Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If we don't tell our story, who will?

Let's face it, more and more people are disconnected with agriculture. From little kids (and adults for that matter!) thinking that brown cows make chocolate milk to consumers only buying organic, because they think it's safer for them, agriculture is up against some pretty big challenges.

Lately, I've become enthralled with the concept of using social media (Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc.) to tell agriculture's story. As farmers (and those who grew up on farms), we are the best experts out there when it comes to how food is produced. Therefore, it is our responsibility to share that message whenever possible.

This week, I created a Facebook fan page for Dial Dairy Farm, Greg's family's farm. It's a fair-sized operation, not huge by any standards (about 150 milking cows and 150 replacement heifers). Many old-school farmers would argue that they don't need to do anything as far as neighbor relations are concerned. Well, folks, the times they are a-changing. In the olden days, maybe they wouldn't need to use public relations, but the times we live in are different. As I drive down the road, I see new houses with people who have migrated from cities. Will those people, who have never stepped foot on a farm, understand the not-so-pleasant aroma drifting across their yard when Greg cleans out the manure pond? Will those people understand the noise from equipment here in a couple of weeks when they start planting hours upon hours each day? Will those people understand that when calves cry, they're just making their voices heard, and they're not being abused? I hope so, but chances might be slim.

A Facebook page for a farm- I doubt our grandparents would have ever seen it coming. The fact of the matter is, however, that we're in a different world, and it's up to our generation to reach out to our neighbors. The future of agriculture depends upon it.

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