Tehk farmer Alex Anstice tweets positive daily farm facts

TEHKUMMAH—It is often said that if you do not define your story, someone else will define it for you. Modern agriculturalists are taking to social media in order to tell the story of their industry and few exemplify the modern farmer more than Tehkummah dairy farmer Alex Anstice of Oshadenah Holsteins. Mr. Anstice has recently taken to the Twitterverse under the handle @oshadenah, daily tweeting out images and comments from his operation to the hashtag ‘farm365.’

“I just signed up for Twitter in January,” said Mr. Anstice, who received his BSc in Agriculture from Guelph University in 2006. The farmer first heard about the interaction of farming and Twitter in a CBC broadcast about southern Ontario farmer Andrew Campbell. “He started #farm365 where he was posting a picture from his farm operation every day to get media exposure. Somebody suggested that I do this too and I thought it was a great idea.”

The #farm365 campaign did not start as a media campaign, per se, noted Mr. Anstice, but it developed into that, not so much as a response to negative information being put about by anti-farming groups and individuals, but to inform people about what farm life is really like.

“Certainly misinformation can be damaging,” said Mr. Anstice. “About 80 years ago, one in three people lived and worked on farms, today it is more like one in 50.”

As people moved away from farm life, they became increasingly disengaged from where their food actually comes from. Without a credible source of information, people would rely on information coming from those who do not understand or support farming and farm life.

“Maybe this way, people will learn something,” he said.

If there was any question as to whether the information was needed, confirmation came very quickly following Mr. Campbell’s initial posts.

“The backlash came very quickly,” noted Mr. Anstice. “There was a whole bunch of activity with people trying to put up photos that do not reflect the reality of farming activities.”

The farmers quickly realized that responding to the negative posts would not be productive. “Those are being posted by people whose minds are made up and there is nothing you could say to change their minds.”

Instead of trying to “fight” the naysayers, Mr. Anstice and his farming compatriots on social media decided to simply not respond in kind, but rather to continue to post images and comments that accurately reflect their industry and lives.

The importance of getting accurate information out into the Internet is highlighted by the reality facing the human race, said Mr. Anstice. “By 2080 they are predicting there will be 9.1 billion people on earth who will need to be fed.”

The posts on #farm365 include simple images of the work farmers do every day, interesting facts about farming and the kinds of regulations and safeguards that are in place to help protect the food supply.

“I hope to clean up some misconceptions” said Mr. Anstice of his social media presence. “We just want to educate the public with information about their food source that is coming directly from the source.”

Mr. Anstice and Oshadenah Holsteins are exemplary ambassadors for the dairy industry and agriculture, having received certificates of excellence for their milk production last year.