Forums

An open letter to UK dairy farmers: why you must use social media to help to save yourselves

Started by Mr Cowley

Reply

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 26 total)

  • #868207

     
    Mr Cowley
    Member
    Topics: 1
    Replies: 4
    Likes: 0

    Hello,

    I used to be one of you. I grew up with cows, milking them, looking after them, living with them. Like many dairy farmers, in the late 90s the sums didnt add up. My family got out of dairying and I had to work outside of the industry in which Id got my degree and where all of my specialist knowledge lay.

    Back then the dairy companies reduced prices for many reasons we were over quota, we didnt meet all of their farm-assurance tick-boxes, our milk didnt have the right constituent parts. One, ten or one hundred engineered reasons not to pay proper money for a UK manufactured raw product.

    I see now the reason for chopping off UK dairying income this week is that the price of cream has collapsed. I suspect its the dairy farmers fault, for producing too much cream. Its just another engineered problem to use as an excuse to cut the profits (or increase the losses) of their suppliers.

    Since the late 90s something has changed though. I know its changed, because Ive spent the last decade working for IT companies whove been part of that change. Media has become social media.

    Public relations and marketing arent an announcement any more, theyre a discussion. What the public sees has been changed. We all now have the freedom to publicise whatever we want in our own personal space and beyond. Easily, effectively and for everyone to read and digest.

    A day out in London, protesting is a traditional gesture, but one that isnt very valuable these days. It is also a point publicity incident. Its over in the media in a moment.
    You all now have access to something that is far more valuable Facebook and Twitter. Theyre free, theyre very public and you can access them anywhere you have mobile phone network access. Theyre also your biggest weapons with which to respond to the dairy companies and draw attention to your plight. You can even use them while youre demonstrating in London.

    Get a Twitter account. Get a Facebook account. Find the accounts of the dairy companies and start explaining, publicly why you are upset with them. Twitter gives you 140 characters include, for example @UKTesco or @ArlaDanmark in your post and youll pop up in their feed. I suspect even your MP has a Twitter account.
    If you keep talking about them, pretty soon not only people will start to notice, but search engines will notice this too and start to promote you in association with your subject matter. In relatively short shrift youve just built yourself your own personal global publicity platform all about the subject of your choice. Maybe thats the buyer of your milk. Keep on-topic and you can now start to announce to your audience who are interested in the dairy company the things they need to hear about the people who are slashing at your income to support their corporate profits.

    Add together only the base accounts for Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Tesco and you have over 100,000 people following those accounts. You will have an audience with a significant percentage if at any point one of those accounts responds to you. As soon as they engage with you, you have a large audience use it and get talking and keep talking.

    You can even latch on to completely unrelated events if enough of you post including the terms Olympics, ukdairying and ripoff<insert dairy company here> youll be the thing thats noticed each day by the press and remembered about the Olympics. You can take control of the publicity of an event if there are only a few hundred of you, but you post with one voice.

    Facebook is quite different youre not limited to 140 characters, but you are at liberty to post on your buyers pages, with the stories that might make them uncomfortable. You can also use it to coordinate actions as a group.

    Take https://www.facebook.com/mullerdairyuk as an example. They want to talk to their 87,000 followers about their favourite flavour yoghurts. They might be less keen to talk about their low farmgate prices, but if many farmers keep bringing it up theyre going to look very publicly abusive of their suppliers if they just keep deleting all of your posts and comments. Explain the commercial pain youre going through and also the hard work that goes into the milk which forms the base for their products. Be nice, be polite, be clear, but keep posting. If they ban you, move on to another dairy company account. Remember most of these accounts are only manned 9-5:30, too. Make sure you tell your neighbour to post, too you have the power to tell your story on these businesses pages youre part of it.

    If you want to group together and make your own pages to explain your problems or work together do it. Create your personal accounts and then go here:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

    and create a page to help tell your story, as a group, or as a business. Random members of the public may join in and ask you difficult questions answer them honestly and clearly. The more that the ninety-something percent of the UKs population who arent involved in agriculture engage with you, the better theyll understand what a great job you do. The mantra in social media is clear engage or die. For dairy farmers it is imperative engage, or your industry will die.
    Do remember that everything you post is there for good: forever. Unless you specify not then things are public as soon as you post them.

    Do remain polite but firm and do not lie! Do check the contract with your supplier for anything that gags you in social media platforms too!

    If you get out there and broadcast, from the pit in the parlour, from the tractor cab, from the field, from the scraper tractor and keep talking and posting pictures people will understand the life you live. If people understand how much of you, you invest in delivering them their food, they will listen and they will start asking questions. The dairy companies will get a lot of exposure of what they are doing to the people who are the guardians of our countryside.

    Your story needs to be heard. You must tell it publicly. Do this and you can start to control public opinion and that is where you start to ensure you are paid a fair price for the high quality product you work so hard to produce.

    You must engage, immediately, all of you, or whats left of the dairy industry is going to die out and thats not an acceptable outcome for Great Britain, or even the dairy companies.

    If you want to share this, or ‘engage’ and comment, the original text can be found at:

    https://www.facebook.com/thomassjcowley/posts/10151928480100354

    Best regards
    Thomas Cowley

    #868208

     
    heatherpheatherp
    Member
    Topics: 1
    Replies: 94
    Likes: 0

    That is the most sensible post I have seen for while, not in Dairy and never have been but do know the power of social media and it needs to be used, people are out there and they will take notice if you keep at it. Go for it Dairy Farmers!!!!

  • #868209

     
    Stuart MeikleStuart Meikle
    Participant
    Topics: 65
    Replies: 677
    Likes: 0

    Now this is one of the times to use the technology.

    #868210

     
    Caroline StocksCaroline Stocks
    Member
    Topics: 72
    Replies: 321
    Likes: 0

    Great post, Thomas, and one I can’t agree with enough.

    Twitter is a fantastic tool for being able to communicate with people who you would never normally have access to – whether that’s the public, MPs, retailers or celebrities. Plus if lots of people talk about a particular subject it starts to ‘trend’ on the site, meaning more people are likely to take notice of the discussion (if anyone’s already on Twitter, lots of us are talking about the dairy situation using the hash tag #sosdairy, so come and join in :-) )

    The public simply don’t have a clue about what’s going on in the dairy industry at the moment – we can criticise the national press all we like for not covering farming stories, but using social media is a chance for the farming industry to take control itself and tell its own story.

    #868211

     
    Stuart MeikleStuart Meikle
    Participant
    Topics: 65
    Replies: 677
    Likes: 0

    With Twitter, the only account I regularly check is that of our local Reuter’s Bureau chief. He uses it to post links to their own and other interesting articles. It is not frivilous or over-used. The postings are few and to the point, hence I find it useful.

    #868212

     
    Graham Reevesup the rams
    Member
    Topics: 10
    Replies: 123
    Likes: 0

    I cannot be doing with this victim mentality. I didn’t go into farming to gain public sympathy. I refuse to be an object of pity. I checked out the car park at Stafford a week ago. A casual observer would have said “If that’s hardship, I’d like some of it”. Interesting that Muller are mentioned. They have invested money in to developing successful brands. I supply Arla. I make money for Swedish dairy farmers. Why? Because they had the courage and foresight to develop a co-op that made its own brands, for which it owns the intellectual copyright. Why is there not a British co-op making money out of Swedish farmers? Answers on a postcard please.

    I tried without avail to install twitter on my Blackberry. I doubt anyone would listen anyway, I appear to be a lone voice in the wilderness.

    #868213

     
    Peter WellsPeter Wells
    Moderator
    Topics: 470
    Replies: 4981
    Likes: 0

    up the rams

    I cannot be doing with this victim mentality. I didn’t go into farming to gain public sympathy. I refuse to be an object of pity.

    Yes! I see what you mean and I simply need time to think through this thread.

    An excellent posting by Mr Cowley and lots of practical advice based on the key assumption that “Since the late 90s something has changed though. I know its changed, because Ive spent the last decade working for IT companies whove been part of that change. Media has become social media.”

    Having lived in a very small community during the war I can remember the power of gossip, hearsay, inuendo and chinese whispering. The shee volume and immediacy of this ‘media’ was mitigated only by the wider picture balanced by newspapers and the radio.

    I need time therefore to see whether the medium has become the message, or if the message has its roots in a reality outside the means of its transmission.

    #868214

     
    CheshireJanCheshireJan
    Member
    Topics: 1
    Replies: 5
    Likes: 0

    Really good piece by Mr Cowley, I use twitter and facebook and have the SOS ****** on my Twitter account to support the dairy farmers and lots of my friends do too.

    Supermarkets in this country have got too powerful, too big  and it is only now that the public are beginning to realise this.  People are now looking at quality and not always the price nowadays but the supermarkets seem to look at price only and quality is often poor. 

    I was brought up on milk straight from the cooler at the farm and the only milk was either full or sterilised but now we have so much choice semi skimmed, skimmed , full etc.  As a child we were encouraged to drink milk – maybe we need to get back to the days where we had the old MMB and they marketed milk as something that was good for you and not go along with all these mamby pamby schemes that discourage people to drink milk. We need to encourage people to drink milk more. What happened to all the Milk shake bars we used to see at shows?

    #868215

     
    Mr Cowley
    Member
    Topics: 1
    Replies: 4
    Likes: 0

    up the rams

    I cannot be doing with this victim mentality. I
    didn’t go into farming to gain public sympathy. I refuse to be an
    object of pity.

    I feel this attitude is typical of a great many British dairy farmers.  It’s not a ‘victim mentality’ it’s an example of a good offence being the best form of defence.The suggestion of engaging more with the wider public is not to gain pity, but to gain understanding.  Look at the content of so many of the foodie programmes on TV.  Take examples of Food Factory and others, which are focused on ‘how our food is made'; how many of those have centred around ‘where our milk comes from’?  I can’t think of a single example.  Why not?  Because it’s a complicated and dirty business.  Seeing Jamie Oliver or Hugh Fearnley wotshisface in a milking parlour discussing how milk constituents change through a season/lactation and that it changes the taste of the milk would represent a massive step forward.

    Measuring the success of farmers (or independent business owners as they’d be referred to anywhere else) by the quality of what’s in a car park is disingenuous.  As self-employed entrepreneurs the cars are written down against tax.  I don’t know many dairy farmers who live lavish lifestyles.  Most of them are tied to their farms.  As well as being set against tax, the purchase of a nice car is something that doesn’t involve lots of time out from the farm.

    Peter Wells

    Having lived in a very small community during the war I can remember the power of gossip, hearsay, inuendo and chinese whispering. The sheer volume and immediacy of this ‘media’ was mitigated only by the wider picture balanced by newspapers and the radio.

    I need time therefore to see whether the medium has become the message, or if the message has its roots in a reality outside the means of its transmission.

     

    As with any medium you need to pick the pearls out of the sh*t, but if you spend a short while setting up a Twitter account, then looking for people from the conventional media whose voices you know and trust, adding them and then seeing who they follow and adding a selected list of those you will find your Twitter ‘newsfeed’ is intelligent, more relevant and timely than your newspaper, usually on topic and regularly entertaining.  With pictures added to posts you can generally be sure of the veracity of what you’re reading and seeing.  In addition to this liars and cheats are generally outed pretty swiftly by a baying, barely regulated mob.  Through its immediacy and succinct nature Twitter acts as a fantastic highlighter marker pen on the world.  There are normally plenty of links out to other content so you can access the more in-depth side to stories.

    Last night I had a rummage around on DairyCo’s website, looking at the figures over the long term.  The rate of attrition of units remains frightening; the rise in yields impressive.  Can anyone point me to farmgate milk prices going back past 2002?  If I have prices (and herd size and average yield if possible) going back to say 1984 it would be really useful to plot these against some other figures non-farming figures.  Putting this sort of clear analysis into an ‘infographic’ and sharing this out on social media will really help in this discussion.  It will also highlight the state of play/decay and the scale of the problem.

    If anyone can help get these raw figures together I’d really appreciate it. If you can help, please drop an email to thomassjcowley AT gmail DOT com.   An infographic of this type is so share-able on social media and extremely likely to go viral and get people’s attention more than a note on the milkstand, or a poster in someone’s window.  Again – it tells a story.

    #868216

     
    glasshouseglasshouse
    Participant
    Topics: 143
    Replies: 5107
    Likes: 0

    up the rams, lack of hardship cannot be defined by what age of vehicle you drive.

    cars and pickups should carry a sticker indicating how much of the vehicle is “owned ” by the hp company and how much is owned by the farmer.

    running old vehicles has become increasingly impossible as they become more complex, and a new one is frequently the cheapest option, with warranty, on hp of course.

    #868218

     
    Peter WellsPeter Wells
    Moderator
    Topics: 470
    Replies: 4981
    Likes: 0

    Mr Cowley

    As with any medium you need to pick the pearls out of the sh*t, but if you spend a short while setting up a Twitter account, then looking for people from the conventional media whose voices you know and trust, adding them and then seeing who they follow and adding a selected list of those you will find your Twitter ‘newsfeed’ is intelligent, more relevant and timely than your newspaper, usually on topic and regularly entertaining.  With pictures added to posts you can generally be sure of the veracity of what you’re reading and seeing. 

    Mr Cowley

    Last night I had a rummage around on DairyCo’s website, looking at the figures over the long term.  The rate of attrition of units remains frightening; the rise in yields impressive.  Can anyone point me to farmgate milk prices going back past 2002?  If I have prices (and herd size and average yield if possible) going back to say 1984 it would be really useful to plot these against some other figures non-farming figures.  Putting this sort of clear analysis into an ‘infographic’ and sharing this out on social media will really help in this discussion.  It will also highlight the state of play/decay and the scale of the problem.

    Mr Cowley

    Through its immediacy and succinct nature Twitter acts as a fantastic highlighter marker pen on the world.  There are normally plenty of links out to other content so you can access the more in-depth side to stories.

    Thank you Mr Cowley. Your lucid description has opened a window in my mind as to how Twitter can be useful in enabling an immediacy of data exchange and linkage to substantial data banks. I can see a possible use for these types of ‘linkages’ in a couple of remanufacturing industries in which I have an interest. 

    I shall still take time to think things through, but the way in which you are obviousely able to move your own thinking from ‘a 140 character twitter,’ to more detailed analysis all the way back to the hard data has impressed me. Of course I accept the necessity to sift out the ‘bull and bull sh*t,’ but that was ever the case.

    As compared with my wartime example, the problems of deriving ‘a truth’ are the same but you have pointed how modern media can be used to speed up the process. Thank you once again.

    #868217

     
    welshnwillingwelshnwilling
    Participant
    Topics: 146
    Replies: 5913
    Likes: 0

    glasshouse

    up the rams, lack of hardship cannot be defined by what age of vehicle you drive.

    cars and pickups should carry a sticker indicating how much of the vehicle is “owned ” by the hp company and how much is owned by the farmer.

    running old vehicles has become increasingly impossible as they become more complex, and a new one is frequently the cheapest option, with warranty, on hp of course.

     

    Well said glasshouse.

    I was recently at a farmers meeting and the car park was full of Audi, BMW and Mercs etc

    Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t help our cause when we try to gain public support I suppose.

    #868219

     
    motleymotley
    Member
    Topics: 65
    Replies: 836
    Likes: 0

    Mr Cowley

    Hello,

    Indeed hello Mr Cowley. What a breath of fresh air to this forum.

    I suspect that you are making too much sense.

    Imagine :: Getting farmers together and have a ‘viral’ meeja campaign, Hmmmmmmmmmm.

    Getting farmers together in Britain is like herding cats Now if you go onto the continent they tend to view their fellow man as a friend. This is why in France the farmer takes much more % of the food euro. Like you say this ‘catastrophe’ is down to cream prices why aren’t the french farmers out there on the streets if dairying is so unprofitable?

    Here most farmers are more interested in taking over their neighbours land than engage in reasoned debate about business with the other 99.9% of society.

    #868220

     
    welshnwillingwelshnwilling
    Participant
    Topics: 146
    Replies: 5913
    Likes: 0

    Motley, I understood and agreed with every word for once.

    I must admit we farmers don’t stick together enough in this type of situation. You would think that as a short term ‘token’ protest all milk would be tipped by every dairy farmer on a certain day, even if only as a one off just to show the gravity of the situation. But no, not a hope in hell of getting everyone to actually do it, and as for forming a co-op to process and market milk and milk products, it would be near impossible to get everyone to agree upon and support such a venture.

    From past experience though these farmer owned co-ops never seem to work for one reason or another, again probably due to lack of agreement of company policy from board members. This is where private company’s always seem to gain as they’re normally headed by one person with a vision who is fueled by personal ambition and the wish to make money…… Which takes us neatly back to the reason we’re in this mess to start with.

    #868221

     
    Mr Cowley
    Member
    Topics: 1
    Replies: 4
    Likes: 0

     Useful graphic I saw this morning:

     

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 26 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Explore