“I hope the attitude towards women in agriculture will change from admiration to normality”

Annemarie Paulsen is this issue’s influencer

 

You might call German dairy farmer Annemarie Paulsen the online ag comedian. With her funny reels and TikToks, she offers an honest and playful insight into her life as a dairy farmer and the beauty of farming. Her fresh and comedic approach earned her the 2022 Influencer Award at EuroTier in Hannover.

 

Annemarie, please introduce yourself!

I was born and raised in North Germany, where I grew up as the youngest of eight children on a traditional and conventional dairy farm. In 2015, I met my husband Martin (25). We moved to East Germany in 2021 to take over his family dairy farm. Today, Martin and I have three children: Tilda (3), Hans (2) and Marte (1). We run a dairy farm with 320 milking cows and about 420 hectares (+/- 1.038 acres, red.) of land. The farm switched to organic farming in 2017.

Tell us more about the region where you farm.

We live in the northern part of the county Brandenburg, a region called Landkreis Uckermark. It’s a touristic hot spot in east Germany, especially for Berlin folks since the capital is only about an hour’s drive away. The region belonged to the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republik, red.) which collapsed in the year 1990. The agricultural structure of this region, however, is still affected by the DDR days. Our farm used to be part of so-called “collective farms”. My in-laws purchased it in 1992. The agricultural structure is basically bigger on average and the density of farms Is comparatively low to other regions in Germany.

The landscape can be described as hilly at points, as well as sandy. Nevertheless, the land, and especially the weather, are suitable for special crops such as Alfalfa. We have a continental climate here, but we struggle every year with less and less rain, which can be beneficial for weed control but results in less yield on average. Our land suffers from these droughts, and it shows. Every year in the summertime we hope for rain.

As mentioned, Berlin is right around the corner but this rural area is very lightly populated.

How did you get into agriculture and why did you decide to share online about it?

Well, I was born on a dairy farm. My whole childhood, everything was organized according to the milking times at home. We would go to the milking parlor before school to say goodbye to our mother. It is just something I was accustomed to. Dairy farming is my home and somehow also my safe place, and the sound of the vacuum pump is my rhythm.

I decided to share online about our farm just about one year in on the farm. The “why” was very simple at the beginning: I wanted to show the beauty of my job and my new home. Furthermore, I felt kind lonely here, being 400km (+/- 248 miles, red.) away from my family and friends. So I hoped to find fellow farmers by being present online and I did!

Tell us more about your social media presence. What is your goal in sharing online about agriculture?

My social media journey started slowly at the beginning. I found myself in an “agricultural bubble” , and I quickly realized that there are so many beautiful accounts and farmers out there. However, I couldn’t find an account that portrays the funny day-to-day situations on a farm, as well as the characteristics that we farmers have. So I started to create humorous “skits” to show these things in hopes of making people laugh, but also to create a bond and to strengthen our farming community.

I am astonished how well received my videos are! Farmers are laughing at my videos and in return share their own funny stories in my comment section. I feel the connection building up due to my sharing of these experiences and daily situations on a farm. It is our daily life, what we all know, and especially what mainly only we farmers or farm kids know. It is simple : “if you know you know and if you don’t, you don’t”.

Do you sometimes get negative reactions online? How do you respond to those?

Luckily, I don’t get many negative reactions or hate under my videos. I think it is mainly due to the fact that I have chosen comedy as my farming “niche”. I do not educate in my reels or TikTok about farming nor do I position myself on political views. The few hate comments I get are from vegans, and they do not attack me personally. Honestly, when I see hate comments and heated discussions under posts of my fellow Agrarinfluencers, I am so proud of them. I admire their strength and patience to engage in these discussions. They take so much heat and hate. Right hen and there, they do so much educational and public work for agriculture. I look up to them, especially since I don’t think I would have the patience for it. I would probably just get frustrated.

Do you feel you have changed the way people see agriculture because of what you shared? What are some positive comments and reactions you got from your audience?

I think I can answer this question with a hard YES! I play with the stereotypes that are surrounding farmers in my videos. I show that we farmers are aware of these stereotypes and that we also laugh about ourselves. And this has the incredible effect to destroy these kinds of stereotypes. People from the cities write me beautiful messages, tell me I show them how likeable a farmer can be and that my videos make them laugh. They feel a connection because in the end we are all not too different from each other. We find similarities in our day to day lives. In the cities or in the villages – it does not matter.

I can proudly say that my comment section is pure gold. My followers are so nice and leave comments that make me smile! They share their stories and interact with each other – I love it.

Do you notice differences in perception towards women? How do you handle those?

This a hard one. In real life, women are the backbone on every farm. We have this amazing ability to provide a loving home, work as much as the men and always have the backs of our farming partners. Nevertheless, I feel that farming is still predominantly done by or attributed to men. I do not want to say that in a bad way, it is just an observation. The associations I know are mainly run by men. Farm successions are normally from father to son. And when we talk about big machinery, it still feels like women are just a nice accessory to it. Women running farms, driving big tractors and raising cattle often surprise people, and people admire that, but in the long run I hope the attitude will switch from admiration to normality.

To be honest, I think the online agricultural world is very sexist. The view of a woman standing in front of a big tractor in certain poses gets a lot more likes than a woman standing in front of a tractor to explain its function. Yet there are so many smart and brilliant women out there standing in the field, in the milking parlour, in front of machines and in front of the camera to show just how capable women are at running things!

If you could give young women who dream of a career in agriculture a piece of advice, what would it be?

I asked this question to my Instagram community, and if you would read these messages I got in response you would not think twice about starting a career in agriculture. The messages are so encouraging and honest. “Just do it”, “Let NO men tell you what you can do and not do”, “you will face hard times, but it will be worth it at the end”, “if you really love it there is no better place for you”, “you might be underestimated at first but eventually you will make your way”, “you do not have to be as strong as a man to run a farm, you just have to be smart and passionate”. I couldn’t have said it better and completely agree with all of these amazing messages of support!

If you could give other people in agriculture who want to share about their work online a piece of advice, what would that be?

It sounds so simple – but be yourself. I personally feel like the “everything is beautiful – my job, my life, my hair” – era is over on social media. People want to see you and your true life. They cherish authenticity and love seeing you raw and brutally honest. Keep in mind that you represent farmers and farming, though. Be aware of your surroundings and try to communicate as much as possible. Farming and food production is so abstract for so many people that we need to educate them about it – but in small steps. If you are going to dive into a topic, get very technical about it and forget that a lot of people cannot follow what you are saying, you will lose audience. Try to keep it short and simple to attract viewers and go deeper into the topic on your Instagram stories. But most importantly – JUST DO IT!

 

You can find Annemarie Paulsen on

Instagram, TikTok and YouTube

 

This article was published in Women in Ag Magazine 2023-001. Click here to read the magazine (free). 

 

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