Farmers launch ‘foodthanks’ campaign

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SALEM, Ohio — With harvest in the rear-view mirror, forward-looking farmers and others in agriculture have been busy cultivating a new social media campaign to help Americans publicly express their gratitude for their food this holiday season.

Launched in time for Thanksgiving, foodthanks.com provides simple steps that people can take to show their #foodthanks.

“For many of us this time of the year, giving thanks for food on the table is a time-honored tradition,” says Jeff Fowle, president of the AgChat Foundation, a 100 percent volunteer organization that aims to empower farmers and ranchers to “agvocate” via social media platforms.

“Our goal with the #foodthanks campaign is to provide tools and inspiration for spreading personal expressions of gratitude beyond the family table to that extended circle of friends and family in our social media networks.”

Easy to do

A dedicated microsite offers visitors five simple tips for showing #foodthanks, from linking off to the foodthanks.com site from their Facebook and LinkedIn pages, to adding #foodthanks avatars to their social media sites.

AgChat Foundation Vice President Mike Haley, a fifth-generation grain and cattle farmer from Ohio, says some AgChat members have shown additional creativity in sharing the #foodthanks message: “We’ve seen a twibbon that can be added to a current avatar, a “tweetdown” of people and activities to be thankful for, photos of meals tweeted with the hashtag, a video from an AgChat community member, and we are just getting started!”

Call to action

Haley says AgChat Foundation has a simple purpose with the campaign.

“This holiday, we aim to broaden and deepen our connections throughout the food chain.”

The site instructs visitors to tweet, post and blog about #foodthanks, “especially on Nov. 24,” as final preparations are made for Thanksgiving Day.

AgChat Foundation hopes the simple message has staying power throughout the holidays.

Getting noticed

This is not the first time members of the AgChat community have flexed their collective farmer muscle to raise awareness via social media.

In August 2009, the grassroots organization worked together to establish #MOO as a top-ten trending topic on Twitter for eight hours one Sunday afternoon as a way to call attention to low milk prices and struggling dairy farm families.

“We are farmers of all stripes — conventional and organic, large and small — but we are united in our effort to put food on the table,” Haley explains.

About foundation

A group of farmers created the AgChat Foundation after connecting through the now highly visible “#AgChat” community on Twitter, a weekly moderated chat where agriculturists discuss various issues, tell their farm stories and identify ways to connect with people outside of agriculture.

The foundation strives to educate and equip “agvocates” with the skill set needed to engage on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media services, giving them the knowledge to unlock new tools to effectively tell their story.

For more information, visit www.agchat.org.

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