This article was published in Ontario Farmer on January 3, 2017.  Byline: Bob Reid

Exploiting social media’s power; A poultry producer and his daughters have taken to Twitter to get the family farm message out

Brodhagen – A fatherdaughter trio have ventured bravely into cyberspace in an attempt to explain to an ever-more-confused consumer base, what it is they do daily on the family’s egg laying and cash crop operation.  Over the last five years Dan Veldman has gathered 1,800 followers on his Twitter account.  That number expands to 12,000 impressions he has made on others who have had his messages passed on to them.

That is an infinitesimally small percentage of the 7.3 billion people in the world on social media platforms each day, including Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

However social media has provided him an opportunity for those people concerned about their food source to come into his Oxford Country barns via whatever computerized device they employ.

While Veldman is not completely versed in all forms of social media his two daughters – Megan and Kayla – have his back.  They are well-qualified for the task with the former trained in animal sciences and the latter in crop science.

“People are using fear to promote something else,” said Veldman of the false statements about farming put on social media by special interest groups.

The misconceptions created can affect all of society.

The advent of fake news via social media affecting all areas of society has provided an even broader platform, to the point of concerns now being raised by federal governments.

“It is crazy the amount of people who want to end the use of animals,” said Megan.

Special interest groups such as Mercy for Animals – with over two million “Likes” on Facebook – spread misinformation on the treatment of animals that plays on people’s emotions.

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” said Kayla.

She suggested that animal rights activists have a plan to eliminate the use of animals as a source of protein within the next 40 years.

Social media does provide a voice for farmers to explain the methods that have been developed for the purpose of feeding the population, said Veldman.

“It is not A&W’s job to educate consumers about farmers,” stated Veldman in referring to the fast food chain.  “That is the farmer’s job.”

Veldman recounted how he had visited the A&W head office to engage in a conversation with company officials around modern farming practices.

He was informed that his visit was the first time a farmer had visited the head office.

“They will listen,” said Veldman of corporate heads who are already being influenced by the ever-louder voice of social media.