What is an "agvocate", you ask? Simply put, and agvocate is combination of the words "agriculture" and "advocate" thus, an advocate for agriculture. I strive to agvocate as a farmer's wife on social media in a world where so many agriculture myths are floating around. It's been almost a year since agriculture, other than family farming times, became a topic on my blog. I started by asking a friend to write a guest post for me as I knew the majority of my readers (moms of young kids) would be able to relate to her as she's also a mom of young kids and a professional in the agriculture industry. I then had my farmer husband write a post on his thoughts on organic and non-organic food from a producer's perspective. These posts received good feedback and gave me the confidence I needed to keep agvocating.
What It's Really Like to Speak Up for Agriculture
It is like an emotional roller coaster with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. In the late spring of 2013 I came across a Twitter party which was spreading a lot of misinformation regarding biotechnology in agriculture, and it really bothered me that such fear was being spread among my parenting peers. I attended this party in an attempt to try to be the voice of reason for agriculture and science, even simply as a farmer's wife & mom. It seemed that no one would have a respectful dialogue with me, the name-calling started, and at that point I decided something needed to be done on my part because it was not right that so many parents were being lead astray thinking that they were causing harm to their families by feeding them food that has been proven to be safe (don't we have enough to worry about?!). This is when I started researching about food choices and how I could best agvocate and teach my readers about biotechnology in agriculture.
I've learned a lot through my husband, people in the industry via social media, and mostly by reading articles and researching myself. Trying to maintain composure when it feels like most people are attacking me gets very draining on the nerves. If you want to agvocate or be a positive voice for anything you feel strongly about, I highly recommend joining an online forum that talks about whatever your interest is. I always disclaim on my ag blog posts that I'm not an expert in these fields and that I'm happy to connect my readers with people who can properly address their questions and concerns, as there is such a disconnect between the farmer, the technologies used to produce our food, and the consumer. I've connected with a lot of other farm wives, farmers, ranchers, and scientists who blog and that are on Twitter that I know I can rely on for support and to help agvocate in the comments sections of my ag posts, which tend to get very negative.
Speaking of Negativity...
As a blogger I have to be professional and ethical as I represent a lot of brands, but I'm also representing myself and my family too. I could get vicious, but I always remember that our words can heal and be life-giving or they can be hurtful weapons -- so I strive to abide my the former. Fighting fire with fire just doesn't get anyone anywhere and if the naysayers keep coming at me with negativity, in the end it makes them look disrespectful. I've absolutely had to grow a thicker skin since I started agvocating, which is a good life lesson anyway. I have been called a lot of names not worth repeating, but that's okay because I have the confidence in myself and in what I blog about, and I don't feel the need to fight with anyone to defend what I know to be true and what I'm passionate about. I have nothing to sell and I'm not trying to change minds, I'm just passionate about education in agriculture, which I think our society is lacking greatly.
This thoughtful card from AgMoreThanEver came at a much needed time!
Should All Farmers Agvocate?
Simply answered - no. I strongly feel that if you cannot engage with people in a positive and respectful way (with any education in life!), you shouldn't attempt to agvocate. There's no need to name-call or assume that people know anything about the agriculture industry, and that if they don't they are ignorant or stupid, because so many don't have a clue about anything in agriculture, and that's okay. When we put our knowledge out there we must be accurate, accountable, and authentic, as I heard Dr. Cami Ryan recently shared in her presentation at the FarmTech conference, and I wholeheartedly agree. We must remember to agVOCATE and not to become an agTIVIST, there is a huge difference between being an advocate vs. an activist. I have made some absolutely amazing friends, especially my fellow female ag bloggers, who are some of the most kind, funny, and passionate women I have ever 'met' in my life!
Let us share our knowledge in agriculture, be proactive, respectfully dispel myths, and just be positive. I encourage farmers to share their stories (#felfie, anyone?) and for consumers to ask a farmer anything - there's so many on Twitter!
Read more on my blog: www.nurselovesfarmer.com