Individuals emerged  more prepared to share their personal stories  with an increasingly connected, mobile public.

Ohioans offer online agvocacy advice

Buckeye Farm News

More than 100 farmers and agribusiness professionals converged in Kansas City in August to sharpen their online agvocacy skills during the AgChat Foundation’s third annual Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference.

Three Ohioans who attended the conference share their takeaways on using social media to be an agricultural advocate:



Heather Baer

Columbiana County

Grain Originator and Shorthorn Cattle farmer

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My Take: “Social media gives me a way of reaching people across the country, telling how exciting agriculture can be. I want to share why we do what we do in agriculture; I want people to understand this in a positive light.”

My Three Takeaways:

  • Connect with others in agriculture. “Start by finding (an online page or account) about agriculture, then find the people who talk about that page.”
  • Pictures, pictures, pictures. “People want to see what is happening on your farm. Make sure to take (and share) clear and eye-catching pictures.”
  • Practice. “Spend 15 minutes per day promoting yourself and your business. You will be amazed at how many followers you can get just by spending 15 minutes per day dedicated to online agvocacy. Reach out to others and start making social contacts.”

My advice: “Never be defensive against others. If you don’t know an answer to a question, find someone who does. There are thousands of people to reach out to on the web.”

My post-conference aspiration: “Increase the activity of our company blog, get more involved in tweeting and start a blog for the farm.”


Taysha Reitzel

Williams County, Cattle and Grain Farmer, Beef & Dairy Genetics

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Taysha’s Blog

My take: “My goal is to help provide transparency within the agriculture industry and bridge the gap between producers and consumers. We need to embrace technology and use it to our advantage, and start to break down the walls, letting people see into how and why we do things we do.”

My Three Takeaways:

  • Have an open mind and support all sectors of agriculture. “(Ohio farmer and conference session presenter) Mike Haley said that if you are eating you are supporting agriculture. That couldn’t be more true. We are lucky enough to have options and everyone has the right to choose an option.”
  • Consistency, consistency, consistency. “To be a good advocate you need to be consistent in sharing information.”
  • Don’t let your passion get the best of you. “We as humans tend to lash out and get defensive when we are passionate about something. When we are faced with an issue or person that is very much against what we believe, we need to step back and try to see things from (other points) of view before we respond.”

My advice: “Don’t think that nobody cares what you think. What you may think isn’t really worth reading may be worth reading to someone else. Also, be genuine; don’t try to be someone you’re not.”

My post-conference aspiration: “Connect with more people inside and outside of the ag community.”


Charles Wildman

Clark County, Hog Farmer and Ag Spokesperson

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Find Charles on Facebook

Charles’ Blog

My Take: “Social media has become integral to what I do and how I do it, and it has opened up my world. It lets me know what’s going on in society while I’m sitting in my hog barn, learn about the important information and news I need before tomorrow’s paper is delivered, and present myself as that farmer an increasing audience of consumers wants to connect with.”

My Three Takeaways:

  • Be positive. “Sometimes questions come across to farmers as anger, but it’s because people have little knowledge, but also legitimate concerns. Don’t respond until you can frame (your reply) in a positive way. Negatives just encourage more negatives.”
  • Be social. “We like being left alone, but there’s a part of us that likes to be social as well. Farmers know how to talk to people. And if you spend a lifetime figuring out the technology in your combine, you can certainly work the technology involved in social media. If you don’t participate in it, you aren’t going to get anything out of it.”
  • Stay focused. “Use social media with a plan, and from your area of interest. I try to get people to ask questions and think about their connectedness to agriculture.”

My advice: “The social pressure on farmers to be involved is increasing. We need to be connected to this information. When I really want information, I turn to my iPhone; it’s a gift from God if you have a good signal. But take your time…it’s like learning a new language.”

Post-conference aspiration: “Doing more business-focused activities on Facebook. Sorting and segmenting my audience to communicate with who I want to, how I want to, when I want to.”

Photo courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm New Media.

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