The numbers are daunting: Out of 300 million Americans, just 1.8% are farmers. Of those farmers, 4,000 to 5,000 are on social media — and they’re posting about three times a month.
“Anti-agriculture groups have a much louder voice than agriculture,” says Paul Spooner with U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, adding that they often use emotional content to misinform consumers. “We want to activate farmer and rancher voices on a large scale.”
To that end, USFRA has launched an app, which also functions as a website, that aggregates food and agricultural stories and makes it easy to share them across all social media platforms. They’ll even write a couple of sentences to go with the stories.
According to Liz Ireland, digital communications coordinator for USFRA, the new EngAGe app lets farmers, ranchers and advocates share their stories on social media. Plus, it’s an easy place to check in and stay informed on what’s being said about agriculture on any given day.
To use the app, download it and log in, completing a quick survey that lets USFRA know who you are — and vet potential users. You also get a prompt to link the app to your various social media accounts. Once you’re in, you can scroll through the news feed and sort it by topic, such as animal welfare, GMOs, food trends, soy, antibiotics and more. You can like and comment on stories within the app, and then share them on whichever platform you’d like.
“The dashboard congregates stories and makes it easier to find and share them,” Ireland explains.
She adds that farmers and ranchers can also submit their own content or content they’ve come across on the web. Ireland reviews every submission before approving it to appear in the EngAGe newsfeed, which prevents anti-agricultural activists from flooding the tool with further misinformation.
Each story also comes with suggested text, which farmers can edit or use in their post.
Ireland says the system is set up to be invisible to Google bots and other online tools that could corrupt the stream of information. Plus, each post is reviewed by a human — Ireland — who monitors the stream continuously.
How to use EngAGe
To join, search "Dynamic Signal" in either iTunes or Google Play and download the free app.
Once you download and open the app, it will prompt you to enter the EngAGe community code: ENGAGE (not case sensitive).
Once you type in the community code, you will be able to create an EngAGe account.
For further instructions or to download a manual, visit fooddialogues.com/engAGe.