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Bridging the Gap Between Farmers and Consumers

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture November 6, 2019

Credit: Getty Images/ Fertnig 

By Morgan Walker

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

It has been 63 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered that quote in a memorable speech in Peoria, Illinois.

There have been many changes in agriculture since 1956. In the 1950s, farmers made up more than 12% of the workforce. Today, farmers and ranchers make up just 1.3% of the U.S. labor market.

In a time where consumers are truly curious about where their food comes from, farmers have a massive opportunity to reach those who truly are a thousand miles from a corn field.

With 230 million active users in the U.S. alone, social media allows farmers to create connections like never before.

According to Pew Research Center, 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube. The video sharing platform is also the most popular medium for those in rural America.

In a time where consumers are truly curious about where their food comes from, farmers have a massive opportunity to reach those who truly are a thousand miles from a corn field.

California Farm Bureau member Tara Beaver Coronado, or in Instagram circles @beavervineyards, shares her daily life on Instagram. Coronado advocates for agriculture on the photo sharing platform, covering topics like women in ag and mental health.

According to a Morning Consult Poll, 41% of rural adults say stress and mental health have become more of a problem in their community in the past five years.

Any farmer or rancher can tell you that farm life can be stressful. But Coronado takes on these tough issues in a positive way, sharing her experiences every Monday using the hashtag #MentalHealthMonday, and encourages others to do the same. 

View this post on Instagram

Today I challenged you in my stories. Did you see it?⁣ ⁣ It’s #MentalHealthMonday, and I had a simple request. Say something nice about yourself - “I am________.” ⁣ ⁣ Or maybe not so simple right?⁣ ⁣ If you saw this and struggled a little, I want you to know you are not alone. It’s amazing how hard it can be to compliment ourselves. It’s often said, we are our own worst critic.⁣ ⁣ And it’s OK. It’s hard to break a habit that could be engrained in your for decades. This is just about taking one step in the right direction. Showing yourself love and grace.⁣ ⁣ I am proud of what I have accomplished. ⁣ ⁣ Head over to my stories to see some beautiful answers. ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #womeninag #farmher #womenwhofarm #countryliving #agvocate #iamamodernfarmer #farmerlifestyle #femalefarmer #thisiswomenswork #farming #minifarm #grainfarmer #californiaFarmsandranches ⁣ #farmer #farmersdaughter #smallfarm⁣ #afbfshare #cagrown #whyifarm #femalefarmerproject #californiafarmer #california

A post shared by Tara | Farm & Homestead (@beavervineyards) on

Talking about tough issues might have been frowned upon even a few years ago, but the advent of social media not only allows farmers to create a community but also to share their experiences and help others.

It’s impossible to talk about the power of social media and leave out Twitter. The social network has 47 million users in the U.S. For farmers and ranchers, #AgTwitter is a unique community that allows producers to both share and glean information about what’s going on in agriculture.

John Newton, American Farm Bureau’s chief economist, uses the platform to share timely market intelligence reports and other economic information that’s important to farmers.

“Twitter helps me stay up to speed on timely information impacting agriculture and the farm economy,” Newton said. “I glean so much from the farmers and ranchers that I follow and appreciate their important perspective.”

Agriculture has a great story to tell and social media allows farmers and ranchers to be the story tellers.

Morgan Walker is digital & social media manager at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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