If you pass an Advocating for Agriculture class then you might be an Agvocate. The Kentucky Corn Growers Association posed the question, “You’re not a ‘factory farm.’ But how do you tell people?” to farmers at the National Farm Machinery Show. The idea was to challenge farmers to share agriculture’s story.
“I wanted to do something different, something that would really get farmers thinking about how they can advocate for agriculture,” said Jennifer Elwell, Kentucky Corn Growers Association communications director. “At the show, we chatted with growers about the topics that are most important to consumers such as food safety, environmental concerns and animal welfare.”
The approach taken by Jennifer and other volunteers working with her was based on the CommonGround Program. Here are steps they encourage farmers to take.
10 Ways to Advocate for Agriculture
Conduct an online search. Don’t limit yourself to Google. Search on social media sites and blogs as well. Learning from what consumers, critics and other influencers are saying in the social media realm is crucial. This will be the best way to gain intelligence about what issues are most important.
Set up a monitoring service. Platforms like HootSuite or TweetDeck allow you to easily review what others are saying about you and other farming and food topics.
Think about your audience. Doing this will help determine who you want to read your content. Once you figure this out, knowing your audience’s personality traits will guide you when you write content.
Select your favorite place to play. Pick what online platform you like most, and stick with it. When you like doing something, normally you will continue the behavior. The same is true for the online world.
Respond to misinformation. Don’t let misconceptions about farming and food go unanswered. If you come across a misconceptions, don’t stand by, react.
Never shout – be positive. No one likes it when someone shoves their opinion on them in person, so don’t consider doing it online.
Pose questions to your followers and friends. Questions can be about food or agriculture. When you pose a question, make sure you moderate the discussion.
Promote yourself online. Spreading the word about what you are doing as a farmer and agvocate is simple. For instance, if you write a blog, let everyone on Facebook and Twitter know you have a new post. This will increase visibility and followers. Also consider retweeting or reposting relevant social media content, pictures and blog posts that support agriculture. Giving others a voice can help you expand yours.
Answer all posts or mentions. Being responsive and timely is good social media etiquette. When you post on one social media platform, make sure you post on all of them.
Share your story. Many people are not connected to what really happens in agriculture or rural America. Others can attempt to tell your story, but it is better told by the true expert – YOU!