I woke up this morning to find an incredibly well written post by Mike Haley: “agvocate or agtivist”. Maybe what drew me in was this awesome visual:
But it’s the words that matter, and that’s where I want to spend a bit of time. If you are not aware, there has been a bit of a growing divide, expressed by a fair amount of anger at times both online and privately regarding the direction of how to correctly share the ag story. We all believe we should, we’re all VERY passionate about doing so, but there are key differences at times in how we go about it. It’s productive to have differences, to honestly and openly discuss them. It’s hurtful to let our differences in the agriculture advocacy community destroy and harm our overall efforts. Words matter, whether its talking to consumers or talking between farmers, and Mike does an incredible job in this post of laying out how he feels in a respectful to all way.
I also realize that there’s probably several folks who may read this that scratch their head wondering what in the world this discussion is even about. So rather than spend an entire blog post discussing the internal questions of ag advocacy, I’m going to simply point our several farmers who HAVE been doing an incredible job sharing the ag story
Brian Scott- Brian’s developed a knack for being able to take complex topics and explain them in a way average folks seem to understand. His latest post: “I Occupy Our Food Supply Everyday” is no exception. Brian takes on the task of addressing the question of how much control corporate seed giants really have over our farms. Brian has also been interested in using StumbleUpon to drive traffic to his blog, and shared some of his knowledge in a post on the AgChat Foundation blog. As an example of reaching out to those beyond ag, more than 200 people visited Brian’s Occupy Food Supply post via StumbleUpon, very much a non-ag audience, and far more StumbleUpon traffic than I’ve seen from any other single blog post from all the blogs I follow.
Chris Chinn – If you’ve been following ag news, you probably know there’s a significant effort underway in Washington DC to consider adding regulations to child labor laws that would be harmful to many family farmers and ranches. Going far beyond social media, Chris traveled to Washington DC to share her farms experience with Congress on behalf of many of us. She also took the opportunity to blog about her experience. Sharing her story with thousands more. She followed that blog post up with her thoughts on animal welfare issues that have been near and dear to Chris ever since I first met her. I could write a case study on Chris’s blogging efforts regarding the fact that we can write a lot of posts that get little notice and random events can bring massive attention to a blogging effort we’ve quietly been working on for some time. My encouragement to all is to keep blogging, keep writing, keep sharing, keep learning, you are making a difference!
Matthew Boucher – Matt recently wrote a newspaper article for his local paper pointing out farmers interest in wanting to visit with consumers online. It was somewhat coincidence that I even learned about this, what I think is important to mention here is how many times and ways people like Matthew are sharing the cause of agriculture in ways no one notices, because it’s not all over Twitter, a blog, or Facebook. It’s still very, very important to the efforts of ag advocacy.
My own recent little personal account occurred last evening. I was studying Brian Scott’s stats (I’m kinda obsessed with such things…) and saw he was getting decent hits from an npr link regarding a Monsanto lawsuit. Briefly reviewing the comments on the article I noticed two things – there was a lot of mis-understanding of what farmers do and the decisions we make. And it seemed like a very, very active set of comments. So I simply shared a short note and a link to a blog post I did on “Why I Grow Corn“. By this morning 74 people had viewed my blog from that link. That’s a pretty high number when looking at traffic from something other than search/Facebook/Twitter, etc. And the time it took me was very, very minimal. From a cost/benefit standpoint (there’s the analytically side of me) I feel it was a success.
Trent Bown – Trent recently re-launched his blog, an incredibly well-designed site. As part of that effort, he also produced a video sharing his dairy operation. If you haven’t watched it, you should and you should share it. I heard one of those “professional communication” folks comment that the video was as well done as many of the commercial (read high cost) ag videos they have seen. And Trent gives much of the credit to his wife. I know this is just the beginning of Trent’s plans for sharing the ag message and I look forward to what’s to come, Trent!
I probably need to stop as this blog post is getting a bit long. The hardest part of making a list like this is the folks I leave out. There’s so many, these just happen to have been a few of the projects I’ve been recently involved in. I don’t know where each of these folks fit on the agvocacy vs. agtivism graph I’m so in love with from Mike’s post. But I know this: Each one of these individuals, and dozens/hundreds/hopefully thousands more are doing an incredible job of sharing their passion and love for agriculture, and it’s been an incredible experience for me personally to work with everyone! Keep writing, keep talking, keep sharing because Words Matter!