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Farmers Need to Tell Their Stories

Darcy Maulsby remembers meeting the foreign exchange students at her high school and thinking, “We need to have a foreign exchange program between rural and urban, because that gap has gotten so wide.” Since then, she’s been working hard to tell the story of agriculture however she can.

In a speech during a luncheon with 94 Iowa farm families that had won awards for their conservation efforts, Maulsby shared some advice about telling personal farm stories:

  1. Don’t be choosy about telling your story.
    As of late, being a farmer in Calhoun County (an Iowa county being sued by Des Moines Waterworks) has brought plenty of media requests to her inbox. Those are just opportunities to share what farmers do, Maulsby says.

  2. Use social media to your advantage.
    The best social media advice Maulsby has ever gotten was to post once a day. Having social media platforms makes farmers living near no one suddenly as visible and loud as those living in busy cities.
    “We can truly reach the world with our messages and it’s just so heartening to know that people want to hear what we have to say,” Maulsby says.

  3. Don’t overthink, just start talking.
    Growers have a tendency to hold back from sharing day-to-day activities assuming no one will want to see those, but Maulsby has found the opposite to be true. Simple pictures from her farm seem to grab the attention of some of her urban social media followers.
    “Sometimes I think we make this too hard,” says Maulsby. “We don’t always have to talk technical and be serious.”
     
  4. Act on your big ideas.
    Frustrated by the growing gap between farmers and consumers, Maulsby came up with an idea to fill a bus with individuals and bring them out to tour farm operations and meet farmers in her hometown of Yetter, Iowa. She pitched the idea to the Iowa Soybean Association and the tour, called Operation Yetter, was executed in 2015. 

By the end of the tour, Maulsby says people understood the difference between corn and soybeans and the basics of how they’re grown. 

When Maulsby encourages growers to tell their stories, she does it in an effort to protect agriculture. She worries that legacies built up by agriculture families get lost when farmers fail to tell their stories. 

Maulsby spoke at the recognition luncheon that followed the 2016 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award Ceremony. Hagie Manufacturing sponsored the meal at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. 

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