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Social media means changes in agricultural world

By ALLISON MILES
March 20, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 19, 2012 at 10:20 p.m.


Social media

Looking for a few agricultural folks to follow on Twitter? Here are some suggestions:

Texas Department of Agriculture: @TexasDeptofAgTexas AgriLife Extension Service: @txextensionUnited States Department of Agriculture: @USDAUSDA Food Safety and Inspection Service - Texas alerts: @TX_FSISalert

With instant uploads, lightning-fast tweets and the ability to get information out quicker than a phone call, social media sites have changed the way people communicate.

And it doesn't stop at city limits.

That advancing technology means just as many changes for the agricultural world.

The Goliad County 4-H program jumped on the Facebook bandwagon more than a year ago, when it became obvious the organization's members were on the website all the time, said Becky Ham, the county's 4-H program assistant.

"They don't check emails anymore," she said with a chuckle. "It's all about texting and Facebook, so we decided to go that way."

The program's account not only includes updates and meeting reminders to keep kids in the loop, but also photos of its newest members and more.

A new Facebook page was a new addition to the 2012 Victoria Livestock Show, which ended March 5.

Throughout the multi-day show, the page boasted updates on various winners, photos of events and reminders about what was happening, and where.

Like Ham, stock show spokesman Will Joseph said the site was simply the best way to reach some people.

The United States Department of Agriculture also took another step toward social media early this month. Its Food Safety and Inspection Service launched a variety of Twitter feeds aimed at getting food safety alerts to targeted consumers quickly.

Twitter users looking for Texas food recalls and the like can follow @TX_FSISalert.

The electronic method is one more way to provide consumers the information they need to protect themselves and their families from foodborne illnesses, Dr. Elisabeth Hagan, the USDA's under secretary for food safety, said in a news release.

"The immediacy of information-sharing through social media is unparalleled and we believe these timely, targeted updates will better protect public health," she said in the release.

As for Ham, her social media influence spans beyond Goliad County kids.

She said she recently made a presentation to area commissioners courts about the pros and cons of social media.

"That's the way the world is going," she said. "It's a good tool."

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