Mallory Phelan Resized Maybe you’re the one in five people who utter those words in order to search for information online every day. With more than 3.5 billion searches every day on Google alone, there’s a good chance you’re at least one of the four-fifths of people typing into that search bar. More than half of us make these requests from the palm of our hand on our mobile device. We live in a world with access to more information than any humans have ever had. People are using artificial intelligence to answer questions about the world, including the where, when, why and how of their food production. Gone are the days of pulling the encyclopedia off the shelf or relying on generational knowledge for answers.

Consumers have access to websites with inaccurate information about agriculture, documentaries with strong but hidden biases, and inescapable fear-based marketing tactics in advertisements and on food labels. All of this adds pressure and guilt to the choices that consumers make regarding their food.

It is our responsibility as an industry to make sure there is factual information about farming and ranching at the top of those search results when people do ask questions.

According to a 2015 Oregon State University Extension study, less than one perfect of Oregon’s population are principal farm operators and only four percent of the population work on farms. Thanks in part to this disconnect, we are at a point in time where people will pay money to visit farms all across our state because the farm or ranch is something novel, desired, and significant in their 21st century lives.

While there are fewer farmers, the way people learn and connect using technology means that the days of farming and ranching in isolation are fading fast.

On one hand, the public wants to feel connected to agriculture, arguably now more than ever. On the other hand, if real farmers and ranchers don’t show up for the conversation with the public, someone else will. Unfortunately, in that scenario, you might not like how that “someone else” portrays what you do to feed the world.

This is where Oregon Aglink comes in.

We fulfill our mission by communicating the many stories of Oregon’s farmers and ranchers, whether straight from the farmer’s mouth on Adopt a Farmer field trips and classroom visits or via a blog post on Oregon Fresh. Our social media pages are populated with information about farms and ranches in Oregon, including stories hosted on our OregonFresh.net website from more than forty of our members.

We’re always looking for more stories to feature on our site and social media, so if you aren’t quite ready to make a Facebook page for your farm or ranch and commit to regularly sharing your story there, let us help. It’s a quick and easy process – just contact one of our staff members to get started. We would love to help share your story about your part of Oregon agriculture.

If people are asking Siri, Alexa, and Google for their answers about farming, we need to make sure there is an ample amount of accurate information at the top of those search results.

Consumers will find an answer one way or the other. With our input as an industry, we have a better chance of that answer reflecting our reality and our priorities here in Oregon.