course, but it’s when you get to know the people and so that's, that's what I advocate.

(Kendal) I would say I advocate for that way of life, farmers with what we're doing out there is we're taking land, we're taking the animals, and we're improving upon them. We are doing the best job that we can with our livestock, producing a set of calves, producing milk or producing the most yield that we can get out of an acre. Also, treating that land well so that in five years, it's yielding even more or in 20 years, it's yielding for the next generation, and doing as much as we can with what God's given us. And I think that's the way of life that is worth protecting and worth advocating for.

Johanna Rohrer:

Greg and Kendal. Thanks for joining us to share your personal experience and encouraging others to join you in telling the story of agriculture.

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