A new foundation was launched this week by family farmers and ranchers from across North America. The AgChat Foundation is a non-profit organization designed to empower more farmers to leverage social media as a tool to tell agriculture’s story.

“Our goal is to empower farmers and ranchers to build communities through social media and help farmers tell their story,” says Ray Prock, Jr., AgChat Foundation board member and co-owner of Ray-Lin Dairy in Denair, Calif. “I think everyone understands the “why” in needing to tell agriculture’s story, as today’s consumer’s are three to four generations removed from the farm. But I think people get lost when it comes to the “how” part of the equation.”

“By forming this foundation, we will now be able to help farmers tell their stories,” says Prock. And, he says it’s not just dairy, beef and pork producers. The AgChat Foundation plans to work united with everyone in agriculture across the United States, including crop farmers, organic producers, fruit and vegetable growers, large and small producers.

“We believe the foundation will serve as a conduit for agricultural advocacy,” says Prock. “We believe that the 1.5 percent of the population involved in agriculture can educate the 98.5 percent that is not. Consumers have sincere questions about their food and it’s our goal to help farmers and ranchers answer questions about how food, fuel, feed and fiber are produced.”

The foundation will be focusing on four different areas agvocacy and training, strategic agvocacy campaigns, data analysis and technology scholarships.

Agvocacy 2.0 training will help farmers effectively communicate their message on why, how and what you do to put food on the plates in homes across the United States.

Strategic agvocacy will amplify agriculture’s voice through coordinated efforts similar to what was witnessed with the #moo and #oink campaigns in 2009.

Data analysis will provide tools to assist agvocates with targeted community efforts.

Technology scholarships will assist in equipping farmers with infrastructure to enable full use of social media. This infrastructure can be as complex as providing a voice and resources in the effort to expand rural broadband or as simple as digital video and smartphones. All of these components are used to effectively tell one’s story online and scholarships will assist in increasing activity.

A 13-member board will provide direction for the foundation in addition to an advisory panel. The diversity of agriculture is represented in the board and advisory panel from local food advocates, organic and conventional farmers, to agribusinesses and social media experts.

Funding for the foundation will be sought from individuals, companies and organizations who share the commitment to empowering farmers.

For more information, go to: http://agchat.org/