Advocating for Agriculture

A couple weekends ago I had the distinct honor of speaking at the Chico State Beef Symposium on the topic of social media. Let me first start by giving a major shout out to the students at Chico, their instructors, and my fellow panelists. You all are beef rockstars! The house was packed and the topics ranged from things like consumer perception, to judicious use of antibiotics and there were even BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) certifications taking place.  The people that attended our breakout session on social media were engaged and truly wanted to become better advocates for the beef industry. You can’t ask for much more than that! It was a great day and one that reminded me why I love this industry so much.

Since this talk, I have been thinking a lot about this blog post as I feel some of the topics we discussed apply to a much broader audience. I want to highlight some of the things we discussed in the breakout as well as some lessons I’ve learned along the way that may help you become a better advocate (or Agvocate) for agriculture.  Because let’s face it:

PC: via Pinterest
PC: via Pinterest
  1. Get involved! I don’t mean to be harsh here but stop watching from the sidelines! I know so many farmers, ranchers, and industry people that have such a compelling story to tell and yet they’re too afraid to get out of their comfort zones. I can’t imagine they’re just being lazy? People in Ag are NOT lazy. It’s time to feel a little uncomfortable folks. We don’t live in a world anymore where we can keep to ourselves and only worry about the dealings on the farm or ranch. We’ve got to defend this industry daily or it will be not be there for future generations. If you have a passion for beef, specifically, I’d recommend you start with the Masters of Beef Advocacy
    The Class of 2015 is growing up so fast!
    The Class of 2015 is growing up so fast!

    program. This is a great first step! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me. There were so many people that graciously assisted me in the beginning and I’d love nothing more than to return the favor 🙂

  2. Stay humble. Please! This goes without saying but, treat people the way you want to be treated. I get it, we’re passionate people by nature but let’s not bash “the other side” especially from behind a computer screen. Let us never forget to stay humble and remember who we are representing (think BIG picture) regardless of how intense our emotions get. It’s always better to take a breather (12 hours?) before responding to a topic you harshly disagree with. The worst thing we can do as an industry is paint a bad picture of ourselves in the eyes of our consumers and the general public.
  3. If you choose social media as an outlet, pick one or two platforms (FB, IG, Twitter, etc) and master them. None of us have all the time in the world to be on social media, and that is perfectly a-ok. Challenge: attempt to grow a following or reach an audience that isn’t of the same circles you are. For example, if you want to highlight a yummy beef recipe, maybe start following some Instagram accounts whose focus is nutrition. Pro tip: Please don’t hit “share” on the terrible animal rights activist video with your comments above the link. All that accomplishes is marketing for the other side. Feel free to discuss it but DON’T share.
  4. Become an expert or find someone that is! Agriculture is a large, diverse world therefore networking and building relationships outside of your knowledge base is imperative. If you want to share and discuss a topic in Ag, you owe it to the industry to be knowledgeable and proficient on the subject. We don’t have time to waste correcting mistruths.
  5. Use your passion to your advantage! Us in the Ag community have a unique story to tell. A story that often resonates with others, one that has the ability to elicit some warm and fuzzy emotions. Because I love the art of marketing, this video below is one of my all time favorites. If you have a few moments, I’d highly recommend you watch and consider applying this approach to your advocacy efforts. It’s all in the way we market, right? And who can’t learn a little something from Apple?

I’ll leave you with a picture that my friend Janet Golden took while her and her husband were working on the Dot Seven. It’s gorgeous right now with all the wildflowers in bloom. Cheers to Agvocating so future generations can also enjoy this view!

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!