About Dr. Marybeth Feutz

Large animal veterinarian, cattle farmer, pet owner, grocery buyer

Social Media Is Powerful

I went to two breakout sessions at the AFBF Conference on Sunday. Both talked about the importance of engaging with consumers. The overarching message was that consumers want to know more, but they don’t know where to turn to get the information.

One of the sessions talked about using “traditional” media like radio, newspapers, and television as a way to tell our story. Another talked about books and documentaries. All of these media outlets have a place. But the importance of social media and blogging was greatly downplayed in both sessions..

The speakers focused on one group of “mommy bloggers” – those who may not have an agriculture connection, but are very passionate about the food choices they make for their families. This group of bloggers can be very vocal and very influential. Sometimes, their opinions are contrary to what those of us in the trenches of agriculture believe.

And that’s OK.

That’s what blogging is for – it’s a venue for someone to share their thoughts, opinions, and passions. All bloggers are looking for a community of like-minded people to talk to. Many of us want to reach outside our immediate circle of friends and try to talk to people with opinions that are different from ours.

What both speakers missed out on, though, is that there is a large community of ag bloggers.

There are plenty of “mommy bloggers” who are also “food bloggers,” and even better, “farm bloggers.” These women (and men) are also very influential! Check out The Real Farmwives of America And Friends. Like Rockin’ Rural Women on Facebook. Check out an #agchat on Twitter one Tuesday night. Just do a Google search for “farm blog” and start reading! It won’t take you long to find and get to know some of these amazing farm bloggers.

Traditional media outlets are very important in telling our farm story. But who can tell your story better than you? Social media and blogging can be a very powerful way to tell your story and to share your farm with the questioning public. Using these media outlets is the only way you can be sure that your farm is portrayed in your voice, with accuracy and integrity, the way you want it to be seen.

Not sure where to start? Log into Facebook and share some pictures of your daily farm chores. You’ll be surprised at some of the comments and questions you’ll get from just showing what you do every day! If you want more resources, check out Ohio Farm Bureau’s Social Media Guide. Touch base with your state’s Farm Bureau office, or the American Farm Bureau to see what other help they can offer. Or just ask the teenager in your life to show you the ropes!

Social media is a huge platform where we can tell our ag story. Consumers are starting to learn more about where their food comes from. With every bit of knowledge they gain, they are hungry for even more. Why not give them what they are looking for, and spread a positive image of agriculture at the same time?

alarmclockwars is Marybeth Feutz, DVM, of Indiana. She and her husband, John, have a beef cattle farm and work together in their family’s veterinary practice. She is a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. Check out her blogs: Alarm Clock Wars (http://www.alarmclockwars.com/) and AgriCultured — Where People Who Eat Get Their Food Questions Answered (http://www.agricultured.org/about/). Find her on Twitter (@AlarmClockWars).

Farm Women Telling Our Story

Two summers ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the AFBF Women’s Communication Boot Camp. This was an intensive communications training workshop with Farm Bureau women from all over the country. We were trained in how to interview with newspaper and radio personalities, how to give a speech, how to testify in front of legislators, and how to use social media to tell our stories and show what happens on our farms.

Have you seen the AFBF booth in the trade show?

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Yep, that’s me! I was taking my “final exam” at boot camp and giving a radio interview.

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The skills I learned and connections I made at Boot Camp were invaluable. I have taken my blogs (Alarm Clock Wars and AgriCultured) and social media presence to places I never would have thought before. It also gave me the confidence to be able to do an interview with Brownfield Ag News about how to take care of animals during the extremely cold temperatures we had recently.

Did you know that consumers trust moms the most when they are making food choices for their families? They trust farm moms even more.

If you have been thinking about getting more involved in sharing what goes on at your farm, this is the time.

Are you afraid to jump in and get your feet wet? Do you just need a little more reassurance before you get started? Do you have some basic skills, but want to sharpen them a little more? Then the Communications Boot Camp is for you! Stop by the AFBF booth at the trade show to learn more about it!       

alarmclockwars is Marybeth Feutz, DVM, of Indiana. She and her husband, John, have a beef cattle farm and work together in their family’s veterinary practice. She is a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. Check out her blogs: Alarm Clock Wars (http://www.alarmclockwars.com/) and AgriCultured — Where People Who Eat Get Their Food Questions Answered (http://www.agricultured.org/about/). Find her on Twitter (@AlarmClockWars).

The Waiting is the Hardest Part…

My husband, John, and I are priviledged to be the Indiana representatives in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Ag Award here at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting.

 

Excellence in AgThis award is for Young Farmers and Ranchers who do not make the majority of their income from production agriculture. The Excellence in Ag Award is based on involvement and leadership in agriculture, Farm Bureau and the local community.

We first competed for this award in Indiana before our annual convention in December. We submitted an application that included details about our farm (beef cattle and hay), our off-farm jobs (we are veterinarians in a rural town and I am a blogger), our involvement and leadership roles with Farm Bureau, with other agriculture groups, and with non-agriculture groups. Then we waited.

The top three competitors in Indiana were asked to give a presentation to a panel of judges in Indianapolis. Then we waited. The winners were announced at the Indiana Farm Bureau Annual Meeting early in December and the rush was on to get prepared for the national competition! We submitted another application to the AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher coordinator and then we waited.

The first part of the AFBF Annual Meeting in Nashville was the opening session. All the Excellence in Ag competitors were grouped together at the front of the ballroom. We nervously watched the parade of states, and listened to AFBF President Bob Stallman give his “State of Farm Bureau” address. We waited for the announcements of the Top 10 competitors. John and I applauded for and celebrated with the first 9 states who would be competing in the next round of competition… And then we waited…

After what seemed like an extraordinarily long pause…

Our names were called! We had made it to the Top 10 round of competition! What a relief, an honor and a new bout of nervousness to have made it to this level!

We went to our competitor orientation, drew our order for the presentation round of the competition… and learned we would be waiting some more. We would be the 9th presenters, in a group of 10.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the conference, taking in the trade show, going to a breakout session and catching up with old friends. We got up this morning ready and just a little nervous.

We patiently waited our turn (with a little more than our fair share of pacing). We bounced around the room a little bit, psyching ourselves up for the presentation backstage-style, ramping up our energy levels. We gave our presentation to a packed house. A lot of our Indiana delegation came out to support us in this competition and we were so excited to have them there to share this experience with us. We put our hearts, our personalities, and our passions into our presentation. I know our Indiana crew enjoyed it and we can only hope that the judges did, too.

And now, we wait some more. We know we have done our best and we are certainly proud of our accomplishments. Indiana had competitors in the Top 10 for both the Excellence in Ag Award and the Achievement Award, and in the Discussion Meet Sweet 16. We are so thrilled that we all have been able to make Indiana proud.

The announcements of the winners of the Excellence in Ag Award, the Achievement Award nd the Discussion Meet will be announced this afternoon at the closing general session. If you see some young farmers wandering around looking nervous, stop to say hi and give us a few words of encouragement. We’ve worked very hard to reach this level of the competition and we’re waiting for some big announcements.

I can’t talk about these awards without mentioning our sponsors. Without the support of the state Farm Bureaus, none of the Young Farmer competitors would be here. We all owe a huge thank-you to STIHL, Case IH and GM. Thank you for your support!

The application and the presentation? While they both took a lot of work, it now seems like that was the easy part of this competiton. The waiting truly is the hardest part… But we are loving every minute of the anticipation!

alarmclockwars is Marybeth Feutz, DVM, of Indiana. She and her husband, John, have a beef cattle farm and work together in their family’s veterinary practice. She is a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. Check out her blogs: AgriCultured — Where People Who Eat Get Their Food Questions Answered (http://www.agricultured.org/) and Alarm Clock Wars (http://www.alarmclockwars.com/). Find her on Twitter (@AlarmClockWars).