Saturday, March 27, 2010

Social Media Agriculture's Survival Tool

This week I was preparing a short speech promoting social media for an ag meeting. I ended up not having to speak, which was a relief. But I want to share the thoughts that I'd penned..

I am a sixth generation farmer/rancher. Thanks to my great grandfather whose dream to start a farm on the 160 acres I call home over 117 years ago, my family has been able to enjoy a wonderful exciting life in agriculture. We are a cow/calf operation with our primary focus being retained ownership. We feed out almost every animal raised and have done this for over 70 years. We also raise wheat, corn, milo and alfalfa.
How would you like to pull into Sonic, ready to order- your mouth watering for that favorite bacon cheeseburger only to find the item’s price had tripled or was taken off the menu altogether and replaced with a tofu vegetarian alternative. Sound absurd? Well it’s not. . The Humane Society of the U.S., a deceptive anti-animal ag organization is now purchasing shares in fast food chains across the U.S. 38 to date, so it can legally propose anti- animal agriculture internal changes within these companies, and Oklahoma based Sonic Corp is among them. By purchasing controlling stock in these food chains HSUS can now control how their food suppliers handle their animals demanding ongoing audits from livestock and poultry handlers.
In 2008 HSUS’ operating budget consisted of nearly $100 million of which only ½ of 1 percent was actually going to help animals in need. The remainder of those funds were being used to lobby against animal ag, for administrative costs, and pension plans for employees. For the past year my focus has been to create awareness and educate friends and other producers about this well armed enemy of ag. Last year I realized many producers were unaware of HSUS’ main objective -to put an end to all animal agriculture altogether.
I began my confusing journey into the social media world almost a year ago. I was one of the first to complete the Masters of Beef Advocacy program offered by NCBA which helps educate producers on how to tell their story. Being concerned about the direction our country was headed I also attend some political activists training sessions which my husband refers to as my "riot enhancement", but at those meetings I learned the steps I needed to take to use social media as a tool for campaigning. And in a sense that was what I was doing…campaigning against the destruction of animal ag. I had also attended several Women In Ag seminars and met great contacts from those meetings. By pooling what I’d learned from those three groups I started blogging. After blogging I then designed a website to tell our ranching story. Today I am using Facebook and Twitter as other avenues of getting the message out. This past month I designed a “become a fan of ExPOSE HSUS” page on Facebook and to date have over a thousand members. Across the nation individuals are using social media as a tool to circulate the message of HSUS’ deception and destruction. This endeavor is working. We saw the success of it when several large corporations stopped their funding for HSUS when confronted by the agriculture community through social media. Perhaps you’ve heard of about Yellow Tail, Pilot Travel Centers, Mary Kaye. Each one of these companies were quick to make amends with ag by vowing not to support HSUS in the future.

Animal agriculture birthed civilization. Without the body of agriculture, society would not exists. The heart of ag’s body is the producer; the producers of swine, sheep, beef, horses and chickens. The lifeblood-animal agriculture businesses and associations keep life pulsing throughout the entire body whether it be through the arteries of animal packing plants, food services, restaurants and grocery stores, or the veins and capillaries of vet supply companies and animal ag associations. HSUS has driven stakes into the hearts of several of our ag industries. These fatal attacks cut capillaries and punctured veins and arteries. If not stopped HSUS will fulfill its intention of destroying this body of animal ag.

My great grandfather had a dream. I’m going to fight to make sure that dream stays alive for future generations. Our family, just as thousands of other hard working farming and ranching families, has for centuries worked too hard to let a group who knows nothing about our industries come in and destroy them. Through social media I believe agriculture can survive. Please take the time to educate yourselves and use this wonderful tool to keep the blood flowing and a pulse in our animal agriculture industry.

Nothing New Under the Sun Including Sustainable Development

  I wrote the piece below last summer after listening to KrisAnne Hall speak at the CICA Convention.  As the Global and U.S. Roundtable fo...