April 16, 2010

AgChat, which started as a moderated Twitter chat (@agchat), has now developed into a multimedia resource for farmers — the AgChat Foundation, www.agchat.org. Its founder Michelle Payn-Knoper (@mpaynknoper) and other strong advocates for agriculture — agvocates — are leading the way, using social media to tell ag’s story. Does it matter? Yes. Should you care? Yes, regardless of whether you’ll ever set foot on a farm.

Why you should care: Our modern agriculture system means we have food and plenty of it. The 2008  Time Use Survey shows we spend only about 30 minutes a day on food preparation and clean-up. Yet, our fridges and bellies are full. And, there’s no apologies to be made for it. Modern agriculture is based on science backed by the nation’s leading researchers in the Extension System. Does that mean farmers get a free ride when they pollute or treat animal poorly? Of course not. However, today, agriculture is facing a fight like no other. It’s critical that farmers tell and show what their livelihoods — and legacies — are all about.

I’m trying to do my part, but I failed recently. I was on a call with other ag writers, when one person said that farmers have been complaining for years. Maybe that’s true. However, today’s battle with HSUS and the like is on a whole different scale. But, for one reason or another I did not delve in to make that point. I will next time, though, taking cues from those in the AgChat Foundation. It really is that important.

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