3 approaches to grow your agriculture advocacy
Katie Pinke's ag advocacy approach changed over the past years when she observed more divisive voices in agriculture pitting one form of agriculture against another, rather than building up unifying voices.
Do you ever look back and realize how you can improve on what you’ve poured your energy into, a passion, a livelihood and see opportunities to grow and improve? Or maybe just end cap the effort and try a different route?
Twitter notified me it was my 13th anniversary of having a profile on the social media platform.
I’ve poured segments of my life and career into utilizing social media to promote, engage and build community around agriculture. I've also worked on training segments of agriculture on how to use social media. Other approaches have simply been me sharing my life in and outside of rural and ag circles, building connections with non-ag consumers and growing lasting relationships.
All of it ties back to agriculture advocacy. I am and will be an agriculture advocate as long as I live on earth.
Agriculture isn’t solely an industry or job to me.
Agriculture fuels my spirit, spurs my passions, and builds upon my livelihoods. If you’ve ever heard me speak, even on topics outside of agriculture, I always sprinkle in aspects of agriculture because ag weaves into who I am alongside where, how and why I make choices around many aspects of my life.
I’ve been a part of training thousands of farmers, ranchers and agriculturists on best practices of sharing their agriculture stories and advocating for more engagement from ag to connect with non-ag audiences, often utilizing social media platforms.
My ag advocacy approach changed over the past years when I observed more divisive voices in agriculture creating polarizing groups, pitting one form of agriculture against another, rather than building up unifying voices.
Moving ahead in my personal approach to agriculture advocacy here are three approaches I am working on following
- Listen more than you share. We aren’t making headway in policy locally, statewide or nationally if we’re not first listening to those far from ag and understanding their perspective. Rather than vomit agriculture acronyms and come across as elitists in ag (which I have been guilty of in the past), I listen far more now in social media and outside of social media, at in-person non-ag meetings and events than push out my perspective or opinions.
- Grow meaningful, local relationships. I think farmers, ranchers and those working in ag should engage with local leaders, policymakers and non-ag consumers locally before going to try to take on national or international headlines, figureheads and policy. Hyperlocal strategy can and will change conversations and implement positive growth in your own backyards. Not everyone agrees with this or will adopt a local approach. There is room for all types of approaches. Have a national or international platform? Go big if you’re able! I’ll be staying more local-centric in my ag advocacy approach. My years working on Banquet in a Field spurred this growth area for me and continue to drive my local passions.
- Keep sharing. I work in ag media. In 2021, Agweek and AgweekTV published and produced more than 1,600 agriculture news stories. I do not share them out all personally. But I do share weekly ag news with my social media platforms as well as continue to engage about raising kids, being a small business owner, visits to my family’s nearby farm, 4-H projects and meetings, all a part of the fabric of who I am.
Agriculture advocacy burned some of the best agriculturists from sharing their insight about ag. They disengaged, shut down their channels, and withdrew from sharing. I respect their choices and I also understand more now than I did 15 years ago, but agriculture advocacy isn’t a quick win. We’re in this for a lifetime. Keep sharing your passions and livelihood. Do not compare your agricultural knowledge or way of life to others sharing. You know what you do, and 98.4% of the U.S. population isn’t actively engaged in production agriculture. Keep sharing. Your perspective, voice and knowledge is needed in the conversations.
Do you consider yourself an agriculture advocate? I’d love to hear from you. Whether you’re on the farm, fans of farmers or connected to a friend’s or family’s farm or ranch, advocate for all types of agriculture.
Listen, build relationships, keep sharing. I am not sure I’ll have another 13 years on Twitter, but I am not fading as an agriculture advocate in that space. I simply choose to listen more now than I share from where I started back in my “olden days” of social media and ag advocacy. Finding my best path forward looks different than it did 13 years ago, but agriculture fueling my passion has not changed.
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.