Posted: February 19, 2010
As a general rule guns and alcohol don’t mix well. But when it comes to the colorful and often entertaining world wide web simplicity and entertainment value can help you hit the bullseye, especially with the rapidly expanding audience for social media like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
A perfect example of this approach and the power of Social Media for agriculture is the wild backlash experienced by Australian winemaker Yellow Tail after they made a donation of $100,000 to the Human Society of the United States. HSUS says they are saving puppies and kitties, while their tax return shows they are really spending millions on lobbying for animal rights and legislation that tells farmers how to do their business. Less than 5% of their budget goes to animal shelters.
After being bombarded with emails, twitter messages and Facebook page posts from farmers and ranchers pointing out HSUS’s disingenuous fund raising practices Yellow Tail did the virtual equivalent of saying “Uncle.”
They apologized on Facebook and then took down their Facebook page to minimize the damage. In a statement to ABC News this week, John Casella, the managing director of Casella Wines which owns Yellow Tail, says the company will look to non-political groups in the future.
“Yellow Tail is committed to the plight of animals in need and as a result, we can confirm that through any future activity, we will be looking to other non-profit organizations without lobbying interests that best deliver on our intended outcome of saving animals,” their statement said.
There are several valuable lessons to be learned from this on-line firestorm. 1. Scattered independent farmers can join their voices for a cause and magnify their influence via Social Media. 2. Others outside of agriculture now recognize HSUS as a political entity, not a charitable organizations (IRS are you paying attention). 3. Hard working farmers have a sense of humor and that humor can be used to good effect to educate businesses and the public online.
Examples abound to document point 3. A rancher from South Dakota has posted an online video of himself pouring the wine onto the snow in front of his cattle and urging others to do the same. And a Nebraska video showing a person (ok, it’s a Corn Grower) using Yellow Tail wine for target practice got picked up by the popular magazine Field and Stream.
In response, the HSUS says the partnership with Yellow Tail is about celebrating animals and the money will support the organization’s rescue team, which saves animals from natural disasters or cruelty. The evidence shows this will happen when pigs fly.
Well done Agvocates!