It was my pleasure to sit down with UC Food Observer, a social media project of the University of California focused on food and agriculture. They’ve had some great interviews, but I’m really proud to be one of the first farmers featured!
Please check those out, but in a nutshell: declining rural populations and aging farmers are demographic trends with terrible implications for farm policy.
What are farmers to do? It’s hard to swim against the demographic tide, but one thing we can do is speak up. Personally. Too often, those of us who grow crops for a living leave the talking to our advocacy groups or the PR firms and lobbyists on the payroll of our customers and suppliers. We let other people speak for agriculture, and while their voices are welcome, they must not be alone. Most people don’t know a farmer personally anymore, and we need to change that.
Farmers are only about 2% of the population, so each of us needs to make 98 new friends. Let’s shoot for 196, since we all know at least one person who won’t make the effort. Church, school, community group, local media, social media… doesn’t matter. We need to introduce ourselves. That’s it… simple, right?
Well, it is simple, but it isn’t easy. I’ve been out there and I’ll be the first to say it can be tough. Despite the fact that few people actually know any farmers anymore, they feel like they know about farming. A lot about farming. (The internet makes everyone an expert, and besides… how complicated can it be? It’s just farming. They did that in the olden days)
Most of your audience will have a short attention span and a desire to have their beliefs confirmed. You will have about 10 seconds to either disrupt their certainty, or tell them what they want to hear. It’s easier and more fun to tell them what they want to hear, but less useful. A talk that goes too smoothly deserves another talk.
Let me know how it goes!