By Laura Bardot
I believe agriculture advocacy is at an all-time high; however, it is not where it needs to be. More and more people are trying to tell the stories of agriculture through various social media channels, blogs and columns. I believe a good majority of these advocates are trying to reach the people who are removed from the family farm, or the general consumer who has little to no knowledge of agriculture.
Farmers, ranchers and people involved in the agriculture industry are telling their stories. But are they telling it to the right audience? If you’re a farmer and you share your story with your Facebook friends, are you accomplishing your goal of reaching consumers?
The average consumer is three generations removed from the family farm, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Many people in the grocery store have no clue where their food is coming from. People say they are so disconnected from agriculture and farms, and yet what they don’t realize is how connected they actually are through the center of their plate. The best phrase I have heard about agriculture advocacy is, “If you eat, then you are involved in agriculture.” This phrase brings a new perspective when consumers think of the agriculture industry.
New social media use
We need to think outside of the box for 21st-century agriculture advocacy. How can we reach the people who need to be informed both effectively and efficiently? This question is being asked constantly in the industry. I have seen several ways farmers are reaching out to consumers. One way that is my personal favorite is Snapchat.
I follow several farmers and ranchers on Snapchat as they document their typical days through 10-second videos and pictures. These farmers are able to share their message to mass numbers of people effectively. By seeing farming up close and in real time, consumers are immersed in information about agriculture. This is only one of many ways that people in the agriculture industry can successfully share their stories. If we as advocates can catch the attention of the consumer by using different platforms, then it will just be our job to share how agriculture and farming actually work.
There are several resources producers can use to advocate more effectively to the consumer. One resource I find myself using frequently is CommonGround.
This organization of female farmers and ranchers has conversations about the products members raise and grow. The key to this group’s successful advocacy is being transparent in its practices. CommonGround's website, findourcommonground.com, provides a platform for the women to tell their stories of agriculture; consumers can ask questions directly to the farmers and ranchers.
In a society that is saturated with technology, agriculture advocates are using new approaches to reach the general consumer. I think a message that we need to be sending our consumers is that they are connected to agriculture and farming more than they think they are. The message needs to be carefully constructed and tailored, so it is easily understood.
Bardot is a University of Missouri science and agricultural journalism student. Email her at [email protected].