“Collabora-Stealing” Allowed at Ag Communicator Session

Nearly 50 communicators in animal agriculture were encouraged to share consumer engagement successes and “steal” ideas during CCFI’s 2016 North American Leaders Session on Animal Agriculture at Disney Coronado Springs resort in Orlando, April 6-7.

The annual session provides a forum for communicators to gather and learn from each other on how to connect to build trust with today’s consumers. As one participant put it, “I’m here to collabora-steal.” From outreach in classrooms and digital spaces, to farm tours, advertising and TV programming, strategies were diverse. Here are just a few of the ideas shared.

Adopt A Farmer
Ag United for South Dakota

With Ag United for South Dakota’s Adopt A Farmer, a group of farmers commits to being “adopted” by at least two fourth-grade classrooms and making a short video each month focusing on the farm — calving, planting or spreading manure, for example. Local FFA students are recruited to shoot and edit the videos, which are uploaded to YouTube for teachers to share with students. View the Adopt A Farmer YouTube channel.

The project includes one in-person school visit by the farmers in the spring. This year, farmers have been adopted by 55 classrooms in 18 schools.

“More than 1,000 students a month are learning about agriculture on an ongoing basis. That’s a huge success,” said Rebecca Christman, outreach director with South Dakota Ag United. “A lot of teachers are short on time but have to meet state standards, so we ask the farmers to tie the content of the videos to meet standards in math, science or nutrition, for example.”

Farms After Five Bus Tours
Ag United for South Dakota

For the working crowd, Ag United offers free “Farms After Five” bus tours, which are conducted during the week after 5 p.m. The bus leaves from a location in Sioux Falls and stops at two to three farms throughout the evening that touch on different industries. Farmers ride along to answer questions. Supper is included. Some tours cater to the adults-only crowd, while others are designed for families.

Real Women of Pig Farming
National Pork Board

As part of its successful Real Pig Farming campaign, the National Pork Board produced The Women of #RealPigFarming that highlights the roles women play on today’s pig farms.


In addition, Real Pig Farming, which is designed to create a social movement about pig farming, enlists 10 highly-engaged college students each year to participate in advocacy. Students who reach certain outreach milestones receive $500 scholarships and an all-expenses-paid trip to the AgChat national collegiate conference.

“Any student passionate about pigs can apply,” said Claire Masker, director of public relations at the National Pork Board.

Real Pig Farming

Masker said key takeaways from the Real Pig Farming strategy include:

  • Photos and stories that share pig farmer personality get the most interaction
  • Timing of posts is important
  • Promoted posts are important to remain relevant on Facebook
  • User-generated content (e.g., photo contests) is popular

Expedition Yetter
Iowa Soybean Association

This day-long farm crawl took 40 consumers on a whirlwind 12-hour tour of local agriculture in the Yetter, Iowa, area. The tour featured pigs, cattle and row crops, a stop at a local winery and a field-side dinner at a century farm. The day ended with a viewing of Farmland on the trip back. A follow-up survey with participants showed that 100 percent said the highlight was feeling like they made a farmer friend. The tour began in Des Moines.

Maryland Farm and Harvest Television Show
Maryland Department of Agriculture

In its fourth season, Maryland Farm and Harvest is the number-one rated locally produced television show that airs on Maryland Public Television. Produced in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the weekly series is designed to put a face on farming and help Marylanders learn more about agriculture. View episodes here. Recent shows included stories on a scuba diving dairy farmer, a father-son seed business, soybean research, working farm dogs and buying the perfect peach.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture also hosts a Manure Happens page on its website that highlights the benefits of manure and today’s manure management practices.

“This meeting has proven itself to be one of the best meetings of the year, so I keep coming back time after time,” said Susanne Zilberfarb, executive director of the Delaware Soybean Board and communications specialist for the Maryland Soybean Board. “Besides the opportunities to meet with colleagues old and new, this meeting provides insight and new ideas.”

For more information on the annual CCFI North American Leaders Session on Animal Agriculture, contact Allyson Perry or call 816-556-3126.