Times are changing — and for farmers, that means doing their own public relations work.
Farming used to be a pretty well-respected profession. People trusted farmers and trusted in our production methods. But as consumers have become more and more removed from the farm, they have also been turning to other sources for information on agriculture. For many, especially young parents, self-appointed experts, interest groups, and social media stars have made themselves appear as the go-to place for trustworthy food knowledge.
But that doesn’t mean that these sources are telling the truth about food, farming, or agriculture. Instead of giving followers an inside, truthful look into modern production methods, many of these alternatives paint a grim and dire picture of farming that scares people into believing the food they eat isn’t safe, nutritious, or healthy. This is precisely why it is so important for farmers and those involved in agriculture — you know, that people that actually know something about the topic — to stand up and say something.
Unfortunately, sometimes farmers are more comfortable sitting in a cab all day, or hanging out with animals for company. Talking to people and reaching out isn’t always the most natural thing, and certainly not something we get trained to do. I’ve been actively writing and promoting agriculture now online for almost five years. While not everyone needs to start a blog, write regular articles, or manage a Facebook page of thousands, doing so has helped me figure out some things about crafting my message, engaging with the skeptical, and having meaningful conversations.
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[This article was originally published on AGDAILY as a guest column.]