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Putting the “culture” in Agriculture


I just started reading the recently released book The Now Revolution by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund. One of the biggest things to hit me so far is the focus on how customers can use social interactions to get the sense of the “culture” of a business and gain insight into the values a company believes in. Baer and Naslund write “Your company culture consists of two key elements: Your business’ underlying intent and the people you bring together to carry it out.” In other words personal interactions and relationships built with people and faces of the company allow customers the opportunity to learn what the company believes in and it’s core values.  Another great point made in the book is : “Having a great product or business to sell is important. But if you truly have something of value to offer, the how and why you go about doing that are every bit as critical as the what.” To further define culture Baer and Naslund explain it consists of 3 parts:

○        Passion

○        Philosophy on how people who interact with the business are treated

○        Actions taken to prove your “culture”

We in agriculture need to work on building relationships with our customers (those buying and using our products) and share our values on “how and why we do what we do” with them. In farming, we may not have a formal customer service department to interact with our loyal customers and as a result they have no understanding of some of today’s innovative farm practices. On the flip side with no clear way to communicate with consumers farmers lose touch of societal shifts in eating habits and changes consumers may be wanting.  We are vital pieces of the food chain, however, the only personal interactions our customers have with people in the food chain are with the employees of the supermarkets or restaurants they frequent. Does the supermarket chain and its employees have the same values as farmers? Restaurants? I would hope so however I am not willing to risk my farming future on it. As farmers we need to be cognizant that the majority of our customers learn about farming from driving by our farms as they go about their daily routines and from their interactions at farmers markets. If our customers drive by an unkempt farm what impression are they left with? If the only personal relationship with someone in agriculture is those they meet at farmer’s markets what do they think of the rest of farmers? In agriculture we as farmers care greatly for the environment, animals and our communities, however are we conveying that message through relationships? For more on creating relationships please read Building Bridges, Connecting Communities.

A good friend of mine and fellow Agvocate Chris Chinn asked the question Who Is Telling the Story of Agriculture?” in a recent blog post. I would like to ask a different but similar question:

“What are you doing to tell the story of agriculture?”

Do you have to tell your story of agriculture online with social platforms like blogs, Twitter and Facebook? No, however you need to tell your story where you are comfortable doing so. Places such as schools, churches, civic groups and supermarkets are great opportunities to interact with others and share your values with them.

Another great way to show that we as farmers care for our communities is to sponsor roadside cleanups or community events. As a group farmers are some of the best stewards of local communities, however do those who live outside the local area see what we do? To bring more awareness to what we as farmers care about we can sponsor events in bigger communities to help others understand the “culture” of agriculture. If there are major roadways near your farm sponsor the cleanup of a section of roadway so the many cars driving by see that farmers care.

In addition to community support and social platforms other great ways to agvocate are speaking to local service and hobby groups like Larkin Martin from Alabama does. Laurie Kyle from Wisconsin uses her background working in a school library and nutrition degree to discuss inaccuracies she sees in articles by writing letters to the editor and adding comments to online articles.

Together we can put the “culture” back in Agriculture and tell the wonderful story farmers and rancher’s have to tell!

For more reading on “culture” here is a blog post I came across after this was originally posted: “Culture Trumps Strategy, Every Time”

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About raylindairy

Ray is a partner with his parents in Ray-Lin Dairy in Denair, Ca. The operation milks 475 cows and double crops corn & winter forage on 130 of the 240 acres with about 90 acres of pasture. The family also has 1200 ac operation in Klamath Falls OR that raises alfalfa hay, wheat hay, and oat hay. Ray is currently secretary of the Agchat Foundation an entity he helped found whose mission is to empower farmer to use social media. He is currently a on the board of directors of CA Dairy Campaign, Dairy CARES, and is the 2nd Vice-President of Stanislaus County Farm Bureau. He is also a member of the National Dairy Board. In addition to his involvement in agricultural organizations’ he is the Chairperson of the Governance Committee at a newly formed charter school his daughter attends, and serves as a director for the East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District. Ray and his wife Erica live on the dairy with their two children.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Putting the “culture” in Agriculture

  1. So fun to hear you reading The Now Revolution! I complete agree and enjoyed this post Ray. The “culture” of agriculture is much why I share about my life far beyond farming because it is important to show how we are people every day. My passions are deep in my community and state. Keep blogging and I can’t wait for you to ask @JayBaer some questions when we all get together in Sacramento.

    Posted by Katie | March 22, 2011, 9:29 PM
  2. Good read Ray…and so true…many thanks to agriculturalists like you for figuring out how to connect with the consumer. We in the forest products industry are just figuring it out with your lead. Keep up the great communication!

    Mark

    Posted by Mark Lathrop | March 23, 2011, 5:31 AM
  3. Looks like I have a book to read on the plane to SFO!

    Posted by Jodi | March 23, 2011, 7:34 AM
  4. I totally agree on raising the voice of the farmer. As part of our farm business outreach programs, we have been providing workshops for farmers to increase their awareness online including social media groups. Cost is always a factor, so our workshops focus only on ways to reach their audience for free.

    Posted by Mason Donovan | April 4, 2011, 7:04 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: We Need You! « Ray-Lin Dairy - April 4, 2011

  2. Pingback: Just Farmers… » Blog Archive » Market with Culture, Manage with Science - February 27, 2012

  3. Pingback: Just Farmers » One For All, All For One - November 28, 2012

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