April 29th, 2014 – AgChat on Severe Weather

April 29th, 2014 – AgChat on Severe WeatherAre You Ready For Severe Weather? Weather is a fact of life for agriculture. At times the weather is helpful (water is required at times) but severe weather complicates the business of running a farm: protect you, family, the animals, and the business all comes into play. What do you do to live through and then work through bad weather? This AgChat conversation covers the issues and approaches.
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Carrie Mess – Meeting People In Real Life Helps Improve Learning

Carrie Mess - Meet People at Cultivate & Connect conference in Austin, TX Aug 21 & 22 Conversation with Carrie Mess – Carrie suggests that attending events like the Cultivate & Connect Conference is a great opportunity to meet other people in real life who are seeking to improve their agriculture story. She suggests that the best parts of the conference are the ideas discussed and the people you will meet [audio].

Seating is limited at the 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference so register early!

Direct link to MP3 audio.

Increase your Facebook Farm or Ranch Fan Page Exposure

Raise your hand if you’ve grown frustrated by Facebook’s changes to the algorithm? Almost everyone, including the AgChat Foundation fan page, have experience drastic decreases in Share your farm or ranch Facebook fan page on the ACF's Saturday Sharefest. Visit www.AgChat.orgtraffic on their fan pages. While Facebook probably needs to have some way to pay the light bill, it makes it difficult for advocates such as you. So what are some other options?

1.) If you haven’t already, begin a e-newletter. Be consistent and dedicated to providing valuable information. Sending the newsletter is one step, getting the person on the other end to open it is another. If you offer value in your newsletters you’ll see higher open rates.

2) Focus on engagement rather than views. Instead of focusing on the number of likes your Facebooks receive, concentrate on churning engagement. Ask questions such as “I like __________. Share if you too, support __________, like if you disagree. Also, ask for help! People love to help. For example, if you are looking for a new feed for your sheep, ask for others’ opinions.

3) Participate in group communities. Go to the groups column on the right-hand side of your Facebook profile, hover just to the left of the word Groups. A link that says more will appear. Once clicked you’ll see a list of groups you are a member. At the top it will show a “Suggested Groups” as well as a link for “Friends’ Groups” and “Nearby Groups.” This is a great way to learn about new communities and connect with those beyond the choir.

4) Become a Google+ user. Easier said than done, as it can be a tricky interface. However, make it a goal to spend a little time each day on the platform. What we have experienced is that while Facebook numbers have decreased, posts on Google+ have increased. An added bonus, is that posting on Google+ improves SEO on your blog and if directed to your Facebook Fan Page, may increase engagement. Give it a try!

5) Participate in Saturday ShareFest events or Linky parties. The SITSGirls (a great resource for reaching beyond the agricultural choir) offer an event on their website where you link up your blog. We offer an event where you can leave your Facebook Fan Page for others to see and share with their friends. 

Speaking of our Saturday Sharefest Celebration…this week, we are featuring all of the fan  pages which were listed on the post. Be sure to take a peek at this week’s featured fan pages! Watch for the next Saturday Sharefest coming soon!



You’re not organic farmers but you don’t grow GMO’s? How do you talk about that?

As part of our “How do you talk about that?,” series, Shannon Seifert shares how she tells the story behind their non-organic and non-GMO farm. 

Not organic and no-GMO’s. Confused? Many are. Orange Patch Dairy doesn’t grow GMO crops, but we’re not an organic farm Non-oganic and non-GMO. How do you talk about that? with Shannon Seifert www.AgChat.orgeither.  With GMO’s in the news, this only increases the importance of communicating about our farming practices. Here are some points we use when talking about GMO’s:

Stress the importance of using crop rotation to control pests and weeds.  We’re conventional farmers, but thanks to a crop rotation which includes forage crops like alfalfa, we haven’t needed to use GMO technologies in our corn varieties.  We basically only grow corn and alfalfa to feed our cows.  Alfalfa works as a great crop to control weeds and break up our corn crop rotations.

Be transparent: when needed, we do use herbicides and insecticides.  We use chemicals as needed, based on the recommendations of our agronomist, but since our crops are fed as forage, we want to minimize the amount of chemicals we use.  We capitalize on the natural defenses of our crops.  However, this can also be said for GMO crops as well, since they allow a reduction in many chemical applications.

GMO’s are an option that we might use if needed.  We could benefit from GMO’s or might use them in the future if we face an issue where our agronomist would recommend them, but for right now, our crop rotation and farming choices don’t require GMO’s.  In the past pests like corn borer, have damaged our crops and lowered our yields, but we’ve been able to use other agronomic tools and rotation to minimize future damage.

Just like consumers, we demand choices.  When we choose our seeds for the growing season, we have a wide variety of traits to choose from: height, grain yield, forage yield, digestibility, drought resistant, standablity, tolerance to insects, resistance to herbicides, etc.  As dairy farmers, we put a strong focus on varieties that will make the best, most digestible feed for our cows first, yield comes second.  If we can grow high quality feed for our cows, we know we will get high quality milk.  A grain farmer will choose varieties that may have a higher grain yield instead; different farmers with different goals.

There’s no single “right” way to farm.  Often we forget that there is no single “right” way to farm.  Each farm has its own environment and a farmer manages and makes choices which are the best for that environment.  We make choices on how to best improve our soils, use our natural fertilizers (cow manure), and produce the most tons of forage per acre, while making sure that each pound of feed we grow helps us grow healthy cows.  We make choices that are the best for our environment and our cows.

Are you a non-GMO and non-organic farmer? How do you talk about your farm?


Shannon Seifert - Visit www.OrangePatchDairy.blogspot.com


Shannon Seifert is a dairy farmer from Southern Minnesota. After working a full time job as a dairy nutritionist for 4 years she returned to the farm in 2009, working side by side with her husband every day. Together they milk around 200 cows. They love what they do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. You can catch up with Shannon on the Orange Patch Dairy Facebook page or on their blog OrangePatchDairy.blogspot.com.


Announcing Bruce Vincent Closing Keynote – Listening Is A Great Way To Improve Your Food/Farm Conversations

Bruce Vincent uses listening to make better connections with people. Visit AgChat.org/Austin to register for the 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference! We are pleased to announce the addition of Bruce Vincent, 3rd generation logger from Montana, to the list of outstanding speakers who will be at the 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference. During his speaking tenure, Bruce has given motivational speeches throughout the United States and the world, has testified on natural resource issues before Congress and has appeared on several news programs such as “60 Minutes”.

He’s spent the last 30 years speaking to audiences about his love for the forest. Bruce says listening is key to make better connections with people and help improve conversations about agriculture. He also recommends that farmers and ranchers put in their business plan dedicated time for making those connection on social media [audio].

Seating is limited at the 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference so register early!

Direct link to MP3 audio.