Farmers, hardworking by nature, have been focused on tending their land and animals for generations. Though in today’s socially charged world, their daily tasks are beginning to transform into something completely new and dynamic. With the advent of technology and social media, farmers have the ability to share what they do and tell their farm’s story with people from across the world. For many farmers, however, this can be something very new and scary.

When it comes to a changing online media landscape, it’s important to remember that with new territory comes new opportunity. Consumers want to know more about where their food comes from, and as a result, discussions are finally being held to increase transparency. Recently, two of our USFRA Faces of Farming & Ranching spokespeople, Thomas Titus and Erin Brenneman, had the opportunity to attend and share their stories at the World Pork Expo.

Erin and Thomas joined ABC’s Bachelor, Chris Soules, now one of the Country’s most recognizable pig farmers, on a panel, titled “Our Barn Door is Open,” discussing transparency and storytelling in pig farming. Consumers know relatively little about how their food is grown and raised, and the connection to their agrarian roots is fairly distant. To help bridge this gap, each panelist shared their unique story and the role that ‘Opening The Barn Doors’ plays on their farms to help build trust in the American agriculture system through transparency.

During the panel, Erin said “events like these are always a favorite of mine; while we most definitely need to become more open and showing of what we do with consumers, we also need to be motivated and encouraged to have every kind of pig farmer do the same. A couple of voices speaking out for the truth and our passion are fantastic.  But if we were to encourage many more to show a peek at their everyday farming lives, I’m sure consumers will begin to realize that farming is not one-size-fits-all and there is a type of farming for everyone out there.”

Thomas later added, “we use social media to tell our multi-generational farms’ story and continue to increase our transparency. #ConradyCorn and #PetuniaThePig are the famed rock stars of the farm and display the growing cycle of field corn and Petunia is a tell-all story of what she eats, sees and experiences throughout the week before she matures and eventually heads to the birthing barn.”

By ‘Opening The Barn Door’ through farm tours, reality TV shows or social media, each of these farmer panelists begin to bridge the gap between their non-farming urban friends and how they grow and raise the meals provided for their families.