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Image courtesy of Cut Out Witch

Recently, Blake Hurst wrote an article on “Farming Deserves More Respect“. I get that and I agree.

And like Blake, I grew up on a Missouri farm. It was opposite side of the state – the southeast corner.

In the beginning of the article, he speaks about learning how to farm from his dad.  Well, I learned by sitting on the fender watching my grandpa.  So we have that in common, too. Granted I got out of farming when I was 18 (joined the service).

Blake’s post is on point and I believe that farmers think they need more respect – especially when it comes to online conversations.

But I would say that farmers get a lot of respect – seen below in Gallup’s Poll farmers rank 3rd overall just behind the computer and restaurant industries.

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Courtesy of Gallup

And if you look at Edelman’s latest Trustbarometer, I would consider farmers small businessman and people like yourself – both ranked very high.

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Edelman’s Trustbarometer 2014 – you need to check it out.

Why do you think the Super Bowl has a least one or two commercials ($4 million dollar commercials) that focus on farmers.

You are hardworking, smart, down-to-earth, common sensical individuals. Rugged. Every man and woman wants that respect.

So why don’t the conversations online reflect that respect when it comes to growing and producing our food?

I believe it’s because there is a lack of farmer voice.

There’s a void of farmers in the conversations that are happening and when that occurs people that have no problem joining the conversation with a different viewpoint can dominate.

Now I know a lot of farmers and agriculture support people that are online and are engaging in the best of ways. But we need more voices. If you want to be heard and have your expert opinion out for others to see, then you have to join the conversation using the tools that our customers are using.

You can’t afford for these conversations to continue without you being there.

I don’t understand the tools.

You can figure out how to run a farm, take care of the cows, do two milkings a day, and forecast your business needs for the future but you’re unsure about using Twitter? Well, I’m here to help with a tutorial but I’ll bet you’ll be joining the twitter conversation in a matter of minutes if you take the time. And there are many farmers out there that can help you with them as well like Dairy Carrie or Tim Zweber.

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Tim showing cows in the winter – people love seeing cows.

I’m too busy.

Yes, you are really busy. But I would bet that if one of your customers would stop by the farm to ask you a few questions about how milk is made, you would be more than happy to stop what you are doing and answer them. You might even give them a tour around the place, right? Well, answering questions online is a heck of a lot less detrimental to your schedule. Just ask Will Gilmer or Karen Bohnert.

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Karen Bohnert takes some great pics on the farm.

I don’t want to call attention to myself.

While I have yet to see a farm get in the crosshairs of opponents to our industry because of their online conversations, I will say that I would be more inclined to pick on someone that doesn’t have a large following online then someone who does. Will you have detractors? Yes. Will they engage with you online? Probably. Will you know how to deal with it? With practice it will get easier. I have several posts about how to engage in tough conversations online but if you remain positive and open it will work out much better than you think. I know several farmers who really know how to handle the tough conversations like Ray Prock and Mike Haley.

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Mike Haley on AgChat discussing positive discusions online

We are a team and we need you.

There are hundreds of farmers and agriculture support people online but we could always use more. Why? Because the online conversations are massive – there are hundreds of millions of people online raising questions, looking for answers, looking to connect with the experts that grow, raise and produce our food. If you aren’t there to help answer them, someone else will. Someone who has never been in your boots, never been on your farm, never cared about the food like you do.

Want to learn how to use those customer communications tools?

Here’s a few to get you started.
Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin
YouTube

If you want a class on something I don’t have yet, let me know. I’ll do my best to get it done.