As December winds down, it is traditional to recap one’s hard-won accomplishments while taking note of opportunities as a new year dawns, says Cyndie Sirekis, director of news services at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

For Farm Bureau and its farmer and rancher members around the nation, “noteworthy successes in 2009” included: providing input to the Agriculture Department on how farm bill programs should be implemented; advocating for much-needed new funding for agricultural research, computers and information technology; launching a grassroots campaign against cap-and-trade climate change legislation; and successful state ballot initiatives in Ohio (establishing a Livestock Standards Care Board) and Texas (supporting the rights of property owners), she notes.

In the “further develop and refine in 2010” category, one might find a list that includes social media outreach to consumers.

Farmers and ranchers continue to engagingly tell the story of agriculture in person in their own communities — at civic events, local fairs, festivals and through agri-tourism. But social media outlets such as Facebook, YouTube, blogs and the micro-blogging Web site, Twitter, provide another avenue for farmers to reach out to consumers of their farm products who are high-end communicators and opinion leaders, says Sirekis. Most often, consumer interest is related to animals raised for food — including dairy and beef cattle, hogs and chickens.

“Satisfying their curiosity about where the food they eat comes from is where farmers and ranchers really shine,” Sirekis says.

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Source: American Farm Bureau Federation