It only takes a spark…

Today has been a banner day, but not always in a good way. I’ve been happy, I’ve been sad, I’ve been frustrated and I’ve been downright ticked…and that was all before noon! Actually, today’s emotions had a lot to do with social media and perceptions.

To begin with, McD’s has launched a campaign called #MeetTheFarmers. It’s all about improving their image, after some pretty damaging stuff has been spread like wildfire throughout the internet world. Now, I don’t blame them one bit…I do have to agree that it’s about time we take responsibility for our own actions, including what we put in our mouths.

But what I don’t like is the impression that McD’s is doing something cutting edge by introducing farmers to their consumers. It’s something that’s been going on for years, and it doesn’t take a marketing genius or billion dollar budget to accomplish.

I’m all for the interaction, and welcome the conversations that are starting because of it…and I’m hoping and praying that the trend continues. But remember, these conversations have been going for quite some time now, and many have started without the big-name push.

For example:

  • A dairy farmer in Alabama…a true salt-of-the-earth type of guy, with a great family and an uncanny ability to make a song about cow poop sound catchy.
  • A Prairie Mama in North Dakota, who I had the pleasure of meeting through social media, and shudder to think of what my life would now be without her. Who tells the story of ag from a first-hand view, yet has spent enough time in the corporate world that she makes it seem so polished and effortless. She has connected Rockin’ Rural Women from across the country. Not only is she an inspiration, but her mother is as well, blogging from the farm and bringing the outside world a little closer to the field…truly connecting the farm to the plate.
  • A busy mom, with 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs, who took an idea and ran with it, and turned it into a GREAT way to connect women and introduce others to life on the farm.
  • A dairy mom, who recently had baby #3, writes a great blog and is willing to step out of the box and do unheard of things…like sell a pig on Twitter.

I could go on…the list would probably be in the hundreds. People, farmers, that I’ve met and make it a priority to share their story, and the story of agriculture, with others through social media.

And they do it without an endorsement deal, they do it without promised reimbursement and they do it out of passion and love for an industry that provides them a great way of life and a lifestyle that many could only dream about.

No, it may not be the golden arches, but I’m confident that although #MeetTheFarmer may be a trending topic on Twitter, the connections that are made will continue to grow and be built through the hard work of dedicated producers.

I’d bet a Big Mac on it.

7 thoughts on “It only takes a spark…

  1. I always like it when people leave a comment on my blog, and I really want to leave a comment here to, but I’m at a loss without repeating what you just said and pardon the words but “Damn Straight” to go with it all!

    Again, the Corporate America walks away with the big shiny blue ribbon and the farmers are left back being looked at like “duh why did you dummys think of this, see, farm conversating with city, simple you dummy’s”

    when all along, every tuesday night, every other thursday, and I can’t remember what other nights, we’re all out here waiting around for that 1 question to be asked “how is it done” ….

    Great post! Do we need to pitch in for a fundraiser for another bottle of Advil?

  2. I know what you mean. It has been a roller coaster of a time. One person out there thanking the farmers while the next spouts off with false information from animal abuse cases. Then the next is vegan and anything you do is completely and morally wrong.

    I really wish that people would just take the time to learn who we are, what we do and the reasons why we do it.

    I agree with okcableguy….just waiting for someone to start asking and you can start an advil drive for me! I need a case of it! I live in an area where all of this topic is a daily conversation and rather tiring sometimes. But we all keep sitting here, waiting for people to ask questions so they can develop a tolerance and understanding for what we do.

  3. I was very skeptical/leery of this McD campaign. But it is so much better than the ridiculous, cartoon ad by Chipolte which spreads misleading perceptions throughout the commercial. To make the best of the situation is for farmers to be available and active to answer questions and correct misinformation.

    • I’m OK completely with the campaign, it adds to the conversation…I just don’t want anyone to think that McD’s will be in it for the long haul, answering questions for agriculture, putting full effort into the conversation. I don’t see that happening, and we have to be ready for the backlash that major campaigns bring. It’s the type of work we’ve been waiting for in the social media world, but we need to be ready to engage. It’s a great opportunity, but my point is that it’s not something that’s new to agvocacy. As you said, farmers need to be available and active, not just now, but for years to come.

  4. I am so glad I came from a small farm in OK. The majority of people know that farmers can take care of the land and animals better than anyone. It is the ones that don’t know anything that farmers have to look out for and be wary of (produce no dust while farming—REALLY???!!!???) Anyway y’all keep up the good work, you have at least ONE fan.

  5. I honestly think this type of campaign will hurt the authentic effort us farmers are doing to connect with consumers. People are calling it out on twitter as ‘farm washing’. Thanks for linking to our blog!
    PS we need to find away to deliver that pork to you soon 🙂

    • That’s the other part I was afraid of…and the public perception that we’re already paid off to speak out is bad enough the way it is. I know I wouldn’t sell out my blog posts for a Big Mac, but a McChicken? Hmmm…just kidding, of course. And our trips to Mayo keep getting messed with by the “professionals.” We’re scheduled for March, but I was hoping to sneak a trip down before calving season starts. I want/need/desire pork chops!

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