Today, information is everywhere, and not to mention easily accessible. Maybe a little too easily accessible–a quick Google search is all it takes for me to learn the random fact that Amy Poehler’s favorite TV show is Judge Judy. Now you know, too. What does this mean for agriculture advocacy?
It’s not just celebrities that can find their lives invaded by society’s constant need for news. As more people become interested in learning about the food they eat, farmers and everyone involved in food production are seeing an increased interest in their professions. This interest can drive important conversations about modern agricultural practices. Everyone deserves to understand where their food comes from.
However, we know that there are non-credible sources that exist for nearly every topic. Farming is no different. A ‘crowd’ of information can come from sources that are misinformed, misdirected, or even just outdated. It’s up to agriculturalists to be the loud voices for current, factual representations of what food production looks like.
I say this knowing that it’s not always easy to know how to advocate for your beliefs. In this sense, you can let the job advocate for itself! How can it be that easy? Consider that we know less than 2% of Americans are directly involved in production agriculture. That leaves 98% of the country with little to no exposure to farming, which could make information about agriculture from an outdated source seem realistic. Instead, we can share real farming transparently to answer many of the questions today’s consumer might have.
Being Loud Among the Crowd
One of the easiest ways to promote agriculture to those around you is to use today’s newspaper: social media. Farm Facebook pages, blogs, Instagram accounts, and even ag podcasts are excellent resources to show the world how your farm or ranch helps provide for the world. As you start your agriculture advocacy, here are a few tips:
1. Pick a platform
It can be exciting to get to share your passion! You want to start strong, but burnout is a real thing. Try choosing one platform to focus on at first. Facebook is often a good choice because it’s usually familiar to a wide range of people and you can easily share posts with your personal friends to gain a following. Also, be sure to use a site that matches the content you want to share. Cute farm pics? Try Instagram. More writing and stories? A blog might be a good fit.
2. Stick to a schedule
So you have the page–now what? You’ll gain a community by interacting with the website, and that means posting! To keep yourself accountable, set a schedule of when you’ll always post. This can be every day or just a couple times each week. You can share about farming practices, a favorite cow, or even just a quick picture of what you did that day. Real, informational captions are worth their weight in gold. Check out one of my favorite farmer pages to get some content ideas.
3. Engage actively
Posting is awesome, but we can dive even deeper to share about agriculture. Effective communication is a two-way street. For social media, that means taking the time to respond to questions and comments from our followers, sharing ideas with other ag advocates, and supporting all aspects of our agricultural industries. It means being a human, even if that’s just sharing someone else’s post that you enjoy! Your page can be a great way to connect with farming and non-farming friends alike.
4. Don’t get discouraged
Explaining your way of life on social media makes you very vulnerable, and it can be scary. There are sure to be some folks that disagree with what you share, and that’s okay. Remember that the point of sharing what you do is to create (respectful) conversation that both parties can grow from. You can use industry resources to build that dialogue: check out Chicken Check In, American Dairy Association, Beef Checkoff, Poultry Feeds America, and Pork Checkoff, just to name a few. Still, just as in life, sometimes it’s necessary to walk away from a conversation. It’s the positive interactions that will make a difference for your industry.
With these tips in mind, we can all be more prepared to share what we love. We’ve heard time and time again that farmers need to share their story–it’s true, in order to put out reliable, real food information to everyone looking for it. Instead of letting others write that story, let’s write it ourselves!