By Stan Friedman
ASSARIA, KS (July 16, 2014) — The Peterson Brothers were just a trio of farm boys from this small town in Kansas when they made their first parody video, “I’m a Farmer, and I Grow It,” based on the hit single “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” That was in 2012, and they produced it on a whim to entertain family and friends.
Within four days, it had been watched one million times. That caught the attention of the morning news program Fox and Friends, which flew them to New York for a taping. The day the segment aired, it was viewed two million more times.
Brothers Greg, Nathan, and Kendal, who represent the fifth generation on their family’s farm, had just arguably become the best-known ambassadors for agriculture. Since the first video, the brothers have made several other parodies, including “Farmer Style,” based “Gangnam Style.” It has scored 15.1 million views.
They also have produced more serious videos on daily farm life. Altogether the videos have had 31.3 million views from people in 230 countries. More than 75,000 people subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Since 2012, they have made several international appearances, including a farm show in Germany, and will be traveling to Australia in the next several weeks. They also have performed at events throughout the United States. At agriculture gatherings, people crowd around them to get their autograph and pictures. They have received wedding proposals via YouTube.
Local media stations and national agriculture publications announce the release of each new video, including their latest, “I Always Farm,” which debuted Monday and already has nearly 99,000 views. That they are able to make a humorous video featuring cows and tractors that promotes agriculture while parodying a misogynistic rap clip is a testament to their creativity.
Nobody who knows the Petersons thinks of them celebrities, say the brothers, who laugh about their success. They often are part of the entertainment at events where they appear, and Greg jokes, “I don’t think we’re great performers. It just proves we really can sing and we really can’t dance.”
The Peterson family attends the Evangelical Covenant Church in nearby Lindsborg. The brothers are excited that the videos have led to an opportunity to highlight farming, but they are equally excited that it has given them a broad outlet to share their faith.
They have become evangelists for farming and, they hope, Christ. References to their dependence on God and images of them reading the Bible appear in their videos. On his Twitter feed, Greg, who writes the parodies, describes himself first as a “Christ follower.” He also has recorded a Christian CD. The brothers’ Facebook page references Psalm 115:1—“Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”
“After the first video went viral, we felt really blessed,” says Greg, the oldest and creative leader of the brothers. “We didn’t feel like we really deserved it. From that point on, we didn’t feel like we had anything to lose. We need to promote our faith.”
“I think that God set up our situation so well,” says Kendal, who graduated from high school this year. “We had so many big and small decisions that could have gone wrong, but he was with our family from the moment Greg even thought of the idea. Our faith has really kept us grounded and kept this whole situation in perspective.”
Nathan, a student at Kansas State University, said there are parallels in farming and being people of faith. “Society is getting disconnected from both God and agriculture and needs to realize both are vital for life. Obviously Jesus is the ultimate need, but God gave us the need to sustain ourselves physically too. Farmers are doing the work to provide food for humans all over the world, and as Christians, we need to be sharing the gospel of Christ all over the world.”
For the Petersons, how they farm is part of how they live out their faith, Greg says. “It’s God’s creation, and we’re supposed to take care of it.”
Greg graduated from Kansas State with a degree in agriculture communications/journalism and writes frequently on the brothers’ blog about agriculture issues. He thoughtfully addresses what can be contentious issues such as corporate farming, the use of pesticides and genetically modified foods, and animal welfare.
Most farmers, regardless of whether they have a religious faith, also care about the environment and how they treat the land and livestock, he says. “Just from a business sense, you have to care about that. One of the most important things in agriculture is to minimize stress from the animals’ birth to their death because otherwise they won’t perform well. Animal welfare goes along with profit.”
He acknowledges that there are farmers who engage in cruelty. Their practices disgust him, he says, but they represent a small minority—just as there are unethical people in any occupation.
“It’s crazy to me that people think we’re bad people,” Greg says. “I wish everyone in the city could make friends with farmers.”