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‘We need somebody (Help!) Not just anybody’

Jessica Peters and Katie Dotterer-Pyle for Progressive Dairyman (with help from the Beatles) Published on 24 May 2019

Did you sing the title of this article in your head? When we were outlining this article, the hit song inexplicably popped into our heads. Then we realized it was because it so accurately describes how dairy advocates are feeling right now.

We need help. We, as in the entire dairy industry, need to better engage with and connect to consumers. The Beatles help us break it down:

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When I was younger, so much younger than today I never needed anybody’s help in any way

It hasn’t been that long since consumers started to question where their food comes from. The internet – though a staple in our lives – isn’t that old, but it’s become essential. If we didn’t have to tell our story, we could just do what we do best: farm. We could stay behind our barn doors and not worry about being questioned about what we do because we do it best.

But now these days are gone; I’m not so self-assured

Yup, those days are long gone. Technology and social networks have changed the way we communicate forever. Don’t kid yourself; it’s not going away. We’re no longer self-assured that consumers actually know what happens on a dairy farm or how to connect with an actual dairy farmer.

Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the [barn] doors

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The two of us, along with other influencers in ag, are changing the way we communicate with the public. We’ve opened up both our actual and virtual barn doors, put ourselves and our farms out on social media. The results, while small, have been significant.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down

Here’s the reality of it: We get burnt out. Adding social media to an already full life can be a lot. What keeps us pushing forward is our love for what we do, and the reality is: If people don’t start better understanding why we do it, we may not be able to do it anymore. Social media brings out the best and worst in people. As advocates, at times we feel like we’re alone in this fight.

And I do appreciate you being ’round

To the agricultural companies/organizations: We appreciate what you do for us as farmers. We know we can’t expect something and give nothing, but we’re all in this industry together. Most of us aren’t making money at this; we’re doing it because we’re passionate about it. Besides, being associated with some of the most popular agvocates on social media can only boost your reputation with your customers.

Help me get my feet back on the ground 
Won’t you please, please help me?

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We already know what you’re doing for us. We want to know what you’re willing to do with us. We wouldn’t buy a certain commodity from you if we didn’t trust the quality. We wouldn’t buy supplies off of your route truck if we didn’t need them. We know the products and services you offer. But what about helping us in another way? (see inset)

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze

We have followers who want to learn more, which is fantastic. But we can’t keep doing this alone. We need your help. Farmers are short on three things: time, money and technology/resources. We know you have more of those three things than we do; the 17 current-year calendars on my farm desk prove it. So we’re officially calling you out. You’re probably thinking, “Well, I can’t help with those things.” We call B.S. …

Videos are the top source for engagement online. Positive dairy messages need to be represented on YouTube. Most of us don’t have the fancy equipment or the knowledge to make that happen. The videos we make on our phones are great, but the ideas we have involve better technology and higher-quality equipment. Plus, video editing takes time – time we don’t have. And time is money.

Some companies have in-house marketing teams who have skilled people who know how to do those types of things. Why not partner with us to not only get your message out there but the farmers’ story as well? In a time when farmers are questioning every decision they make, seeing their feed company or processor partner with an advocate to produce a pro-dairy video would speak volumes.

But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

Right now, the future of ag looks scary; we’re not going to sugarcoat it. Is this new, unchartered territory for both farmers and ag companies? It sure is. But so is the ever-changing landscape of how people get their information. What we’re doing now clearly isn’t working; we think it’s time to try something new.

To bring this to a close, we’ll let the Beatles bring it home: “Won’t you help me get our feet back on the ground? Won’t you please, please help me?”  end mark

Jessica Peters is a dairy farmer in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Follow her farm on Facebook: Spruce Row Farm.

Katie Dotterer-Pyle
  • Katie Dotterer-Pyle

  • Dairy Producer
  • Union Bridge, Maryland
  • Email Katie Dotterer-Pyle

Specific ways agricultural companies and organizations can assist agvocates:

Money

  • Offer grants to buy influencers equipment for better capturing life on the farm.

  • Instead of giving me a calendar in January, how about an Amazon or iTunes gift card?

  • Just reach out and ask if we have a project we’d like help with; we don’t want to have to ask.

Time

  • Have a video editing expert on your marketing team? Let us use them for advice or assistance.

  • Offer to help us film or amplify our messages (which can, in turn, help amplify yours).

Resources

  • Working with a filming crew nearby? Reach out; maybe you could work on a project with us.

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