The Peterson brothers have gone viral on YouTube with their second video. "Farmer Style," a parody of the "Gangnam Style" video, recently passed 10 million views.
"Hopefully we’re not just speaking to the choir," says Greg Peterson, a senior at Kansas State University who is studying agricultural communications and journalism with a minor in vocal performance. "Hopefully we can get the message out there to others as well."
Peterson started a YouTube channel, ThePetersonFarmBros, in November 2011 with a video called "Wheat Harvest on the Family Farm." His parents are David and Marla, and he has two younger brothers, Nathan and Kendal, and a younger sister, Laura. They are primarily a beef cattle operation, and they also have 1,000 acres of cropland for wheat, corn, alfalfa, sorghum and soybeans.
Peterson shot the wheat video over the summer and posted it in the fall. A few people watched, and that number eventually rose to a few thousand. But he knew that wasn’t enough: He wanted to bring more views.
Then one day, he was at a restaurant with friends. The song "I’m Sexy and I Know It" came on the radio, and Peterson’s friends suggested he make a parody music video. Peterson thought it was a great idea, so he wrote the words, took it to his brothers and together they developed their first hit, "I’m Farming and I Grow It".
"I think they had their doubts at first," says Peterson, laughing. He handled a lot of preproduction, while his brothers handled improvisational acting for the video. They scouted out locations by heading out to the farm and filming while working. Some of it was filmed on Peterson’s cellphone.
"There were definitely days when we set aside a couple of hours to film," Peterson says. On one occasion, they decided to take a shot of Kendal in the air by raising him with a floor jack. At the end of the day, Peterson edited video. Filming took three weeks.
That’s in contrast to their latest project, "Farmer Style". That video production schedule was much tighter because both Greg and Nathan are in college. So they filmed it over about three days during the Thanksgiving holiday. They chose the "Gangnam Style" video because it’s easy to parody, Peterson says – the original video is in Korean, so they could make up words to accompany the motions. A friend introduced him to the video two months before they filmed, so some people have told the brothers they missed the boat. He wrote the parody a month before filming occurred.
Nonetheless, the video garnered its first 1 million views in roughly a day.
Reactions to the Peterson brothers’ videos are mixed. Many people are encouraging, Peterson says, saying they never thought about farming in that way. Other people leave comments that ask why the brothers are wearing university T-shirts if they are farmers or how it is that farms have Internet. It’s hard to know whether those commenters are joking or being serious, he says.
Peterson thinks the ag community is doing a good job of promoting the industry, but he knows that many people are still uninformed after watching his family’s videos.
"We have a lot of work to do still," Peterson says.
He thinks family farms will continue to exist, and he expects to return to the family farm after graduation, at least on a part-time basis. He says he loves his community -- and advocating for agriculture.