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Social Media Connects Farmers in Times of Crisis

Scrolling through my news feed on social media, I see images of fires burning in Montana, Oregon, and other western states. I’ve seen photos and videos from Texas and Louisiana showing damage from Hurricane Harvey. Say what you want about social media, but during a time of crisis in agriculture, it is a valuable tool.

Social media allows us to share news.

Had it not been for social media, I wouldn’t have known about the fires burning across Texas and Oklahoma last year. Well before I saw it covered on national news, I was sharing photos and stories of those affected by the flames. 

Social media kept me updated as Harvey bore down on the U.S. last month. Images of farmers moving cattle through floodwaters and down highways, horses being saved by volunteers in boats, and updates from farmers in the storm’s path filled my news feed.  

Moving Cattle During Hurricane

I didn’t watch the news for updates on what was happening in the agriculture world as a result of these disasters. I turned to social media. 

Social media allows us to ask for help.

Here in North Carolina, and other states along the east coast, we are bracing for Hurricane Irma. I’ve seen people asking for suggestions on how to evacuate with their animals and what to take with them. Farmers who have experienced hurricanes have shared advice on getting the farm ready – everything from taking photos of equipment, homes, and animals to how much food to have on hand in case of power outages. I’ve seen photos with suggestions on how to identify livestock so, if displaced, they can be reunited with their owners

Identifying Livestock Before a Storm

After an event, help comes to affected areas in all forms. Farmers have needs the Red Cross and other aid groups don’t focus on. People on social media have shared the contact information of groups meeting farmers’ needs.  I’ve seen information on treating animals that are injured after standing in floodwaters and information on determining if hayfields are safe for animals to graze after they’ve been flooded. 

Social media allows us to offer help.

There have been posts notifying readers of places that would house evacuated livestock and offers of pastures and feed to those needing somewhere out of the storm’s path.

Evacuation Sites for Livestock

 Following disasters, there have been posts with fund-raisers to benefit affected farmers. Farmers offered to send hay and truckers volunteered their time, trucks, and gas to get that hay where it was needed. 

After the fires last year, the call went out for fencing, hay and feed. I noticed a post from a Young Farmers and Ranchers group in the western part of North Carolina. They were putting together a load of fencing supplies to send west. I wanted to help, and social media connected me with the opportunity to donate money toward the purchase of materials farmers in the devastated areas needed.  

Social media can unite us.

It doesn’t matter what crops you grow or livestock you raise. The type of growing method is not important. Where you farm or the size of your farm does not matter  A disaster unites all of agriculture and, as I wrote last year, we take care of our own. Social media connects us, and one of the benefits is we can help our fellow farmers in their time of need.

 

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