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An open letter to Everyone

I’m not sure who may read this and knowing some of you may not know me, I want to start this off by introducing myself. I am a fifth generation grain and beef farmer from Ohio. My daily responsibilities on our family’s farm vary immensely from day to day, but in the end, each day

Agvocate or Agtivist?

Three years ago during a brainstorming session between Ray Prock, Darin Grimm and I we came up with a word to describe agricultural advocates that has grown to become a common word used within the agricultural community.  The terms “agvocacy” and “agvocate” combined with other efforts in the agricultural community became the basis why the three

Monocultures – More than Meets The Ear

I recently listened to a local farmer describe his extensive crop rotations, soil fertility and how he shunned chemicals. Far superior to the unhealthy “monoculture” of conventional corn and soybeans planted by his neighbor, he said. And he made it all too clear – he didn’t care what his neighbor thought anyway. It struck me:

One Hundred Meals, One Hundred Conversations, One Community?

Introducing “One Hundred Meals – Building Community At America’s Table” written by Ellen and Grant   Recently, Grant and I had an opportunity to sit down with some “industrial farming” folks over breakfast, on the invitation of the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. The group, which appears to have deep ties to Big Ag, was formed to

Any Benefits from a Change in Perspective?

farmer bright lights big city

I saw a photo on a farmer friend’s Facebook page (it’s Iowa hog farmer Larry Sailer for those of you who wonder). The photo (by Agriculture Impressions) was of a beautiful farm, with corn growing in the foreground and a perfect red barn in the background. Familiar text crossing the sky quoted Shawn S. Stevenson

California’s GMO Labeling Initiative – A Customer’s Perspective

At an Earth Day festival in the San Francisco Bay Area this year, a GMO labeling activist grabbed my arm and told me that labeling GMOs was ‘a matter of life and death.’  A few months and a lot of signatures later, the initiative met the requirements to be voted on this November. As a Californian and an environmentally concerned citizen, I’ve

Avoiding The Conversational Wreck

Two-Way Street Sign

Two-Way Street Sign (credit: z6p6tist6)

Similar to a two way street two way communication may have traffic coming from the opposite direction which can possibly lead to collisions. Much like we do on the road if we stay in our own lanes and effectively communicate conversation can flow smoothly to new destinations. Be warned that if oncoming traffic can’t see you or you forget to signal or communicate effectively it is a wreck waiting to happen.

Conversations are more interactive and exciting as dialogues rather than as monologues.

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Thank You From The Farm

Each and every one of us has different lives, backgrounds and futures ahead of us, yet, we all wake up in the morning, get dressed and carry out our day.  We all have needs, wants, preferences, etc etc…yet they are different for each individual person.  One person may prefer to eat a Steak or a Pork Chop, while another is a Vegan.  One may prefer the meat products they consume to be raised outdoors, while another sees a benefit from CAFO’s.  One sees the benefits of Organically raised foods while another sees the benefit of GMO’s.  No matter what your food preferences are, or your preferences on how they are produced, the one thing we all need is someone who has the knowledge to grow or raise our food supply needs for the rest of us.  For example, a Farmer or Gardener of some type, shape or size.

On the other hand, where would the Farmer (like me) or Gardener be without the consumer/customer?  Where would they be without customers choosing to spend their hard earned dollars on products from various Markets, Stores, Groceries, and Convenience Stores,  just to name a few?

The answer is simple…


Those who produce our food products would be basically out of business and would be producing only enough to feed their own families, preventing them from making a living doing what they do best.

While scrolling through Facebook the other night, I found this picture of this sign…

No Customers, No Money, No Future

No Customers, No Money, No Future

The sign is very true.  If there aren’t any farmers, there will be little to no food to eat, clothing to wear, juices and milks to drink, etc. etc.  On the flip side, if there weren’t any consumers who choose to purchase the farmers products, there would be no farmers.

The person who posted this picture also commented:

No Customers

No Money

No Future.

No truer statement could have been made.  Without farmers, there would be no food and no long term future for any of us, but without the Customer choosing to spend their hard earned dollars on their food of choice there would be no farmers.  Yes, the mutual dependence of it all goes round and round.

The more I thought about this sign, I realized that while there have been a few social media campaigns designed to encourage the Consumer to get to know about and Thank a Farmer for what they do (#thankafarmer  for example), I have yet to see a campaign in which the farmers thank consumers for their continued support.

So starting today, I encourage a new way to Give Thanks called:

“Thank You, From the Farm” or #farmthx

In closing I would like to take this time and say:

This #farmthx goes out to all of the consumers/customers who have spent their hard earned dollars purchasing the products I produce.  By doing so, you have allowed me to continue doing what I love, producing quality food and various other products for you.  Regardless of your preference of GMO, Organic, CAFO, Free Range, Conventional, Vegan or otherwise, I and other Farmers around the world Thank You for your continued support.

While it’s true, that without farmers, there would be no customers, without customers, there would be no farmers.


Meet The Author:


Matt Boucher Matt Boucher is a 4th Generation Family Grain farmer in North Central IL.  Over the years the Boucher Family Farm has raised Cows, Pigs, Chickens, Ducks and other animals as well as Corn and Soybeans.  Today, Boucher Farms is owned and operated by Matt and his wife Heather, and produces both Corn and Soybeans for various markets in the Midwest and beyond.    Boucher Farms can be found on Facebook by searching for the page “Boucher Farms” on Twitter at @boucherfarms, or at Matt’s Blog “Off The Cobb



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2013 Prediction – The Year Social Media Goes From Walking To Running?


My work as a digital strategist involves continually observing trends to make decisions and recommendations benefiting my employer. As such, I cannot help but always be looking ahead.

So when good friend Ray Prock shared an Edelman Digital blog post breaking down conversation flows between brands and users on five of today’s most-used social networks, it caught my attention.

Specifically this portion about Google+:

“Much like Facebook, conversation is typically confined to the brand’s Google+ page, granting brand control of the story. The line is muddled when users incorporate Google+’s core features; Hangouts, Circles and Ripples and their latest dive into Google+ CommunitiesUsers are able to organize their online lives and conversations through these features, controlling how the story approaches them.

Think about that last line for a second…

  • Organizing our online lives.
  • Organizing our online conversations.
  • Controlling how content approaches us.

Gosh…doesn’t that sound NICE?!

Social media was meant to do this to begin with, but many have become overwhelmed, inundated or even feel “controlled” by what has become a very disorganized online “life.”

Bloated streams of information, from years of connecting to everything and everyone we’ve felt compelled to follow, fan and like have many of us now feeling the need to regain control.

The sense of relief we gain from “cleansing” our social profiles and feeds is just what the doctor ordered in many cases. I believe this trend will only increase as the early majority of social media adopters reach their “over-saturation” points.

It’s critically important for organizations/businesses to pay attention to this trend if they wish to remain relevant in the future.

To put this in perspective, I’ve outlined my take on where social media adoption and usage trends have been and are going, in three distinct phases:

Phase One: The Social Media Land Grab (2004-2010)

  • We all scrambled to connect and network through social media platforms, establishing our profiles and pages, filling in the digital representation of our social graph.

Phase Two: Finding Where We Belong (2010 – present)

  • Now that we’ve all established ourselves online and connected to everyone and everything we’ve felt we’ve wanted to connect with, we find out that this social realm has become an extremely noisy place.
  • We de-friend, hide from News Feeds, establish niche groups and communities (public, semi-public and private), gravitate toward our closest relationships and affiliations we’ve developed.
  • We increasingly spend our social media time “where we belong” and “where we need to listen” vs. taking in as much as we can from all we are connected to.

Phase Three: Putting It To Work (2013 – ?)

  • The novelty of the Social Media Land Grab that started nearly a decade ago wears off.
  • Niche communities flourish and grow through enhanced social communications and collaboration tied to real-life action and results.
  • Smart organizations/businesses start meshing “social” into processes, workflows and design, tying it to business goals, rather than treating “social media” as a bullhorn akin to mass media mindset of the 20th century.
  • Those who grasp social in business design and marry it with flourishing niche communities start separating themselves from others as they “empower” community to create, letting happen “what wants to happen” rather than “myopically trying to make things happen” (head nod to Robert S Tipton’s post on Transformational Change Leaders on this last quote)

What this means

It’s becoming clear that when the dust settles in this Wild West social scenario, the organizations emerging most successful will be those which best embrace, integrate, inspire and empower niche communities to convene and make real-world differences based upon shared values.

Social is a mindset…a culture…a behavior; it’s not a media channel. The first organizations to fully grasp this, put it to use in their spheres of influence and truly make a real-world difference will be a refreshing signal to those longing to find it amongst a heap of noise.

Dan Toland

Dan Toland is director of digital strategy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. He is passionate about integrating social technologies with collaborative environments for the betterment of communities they serve.

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Planting Seeds in the Community.

Have you ever felt like things are just a little different? Not like you can actually put a finger on it, but you know, it’s different. Not bad. Just different.

If you’ve been feeling that way about the Know a California Farmer’s Facebook page lately, you’re right. Things are a bit different with KACF.

One of the changes is me. My name is Jodi and as of a few weeks ago I’ve joined the fantastic folks of Just Farmers to assist in serving the KACF community.

To be honest, I’m thrilled. Why you ask?

Well, it’s simple. I already work to serve farmers on an everyday basis. Moreover, I’m married to a fourth generation rancher.

But that’s not the whole story. I, much like a lot of us, didn’t grow up on a farm. I grew up beachside, not knowing how my food was raised. Since sparking an interest in agriculture at a young age my city-loving parents have chased me all over this nation waiting for me to end up back in the big city.

Unfortunately for my folks, I’m loving life out out here and I don’t think I’m heading back to the big city any time soon.

So what will I be doing for the KACF community?

You’ll be able to find me behind the KACF Facebook page, helping farmers and ranchers connect with their customers through things like our new Tasty Tuesday posts. You might also find me on our new Pinterest page that links you to some of recipes, pictures and videos straight from our California farmers and ranchers. And just in case that isn’t enough, I’ll also be playing a role in our communications on Twitter and lending a hand whenever I can to help the folks at Just Farmers.

You see, there are a lot of really great things that farmers and ranchers are doing to help people learn more about where their food comes from. Take this week’s USA Today insert about Agriculture In America. If you are following this Just Farmers thing close, you might even recognize a few of the farmers and ranchers.

And that gets to the root of my role here with the KACF community. I’m here to help those farmers who are looking to listen and converse with their customers about what happens on their farms and ranches.

Jodi OleenJodi is a thirty something cowboy’s helper with a bacontooth. When she’s not serving farmers in her day job you can find her choring with her husband on the ranch or playing with her dogs. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or on her blog. 

One For All, All For One

3 Musketeers (chocolate bar)

Just as many individual ingredients come together to create the 3 Musketeers flavor they still keep their individual characteristics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the main points that we in Agriculture have come to convey to our peers is that “agriculture must speak with one voice” and in most cases this seems simple enough. If we are talking about the same things the same way it is easier to gain consensus whether with legislators, regulators or just our customers. However I fear we are losing the individuality that makes Farmers and Ranchers unique. I am not saying we need to move away from the concept of speaking with one voice rather I propose we “speak with many voices aligned together” and highlight the vibrant culture of Agriculture.

For example take a minute and think of what the following statements convey when heard by someone outside of Agriculture “We as Farmers and Ranchers need to speak with a unified voice” & “Farmers and Ranchers have their own individual management styles that work for their individual farms and ranches”.

Is it possible we are confusing those outside Ag because we talk of unity yet multiple management styles?  Are we just reaffirming their fears of the “faceless Big Ag” by speaking as one?  Is there a way to convey a unified message while preserving the individual identity of farmers and ranchers too?

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