Carrie Mess didn’t grow up in agriculture, but she is one of the top advocates for farmers and ranchers out there. She blogs at dairycarrie.com about her adventures on her husband Patrick’s family dairy farm near Baraboo, WI.
“I am not a farm girl by birth,” she admits. “I grew up in Madison, WI, and the closest thing I had to a farm was the hobby farm my dad grew up on. I was always an animal lover and eventually turned into a horse chick – that was the gateway drug to me becoming a real ag lover. Four years ago, I married my husband, who is the son of dairy farmers. Soon, I was hooked on everything dairy cows. I have never in my life felt more at home than when I am surrounded by my ‘girls.’”
This September, Mess launched a Facebook group called, “Worth The Fight,” inspired by a song from the band, The Departed. In the chorus the song goes, “far from easy, but worth the fight.” This line stuck in her head, and soon, she was applying it to her own agvocacy effort on social media sites.
“I pulled together a group of ag bloggers and tweeters and challenged them to join me in my agvocacy efforts,” Mess said. “I asked them to share what it is that they do that is ‘worth the fight’ and blog about it or tweet with the #worththefight hashtag. I thought it would be a great way to reach out to the folks that aren’t in the choir already.”
Soon, bloggers and tweets started pouring in featuring farmers and ranchers who believe their family businesses are worth the fight to save. This agvocacy is reaching consumers across the country, highlighting the heart and soul of American agriculture.
“The Departed song is a really great tune; it really gets me revved up and rocking,” she said. “The song has been my biggest inspiration. Last fall when I was organizing a Hay Drive to help struggling farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and Texas, the guys from The Departed helped me out by sharing the Hay Drive info to their fans. I really appreciated their help and thought that this was a great way to say thanks to them, as well as tie my love for agriculture and music into one big post.”
In her blog post, http://dairycarrie.com/2012/09/11/worth-the-fight-worththefight/, Mess writes, “I believe that the future of agriculture, the very future of our food supply, rests in my hands and the hands of the people out there on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube sharing their lives. If we don’t share our story of how we are farming today for a future of better days through better ways for everybody, someone else is going to tell our story for us. Think I am wrong? Think that farmers behind computers are just wasting their time? Sorry I can’t hear you, I’ve got my music up too loud.What do you do that’s far from easy, but worth the fight?”
So, why is agvocacy so important? Mess said, “I believe that the future of farming in our country is teetering on the edge of disaster. There are more people that have no connection to where their food comes from than [those who] do. Misinformation is running wild across the news channels and internet. If the people out here making the decisions about how food in this country is produced don’t speak up and provide the transparency our customers are demanding, soon our decisions will be made for us.”
She offered advice for other producers on being better online advocates for agriculture.
“Just do it!” she advised. “You don’t have to go nuts and you probably already have a few of the tools you need. Are you on Facebook? Chances are, at some point in time, a friend has shared a story or made a comment about food. Share your knowledge! Don’t bash other farmers for their production practices and try and see what you are saying from the non-farming point of view. If you find yourself wanting to learn more, I highly suggest checking out the AgChat Foundation. They do a fantastic job teaching farmers and ranchers how to use social media to share their story. Also, remember that your life isn’t only farming or ranching. If all you ever do is talk about agriculture, people are going to tune you out. Your posts should reflect all sides of who you are – share your stories of your kids, your passion for football or music – whatever you are in to!”
Mess is one shining example of a farmer who is taking action to educate consumers and promote the positive things farmers and ranchers are doing to care for the land and the animals, while raising wholesome food to feed the world. Join her in her advocacy efforts and join in the online conversation.