Time and time again I have shared the importance of connecting consumers to their food and farmer, but my message has mostly been shared from an emotional viewpoint. (I am a people person). I share because I want consumers to know their farmer. I want that connection, and I want consumers to feel comfortable and confident with whatever they choose in the dairy aisle.
Maybe you’re not a people person. Maybe you don’t give a hoot about the average consumer and their connection to food and farming. That’s fine; no judgement. But, you still need to share your farm story and here is why: Today’s consumers aren’t just influencing food trends and spending habits, they are making much bigger decisions – decisions that affect your operation. People who know nothing about farming are voting and making legislative decisions that directly affect farmers. Kind of scary, right?
Don’t we want as many people as possible to understand who we are, what we do and why we do it? If we want to continue to be profitable, sustainable and successful, we have to share. Every single one of us. We all need to be the face of agriculture.
Take a breath. I’m not saying you need to make a live appearance on Good Morning America. In fact, you can make a big impact right at home and in your community. Here are a few tips for getting started.
1. Do what you can, when you can
There are so many ways to share your farm story. Maybe you will pick just one; maybe you will try them all. No matter what you do or how often you are able to share, you are making a difference.
- Set up a Facebook or Instagram page for your farm.
- Do silly TikTok dances with your kids and cows.
- Start a blog.
- Host school tours or community picnics.
- Participate in your town’s parade.
- Adopt a highway.
- Sponsor the local baseball team.
- Attend town meetings.
2. Find Common ground and avoid jargon
The best advice I ever received was “The best way to promote ag is by not talking about it.” Figure out how you can relate to people. What do you have in common? Talk about other things and then figure out where your farm content fits in. As you’re sharing, be yourself and talk like you would talk with a friend. Be laid back, be funny, be you. I encourage you to be honest and open, but make sure you are sharing in a way that is understandable for all. We don’t want to make anyone feel stupid or confused.
3. You don’t have to be an expert on everything
There may come a time when someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer; that is okay. Be honest and do your best to point them in the right direction to find the answer.
4. Be positive
There is going to come a time when someone makes a negative comment about you or agriculture, and it is going to tick you off, but you need to remain calm. Getting fired up, calling someone names or talking negatively is not going to get your message across. It will only make that person angry, and they will not be perceptive to what you have to say. You truly catch more flies with sugar.
5. Just get started
This can feel uncomfortable for many. A lot of us chose the farm life so we didn’t have to deal with people, but here we are. We cannot wait for someone else to share the truth about farming nor can we expect a handful of people to take on the task. We all need to do our part to preserve our business and way of life. Friends, just get started.
My whole philosophy throughout my agvocating journey has been, “I might not change the world, but I could change the world for one person.” Imagine the change we can make if we all do our part.
- Dairy Producer
- Ettrick, Wisconsin
- Email Annaliese Wegner