Today, less than 2% of the population are farmers and the average person is said to be 3 generations removed from the farm. However, even though less and less people are involved in farming these days, it is becoming easier for consumers to stay in touch with those who produce the food products they depend on every day.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and the popular Pinterest.com, seem to be the online places to be these days. It seems almost everyone has a social media account on at least one of these sites and those who don’t have one definitely know someone who does. Common uses for these sites are to keep in touch with friends, family, post pictures of a child’s achievements and more, but have you ever thought of using those sites to get in touch with a farmer and learn where your food comes from? Doing so is a growing trend in social media. Consumers who are concerned about where and how their food is produced are now talking to the farmers who grow their food products daily through social media.
With well over 350 million active users, Facebook is arguably the most widely used social media tool on the web today. People from all over the world, from varying backgrounds constantly use the site to convey their thoughts from day-to-day. Farmers from across the country are also on Facebook and are ready and willing to tell their story as well. Countless farms of various types have their own Facebook pages so consumers and other farmers alike can see what they are doing, how they are doing it and why.
Some examples of Farm related Facebook pages are Organic Valley, The Farmers Life (IN. Grain Farm) , Haley Farms (OH. Cattle Farm), Gilmer Dairy Farm , Fair Oaks Farms (IN Dairy Farm) , and Boucher Farms (IL Grain Farm), just to name a few.
With 100 million new accounts opened in 2010 alone Twitter has proven its place in the social media landscape. Every Tuesday night on Twitter from 7pm-9pm CST, about 125-175 farmers and non-farmers alike, take part in a discussion called #AgChat. Each week the discussion has a different general topic surrounding farming, food production and agriculture in general. The discussion is moderated by a different person each week and everyone is welcome to chime in with their thoughts on the subject. Topics of conversation have ranged from Ag Policies to Biotech Crops to Feeding our Ever Expanding Population to name a few. The discussions are always educational and usually result in great conversations with other Tweeters after the chat is over. Everyone is encouraged to participate.
Some farmers who tweet are
Google+ and Pinterest are new comers in the Social Media world. Both sites are growing in size but as many of you know Pinterest has basically exploded in popularity, and yes, Farmers are on it too. While most searches and “pins” on the site seem to be about crafts, household items, and travel, a simple search for Agriculture or Farming will easily put you in touch with a farmer who produces your food products.
Lets not forget YouTube. YouTube is a place where many of us have visited to see one video or another, but soon find ourselves watching something totally unrelated to what we came to watch in the first place. From EHow, where you can learn to do basically anything via video, to that viral video of a kid singing a song, YouTube covers it all, including farming. A simple search for farming will bring up countless videos of farms including one by Chris Chinn (familyfarmer ). In the video “Truth about Modern Pork Production” she explains, in detail, how her modern pork production facility works on their family farm. Other farm related YouTube channels provide education on modern grain production, organic farming and urban farming as well.
Last but not least, blogs are all the craze today. Sites like tumblr.com and wordpress.com have countless blog post entries every day covering all sorts of subjects. Agriculture is a growing part of the blog world. Many farmers are using blogs to communicate with consumers today to better explain how and why they do what they do. Three great AG blogs are “Common Sense Agriculture”, by Jeff Fowle, “Agriculture Proud” by Ryan Goodman and “The Farmers Life” by Brian Scott. Bryan, Ryan and Jeff are professional Farmers and/or Ranchers who share their day-to-day lives and opinions with their ever-growing community of followers.
No matter which social media outlet you prefer to use, the farmers who produce your food products are there to answer your questions. They are easy to find, and will be there to give you an honest answer, straight from the source. The next time you are updating your Facebook status, or tweeting a tweet, look up a farmer and learn about where your food really comes from.
Today’s Farmers may make up only 2% of the population but their occupation directly affects all of us.
If you have any farm or food production related questions please contact any of the farmers listed above or leave a comment on this blog. Thank you for visiting Off the Cobb and God Bless.