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?

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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.

 

AgChat Foundation Announces 2014 Cultivate & Connect Conference

It has been said that everything is bigger in Texas. The AgChat Foundation’s 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference to be held at the Radisson istockphoto-austin-city-skyline-at-night-crop-300wHotel & Suites in beautiful downtown Austin, Texas, August 21-22, 2014, will be no exception [registration link].

For the first time, our annual conference will include an open registration process which does not require participants to complete an application and receive an invitation to attend. Additionally, there will be no limit on the number of alumni attendees nor a limit on non-farmers and non-ranchers. It will be the best and biggest AgChat conference to date [registration link].

Who can attend?

Cultivate & Connect is open to all farmers, ranchers, growers, agribusiness people and agriculture educators from all walks of agriculture. Large, small, organic, conventional, urban, hobby? You are all invited to attend.

Why should you attend?

  • Expansive networking within the AgChat community
  • Connect with leading experts and your peers
  • Learn and share innovative and cutting edge ideas
  • The best of the best in Ag speakers
  • Cultivate & Connect brings together the latest in technology and the farmers and ranchers who are using it
  • An experience you will never forget

Main Sessions Include:Austin, Texas, The Live Country Music Capital of the World is the location of the 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference scheduled for Aug. 21-22, 2014. AgChat.org

  • What Chefs and Moms Really Say About the Food You are Growing
  • Does Community Engagement Work Offline and Why You Should Care
  • What is “Social Media Voice” and How Do You Find Yours?
  • Too little Time, Too Many Activities. Help Me!
  • Can You Build Your Community To Help Create Action?
  • 5 Questions You Need To Learn To Answer About Being A Farmer, Dealing With The Questions
  • Photo Walk About To Get The Pictures You Want

Keynote Speaker Thom Singer

Thom Singer keynote speaker for the Cultivate & Connect conference, Aug. 21-22, 2014. AgChat.org

 

Thom Singer is an engaging speaker who will cause you to explore creative ways to make, grow and keep your business relationships. Thom debunks the myths of networking and delivers actions items for success. He has authored ten books on the power of business relationships, networking, presentation skills and entrepreneurship, and regularly speaks to corporate, law firm and convention audiences. Participants will learn how to ‘lunch with strangers,’ ways to ignite deeper conversations, how to make deeper connections with consumers and meaningful relationships.

 

Call for Session Proposals

Share your story! How are you working differently? How are you making a difference? What approaches are you finding successful? How are you reaching new audiences? Are you connecting with youth? What tools or technologies are you using? How are your customers, followers, or audiences responding to your social media efforts? Compile and submit a proposal for a 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference session by clicking here. 

How do I register?

Exclusive registration for farmers and ranchers begins at 8amCT on Friday, March 7th. Registration for non-farmers and non-ranchers will begin at 8am CT on Friday, March 21st [registration link for all attendees].

Attend AgChat's 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference Aug. 21-22, 2014 in Austin, Texas. AgChat.org

How Do You Talk About That? Part I: GMO’s

A question we often receive from readers is “how do I talk about _____.” In an effort to answer this question we’ve created a series of posts to help you discuss tough topics like GMO’s, being a conventional farmer who farms non-GMO, farming organically and more. As an organization we do not focus on messaging however, with this series we are merely providing a platform so others can share their advice. We would love for YOU to also share in the comments your positive tips about talking GMO’s. ~Jenny Schweigert

5 Tips for Talking GMO’s

1. Don’t be Quick to Anger

This can apply to all agvocacy.  Many people you’ll interact with online may have very little if any first hand knowledge of what happens on How Do You Talk About GMO's on www.AgChat.organy kind of farm.  Everyone can’t know everything.  How much do you know about brain surgery?  Understand when starting a conversation that it really does help to feel out concerns of people versus laying out a lecture to tell them how things really are.

2. Explain Why You Employ Biotechnology

Every farm operation is different.  Be sure to explain to people why you choose to use a certain kind of seed on your farm.  Maybe a particular pest or weed has been a problem and Bt or herbicide tolerance has helped solve that issue.  Has biotech helped you become a more sustainable farm?  If your entire crop isn’t GMO you could explain why the whole operation doesn’t consist of biotech seed.

3. Bt Doesn’t Equal No Insecticide

Sometimes people who raise Bt crops tell others they don’t use any insecticide.  This is misleading since Bt is an insecticide.  There’s also a good chance the seed is treated with something like Poncho to combat pests.  Be honest and let consumers know you use pesticides, but you just may not spray them.  It’s also worth mentioning that because of Bt and seed treatments the need to fill a sprayer with fuel, water, and insecticide to apply an in-season insecticide is often not necessary.  Spraying also requires time, labor, and could cause soil compaction.

4.  Tool in the Toolbox

Biotechnology is a tool we use to address certain management issues.  It’s not the be-all, end-all answer to every agronomic choice.  Good agronomy transcends production practices, and people should know how biotech, conventional, and organic are similar.  All farms face pest, disease, weeds, and weather and everyone approaches those challenges in their own way.

5.  You Have a Choice

Let people know you can choose to buy seed from anywhere you please.  Anyone who has been a proponent of biotechnology for very long has surely encountered backlash claiming farmers are controlled by “Big Ag” seed companies who only create GMO crops to sell you their herbicides.  Another claim is that farmers must continue to buy seed from the same company.  But anyone who has ever bought GMO seed knows this isn’t true.  Sure there are some restrictions, but no one is stopping you from buying seed elsewhere.  In fact, nothing you’ve signed in a tech agreement says you must buy any kind of chemistry if you buy seed.  Let people know that once you purchase seed you are free to manage that seed as you see fit.

written by Brian Scott

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Brian Scott blogs at TheFarmersLife.com

Brian Scott is a 4th generation corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat farmer from Indiana. He is Purdue graduate who majored in Soil and Crop Management. For Brian the learning continues as his inner #AgNerd chases the progression of precision agriculture and is ready to take farming to new heights.  You can follow along with the happenings of Brian’s farm and #AgNerd adventures by visiting www.TheFarmersLife.com or on Twitter (@TheFarmersLife) and Facebook.

AgChat Foundation Announces 2014 Northwest Regional Agvocacy Conference

Join us for a one-of-a-kind experience in gorgeous downtown Portland, OR, January 30-31, 2014. This conference will tout a special AgChat Foundation's 2014 Northwest Regional Agovcacy Conferenceelement no other Agvocacy conference has seen, providing our attendees with the opportunity to explore food-focused businesses and connect with key food influencers.

You can also expect to learn how to identify your social media ‘voice,’ effectively reaching out to your audience, understanding essential components of the blogging process and looking at social analytics to determine what the numbers mean.

The conference will be held at the beautiful, downtown Crowne Plaza, an ideal home base for exploring the city’s cultural aspects with breathtaking views.

Tickets for the event are $100 for farmers and ranchers; $150 for agri-business professionals, AgEducators, etc… For additional information including registration and hotel accommodations, please visit our Eventbrite page.