Become an Advocate for Agriculture!

Corn FieldKansas commodity groups- representing corn, grain sorghum, beef, wheat, soybeans and pork, organized a conference November 4-5, 2009 where growers and ranchers from across the state were trained on being an advocate for agriculture. Here are a few ways you can be an ag advocate.

Why farmers? There are a variety of organizations who are threatening your livelihood. In fact, these groups are very well funded with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-exempt revenue annually. According to a study done by the Center for Food Integrity, “Consumers hold farmers/producers primarily responsible for humane treatment of farm animals, but they lack confidence and trust in all groups to ensure it.” The public trusts you. 91% of the general public believes that farmers and ranchers are a credible source. 80% believe a HSUS spokesperson is credible and 15% say an elected official has credibility. You are a credible source, so now is the time to share your story. More importantly, people WANT to hear your story.

What should you tell people? Not everyone understands what it is you actually do. Tell about the work you do such caring for your crops, animals and land. Explain that you don’t have a 9-5 job and you work long days, weekends, and even holidays. The personal stories you can share are helpful to people in making a connection with you and better understanding the role of a farmer or rancher. Most of the information people receive today comes from news sources, internet, and family or friends.

Social Media
Facebook– Create yourself an account at http://www.facebook.com. Upload a photo and insert some of your hobbies. Once you have a profile made you can upload news articles, photos, and even videos if you desire.

Blog- A blog is a simple website maintained by an individual. Blogs can be about events that take place, thoughts on a particular topic or a series of personal stories like a journal. You can also upload photos and video to your blog. There are a variety of free blog sites out there. Popular ones are www.wordpress.com and www.blogger.com. Here is an excellent example of an effective blog operated by a Kansas family of Mark and Kim Harms: Ranch Family Blog

Twitter takes up the least amount of time out of all forms of communication listed. Twitter is micro-blogging site. You can go to www.twitter.com to set up an account. It asks you, “What’s Happening?” You must answer in 140 characters or less. You can update as much or as little as you would like. Signing up, finding a few followers and just watching how the conversation works is a beneficial way to learn how to “tweet”.

Media Interviews
 Here are a few things to remember when a reporter asks to interview you:
-Know your topic beforehand. Ask the reporter what you will be talking about.
-Do additional research if needed.
-Never hesitate to contact one of the commodity groups for more information to prepare for an interview
-Take a few seconds after each question to gather your thoughts.
-If you are being interviewed for a television broadcast, relax, and let your arms hang comfortably at your sides.
-Keep answers concise and speak clearly.
-It’s okay if you don’t know an answer to a question.

Letter to the Editor
You don’t have to wait until there is an “issue” stirring in your local newspaper to write a letter to the editor. Be informative, concise, and direct when you write a letter. Long drawn out letters are rarely read, or even published. Below are some examples.

Reactive Letter
Dear editor: Readers of The Topeka Capital-Journal have nothing to gain, and potentially a lot to lose, by accepting the misguided advice in a September 26 letter delivering an anti-meat message under the guise of preventing global warming. As a Kansas producer, the land is my livelihood and my legacy to future generations. When I chose to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather and Dad, I made a commitment to myself, my family and my community to be a good steward of the environment and do my part to provide safe and nutritious food for the world. As evidence of the success of ranchers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, food animal production in the U.S. contributes less than 2.4% of total greenhouse gas emissions. One American farmer or rancher produces enough food to feed 144 people each day. And because 85% of U.S. land used as pasture is unsuitable to grow crops, grazing animals, like cattle, more than doubles the area we can use to produce food for a hungry world. Environmentally conscious consumers should continue to enjoy lean beef with confidence, knowing they are doing the right thing for their health and the earth’s natural resources.
Name, Address, Phone number

Proactive letter 
Earth Day
Beef producers like myself are full-time environmentalists. I celebrate Earth Day every day — not only because my livelihood is so dependent on water and soil, but because protecting the environment is simply the right thing to do. Living so close to the land every day, farmers and ranchers realize we are stewards of this planet. We are committed to leaving it in better condition for our children and our children’s children. Here in the United States, we’re significantly ahead of the rest of the world in managing livestock production in an environmentally friendly manner. The entire U.S. agricultural sector contributes only 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions according to the EPA. Cattle represent only part of that figure. The world will celebrate Earth Day April 22, but it’s something we celebrate every day.
Name, Address, Phone number 

Now, get started! I hope to see you Facebooking and Tweeting soon! For questions about getting started, e-mail me at dbohling@ksgrains.com!

Follow us on Twitter: @ksgrains, @kscorn @KSsorghum
Facebook: Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Growers

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tom Tibbits on January 14, 2010 at 5:37 AM

    Other than the picture of a weedy corn field with possibly some Nitrogen deficiency, a great article on how to effectively use on Social Media. I didn’t care for Twitter much when I started with it, but I am starting to reach some of the people that I want.

    Reply

  2. […] how far you go out of your way to see that what you are producing or eating is safe and wholesome. Write a letter to the editor. Let your neighbors and coworkers know about how good those sirloin steaks and corn on the cob was […]

    Reply

  3. […] If you haven’t checked out Michele Payn-Knoper’s Gate to Plate Blog , I encourage you to do so. Those of you who are in agriculture- continue to share your story. For ideas how check out our “Agvocate” post. […]

    Reply

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