Friday, January 15, 2010

More on the ag communications panel discussion

Mike Yost and Jim Evans discuss all the opportunities available in the field of ag communications.

Heroes in ag communications

Ag communications revolutionary educator Dr. Jim Evans, renowned farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson, and farmer and national ag leader on a variety of fronts Mike Yost made up the great Communications in Ag panel yesterday at the AG CONNECT Expo. These three gentlemen brought a variety of experiences as leaders in agriculture and discussed ways to improve ag communications and get more students interested in the field. The event was held in the Innovations Theatre on the trade show floor and was hosted my Successful Farming.

Here are some notable thoughts and quotes from the panel:
  • Dr. Jim Evans said he remembers saying the FFA creed beginning with these words: "I believe in the future of farming." Evans said now, more than ever, he believes in the importance of these words: "I believe in the importance and future of agriculture." Evans believes students in ag communications are some of the brightest students compared to any other field of study. He said students in ag communications have a passion for the industry, and there are many opportunities for them to succeed in a professional setting. The key to this success will be students' abilities to understand not only how to tell stories of increased yields and productivity, but also the human interest aspects (thoughts, attitudes, changes in behavior) of agriculture.
  • Mike Yost is a Minnesota farmer, former chairman of the American Soybean Board and former director of the USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service. He said farmers need to work on being their own communicators and telling their story. "Farmers are very credible sources of information," Yost said. "'I saw it on my farm' resonates with people." Yost went on to say, "We (farmers) have a great story to tell."
  • Orion Samuelson is a farm broadcaster who has been heard on WGN in Chicago since 1960, where he has been a great source of information for Midwest farmers. Samuelson said ag communicators can help alleviate confusion in the ag industry by checking the facts. "It's far more important to be right than to be first," he said. Using correct statistics, information, and terminology is one of the first steps to telling agriculture's story in a better way. Samuelson said in his time reporting on stories in agriculture, the most non-news story has been one with a terminology issue - Mad Cow Disease. Reports on this issue in the media have scared consumers and made many not want to eat beef. Yost agreed that he spent more time at the Foreign Ag Service trying to open the beef markets than anything else. This is just one example of the many issues ag communicators have to combat and work hard to relay the real facts.
New media outlets are pushing agricultural communicators out of the realm of traditional media and into other forms of online social media. This was also discussed by the panel. Social media can be a powerful tool, as anyone can serve as their own communicator and have a voice on social media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the infamous most recent social media source recognized by that little blue bird – Twitter.

I have brought updates about AG CONNECT to my Twitter account ( weeks prior to the show and throughout the duration. I feel Twitter is a tool that can bring the world of agriculture together and immerse people in conversation about ag. Combating negative publicity and false rumors about the industry is becoming a major issue, and people involved in agriculture can join in on social media sites to promote and fight for their cause. As with any online media source, however, ag communicators still need to report accurate facts. Many online forms of media do not follow through with that obligation. Regardless, online media can be a great tool for agriculture. Who better to tell how agriculture is making farming practices more sustainable than the farmers themselves?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AG CONNECT brings the world of ag together in Orlando

I had the opportunity to visit with representatives from many companies at the trade show this morning, particularly those from Europe and Brazil. AGRITECHNICA (left), the largest showcase of ag equipment in the world, is held in Germany every two years. Organizers of the AG CONNECT Expo are hopeful that they can build up this event to establish something of equal caliber in North America.

While going through the European and Brazilian displays, I found new technologies in farm machinery that have been met with great acceptance in their particular countries. Many of the representatives I talked to have been visiting with U.S. producers at the trade show and helping them understand how these technologies could help their operations. Many other countries feel this event has provided them with the opportunity to expand their global markets. Here are some examples:

Brazil-based ZM brought its ZM Bombas wheel display (left) to the AG CONNECT Expo. The water-pumping wheel is used commonly in Brazil and provides a method for providing water to small crop and livestock operations.

Willtec, a Brazilian developer of gauges (right), crosses a variety of industries with the many different products it provides. The company makes gauges for agricultural tractors, construction tractors, trucks, forklifts, fuel senders, off-road and on-road vehicles, and other machinery. Attendees of the AG CONNECT Expo can see examples of these many gauges.

A new technology at the AG CONNECT Expo is the G6 Farmnavigator developed by AvMap and Satcon System, European developers of GPS technology (top right). Show attendees can learn more about this tool at the AG CONNECT Expo in the European Pavilion.

Amazone, a farm equipment manufacturer based in Germany, has seven European factories and employs more than 1,500 people. The company has a display in the European pavilion of the AG CONNECT Expo. It develops machinery for soil tillage, planting, crop protection and fertilization, including this ZA-M fertilizer spreader (left).

Blogging with friends

One of the great benefits of attending ag shows and conferences is the opportunity to catch up with folks you haven't seen in a while and also meet many new people! AG CONNECT is no different. I have had the pleasure to work with two fellow Mizzou Ag Journalism grads whom I went to school with not long ago. Margy Fischer, machinery editor for Farm Journal magazine, and Sara Schafer, AgWeb business and crops online editor (also Farm Journal), have made my experience here a great one so far. I always appreciate the great hospitality of Farm Journal!

Log on here to read AG CONNECT updates on Farm Journal Media's, and follow Margy's machinery blog by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good Turnout at AG CONNECT Opening Ceremonies

Opening ceremonies tonight at the AG CONNECT Expo. Thanks to the show committee members for all their hard work! Also, congrats to all the Advocating of Agriculture Award winners. Learn more about them here.

How I came upon this gig...

About a year and a half ago, a headline came across my desk while I worked as an intern at Brownfield Ag News in Jefferson City, Mo. The headline, written by another colleague, read: “International expo features farm equipment, information.” That story gave me my first glimpse of the AG CONNECT Expo. At the time, I had no idea I would be standing ringside to report live from this first-ever event. Now I am in Orlando covering the trade show and educational sessions and am most thrilled at the opportunity.

I began following updates about the expo on Twitter last fall. Soon I began corresponding with the folks at AEM on Twitter about the show. Not long after I was invited to the event to report about my perspective, and that's what brought me here. Social media has provided me with more opportunities than I will ever know!

My background in agriculture has allowed me to recognize the importance of AG CONNECT as a resource for everyone involved in the industry. More than 315 exhibitors occupy the trade show that includes everyone from agricultural media groups to equipment companies. Educational events hosted by groups such as ProFarmer and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) are also offered in conjunction with AG CONNECT. According to Sara Mooney, show director for AG CONNECT, more than 46 U.S. states, nine Canadian provinces and 45 countries are represented at the event, making it truly a global forum of agriculture.

Mooney said Tuesday’s events include new product launch announcements and the grand opening of the trade show at 4 p.m. Participants who are not registered for the trade show can register on-site for $30 to attend Wednesday through Friday.

I walked through the exhibits for the first time today, and the opportunities for learning about the latest technologies in agriculture are truly limitless! Stay tuned for more photos and updates!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Arrival to Orlando

I just made it in to Orlando this evening from my home in Lubbock, Texas. So what takes a grad student away from her first week of classes of the semester at Texas Tech University? None other than a trade show that literally brings the world of ag together. The very first AG CONNECT Expo is shaping up to be a great event!

Tomorrow afternoon the Orange County Convention Center will be packed with folks from around the globe - from farmers to engineers to corporate executives of major equipment manufacturers to agricultural journalists like myself. I am here to share my perspective of the event, take photos, write stories, and hopefully meet many new people along the way!

You can follow my experiences at AG CONNECT 2010 on this blog, at, and on my Twitter page!