Let’s all be honest here: agriculture lives in its own little bubble. Those in the industry interact with those in the industry; those outside of it interact with those outside of it. It’s unfortunate, and it’s where so many misconceptions about agriculture comes from. How can we expect the public to get the transparent truth about an industry so far removed from them?
That’s where the internet comes in! Do not fear the internet, for it will help you! (Though, if you regularly read this blog, you probably don’t fear the internet too much to begin with…) Twitter accounts like @FarmersOfCanada help out a lot with that. It’s a rotating account, hosted by a different farmer each week who tells it like it is on their farm. It adds a personal connection to the agricultural world, something that’s lacking in a large, consumer-driven industry. At the time of writing, the Farmers of Canada account had just over 6,300 followers. After a quick scan, it seems that almost all of them are people from an ag background – again, the ag bubble is present.
Christina Crowley, a Guelph grad who works for Holstein Canada, came to as a presenter at the University to present at a CanACT meeting (more on that in another post!). She gave a great talk on “fighting the good fight”, making sure that agriculture is presented in a positive light before the public gets a bad idea in their head. I contacted her after the news of the Kemptville closure broke, about how to address issues using the internet. She suggested starting constructive conversations on Twitter, making sure that agriculture is seen as modern and approachable. It doesn’t do to have complaints as the face of an industry!
Agriculture still has a long way to go when it comes to bursting its bubble. Real-time Twitter conversations with the public may be the best option. When it comes to putting a face to an industry, it’s comforting knowing who is behind the food – and that it’s a person just like you or me, not a machine. Agriculture-based Twitter accounts allos for a personal touch, delivered in bite-sized portions (excuse the pun!) that outsiders can digest. It definitely beats out reading a long blog post about something you know nothing about.
So, until the agriculture bubble is burst, Twitter is the best option. It provides the connection between those outside and those inside the bubble. It could save the face of agriculture – well, at least for now.
Keep Calm and Farm On,
Emma — The Suburban Aggie