Social media savvy farmers may seem like an odd mix however to me it makes perfect sense and in today’s post I want to explain why. Farmers are taking their message online via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and it is a message the general public is interested in.
It really is no secret to anyone in farming communities that the family farm and small grain operations (under 3000 acres) are on the endangered species list. Most who have survived have taken off farm jobs to leverage a farm life and have been fortunate enough to have a father, or other family member help carry the workload in their absence. Statistics Canada showed a -7.1 drop in the total number of farms from 2001 to 2006 (246,923 to 229,373) and I would venture to guess when the 2011 census numbers come out this trend will have continued from 2006-2011. As of 2006 there where 684,260 farmers in Canada or 2.2% of the population.
So what does this have to do with Social Media? Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have the power to connect people of similar interests, challenges, and messages. The ability to share online with other farmers not only in Canada but around the world allows us to have a global coffee shop every morning to stop in at catch up and share. This really is important as in the past our fathers, grand fathers and even great grandfathers had an actual coffee shop to do this in however with the declining numbers of people living in rural areas this is often not an opportunity we have. Farming is challenging and as the quote goes “misery loves company” and knowing others are facing the same issues often brings us comfort in our daily routine which is often done alone.
This virtual coffee shop combined with the growing disconnect between farmers the other 97.8% of the population who have a desire to understand where their food is coming from is creating the perfect social media storm (no need to check your home barometer famers).
Social media has allows the general population to connect with food producers and food producers to share their story and learn from each other. I find it interesting to listen to the response of people when I explain to them that some of the most tech savvy people I know are today’s generation of farmers. Adopting technology has been in response to advancements in agricultural equipment providing increased efficiency and cost savings. The spill over of this adoption has and will continue to be its use in building a social media community.
Evidence of this growth can be seen with Agvocacy groups such as AgChat.org whose mission is to empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media. This group works to educate and equip farmers with the skills needed to engage online. If your curious about what the farm tweeters are talking about follow the hashtag #AgChat.
In the past year I have seen been many examples of how farmers use of social media has also shaped industries that rely on agriculture. Some of which commodity traders using twitter feeds to collect quantity and quality information about harvest yields rather than waiting for formal reports or predictions from the exchange.
The power of social media has also been harnessed effectively by farmers to defend inaccurate reports of animal cruelty by Animal Rights groups. In the past such groups had the ability to present a great smoke and mirror show in painting an inaccurate picture of animal treatment on farms however the transparency of social media has given the producer a voice and a medium to convey an accurate picture of life on the farm.
These are just a few of the reasons why I know the role of social media for both farmers and the public interested in food production will continue to grow in over the coming years. Everyone’s story is different TractorView is a chronicle of my story of being a full time farmer, REALTOR, business owner and tech geek. My motivation is to live, learn, and share, mostly because I am a student of life and want to continue to grow in all aspects and social media has provided the classroom.