Most farmers I speak with have a passionate desire to help feed and nourish people. They want to help the land continue to thrive and produce for generations to come. They love their animals and want them to be content, productive, and healthy. They seek to keep their employees happy with their wages and their hours and assure them they are part of a great team that helps the farm succeed.
Most farmers I know lead with kindness and caring. They truly love this planet and interact with Mother Nature on a daily basis more than they do with cell phones and computers. They are willing to sacrifice their family time, their income, and their desires for an animal in need, a fellow farmer who is in dire straits, or their rural community.
But there is one area that few farmers venture into to help their farm, their community, and their way of life.
That’s the digital arena.
While many people in urban areas, especially younger generations, share their lives frequently on social media and the web, many farmers do not. If you want to check out the dairy farmers who do, you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
There are lots of reasons for this:
- Lack of broadband capability
- Too much work/labor
- Not enough time
- Worried about being attacked by animal rights activists
But there also are reasons not said, such as:
- Being attacked by other farmers for your farm practices or social media outreach
- A belief that farmers are humble and shouldn’t brag about their work
- Scared of saying something wrong that puts their farm in jeopardy
Whether these reasons are real or imagined, it keeps farmers from crossing the digital rural divide to connect directly with their urban consumers. It also gives an advantage to groups that want farmers to stay quiet so they can share their misinformation without rebuttal.
The next generation of our consumers, Gen Z, lives in the digital space more than any previous generation. If we want them to see and know agriculture, buy our products and trust where their food comes from, then we must cross this digital divide with the tools they use to connect with each other — that’s social media and the web.
The digital rural divide is real, and it must be crossed immediately. Your farm and the generation that follows you depends on it.