Workshop to help Taranaki farmers harness power of social media
Smartphones are an essential tool to help Ben and Belinda Price manage their 650-cow dairy farm in South Taranaki.
They're used to keep tabs on the weather, monitor milk quality results and analyse animal records.
But the 50/50 sharemilkers believe the pocket-sized device also has a vital role to play in changing perceptions of their industry.
"A lot of dairy farmers currently feel under attack; smartphones and social media give us a voice to tell our stories," Belinda said.
The 36-year-old is keen to use Facebook and Twitter more, to share the good things happening on their farm and has signed up for a free social media workshop being run by Taranaki Federated Farmers in Stratford on June 27.
"Social media's an ideal platform for farmers to share positive stories and celebrate successes," the organisation's office manager Jessie Waite said.
"When used properly, it's an easy way to help educate and connect with consumers, influential people and city dwellers. Consumers are hungry for information about where their food comes from."
But social media can also be a dangerous tool, which can damage agriculture's image and crucial markets if used incorrectly.
"The workshop's designed to build farmers' confidence and provide useful tips to avoid potential pitfalls," Kaponga contract milker Brad Markham said.
The former ABC News journalist hosted a social media seminar at the Dairy Environment Leaders' Forum in Wellington last December and is one of several presenters at the interactive Stratford event.
"Most farmers are proud of what they do, but just need a nudge in the right direction," Markham said.
"It's awesome to scroll through Twitter now and see dairy farmers like Jane Hutchings posting photos of the important pest eradication work she's doing to protect kiwi on her Northland property.
"We can't rely on people in suits to change perceptions of our industry; it has to be driven by farmers in Swanndries and overalls."
Other presenters include Federated Farmers' national dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard and communications manager Leigh Catley.