Although Abi Reader in this week’s Farming Matters has somewhat stolen my thunder with her comments about 24 Hours in Farming, she is entirely correct and it is a point worth re-emphasising: that positive messaging about agriculture is vital, whatever platform it appears on.
Last Thursday’s (August 6) social media initiative, which uses the #farm24 hashtag across platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, took farming’s message to a huge and varied audience and even gained backing from Boris Johnson, with the Prime Minister pledging his support for agriculture. Hopefully he stays true to his tweet.
While 24 Hours in Farming, which has been running for several years now, was formulated and led by Farmers Guardian, with support from Morrisons, the event has truly been seized upon by the farming community as its chance to shout about the pride it takes in feeding the nation.
And that notion of positivity is key when it comes to taking farming’s message beyond the echo chamber of our own industry and to the consumers who buy our products.
As this year has shown, there is far more appreciation about what farmers do than there is negativity towards them, so to be able to connect with that audience via positive images and stories is key.
Like many other sectors, farming has its own fair share of social media warriors who take offence at the slightest critical comment against it.
While some have every right to be offended as they receive genuine abuse, we must be careful that we do not embrace the rising tide of reactionary debate which seems to be dominating many people’s thoughts and actions.
While using this column to say we have an industry we should be proud of is a case of preaching to the converted, the fact so many farmers embraced #farm24 enabled agriculture to take its message to a wider non-farming audience.
That notion of reaching out about farming’s contribution to society, and doing so in such a positive manner, is key for the long-term success of the sector.