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What if agriculture could make Twitter skip a beat?

  • Einstein defined "insanity" as expecting different results from doing the same thing. Is agriculture expecting different results from the same messages?


Is it the message or the messenger? Or both?

Consider two unrelated bits of media poles apart in their reach, and arguably their effectiveness.

Two California growers – one from Fresno and the other from Soledad – say in a YouTube video posted by the Alliance for Food and Farming that they use fungicides, insecticides and fertilizers on their conventionally-produced crops and their certified organic crops. There goes the premise that all those certified organic goodies in the grocery store are as pristine as the wind-driven snow on an uninhabited Himalayan mountainside.

“The big difference is the source of the chemical,” says Jon Marthedal, a Fresno blueberry grower. “When it is certified as organic it has to be a naturally occurring organic compound.”

“What people need to understand is that we use pesticides on organically grown vegetables as well,” says Soledad vegetable grower Rod Braga in the video. “We just wouldn’t be able to produce enough crops to feed everybody if we were organically growing and not using any pesticides.”

This is delicious! But Braga wasn’t done.

Braga went on to say that the application rates of the certified organic compounds used by organic producers tends to be much higher, and with more frequent applications, than the synthetic compounds he is permitted to use on his conventional crops.

I’m not telling my Ag audience anything new. Somehow, messages like this are not getting out to the masses as evidenced by the 704 views it had in its first two years on the social video network. That’s not a criticism of the message inasmuch as it is worth pondering related to my earlier question. This takes me to my second bit of media and some more questions.

How can agriculture make its messages as viral as Ellen DeGeneres’s selfie from the Oscars?

I recently wrote that California agriculture might consider employing Lady Gaga in some of its messaging related to the drought, or any of a number of other issues that Gaga and agriculture could put their heads together on and discuss with consumers. Given the news about Ellen DeGeneres’s viral tweet that was nearing three million retweets within its first 24 hours of cyber life, I’d argue that Ellen might be someone agriculture might want to follow, friend and get to know as well.

Maybe all that farm PAC money doled out by the various Ag organizations is misplaced. Instead of trying to buy a sympathetic politician whose vote is for sale to the highest bidder, agriculture could instead use the money to wine and dine Hollywood’s “A” list and, as George Soares likes to talk about, develop a relationship with them.

The dividends just might be more productive. After all, if actors and artists are going to be called to Capitol Hill and various state houses to testify on various issues, wouldn’t it be helpful if when they go to testify on issues related to agriculture that they could speak with knowledge and conviction?

Just a thought: What do you think?


Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Mar 10, 2014

Of course organic growers use organically listed pesticides...I think more and more consumers know that. What is not said, however, is that biological pesticides allowed in organic, while used at higher rates and more frequently than synthetics, are very biodegradable because they cannot be modified to increase persistence. Also, biologicals typically have complex modes of action so pests and plant pathogens do not develop resistance (unlike single site chemicals) and also biologicals are exempt from the requirements of residue tolerance and can be sprayed right up to harvest. We in the biopesticide industry always recommend integrated programs for both conventional and organic growers. IPM, which includes multiple products, cultural practices, natural enemies, etc. so best not to pit one against the other
Pam Marrone

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