Today’s milk drinker is so far removed from the farm he may have a hard time imagining that jug going any farther back than the supermarket — but not if dairymen and women like Will Gilmer and Carrie Mess have anything to do with it.
The duo is part of a growing group of agricultural advocates, or agvocates, who share real stories and photos from their respective operations via social media such as Twitter and Facebook. They are telling agriculture’s story — before someone else does.
The Adventures of Dairy Carrie blog started just more than one year ago and its accompanying Facebook page, which already boasts 700 fans, followed soon after. Her passion for agvocacy shines through when asked why it’s so important to educate consumers in this way.
“In today’s world sensational sells,” she says. “The wrong information can spread with lightning speed. Food and farming are not immune to this. We have two options on how to handle the misinformation out there: We can be defensive and try to fight the uphill battle against bad information, or we can play offense, reach out to people and tell our story. Ignoring the conversations happening online isn’t an option.”
Will Gilmer has been telling his farm’s story via www.gilmerdairyfarm.com since 2003 but joined the social media movement in 2007. Gilmer Dairy Farm’s Facebook page now has more than 2,500 followers. He sees a tremendous benefit in agvocacy.
“People depend on us to provide safe, affordable food, but we also depend on them to purchase what we produce,” Gilmer explains. “The public deserves to know the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of what we do on our farms, and sharing our stories in a proactive manner helps accomplish that. As a result, we can hope to achieve a boost in consumer confidence and have more people advocating for us when faced with unnecessary, burdensome regulations.”