It’s Time for the Choir to Sing

The AgChat Banditas have taken over!
The AgChat Banditas have taken over!

Aimee Whetstine

Aimee Whetstine blogs at everyday epistle. She wrote her first food and farm post Milk Wars in 2011. Her work has been featured on BlogHerThis is her first appearance as a Bandita.

There’s nothing quite like preaching to the choir.

It feels so good, so validating, to write something and have like-minded people stand up and cheer. The rest of the world may balk, but these people understand. Together, you are a community, a force for change. They get it. They get you. And they give you a hearty, “Amen!”

I love it when that happens. As a blogger, I love it when I write something that inspires others and when I read something that inspires me. Behold the power of social media.

If you’re reading this, you’re into social media. You can deny it and say you just read this one blog or follow that one person. So how did you get here? Via Twitter or Facebook? By link, email, or RSS feed? If you’re sophisticated enough to be here reading this now, you’re into social media.

Chances are, you’re also into agriculture. Of course you already knew that. This site is called Agriculture Proud, for goodness sakes! You appreciate every post from bull semen collection to the diet and digestive process of a heifer. You, my friends, are bona fide members of the choir.

Good advise.
Good advice.

But some of you are here for other reasons.

You’re curious and skeptical. You saw this handsome, young buck blogging about farming on CNN, and you have questions. Where does our food come from? Is it really safe to eat? Are the animals and land cared for in a responsible, dignified manner? Is farming sustainable? Why do some farmers use pesticides, hormones, antibiotics? Is there enough food to feed everyone? Will our grocery bills escalate?

My husband grew up on a dairy farm and works in the food and farming business, but that’s not my experience. I was raised in the suburbs by a non-farming family. I have no idea what farmers are talking about in some of their stories. I don’t live on a farm now, and it’s unlikely I ever will. I have the same questions about food and farming as my fellow city dwellers. Lucky for me, I also have access to a vibrant online community for answers. So do you.

If you have questions about farming, there are people in this Agriculture Proud audience who have answers. They’ll share with you what they do on their farms and why. They’ll give it to you straight and connect you to others to learn more.

As for the farmers, ranchers, and ag experts in the house, I’m counting on you to make me an honest woman.

There’s a terrific amount of energy spent preaching to the choir. That’s fine; community is vital. But there’s an urgent need to reach beyond like-minded people. And I just promised the non-farming folk that you’d talk to them.

A multitude of sincere and confused consumers are caught in the middle of the rhetoric about food and farming. They’re bombarded with one-sided messaging, and they really need to hear from you. They’re also into social media. A few of them even blog. Sure, some have an agenda, but most don’t. Most want to learn and share.

Many of you, like Ryan, have already engaged people outside of this circle. Many more of you are poised to begin the dialogue with your blog or Twitter handle in place. Take the next step. Strike up a conversation online. Post a friendly comment to challenge misinformation when you see it. Pitch your story to a website you follow that isn’t exclusively ag-related. Invite a mommy blogger from a neighboring city to visit your farm and write about her experience.

The power of social media is at your disposal. Join the conversation, stand up, and sing. 

Kids love kids!

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  1. I think we often think too hard when we are asked to reach beyond the choir. We freak ourselves out that we must *gasp* talk to people different than us. That is not the case at all. One of my favorite communities to share with online is the Holistic Moms Network. I am a member and I love the sharing and community. I didn’t join the group because I wanted to infiltrate them and reach beyond the choir with my agriculture messages. I joined the group because we shared the same interests and values. Everyone on their weekly chat knows me as the dairy farmer. This didn’t happen because I had some grand messaging plan. No, instead I talk about what is happening in my life and that includes dairy farming.They ask me questions and I am seen as a resource.

    So my point is, we all have interests beyond the choir. Find groups within those other interests and join the conversation and community. If you are honest about who you are as a person, they will learn you are “the farmer”. In my experience, when people find there is a farmer in the group, they want to know more.

  2. It’s hard to have a conversation, if you don’t find yourself a place to start. That’s what I love about social media…I have been able to start a LOT of conversations. Thank you, Ryan, for helping pave the way…and thank you, Aimee for such a great opportunity to think outside the box. Everyone has a common denominator, you just have to take the time to find it.

  3. I spend a lot of my time outside of the choir probably…. it’s pretty easy living in one of the top 10 metro areas and having come from a very urban background! The day-to-day choir is comprised of some of the friends I’ve made through work and social media and the bigger day-to-day community, my family, school mates, many work friends and more.

    I get some “bigger” opportunities (some I helped create of course) like speaking at some of the 140 state of now conferences or a local blogger group. But I think the times that really spark my enthusiasm and get me so excited about talking about agriculture come in the flights that turn to conversations about where the pistachios I’m eating came from (thanks Don), or the dairy farmer and cheesemaker who sent me off with soft cheesy awesomeness (Barbara) or what in the world could get me a business trip to Honolulu or Bismarck. I blog a whole lot of that stuff on along with all my cotton content too!

  4. Reach beyond the choir is as easy as finding commonalities with those outside the chapel, we can not just stop with reaching beyond the choir we must also reach beyond the congregation. The largest growing segment in recent trust studies is “people like me”. Connect as mothers, fathers, cyclists, athletes or any other hobby or pastime you share. Start the conversation based on the commonly shared passion and make yourself a resource on agriculture only if needed.

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