(Posted Mon. Jul 25th, 2011)
July 25: Last week, growers from across the Corn Belt met in St. Louis to share ideas and practice effective communications techniques. This group, which included female farmers and association staff from 10 states, listened to presentations by industry experts and participated in workshops designed to improve presentation skills and social media presence.
Sponsored by the CommonGround program, a joint activity conducted by the National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board, was the second of its kind. Following up on the initial national session held last January in San Antonio, the summit included veteran volunteers who aided in introducing new participants to the CommonGround philosophy which stresses the importance of grassroots activism, positive messaging and opening an honest, personal dialogue with consumers about food production and the story of modern agriculture.
The diverse array of volunteers grow crops including corn, soy, wheat, cotton, produce, alfalfa and barley and run livestock operation that produce cattle, sheep, dairy products and pork. NCGA CEO Rick Tolman welcomed the volunteers on Friday morning stressing the importance of their participation and asking them to share insight into the myths surrounding modern farming that most upset them. Later that afternoon, Communications Director Ken Colombini brought the group up to speed on complementary efforts NCGA has underway to help tell the story of corn farming in the United States.
Additional guest speakers included Chris Reimer of Falk Harrison and Kevin Murphy of Food Chain Communications. Reimer, who has received regional acclaim his creative, effective use of social media, spoke on online advocacy. During this presentation, he addressed the impact that social media can have when used effectively, gave advice on how to elevate usage and led a discussion of possible topics and opportunities to use this medium.
Murphy wrapped up the summit with a presentation on the importance of telling the true story of American agriculture. Stressing that farmers should take pride in what they do, he invigorated participants, sending them home excited and ready to tackle the tasks ahead.
CommonGround is a program to increase awareness among urban and suburban consumers of the value of modern production agriculture in their lives. As the name implies, the program emphasizes that urban and farm families share the same values and concerns and that urban consumers can trust the process and the people that provide their food.
CommonGround is a collaboration between the United Soybean Board and NCGA, built upon positive messages and personal stories that promote modern agriculture of all kinds.