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Bringing consumers and farmers closer

Farmers Market
Thanks to the Internet, social media and a new generation in agriculture, consumers and farmers are getting closer than ever.

That was the clear message from a conference I attended recently in northern Michigan.  

Here’s what I discovered:

-   Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) is allowing farmers and consumers to connect directly—no middleman required. There used to be a gap between the farmers who grow the food and the families who buy it. But not anymore. An increasing number of farmers, particularly young farm women, are turning to social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to give the public a field-level view of their farms.

-   Consumers are asking questions, and farmers are listening and responding. That could be about pesticide use, antibiotics in livestock and farming’s impact on the environment. Farmers realize that they need to listen to their customers, answer their questions and engage them in a conversation about today’s farming practices.

-   A new generation of farmers is changing the face of agriculture. Today’s young people are looking for new and different ways to farm than the way their parents farmed. Instead, they are interested in tapping into demand for local foods. They are eager to adopt new farming technologies that use fewer resources and improve food safety. Farmers are constantly working to get better at what they do, producing better and safer food for consumers, using fewer resources and protecting the environment.

On a side note, I encourage you to check out one of my new favorite Facebook pages, “Through the lens of a farm girl.” (http://www.facebook.com/lens.of.a.farm.girl) Not only is the photography amazing, but it also provides eye-opening info about food and farming today.

Written by Teresa Bjork
Teresa is a features Writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau.