Monday, February 20, 2012


We're home from the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers conference!  About 1000 young farmers (and people involved in ag) from all over the country got together to learn and talk policy.  Today they hosted a lot of tours around Michigan to different farms.

It was so fun!  The farmers who go are outgoing and like to talk.  They purposely seat you to mingle at meals, so you meet interesting people.

For instance, I met:

- A seventh generation rice and soybean farmer from Arkansas.  He farms 4000 acres.  I'd never met a rice farmer before and had a million questions.

- A rancher/writer/photographer from Wyoming.  (Heather blogs here.)  When I asked, "Where is your farm?"  She said, "We don't farm - there's no water where we are.  We have a ranch."  Which is why the name of the national organization is Farmers & Ranchers.  I clarified it with her - to her, a farm is a place where you grow crops.  She has cattle on tons of acres, which to me is definitely a ranch!

- Tons of cash crop farmers from sea to shining sea.  Whenever I said we had a dairy, they'd say, "I've met a ton of dairy farmers!"  Which is because there were tons of Michigan people there, and Michigan has a lot of dairy farms.

One of the big topics of discussion - as it frequently is - is how to reach our customers through social media.  I watched the collegiate discussion meet and the final question concerned that.  One student said that getting internet access to farms was a problem.  (Really?  Where?!)  Another said that you couldn't trust farmers to say what they're supposed to say, because they would 'shoot from the hip' and needed intense training.  (This kid had a low opinion of farmers.)  Another finished her conclusion with, "Hashtag, yfr12."  I liked that, because she was citing the twitter symbol and keyword of the conference.  (Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher were also mentioned in the discussion.  Can you get more youthful than that?)

It was exciting - a convention center full of people who love their jobs and like to talk about it.  Blogs, Facebook, and twitter are fantastic, but there's nothing better than laughing with people in person.  No hashtag required.


Anonymous said...

It was fun "meeting you" wish we had actually had a chance to talk for a few minutes though!

On this post.... one of the things I found hard to believe was the limits of internet in some areas. I have a friend in Washington State who is dependent on dialup. My niece in North Carolina just recently was able to get high speed. A good friend here in Missouri who's a well known hog farmer still can't get high speed at home & had crazy problems with her cell phone. Its a real problem in some states.

Thanks for catching me up on the final four. Had to leave before that got underway. I disagree on farmers needing training about what to say, just think more people need training on the tools. Loved seeing so many in the blogging session.... For me, we need more farmers telling their own story as it lifts our shared story of agriculture.

doublehphoto said...

Loved meeting you and your husband, learning about your dairy operation, and "farming" in general : )
You have a fantastic blog! I'm finally taking the time to read through it. Thanks for the link in this post also.

Carla said...

Thanks so much, Janice and Heather! I appreciate it!