By Julie Tomascik

Fake news. We stumble across it on the internet just about every day. And when it comes to farming and ranching, there’s plenty of misinformation online.

The latest originated from a series of viral TikTok posts where farmers joked the government was telling them to destroy their crops. And they were getting paid to do it.

It was false.

A bad joke gone even more horribly wrong.

And the misunderstanding grew as more farmers added videos to the “prank.”

But commenters did notice some factual discrepancies in the video—like the 2018 date on one of the “letters” received from the government.

However, that didn’t cap the proverbial “can of worms.”

Later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture did clarify to news outlets that these online rumors were indeed false.

But I should note that there are government programs available for agriculture.

Farmers and ranchers can enroll in different federal programs, like the Conservation Reserve Program, that pay them not to farm environmentally-sensitive land and plant native species. As of September 2021, there are 5.3 million acres nationwide enrolled in the program.

They can also purchase crop insurance to help protect their investment if their crop is damaged by a storm or drought. If this happens, you’ll see farmers plowing or shredding their crops because they aren’t of good enough quality to harvest. Their insurance will help cover some of the costs, but it won’t make them whole.

And you probably heard about farmers dumping milk and produce last year in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because restaurants, hotels and other food service outlets that usually purchase these supplies remained shut down.

But none of these crops were destroyed at the request of the government.

In fact, the government also has programs to purchase milk, butter, fresh produce and cooked meat. Those include the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program and Fresh Fluid and Butter Purchase Program.

That helps both farmers and consumers.

You can’t believe everything you read, or watch, on the internet. And that’s the truth with some viral videos. What started as a joke on TikTok has led to a lot of questions.

But you can be assured that farmers and ranchers are still growing crops and raising livestock sustainably. Hear straight from Texas farmer Eric Schwertner in this video as he talks about this issue.