There was a big birthday this past week: the AgChat Foundation turned three! One of the farmers who put significant effort into creating the Foundation can be credited for coining the term "agvocacy," which is the combination of agriculture and advocacy.
According to their website, the AgChat Foundation is about empowering farmers to tell their stories through social media and enhancing the engaged community and strengthening the collective voice. The AgChat Foundation is a non-profit designed to empower farmers and ranchers to leverage social media as a tool to tell agriculture's story. The Foundation educates and equips farmers with the skill set needed to effectively engage on social media sites.
Jeff VanderWerff, a fourth generation fruit and grain farmer from Michigan, is the Vice President on the AgChat Board of Directors. He encourages people to join the weekly Tuesday night AgChat Twitter chat to connect with others. Each week, #AgChat focuses on a different topic impacting agriculture, such as water, agronomy and public perceptions of farming. On the third Tuesday of each month, there is a sister chat, #FoodChat, which focuses on the interests of consumers and other influencers of food choices.
The AgChat Foundation also provides regional and national training on social media. The 2013 national training event will be in Charlotte, North Carolina in mid-August. Jay Baer, a social media speaker, author, and coach will be the keynote speaker.
VanderWerff shared that while farmers who raise the primary commodities are a necessary part of the food system, there are a lot of consumers who have a negative image of these types of farms. It's more difficult to make the direct connection of how row crops contribute to the food system. He encourages larger farmers to share what they are doing on their farm and how those things are positive to the environment. It's also important to remind the public that your farm is a family farm.
He says that AgChat is about, "showing you the social media tools, helping you become proficient in using them, and letting you get on your way to sharing your farm's story."
A big thank you to the AgChat community for all the effort you each put into sharing the agriculture story with the world and providing training so others can effectively share their story as well.
Over the next few weeks we'll talk more about other agvocacy efforts.