Commentary: Social media brings ‘massive opportunity’ to farmers


Issue Date: November 13, 2019
By Morgan Walker
Morgan Walker
Tara Beaver Coronado of Beaver Vineyards in Clarksburg uses Instagram to advocate for agriculture. Social media offers farmers and ranchers opportunities to create communities, share experiences and help others.

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the cornfield."

It has been 63 years since President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered that quote in a memorable speech in Peoria, Illinois.

There have been many changes in agriculture since 1956. In the 1950s, farmers made up more than 12% of the workforce. Today, farmers and ranchers make up just 1.3% of the U.S. labor market.

In a time where consumers are truly curious about where their food comes from, farmers have a massive opportunity to reach those who truly are a thousand miles from a cornfield.

With 230 million active users in the U.S. alone, social media allows farmers to create connections like never before.

According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube. The video sharing platform is also the most popular medium for those in rural America.

Sacramento County Farm Bureau member Tara Beaver Coronado, known in Instagram circles as @beavervineyards, shares her daily life on Instagram. Coronado advocates for agriculture on the photo sharing platform, covering topics such as women in agriculture and mental health.

According to a Morning Consult poll, 41% of rural adults say stress and mental health have become more of a problem in their community in the past five years.

Any farmer or rancher can tell you that farm life can be stressful. But Coronado takes on these tough issues in a positive way, sharing her experiences every Monday using the hashtag #MentalHealthMonday, and encourages others to do the same.

"Today I challenged you in my stories," she wrote in one recent post. "It's #MentalHealthMonday, and I had a simple request. Say something nice about yourself - 'I am _____.'"

After conceding the request maybe wasn't so simple, Coronado continued, "If you saw this and struggled a little, I want you to know you are not alone. It's amazing how hard it can be to compliment ourselves. It's often said, we are our own worst critic."

At the end of the post, she completed the challenge about herself, writing, "I am proud of what I have accomplished."

Talking about tough issues might have been frowned upon even a few years ago, but the advent of social media not only allows farmers to create a community but also to share their experiences and help others.

It's impossible to talk about the power of social media and leave out Twitter. The social network has 47 million users in the U.S. For farmers and ranchers, #AgTwitter is a unique community that allows producers to both share and glean information about what's going on in agriculture.

John Newton, the American Farm Bureau Federation's chief economist, uses the platform to share timely market intelligence reports and other economic information that's important to farmers.

"Twitter helps me stay up to speed on timely information impacting agriculture and the farm economy," Newton said. "I glean so much from the farmers and ranchers that I follow, and appreciate their important perspective."

Agriculture has a great story to tell and social media allows farmers and ranchers to be the storytellers.

(Morgan Walker is digital & social media manager for the American Farm Bureau Federation.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.