Jan. 11 2021 08:00 AM

One dairy farmer surpassed this milestone last year while sharing his positive agricultural message.

Do you know TDF Honest Farming, also known as Oregon dairy farmer Derrick Josi? If not, you should definitely check out his Facebook and Instagram pages. Derrick reached more than 100 million people last year with his pro-dairy farming message.

I met Derrick at a National Milk Producers Federation Young Cooperators meeting a few years ago. He was charismatic, fun, and full of energy. He was also a straight shooter — exactly as he is right now. If you want to know how Derrick feels about something, he will tell you. He was passionate about wanting to know how to reach people and share his farm story.

During that training session, we discussed how to reach people through the use of video on social media platforms. Soon after, Derrick created his first Facebook page (TDF Honest Farming) and did his first videos.

And people on Facebook responded. They watched the videos and shared them with friends and family. Derrick does several videos almost daily, even while running the farm with his family and a new baby on board.

Now, Derrick is reaching millions of people per month. Check out this video.

Here is Derrick's advice for future advocates:

  • You don’t owe it to the industry to advocate. In fact, too many times the industry allows the farmer to shoulder the burden without compensating them for their effort.
  • It’s okay to quit, it’s okay to be different, and it’s okay to follow your own path.
  • It’s not okay to demonize other types of agriculture to further your own self interests.
  • You definitely need to communicate with your spouse about what you are doing.
  • Don’t play the victim. You’re choosing to advocate — this comes with activist attacks and nasty comments from other farmers and random people. You can acknowledge those things without coming across as the victim. Society wants fighters, not victims. You can punch back if necessary.
  • You must choose who you want to advocate to. Is it other farmers or consumers? Only one is worth really doing.

You may think his advice doesn't fall in line with the social media experts in ag. Well, it depends on who you think is an expert. This works for Derrick, but it might not work for you.

If you think you could be the next Derrick (without being Derrick), then I recommend you reach out to your local dairy checkoff and see how they can help you get started using social media to connect directly with consumers. To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit www.USDairy.com or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Facebook group.

Don Schindler

The author is a Senior Vice President of Digital Initiatives at Dairy Management Inc.