It is no longer news that agriculture is the new big thing, and many who are involved in it are making it. In any sector you find yourself, to stay relevant you must learn new and innovative ways that will keep you at the top of the ladder.
Millennial farmers from the suburbs in the United States (US) are already thinking ahead of their peers who spent most of their day on the farm; these young farmers are actually taking advantage of the new media (social media) to share their experience about farming to prospective, existing and non farmers who subscribe to their YouTube channel.
YouTube for many is a platform where one can watch videos or stream live events, but beyond that, those who know the business side of YouTube have turned it a money making platform than a time wasting one.
For Zach Johnson, (MN Millennial Farmer) a corn and soybean grower in Minnesota earns five times more than what his crops could provide for his family.
“I love agriculture, I love farming,” Zach Johnson said. “It’s my whole life, and it’s the life for all of my friends and family. People have become so disconnected from agriculture,” Johnson said.
“They’re curious about where their food comes from, and who the people that grow their food are. We have a really good opportunity to talk to people, discuss those things and show them why we do the things that we do”, he added.
Johnson, 34 with Becky have about 300,000 subscribers with 50 million views, what they do on YouTube is they share their experience and thoughts on both the depressed state of the rural economy and growing consumer interest in how food is produced.
“Yes, we use GMOs, we use pesticides, drain tiles and irrigation and there are real reasons why we use those things,” Johnson said in an interview. Their role is to strike a balance to a discussion often dominated by critics of modern farming practices. They leave farmer to decide on whether to adopt new farming techniques or remain with the conventional farming methods.
Farmers accept new methods of farming when they hear from their colleagues who have adopted these new methods and it is result oriented.
According to a survey by the University of Illinois, conducted on farmers, close to 60 percent of these farmers over the last year have adopted the use of social media to engage farmers like them in new farm practice from pre-planting to harvest.
“Farm organizations and commodity groups have encouraged producers to be part of the conversation on social media,” said Keith Good, social media at Farmdoc project at the University of Illinois
Suzzane Cook, or WT. Farm Girl 37, a female farmer who has 40,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel is advocating for more women who are 10 percent of her subscribers to go into farming.
“For a female, it’s even harder because most guys don’t take you seriously,” she said in a telephone interview. “YouTube has helped me because a lot of my subscribers are encouraging.”
Josh Drapper (Stoney Ridge Farm), a first generation cattle farmer with over 220,000 subscribers is calling on ex servicemen in the US to embrace farming. “A lot of people are getting back to agriculture”, Josh said.