Why The Agriculture Sector Should Embrace Social Media (via socialb)

Agriculture is a sector in which, traditionally, marketing has been dominated by offline media such as newspapers, television and magazines.

However, times have changed, and both the online and Agri worlds have evolved. These days, the agriculture sector has a strong social media presence, and is beginning to use social media marketing as a way of communication.

So, why should you consider embracing social media to market your Agri business?

1. Connect with customers and potential customers

Nowadays, food is one of the biggest subjects being discussed across social media networks. People want to know so much more about there food. Where it comes from, how it is produced and they want to know that it is ethically sourced. So much so, that there is a lot of controversy across mainstream media about it.

This is why Social Media Marketing provides an amazing opportunity for the agriculture sector to connect with the thousands of people interacting and talking about food, farming and nutrition, among other themes.

It is the perfect opportunity to join in the discussions and provide valuable answers to real questions that people are asking online. This helps create strong relationships with customers and potential customers.

2. Engage with influencers and activist groups

There are hundreds of influencers and activist groups in any and every sector, using social media to communicate and to express their views. This is particularly so in the agriculture and food sector.

As a farmer or an agriculture business, reaching out to engage with these influencers and groups could well be the best online move you ever make. Creating strong relationships with these influencers can be the best form of marketing available – as the name suggests, these influencers and a lot of sway amongst others in your industry, and people begin to trust their judgement on industry matters. If they feel positively towards your brand or business it can really help develop your business in the long term.

This help can come in any form, big or little. It could be that they share your content, or perhaps include you in their blog. This will help you to reach a wider audience and position you in the right place at the right time.

3. Brand awareness

This is crucial for every business and brand in existence. In the Agri sector this is especially important, as your product or service is likely to be much more niche than the brands covered in mainstream offline media, for example if you’re a farmer in a remote area of the country.

Social media allows you to share your brand and make the right people aware of your business and products. As it is so readily available (and free) it is a way to reach a wider audience and potential new customers without the need of travelling great distances, all with just the click of a button.

4. Be seen as an expert

As mentioned above, social media is a great form of media for sharing valuable information to your audience. The great thing about social media over other media is that you can ‘listen’ to the conversations surrounding your industry or brand, and answer the questions that people are actually asking, rather than having to guess what people want to know.

In knowing and sharing this information, you are portrayed as knowledgeable and trustworthy. The more transparent and honest you are, the more you can be seen as an expert in your field.

This will hopefully translate in more people sharing your content on social media, approaching you, wanting to buy from you or use your services.

5. Be always on top of news

It is becoming more and more common for people to use social media as a news source. It is easy, mobile and always up-to-date. As such, it is a good place to search and read the latest news on the agriculture sector, which is always important for your business. This is great for both you marketing yourself, and for you keeping up with your industry.

Simply by following the right industry influencers on social media you have everyday access to all the latest news and you will always know what’s happening in the agriculture sector.

The article can be accessed here: http://www.socialmedia-trainingcourses.com/blog/2015/08/why-the-agriculture-sector-should-embrace-social-media-as-a-marketing-tool/#.Vi5ZIJxdHIU

Commentary: State food labeling mandates are bad for consumers and farmers (Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation)

There is a growing anxiety among American farmers, manufacturers and shoppers about confusing and expensive changes coming soon to store shelves unless the U.S. Senate acts quickly to preserve America’s food labeling system. This is the message members of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food will be spreading on Capitol Hill today as we urge Congress to pass a uniform, national food labeling standard this fall.

Despite overwhelming scientific consensus that genetically modified food is safe, a handful of activists think every food product that contains genetically modified ingredients requires a label. These activists have gone to dozens of states to get these states to enact labeling laws that will mislead consumers into believing there is something wrong with food products that people use everyday.

The first law, which will go into effect in July, is in Vermont, and requires companies that produce food containing GMO ingredients to label them.

We need something better than a quilt of 50 state rules governing our efficient food supply chain. What we need is a science-based, consistent standard that upholds interstate commerce while protecting affordable food choices in the marketplace. The Senate can deliver that by passing the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which passed by the House with a bipartisan 275-150 vote in July. The bill would reaffirm the federal government’s role in food labeling and stop different state labeling laws that will be confusing to consumers and raise their food prices.

The bill doesn’t cut corners. It would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review the safety of all new GMO plant varieties and preserve FDA authority to require a label if necessary. But let’s be clear: There’s never been any such determination in the past, and it’s hard to see how food like that would be approved for sale in the first place.

Here’s another important point. Consumers who want GMO-free food should have access to it, so the bill would create a national “GMO-free” program overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would inform consumers without disrupting our entire food supply chain. That way, anyone who wants to buy GMO-free food can do that – and know the uniform standard is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The push for mandatory state labeling comes with serious consequences for millions of Americans. Under a patchwork of state labels, farmers, grain handlers, processors and distributors would have to segregate their crops, while manufacturers would have to reformulate and relabel products to comply with labeling requirements for every state. Consumers, meanwhile, would pay for it all: One study from an economist at Cornell University found that state GMO labeling laws could increase grocery prices for a family of four by as much as $500 per year.

With each state passing unique labeling laws, consumers will be confused, not informed. A food labeled as GMO in one state might be exempt from such a label in another. All told, 26 states currently have pending some form of a GMO labeling law. Each day the risk grows that our affordable and abundant food supply will be irreparably harmed by a patchwork of laws and regulations that stigmatize a safe food product.

Today more than 130 Americans from 21 states are visiting Capitol Hill and calling on the Senate to pass the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act this year. These folks represent farmers, farm cooperatives and plant managers who will be on the front lines of the logistical mess that awaits if Congress fails to act.

It’s time for the Senate to pass legislation that creates a uniform, national food labeling standard.

Stallman is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Developing a Strategic Communications and Government Relations Plan for 2016

Although 2016 may seem far off, within the public policy arena, it is not. Traditionally, companies and trade associations begin considering their government relations and strategic communications planning during the 4th quarter of the current year.
Organizations and trade associations that understand the importance of strategic communications and/or government relations want to be well-organized, with a solid game plan that can be activated as the situation warrants.
If your company or organization is giving serious thought to enhancing your current efforts or developing a management plan for your policy and political capital in 2016, RDL & Associates would welcome the opportunity to assist you in planning for success in the upcoming year.

This includes preliminary groundwork within the legislative and executive branches of government so that elected officials and regulatory decision makers are well aware of the organization, as well as its mission and agenda, prior to full implementation of a strategic plan.

A strategic and tactical government relations game plan allows for an organization to effectively hit the ground running when Congress and state legislatures convene early in 2016.

We specialize in government relations, policy development and analysis, strategic communications, message development and delivery, coalition development and online outreach.

State lobbying and federal lobbying are not mutually exclusive and the strategic partnerships developed by RDL & Associates allows for seamless legislative representation for our clients.

Working with our strategic partners, including firms headquartered in Washington, D.C. and St. Paul, MN, we have the capacity to integrate federal and state lobbying, public affairs and communications services in a bipartisan fashion so as to provide cost-effective strategies for our clients.

Our collaborations provide for a true team approach and create additional opportunities and efficiencies for our clients.  Combined, our firms have over sixty years of legislative, regulatory and political experience.   As such, RDL & Associates provides a distinctive advantage at the federal, state, and local level.

Developing such an effort does not have to be cost-prohibitive.  The fee structure of our can be negotiated so that it best reflects the work expected of RDL & Associates and your organization’s internal budget for such work.

If RDL & Associates might be helpful in developing a government relations effort for your organization, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you and your colleagues as your schedules permit.

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, can  be reached at (651) 247-5458 or via e-mail at daveladd66@gmail.com.

We thank you in advance for your consideration.

A Day in the Life of a Minnesota Turkey Grower (via Minnesota Turkey Growers Association)

Minnesota raises more turkeys than any other state in the U.S. Over 450 farmers are committed every day to bird health, animal care, food safety, and environmental protection. This is a look at the day in the life of one of these farmers. (via Minnesota Turkey Growers Association)

The video can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3&v=i-EqgzgPHYA

NFU, NCGA: RFS uncertainty drives down US farm income (via Ethanol Producer Magazine)

In continuing pressure on the administration and U.S. EPA to not weaken the renewable fuels standard (RFS), the National Corn Growers Association and National Farmers Union released a white paper  showing the impact of the RFS on farm income, which is now projected to decline 26 percent this year from the 2103 peak.

The paper cites a Congressional Research Service report that called the lack of annual renewable fuel volume standards for 2014 and 2015 a key uncertainty that was “crucial in determining how the U.S. agricultural economy will fare.” USDA projects 2015 net cash income will decline $35 billion from 2013 highs. “The net farm income projection for 2015 at $58.3 billion is down over 50 percent compared with the record $123.7 billion level achieved in 2013 and is the lowest since 2006.”

In a media call the morning of the release, Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union said, “The EPA’s proposed rule and the uncertainty around it have frozen investment in rural communities and sources of income for farmers in the advanced and cellulosic biofuels industry at a crucial time. Already, the new industry has suffered a $13.7 billion shortfall in investment because of uncertainty around the RFS. That cuts off a long-term potential for supplemental farm income, and causes job loss in rural communities. The economic and environmental benefits of advanced biofuels cannot be realized without a strong RFS.”

President of the National Corn Growers Association Chip Bowling said, “Our country’s farmers and biofuels producers have met the challenges of the RFS, investing in renewable fuel production and creating jobs in rural America that can’t be outsourced to other countries. Thanks to the RFS, we are helping to reduce foreign oil dependence with clean, secure American-made renewable fuel. However, the EPA’s weakened proposed rule has hurt farm income across the country – the USDA has projected net cash income for American farmers and ranchers to decline by 26 percent this year. Now is not the time to break our commitment to America’s farmers. It’s time to put forth a strong RFS so we can continue moving our country forward and bolster farm income in our rural communities.”

In the question period following the prepared statements, both leaders acknowledged that the uncertainty around the RFA is not the only reason farm income is declining, although Johnson stressed, “it is a significant factor.” Bowling pointed out, however, that the boost in farm income starting in 2005 has widely been credited to corn ethanol. He added that he farms near an ethanol plant that shut down recently, with an immediate drop in the basis—basis being the price differential between the nearby futures corn price and a local cash quote.

Growth Energy cochairman Tom Buis commended the two agricultural organizations “for bringing this issue to the forefront to ensure that communities across rural America can continue to grow and prosper.” He reinforced the key message from NCGA and NFU. “Farm income has already declined this year and the proposed reduction of the RVOs under EPA’s proposed RFS rule will only further drive down farm income, putting a severe strain on America’s rural economy. The past several years of inaction by EPA have resulted in significant uncertainty among producers, stifling growth, innovation and the necessary investment to move toward next generation fuels from the farm.”

The article can be accessed here: http://ethanolproducer.com/articles/12671/nfu-ncga-rfs-uncertainty-drives-down-us-farm-income