Written by: Guest | November 2, 2023
By: Emily Alvarez, communications intern
Social media has transformed communication, allowing people to go beyond geographical boundaries and connect with people from diverse backgrounds. It also serves as an educational tool that can allow for more insight and awareness by being able to engage with an intended audience. Agriculture suffers from many misinterpretations that have an alarming impact on farmers today, and social media can be used to debunk myths and educate the public about this industry.
At the American Feed Industry Association’s recent Liquid Feed Symposium (LFS), Tara Vander Dussen (aka the “New Mexico Milkmaid”) spoke about the significant role that communications plays in agriculture and provided some concerning statistics regarding the gap of misinformation. She said:
“Seventy-two percent of consumers know nothing or very little about farming, 70% of consumers base their purchasing decisions on how food is grown and raised, and 37% of consumers feel that the way food is grown and raised has worsened. These are not good statistics when thinking about people choosing different products to bring home and eat at the dinner table”.
She asked the audience the questions: “how?” and “why?” According to Vander Dussen, it is the lack of involvement society has in agriculture today.
“Just 1.3% of the U.S. population today is employed by farming, compared to 70% almost 200 years ago. This is not a lot of time to shift careers in agriculture, to something completely unrelated.”
She offered that social media provides a platform for farmers, agricultural organizations and consumers to share their stories, challenges and successes, which could foster a better understanding of the agricultural industry. She explained:
“It doesn’t take a lot to get to know farmers today. They trust us and believes us, and that’s crucial because it positions us well to be able to tell our story."
Telling your story to key audiences is something that Lauren Twigee, a nutritionist and Instagram creator of @Nutrition.At.Its.Roots, says is critically important for feed and pet food companies. Twigge, who comes from an agricultural background having grown up on a California farm, discussed this concept at a recent AFIA Marketing and Communications Committee. She explained how she uses her social media platforms to discuss health and nutrition topics, debunk misconceptions about the quality of food and educates the public by creating links between farming and nutrition.
“My goal is to remove the fear of food, to get food back on the plate. Using social media to converse with your audience will bring trust and a flow of correct information amongst society.”
Social media is dynamic and by using authentic storytelling, visual content and educational material, the agricultural industry has the tools to build meaningful connections with a large audience. It can contribute to the industry's growth, sustainability and success.
Who do you think are some of the best creators on social media telling ag’s positive story? Drop a comment below and let us know!