Farmers beef up social media presence

ABC’s Landline program had an interesting story about farmers taking up social media to counter negative campaigns by animal liberation and environmental groups.

Australian beef farmers learned the power of social media first hand when it was used with great effect, alongside the 4 Corners program, to halt live cattle exports to Indonesia because of animal cruelty. The beef farmers are fighting back with the help of American rancher Troy Hadrick, who is part of a movement in the US called “Agvocacy”, where farmers explain their business to city people.

Interestingly Hadrick learned the power of social media when he made a YouTube video expressing his disgust that Australian winemaker Yellow Tail, which committed $100,000 a year for three years to the Humane Society of the United States, which he says is fiercely anti-farmer. On Landline, he tells Australian beef farmers he couldn’t figure out why a company that depends on agriculture for its livelihood was “giving money to an organisation over here that’s trying to put other farmers and ranchers out of business”.

“I encouraged all the people that were following us on Facebook to do the same thing and all the people that were following us on Twitter to do the same thing. And holy smokes, it was like releasing the hounds,” he said. He then made the above YouTube video, in which he pours the contents of a Yellowtail bottle on to the ground. It went viral and which made Yellow Tail reconsider their donation and admit they didn’t know the Humane Society used its funds for lobbying rather than directly helping animals.

After the program Landline held a live Twitter session with Hadrick, which featured more than 500 tweets, including farmers with their own examples of how they’re already using social media to enhance their business.

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