By Nick Weber
I grew up in St. Louis and now work here in our corporate headquarters. Quite frankly, I don’t get out to the farm much. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited a farm. I’ve learned a lot from other meetings with farmers at trade shows, in the office, etc., but it’s different to have the conversation focused solely on what’s happening with them.
Before February, I relied almost entirely on agriculture trade publications, their Web sites’ message boards and the occasional mainstream media article for information about what’s happening in U.S. agriculture. But then, thanks to my colleague and co-blogger Kathleen, I discovered Twitter. I quickly realized this was a “place” where farmers were hanging out and talking shop. I embraced the new medium as another method of learning about all types of farming
A group chat session on Twitter, called #agchat, has helped me immensely in conversing with farmers and those in the industry. And I have gained a great deal of knowledge from those sessions as well.
But after reading a blog post by social media consultant and trainer Jay Baer about his Twitter 20 series—an interview via Twitter with Baer asking 20 questions of a person in social media circles—I became intrigued with the idea of applying his concept to agriculture. I thought this may be an additional way for me to learn about what’s happening at a super-local level but also get a person’s opinion on big-picture topics in ag. This would be my way of using social media to get me “on the farm” every week.
With Baer’s blessing, I mimicked his format, calling my series On the Farm (or #onthefarm in Twitter language). Andy Kleinschmidt of The Ohio State University Extension in Van Wert County, Ohio is an avid social media user and uses Twitter quite a bit, so I thought he’d be a great first guest to see if I could get the idea to work. The first Twitterview took place in late July and we covered topics ranging from how the crops are looking in his area to volunteer corn control to the benefits of being in social media. I think it went well, and I received positive feedback from my followers.
So, for the past six weeks on Thursday or Friday morning, an #onthefarm interview has taken place with someone in ag. I’ve also interviewed a Farm Bureau rep, a dairyman and a corn and soybean farmer. I even had a guest moderator one week (thanks @agripundit!). It’s been a pretty good experience thus far, as guests have been very open about their operations and experiences in ag. Last week I interviewed @JeffFowle, a cattleman from California who also raises horses and alfalfa. You can access the interview via a Twitter search for #onthefarm.
I still want to make it out to the farm more, but thanks to Twitter, I’m able to supplement my other ag resources and learn more about what’s happening in agriculture across the country. I hope you listen in on our conversation each week.