I wrote this for the upcoming Onions Australia publication (is there no end to my commitment to those stinky things?)
FARMERS, depending on the season, the market price and the weather, can be an anti-social bunch … but things are changing for the better.
Our social status is on the rise, we’re connected, engaged and we’ve entered the ‘conversation’.
That’s the online conversation. Yep, we’re late starters but finally I’ve convinced my husband, Allium Man, to enter the brave new world of cyberspace.
He’s on Twitter (@Farmer_Dick), I’m on Twitter (@Farmerhasawife) and the business now has a face and a book … umm I mean to say it’s on Facebook.
Communication and typing fast are two things which come naturally to me so the transition to the online world has been easy.
Not so for poor Allium Man. He’s a two-fingered typist from way back and he writes like he speaks … slowly. It’s a great way to ensure you only ever say what you mean, not so great when you’re trying to keep up with the fast-paced banter on Twitter. Anyhoo the only way is up … isn’t it?
Allium Man’s yet to be convinced social media’s the way of the future. He’s adamant he won’t be doing deals and increasing orders via Twitter. He’s probably right. But it is an incredibly powerful networking medium.
Just say you think Julia Gillard’s Ag Policy is rubbish. You could write her a letter which she’ll probably never see and which will end up in a large pile of similarly-worded letters. OR you could fire off a short, sharp 140-word Tweet, something like: @JuliaGillard your ag policy sucks. When will you realise your #carbontax will kill our industry?
To which @JuliaGIllard may or may not reply, however chances are your tweet will capture the attention of media, ag lobby groups, other farmers and the wider world. You never know where it might lead.
Perhaps you’d like to inform the chainstores that their cut price veg policy isn’t their best work. Jump online and send your message to @ColesOnline or @woolworths.
The access and immediacy presented by Twitter is unprecedented. So too is the ability to connect with like-minded onion growers, apple producers and cattle breeders.
Every Tuesday night from 8pm to 10pm rural people jump onto Twitter for an #agchatoz conversation. They work their way through some set questions (you can suggest a topic for discussion and nominate some questions). It’s early days and sometimes I feel we’re all preaching to the converted but at least it’s getting the issues out there, they’re being discussed and I’ve met (in the virtual sense) some really great people.
Of course all the usual rules apply. Don’t tweet and drink. Think before you Tweet. If you don’ t want to see it on the front page of tomorrow’s paper then don’t Tweet or Facebook it.
Have a go, you just might like it and start by following these twits: @NationalFarmers, @ABCRural, @AusFoodGrocery, @AgChatOZ, @our_NRIA