Tweeting, hashtags and the future of the UK Ag Industry
While social media forms such as Twitter may not be everyone in the farming industries idea of ‘the new way to communicate’; there certainly are becoming more and more people who are finding out its value, both as a social means of communication and also as a tool for discussing far reaching, and often complex issues surrounding the industry.
Armed with only 140 characters; discussing and debating a complex agricultural issue such as agricultural succession may seem an impossibly daunting task. However this seemingly restrictive means of communication between like-minded individuals and organisations has proven just how effective it can be in recent times.
A simple ‘tweet’ about the lack of younger people at a county NFU meeting sparked a discussion between three or four people. This has since snowballed into the #aggen hashtag with tens of people contributing their thoughts on the matter of how new entrants, and the younger generation can make in the big wide world of the agricultural industry – both as employees and employers.
The discussion has since opened up and shown the passion and drive of the younger generation of the industry – but it has also shown how they respect the older generation. It isn’t a case of ‘how can we make the older generation retire so we can take over’ but more ‘how can the younger generation show their passion and enthusiasm to carry on what is already being done by the older generation, so that we can work more closely together and build systems to help the passing over of the decision making and risk taking’. There is a huge ‘want’ from people to get into the industry and be able to run a business in their own right – but closely coupled with this is the understanding of the need to gain experience and trust before such things can be made reality.
As the discussion progresses and more people become involved – which they are - there is a need to move it away from twitter and social media and into a format that can involve the older and younger generations side by side to allow each to see what the other is saying or asking. It’s important to remember that without the older generation, UK agricultural industry wouldn’t be what it is today – but also without the younger generation, the UK agricultural industry cannot be what it is today tomorrow.