One thing I am extremely passionate about is advocacy for the dairy industry. I believe it is so very important for farmers/ranchers to get out there and tell their stories. Many consumers are several generations removed from the farm, I should know, I was one of them not too long ago.
Why should you advocate for agriculture?
For far too long, animal rights extremist and environmentalist groups who have never stepped foot on a farm have been telling our story. The problem is that their stories do not accurately portray what truly happens on U.S. farms. Now, more than ever, farmers/ranchers need to step up and share their farm story. It is your responsibility to tell your own story, not your neighbor, not mine and certainly not the check offs. Only you can tell your unique story.
Where do I start?
First you need to decide how you want to advocate. What do you enjoy doing? Do you like to take photos? Do you like to write? Would you rather talk to folks in person? Figure out what you are comfortable with before you even start.
Once you have decided that you will need to decide if you are going to focus on your local community and/or online. You can do both. Regardless of how you choose to advocate, I believe that every farm should have the following:
- Farm Logo
- A farm logo is something that you can have a local designer create for you. It can be used on your farm sign, farm swag (shirts, hats, mugs, etc.). It can also be used on your website/blog. If you take photos of your farm, you can use that logo to place on your photos as copyright.
- I strongly encourage every farm/ranch to have a website. You do not have to blog, but you do need a place online that talks about your farm practices and values. If you enjoy writing, you can also have that site include a blog. You do not have to be tech savvy to have a farm website, you can pay someone to create one for you. I highly recommend Becca of Jumping Jax Designs. Note: Becca also has packages that include creating a logo with your new website/blog.
Once you have created your website and/or blog. You have your foundation for advocacy.
How do I advocate in my local community?
- Write letters to your local newspaper(s)
- Sponsor a local youth sports team
- Volunteer at local food bank, nursing homes, etc.
- Create hats, shirts, etc. that include your farm logo
- Sign your farm up to join the local chamber of commerce
- Purchase an animal at the local fair
There are so many ways to “advocate” in your local community that are just simply making a difference and giving your farm a positive image. Speaking of positive image, what do people see when they drive by your farm? Do you have a clean visible farm sign? Is it clean and organized? I strongly encourage you to go stand on the road and see what consumers see. Many people that drive by will never step foot on your farm but they will make a judgment based on what they can see from the road.
How do I advocate online? Where do I even begin?
I am a huge proponent of picking a couple online platforms and doing them well. You do not have to be on every social media site. I believe you should advocate on:
- Your Blog/Website-
- If you decide you would like to write about your farm, a blog is the perfect way to do this. Just keep in mind that if you blog, you need to also be on social media to promote that blog. It is incredibly hard to gain readers without promotion.
- Who doesn’t have a Facebook account? Facebook is a great place to share your blog content, photos, videos, articles you enjoy and content from other farmers you admire. It’s important with Facebook to be consistent in sharing content and mixing that content up. A feature I love about Facebook is you can schedule content and do not have to be online all the time to advocate.
- If you love to take photos, then you need to be on Instagram. What is great about Instagram is that you can link it to your website/blog and Facebook. Your profile will showcase your website/blog. You can also link your Instagram to your Facebook account. With one click, you can share your photo or video on Instagram and Facebook at the same time. Note: I strongly encourage you to set your Instagam up as business account or switch your existing account from a personal to business. If you want to keep personal separate from advocacy, you can have to Instagram accounts.
What do I share?
Keep it simple. What goes into making your farm/ranch work every day? Just snap photos of every day tasks and explain to people what you are doing. Keep in mind, you are talking to non-ag folks. Keep the farm language to a minimum or at least explain what terms mean. You can share your hobbies, off farm activities, etc. Keep your advocacy efforts uniquely you.
Anything else I should know?
Don’t get discouraged when you only get like 5 “likes” and it just so happens its your parents and grandparents. It takes time to build a “following”.
If you are going to post photos, especially photos that can be taken our of context make sure they include your logo or blog/website URL.
My Advocacy Adventures:
Don’t think you can jump online and share your story? Don’t think it will matter? Read the following blog post: