Social-media use among farmers

A decade ago, it was unheard of for farmers to use social media to obtain industry news and generate communication among other farmers and the public.

What a difference time and technology make. Today, it’s more and more common to see farmers joining the social-media world to connect with other farmers and to reach out to the public to educate them about agriculture.

According to the American Farm Bureau’s 2010 Young Farmers and Ranchers Survey, nearly 99 percent of farmers and ranchers between the ages of 18 to 35 have access to and use the Internet, and nearly three quarters of those surveyed have a Facebook page, while 10 percent use Twitter.

"Social media is a great way to connect and learn from others about ideas and practices that can improve farm operations," said Anne Mims-Adrian, Alabama Cooperative Extension System associate director of information. "Often, farmers connect with people they would have never been able to before. They’re able to educate people outside of agriculture and support the agriculture industry using these new online tools."

The Alabama Farmers Co-Op Cooperative Farming News states that there are many ways farmers benefit from using social media, including:
  • Sharing information and ideas with other farmers and learning from other farmers, ranchers and associates of agriculture
  • Providing quick, responsive networks and communities for farm use and important emerging issues
  • Marketing farm and ranch products
  • Connecting and interacting with consumers – creating conversations and relationships with them
  • Allowing agriculturalists to share positive information
  • Educating people who are not associated with agriculture
  • Widening the scope of local farmers
So, what are some farmers and people in the agriculture industry using social-media to communicate about?

Michele Payn-Knoper, a community catalyst, agriculture advocate and food connector, is the creator of #AgChat, a thought-provoking weekly Twitter chat for people in the business of raising food, feed, fuel and fiber. During the chat, participants share their viewpoints about issues impacting agriculture, such as sustainability, antibiotics, agronomy, animal welfare, bio-energy and more. You can join the conversation every Tuesday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST.

To help farmers stay up-to-date on the latest industry news and current trends Janice Person from Monsanto Company, put together a list of the “Top 10 Twitter Lists to Follow about Agriculture.”
  • Row Crop Farmers – a list of individuals who have been listed as growing row crops
  • Two lists of AgChat Foundation: Board of Directors and the Advisory Board – A group of people building an effort to empower more farmers to tell their individual stories
  • Folks from ACFC10 – a list of people who are attending the first AgChat Foundation training conference
  • Ag Media list – a list of working media and other communicators who tell agriculture stories for associations, companies or other organizations
  • T-lists on Agriculture – an aggregator that uses data on all the lists about agriculture and then pulls a list of some of the folks they think are the most influential by virtue of having been listed multiple times and tweeting about the following: #AgChat, #Farm, Food, Farm, Farmers, #Ag, Corn, Farmer, Agriculture, #Food, Dairy, USDA, Beef, #ThankaFarmer or Meat
  • Agvocate list – a list of agriculture advocates
  • Ag Women – a list of women in agriculture
  • Ag Bloggers – a list of people who are telling their stories through blogs
  • Ag Media Summit – a list that was used to build familiarity around the attendees of the Ag Media Summit. (You can find many Twitter lists that have been created for specific events.)
Facebook has also become a popular social-media outlet for farmers and agriculture organizations. Many are using it as a marketing tool to help sell their produce or share industry news.
  • Ohio Farmers Feed US – shares industry news about how farmers are caring for animals and the land, and giving back to the community
  • Three Sisters Garden – shares information about their specialty vegetable farm for sale directly to restaurants in the Chicago area
As social media continues to become more and more popular, I will be curious to see if more farmers will use it and to what extent. In the meantime, what do you think about the use of social media in the agriculture industry? Do you find it to be a helpful medium or not?

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1 comment:

slowmoneyfarm said...

Social media is a very good way to teach about agriculture if we use it right. It can also backfire if we go charging in with negativity but as a means to network and speak with consumers it's a great way to open doors.