After returning to the office from a recent agriculture event, my boss asked me who was in attendance. I replied, “Basically the who’s who of the ag industry.” Later that day I started thinking more about that. I attend a lot of ag events, meetings, seminars etc. and it’s always the usual suspects in attendance. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s great that these people are coming out and supporting the industry. But it reenforced my belief that we in the ag industry spend too much time preaching to the choir. These people are already aware of agriculture and its importance. Should we not rather reach out to people who aren’t? And the best way to do this is probably through the mainstream media.
Now I know what you’re thinking. This is easier said than done. I agree. We can invite the mainstream media to our ag events until we’re blue in the face, but if they don’t show, they don’t show. I completely understand. I’ve organized the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council Annual General Meeting for the past three years and every year I invite both rural and urban media. But no one from the urban media shows up. So why not and what can we do about it?
Here’s what I think. Most media are only concerned about what’s going to sell papers, improve ratings etc. Therefore the reporters have to produce stories that the majority of their readers or viewers want to read or see or hear. Do our city friends want to read about agriculture? Some might. But most of them probably don’t because they don’t think it applies to them. We live in a “me” society. That means I only want to read about what affects me. Unfortunately they’re forgetting that agriculture does affect them to a great extent. Whether it be through the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the houses they live in etc. We need to promote this connection to agriculture.
I encourage you to think about how we can go beyond our ag circles and reach out to others to promote our industry.