Farmer Focus: Use video to showcase farming to consumers

A couple of weeks ago I spent three days improving my communications skills and learning new ones – from presenting to groups, to TV and radio interview techniques.

I even learned how to produce films to help the farming industry communicate better with itself and consumers – such as those found on the Farming is Magic website.

Thank you to the Felix Thornley Cobbold Agricultural Trust (FCAT) and the John Forrest Award from the Morley Agricultural Foundation (TMAF) for funding the course, Niab Park Farm for hosting it and to Susie Emmett from Green Shoots Productions for putting together and running such a brilliant and useful few days.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

A few key points highlighted over the three days that could affect how farmers talk to their consumers were:

  • Never say the consumer needs educating about farming or how and where food is produced – it sounds patronising and is more likely to make consumers care less
  • Don’t refer to the consumer as “the public” – after all, farmers are also the public and by suggesting that farmers and the public are different creates a further divide

The best we can do is to provide the information we want people to see, in a way people want to see it and let them make their own informed choices.

An example would be to use social media – it’s free and is growing faster than ever. By 2019, it is estimated 80% of social media content sharing will be via videos.

Short, fun and simple videos about how, what and why farmers do what they do as part of their day-to-day jobs seem like a good way of doing just that.

Heading outside, crops are looking well. We have been lucky and although it is very wet, we haven’t experienced as much standing water as in previous years.

Oilseed rape hasn’t stopped growing and is now knee-high, which has kept pigeons off. But I wonder how it will affect the crop later?

The mild weather may have helped later-drilled cereal crops, but I am concerned what effect it will have in terms of disease levels heading into spring.

Time will tell, and as usual, flexibility and timeliness will be the aim of the game, while keeping a careful eye on what we are spending.

Matt Redman operates a farming and agricultural contracting business specialising in crop spraying, Avadex application and direct drilling in Bedfordshire. He also grows cereals on a small area of tenancy land and was Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year in 2014.

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