Business & Policy
From the Editor: July-August 2013
No Secrets Here
By Lianne Appleby
Whether you’ve fully embraced Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or not, whether you dabble in them now and then, or prefer to leave it to others, there is a revolution going on. And, happily, farmers are not conspicuous by their absence.
Thanks to the Internet, producers across Canada are flocking to social media in order to get their messages out to the masses about the way animals are raised. Consumers, for their part, are lapping it up. Why wouldn’t they? If you don’t live on a farm, visiting opportunities are (usually) rare.
The new term “agvocate” describes those of us who are passionate about food and farming, enough so that we blog, Tweet and Facebook about it. But one well-known professional agvocate from Indiana, Michele Payn-Knoper (also known in the industry as simply “MPK”), took her passion as far as writing a book, No More Food Fights, which sets out to break stereotypes.
“The book describes farmers who don’t wear overalls but who do use technology in producing food and preserving the environment,” her website says. On the flip side, the book reminds farmers that only a small portion of Americans live on farms and urges them to use social media and one-on-one interaction to correct misconceptions about food production.
Agvocacy doesn’t have to be left only to those who make it their job, though. More and more producers are posting short videos online – ordinary ones about doing chores, and even parodies of pop hits (a good one to Google is a lampoon of Psy’s Gangnam Style, dubbed Farmer Style. Or how about I’m Farming and I Grow It, based on LMFAO’s party rock hit Sexy and I Know It). These proud farmers produce such clips so that consumers can see the work and care that goes into raising animals and crops – while getting a chuckle out of the delivery method. The strategy is working. The former had nearly 13.7 million views at time of writing, while the latter showed just over 8.5 million hits.
On her site www.causematters.com, MPK writes, “Why should people interested in food and farming care about social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? It’s really quite simple. Mass influence. Facebook reached 150 million users nearly three times faster than a cell phone.”
This month, Canadian Poultry is honoured, once again, to highlight some of the industry’s movers and shakers. They’re proud of what they do and have found the fine balance between viable farming, industry agvocacy and raising families. As we were putting this issue together, I couldn’t help but think that while social media is great for telling the stories you want told, wouldn’t it be super for Joe Public to come across this magazine and read these profiles? These stories are the ones that consumers should read – those that aren’t intended for the non-farming community yet still convey passion, caring and a determination to produce the best quality poultry and eggs possible, with bird welfare top of mind.
They’re not spun for the general public, but presented raw – and still the affection for their animals and what they do shows through. And isn’t it what you’re doing, when you think no one is looking, that really counts?