Ag makes social media presence known; farm speaker a Mashable award finalist


SAN FRANCISCO — A Brazilian pop star, Hollywood celebrities and an agricultural speaker are in the race for an internationally-recognized social media award.

Mashable, The Social Media Guide, announced the nominees for the 2009 Open Web Awards Nov. 17 and agriculture’s Michele Payn-Knoper was one of the top five nominees for Twitter User of the Year.

(Scroll down to watch a video of Payn-Knoper explaining her role in speaking out for agriculture.)

Payn-Knoper was nominated by members of an agricultural community, “#AgChat“, which Payn-Knoper founded in April. Professional speaker colleague Eliz Greene voted in the Open Web Awards last year and knew that Payn-Knoper’s contributions deserved attention.

Passionate about ag

“Her devotion to her cause — agriculture — is inspirational,” Greene said. “Her orchestration of AgChat and FoodChat as streaming conversations on Twitter provides rich environments for the exchange of ideas and information. It is amazing to watch unfold.”

About AgChat

AgChat is a weekly moderated conversation on Twitter for people in the business of raising food, feed, fuel, fiber. Through the chat, participants on Twitter discuss issues impacting agriculture, such as mainstream media coverage, sustainability, communications, agronomy, animal welfare, USDA programs and perceptions of farming.

Payn-Knoper and the group also created the monthly FoodChat designed to provide farmers and consumers with a forum to discuss issues in which they connect.

SM campaign

Greene connected with a few people from the AgChat community and the group propelled the Mashable vote idea with a social media campaign approach.

As days passed and votes mounted, some of the people participating posted their stories of support. Blog entries by dairy farmer Ray Prock, rancher Jeff Fowle and precision agriculture rep Nate Taylor and others provided personal connections encouraging followers on Twitter to cast votes in the viral contest.

It was a bit overwhelming, Payn-Knoper admits.

“I thought I understood the power of our community until they decided to do this… it’s a good lesson in the determination of agriculturists,” she said.

“Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to build connections between the farm gate and consumer plate.”

Online ballot ’til Dec. 13

Mashable is hosting voting through Dec. 13.

AgChat is held weekly on Tuesday evenings from 8-10 p.m. Eastern via a “streaming” Twitter feed.

A sister chat, known as “FoodChat,” takes place on the third Tuesday of each month, in lieu of AgChat, and is tailored more specifically to the interests of consumers, nutrition professionals, foodies and influencers of food choices. FoodChat gives its followers an opportunity to “meet a farmer” or ask questions of those in agriculture.

Anyone with an interest in agriculture or food is invited to participate in AgChat and FoodChat.

Here’s Payn-Knoper’s reaction to and explanation of the web award:

Follow Michele Payn-Knoper on Twitter.

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  1. What’s great is that #agchat and #foodchat have inspired #meatcamp, a Thursday night Q&A session coordinated by Penn State meat scientist Chris Raines ( and Oliver Ranch Company’s Carrie Oliver (, and was probably an influence on Nick Weber’s #onthefarm Twitter interviews (

    Lots of farm conversations going on in social media right now. Are you a part of it? E-mail me at if you have questions.

  2. Thanks for drawing attention to this! THose of us on twitter are very excited about what ag has been able to do. Our innovators have done it again and are engaging in conversations directly with consumers through Farm2U both on twitter and Facebook. Check the group out if you are on either service.


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