What’s the AgChat Foundation?
- AgChat Foundation is a non-profit designed to empower more farmers to leverage social media as a tool to tell agriculture’s story. The Foundation will educate and equip farmers with the skill set needed to effectively engage on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media sites (WordPress, Blogspot, Google Plus, etc).
Who started the AgChat Foundation & why?
- A group of farmers have led the grassroots effort to develop the AgChat Foundation, designed to connect communities beyond Twitter. Some of the farmers who put significant effort into the Foundation’s creation are Jeff Fowle, Darin Grimm, Mike Haley and Ray Prock.
How do you define farmers and ranchers?
- People who tend the land and/or animals to produce the food, feed, fiber and fuel that sustains us. We do not think that size of operation or production practices define farmers. We encourage all farmers to tell the story about their farm and their pride in producing the food, feed and fiber.
Do you differentiate between farmers based on size of operation or crops planted?
- We think farmers, regardless of the size or type of their operation have tended to be humble and sometimes hesitant in telling their stories. And yet, the strongest voices for agriculture come from the people working with the land and animals every day; this Foundation is designed to serve as a conduit for agricultural advocacy and does not represent a single perspective within agriculture.
Are organic or local farmers part of the AgChat Foundation?
- We have created the AgChat Foundation with the hopes of maintaining a very inclusive group and dialog, which is why invitations were extended to both local and organic representatives on our advisory board. Organic and local farmers also have a role in the food and farming discussions and are certainly a welcome part of the Foundation as are farmers who use other production practices.
How is it being financed?
- The Foundation was launched solely through the volunteer activities of farmers and people who supported the concept. Since then, volunteers have have an opportunity to talk to a wide group of companies, organizations and individuals about investing in the AgChat Foundation. A list of sponsors (both financial and in-kind) will be published on our site. If you would like more information, please contact a member of the board of directors or advisory board or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will AgChat Foundation programs start?
- The first official program by the Foundation will be held August 30-31 as we hold a training seminar in Chicago. We hope to get several more of these on the calendar in the near future. One of the really exciting things about AgChat Foundation is the activity was started long before the Foundation. The twitter chat that started last year has spurred significant community action including Facebook groups, trending efforts to connect with consumers, interactions at major industry events, resources to use in discussions & agvocacy and more. The Foundation simply provides an opportunity to coordinate some of these things to help strengthen agriculture’s voice.
Is this about addressing the critics?
- No. AgChat Foundation is about empowering farmers to tell their stories through social media and enhancing the engaged community and strengthening the collective voice. This will provide a chance for agriculture to work together on a common issue. The ability to touch millions with agricultural messages. We believe that 1.5% of the population can educate the 98.5% that’s not on a farm about how food, feed, fuel and fiber are produced. We also believe it’s all of agriculture’s responsbility to build that connection and that it can best be done by working together.
What can I do to get involved?
- Connecting via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube has been the first step for many. We will continue to build this through these groups and our website – agchat.org. We’re excited about getting new ideas from all the members of the community to see how we can grow the number of farmers agvocating through social media. We also have committees designed around each of our program areas which volunteers are encouraged to contact:
Tell me more about the four program areas:
- Agvocacy 2.0 Training seeks to provide farmers basic, mid-level & expert training to move mindsets up the technology ladder. It will help farmers understand social media as an avenue to reconnect with public and put a face on the table. And assist farmers in learning how to effectively and safely use the existing social media tools. Basic training with webinars, mid-level training at a conference and advanced training with a mastermind will assist farmers in determining which social media tool(s) will be most effective for them. The Foundation will continue to develop skills in this arena as it seeks to stay ahead of the curve on social media training and trends.
- 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.
- Strategic Agvocacy Coordination has allowed farmers and others in agriculture to amplify agriculture’s voice through coordinated efforts. AgChat Foundation will provide guidance, insight and support for campaigns benefitting American Agriculture. Some of the farm agvocacy campaigns that have already proven successful are #thankafarmer & #moo. These campaigns have demonstrated the value of connecting directly with the non-farm public.
- Data Analysis provides tools to assist agvocates with targeted community efforts and allows farmers to grow in their individual effectiveness. AgChat Foundation can provide expertise on list generation, brand monitoring and impact of campaigns for people and businesses.
- Simple definition is that agvocacy is a combination of agriculture and advocacy and was coined by Mike Haley, a grain farmer and cattleman from Ohio. The inherent active nature of the word has led many farmers and others in ag to make it a favorite for many in the #AgChat community and spread it to other channels and personal conversations. Agvocacy is not about targeting any selected group, such as media or elected officials – it’s representative of ag proactively telling our story.