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Farm Families of Mississippi promotes farming and tells ag's story

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation O'Neals 11.jpg
The O'Neal family of Leflore County, Miss., are just one of the families featured throughout the state in the Farm Families of Mississippi promotions.
Farm Families of Mississippi tells ag's story through family farms.

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President, Mike McCormick recently stated that agriculture needed to tell its own story, the positive story of how farmers have done their jobs well. That's exactly what the Farm Families of Mississippi program is doing throughout the state. 

Started in 2009, the Farm Families project was intended to tell the farmers' story in their own words and from their point of view. It began with a small budget in the Jackson, Miss., area focusing on law makers in the capital who could have a large impact on the industry. 

Farm Families of MS STACKED.jpgIn subsequent years, the program has grown, supported by the industry and county Farm Bureau organizations, with billboards, radio spots and television commercials around the state. 

According to Communication Coordinator, Jon Kalahar, the program addresses issues - including sustainability, environmental concerns and technology - through various media sources that are pertinent to agriculture and Mississippi.  

"We're trying to appeal to younger folks that are all about technology," he says. "You can work on the farm, you can work on a ranch and be involved in technology." 

Advertising spots include young families that are considering the environmental impacts of their operation and want to leave the farm sustainable for future generations. They also address concerns that the general public has about hot topic issues like antibiotics, animal welfare, GMOs and even international trade. 

"Today's farmers are not just out there digging in the dirt," Kalahar said." You've got to be pretty smart to be a farmer. We work with our regional folks to identify those that have an interesting way of farming, protecting the environment, preserving and protecting water, or harvesting their crop."  

Digital tools

He adds that digital tools are an important topic because they are prevalent in the industry and woven throughout all of agriculture in the state. 

"We try to feature three different families each year," he said "We have a lot of farm families here in Mississippi, so we try to spread it out."  

Family at upick.jpgWith digital marketing, the program can target particular media sources and demographic groups to pinpoint their focus.  (Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation)

There are specialty block grants through USDA that are helpful for funding specialty crop promotion, like blueberries or honey, said Kalahar. This year the program was able to secure funding to promote turf grass. 

Through the program, Mississippi farmers are able to pinpoint their marketing to specific groups. With particular media sources they can target a certain age groups or household incomes to be more affective with their reach. 

"At the same time, we still want to let our farmers know that we're out there working for them, and then they can see the advertising as well," he said. "But we want to definitely reach those that have little, or no knowledge of agriculture and farming." 

Kalahar notes that the state of Mississippi has some wonderful, hardworking farm families. 

"They are not only farming for their families, but they are farming for your family," he said. "They are farming for people that have a meal three times a day. They enjoy wearing those t-shirts or jeans. So we owe a lot to our farmers." 

He points out that the value added by agriculture to the state's economy is in the billions of dollars. And the Farm Families of Mississippi program is sharing that valuable resource with the people of Mississippi. 

To learn more about the program, go to: FarmFamiliesMS.org. 

 

TAGS: Education
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