When US agricultural advocates Troy and Stacy Hadrick visited Australia last year, they urged Australian livestock producers to find their influential power.
When they returned to Australia last week, they discovered just how much the class of 2011 had learned.
After addressing a crowded room of livestock producers at Beef 2012 last Thursday, the Hadricks heard how several members of the audience had applied their message to promote a positive story about agriculture to a wider audience in Australia.
Natalie Williams, who with husband Glen has a cattle property at Jericho in Central Queensland, said she drove away from the MLA Meat Profit Day at Eidsvold last year inspired to follow the Hadrick’s advice on speaking out.
She added some comments to a number of anti-live export websites, but failed to generate a response.
Her assumption was that maybe social media doesn’t work quite as well for Australian farmers as it does for US farmers, perhaps because of the population difference.
That was until almost 12 months later when out of the blue, she was contacted by a journalist from the Australian newspaper in relation one of the comments she had posted.
“My comment that was on an animal welfare website ended up on the front page of the Australian newspaper,” she told the Hadricks.
“Someone from the Australian, and the editor, had actually read my comment, remembered it from 12 months before, and then used it in an article to promote agriculture.
“So while I thought my one little comment meant nothing to anyone, it obviously meant a bit, so I can say it works.”
Ainsley McArthur, a mother of six children who runs cattle with her husband Rob on a property in Central Queensland, told the audience that she began blogging about their life last year to share a positive story about agriculture.
“I am just telling my story,” she explained.
“I love my story, and people warm to that because it is a personal story, but yet it is doing a good thing for agriculture.”
Kara Knudsen, who with husband Darcy has a family cattle operation near Mundubbera, chaired the committee that organised the Eidsvold Meat Profit Day last year.
She described how a simple tweet sent after the Hadrick’s visit helped to restore some balance to national media coverage of the live cattle export trade.
She explained how a friend, concerned that an ABC television program was providing a distorted picture of the live export debate by presenting only the views of animal rights groups and not those of agriculture, sent a tweet to the program asking that the farmer’s side of the story be told as well.
She received an immediate response from an ABC journalist asking for contacts on who they could speak to.
The friend sent the request to Kara who in turn contacted MLA in Sydney. Before long a cattle producer from the Northern Territory was in the ABC studios in Darwin telling their story.
It was another example of how a small act involving social media can sometimes have big impact.
“Once you get over the fear, set up your account and a couple of those things, it is really not that hard,” Kara said.
“It doesn’t take long to tweet.”
Troy Hadrick said it was “awesome” to hear how Australian livestock producers were making a difference, but also added that not every act would result in big impacts, yet they were still important.
“It is one comment, one post somewhere, and it all matters, even if you might not ever know it.
“You don’t have to have huge budgets to get your word out.
“The greatest resource we have in agriculture is our people, we have stories that money can’t buy, and that is pretty powerful.”