New media - including but not limited to websites, Facebook, Twitter, wikis, podcasts, and YouTube – are changing the ways that we communicate with each other. Many farmers in production agriculture and others associated with it are beginning to use new media to tell their stories about living on the farm, provide useful information that connects food production to the general public’s food consumption, and market agricultural products. Imagine a dairyman standing in his dairy barn talking about how he cares for his cows on Twitter or a vegetable producer answering questions about her basket of produce on Facebook.
Additionally, extension specialists are using new media to increase distribution of knowledge even as their numbers and resources are decreasing. Viticulturalist, Matthew Fidelibus, uses Twitter and Facebook to disseminate information about diseases in vineyards while Aquaculturalist, Fred Conte, maintains his websites that provide information on freshwater and marine aquaculture production. Private agricultural consultants and other entrepreneurs like A Million Cooks have expanded the use of new media to reach chefs nationally and internationally.
But “We’ve Only Just Begun”. This is why the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation in conjunction with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis is offering an upcoming workshop on New Media: Making Agricultural Marketing Personal. The workshop, slated for November 20, 2010, will cover the possibilities and challenges of different types of new media, provide examples of successful efforts, delve into new terminology and introduce a “How to Begin” primer. Afternoon breakout sessions will feature experts who will help participants learn how to tell their stories, develop sound bites, and expand their vision of ways that technology can be used to market agriculture and its products.
Information about the timely event will be sent to various key organizations across California. The first workshop will be offered to the first 200 people who register with space for a waiting list for additional registrants so that planners can determine if there is interest in repeat offerings during January and February of 2011 and beyond. The workshop will also serve as a forum for specific groups to gather momentum for spin-off programs. For instance, California extension specialists attending the event may find it useful to hold another workshop geared toward issues pertinent to their group while producers of various commodities should anticipate gathering enough information to begin dialogue on how new media can help tell their stories and advertise specific agricultural products.
Ultimately, the planners of the workshop in late November, 2010, hope that it will spark the interest of those in agriculture and all related organizations. The tidal wave of new media is quickly approaching. Those of us associated with agriculture must catch the wave and use it to our advantage.
“We are bringing together many experts to offer an excellent and timely workshop. Members of the committee are excited to work on the worthwhile project."
— Annie King
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