What is in this article?:
- The singing dairyman: Polishing farmingâ€™s image via social media
- Video viewed over 33,000 times
- Telling agriculture's side of the story
- Helping connect with consumers
“Today, most Americans are three or four generations away from the farm,” says Alabama dairyman Will Gilmer. “They’re dependent on a reliable supply of food products, but have no firsthand knowledge of where that food comes from or how it’s produced. My utilization of social media allows me to share my love of dairying and of agriculture with a much broader audience than just those in my local community and those in the farm organizations I belong to."
THE INTERNET and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can be useful tools to tell agriculture’s story to consumers, says Will Gilmer, Sulligent, Ala., dairyman.
Telling agriculture's side of the story
“We can either sit back and let others tell agriculture’s story — often not the whole story, and often with a very unfavorable slant — or we can use these tools to tell our story ourselves. If anti-agriculture organizations are putting out inaccurate information that is creating misconceptions about farming, we have only ourselves to blame if we don’t provide our side of the story.”
Now when it’s warm, we put it on bermudagrass, and when it cools off, other crops start growin’ fast.
Fescue and oats are two that benefit the most from the nutrients found in our water and poo.
He started the Gilmer Dairy Farm website in 2003 and since then has added Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube posts, and his blog.
There are now 250 million Facebook users, Gilmer notes. “If Facebook were a country, it would be one of the world’s largest. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube are all communication tools that are increasingly being used in agriculture.
“I use Facebook mainly to try and make people feel good about dairying, with photos of cows contentedly grazing, pasture and farm scenes, etc.
“Facebook allows me to do instant updates, either from my computer or from my smart phone on the fly. I have about 1,900 people who ‘like’ my Facebook posts.
“I use Twitter a lot — it’s a lot more immediate, a lot more personal, and allows more opportunity for a bit of ‘personality’ in very short messages. I can also upload photos and when I go to farm meetings I can provide frequent tweets about things I hear, people I talk with, etc.”
For the more hot button issues, Gilmer says, he will generally use his blog, which he has been doing since 2007. “It’s a way to keep people engaged, to let them know what’s going on in our farming operation, and gives me an opportunity to expand on issues that may be in the news regarding dairying, food safety, legislation, etc.
“It allows more room for a full explanation of the message I’m trying to get across, as well as an opportunity for conversation and exchange of ideas and opinions, particularly on such issues as agricultural subsidies.
“If it’s something controversial, where the viewer might say ‘You’re biased because you’re a farmer,’ I’ll take the approach, ‘Yes, I’m a farmer, but here are some of the facts based on my experience, on proven research, etc.’
“In the animal sector, there is a lot of concern by the public about ‘factory farming’, treatment of animals, and other issues that are being raised by animal rights organizations. “For those of us in livestock agriculture, our animals are our No. 1 asset. If we don’t care for them properly, we won’t be in business very long. And it’s the same with row crops — if a farmer doesn’t take care of the soil and water, his primary assets, he won’t make good crops and he won’t be in business very long. These are the points I make.”
Many times, Gilmer says, the way agriculture is portrayed in the mainstream media is troubling.
“Unfortunately, in agriculture as in any business, there are people who do bad things, or there are incidents that cause people to be concerned, such as food contamination. It’s up to us, when these things happen, to step forward and say that we condemn the bad farmers, that 99.99 percent of farmers aren’t like that.
“We need to let the public know that we’re concerned about food safety, that there is a difference in treating farm animals humanely and treating them as if they’re human.