It’s Time for Farmers to Tweet

In addition to farmers, the social media interface can allow all others involved in animal agriculture to tell their stories.  Seedsmen, veterinarians, butchers, traders … the list goes on! The article below was written by Sarah Hubbart of the Washington, D.C.-based Animal Agriculture Alliance and appeared in their most recent letter (posted with permission).  

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IT’S TIME FOR FARMERS TO TWEET by Sarah Hubbart

To most people, the word “farmer” conjures up images of livestock, barns and rolling fields- not laptops, Blackberries and RSS feeds.

Farming is hard, time consuming work, so it’s understandably rare to catch a farmer using precious hours reserved for sleep to peruse the Internet.

But that’s why Ray Prock of California’s Ray-Lin Dairy likes Twitter so much.

“It’s a way for a farmer to broadcast his or her voice over a large audience rapidly without typing a million e-mails,” he said, explaining why he frequents the popular micro-blogging Web site.

Prock, a 35-year-old dairyman from Denair, CA, has posted 7,152 tweets since he joined Twitter in January 2009. His topics range from short musings about a good lunch: “In-N-Out rocks” to full-on conversations with animal rights activists: “When 1 segment of an industry attacks another it gets under my skin.”

When the dairy crisis in the U.S. began impacting his farm, it was only natural for Prock to share his experiences with the public via Twitter. Prock says that every month he’s losing about $170 per cow.

In June 2009, Prock was one of three farmers who led a campaign on Twitter using the tag “#moo” to gain public awareness for American dairy farm families suffering through low milk prices. Over the course of eight hours, “#moo” became the fourth-most-popular term in the system, with 3,000 different people saying “#moo” more than 6,000 times.

“There are about three million tweets sent out every day and we were still able to keep “#moo” in the top ten,” Prock said. “I think we were successful in reaching about 10,000 people.”

After the success of “#moo,” Prock has continued his dialogue with a diverse group of “tweeps.” His 2,366 followers can catch a glimpse of his farm by checking out the photos he often uploads of his cows. Twitter limits each message to just 140 characters, so Prock turns to his blog to expand on his ideas.

“I always thought I needed to do something to get the message of agriculture out there,” Prock explained. “The public doesn’t understand why we do what we do. “

And what is Prock’s most important message?

“We care.”

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