RRFA develops online ‘message board’

One mandate of the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture’s 2005 strategic plan, which was completed back in September, was to develop a better way to communicate with the farming community.
It was suggested in the framework that “all agricultural committees, associations, and groups have a vital role in actively facilitating discussion and the exchange of information important to the agricultural sector in the district.”
As such, local agriculture intern Eric Busch recently took the initiative to develop an online discussion forum for Rainy River District.
“It’s a really fantastic way of getting and sharing information,” Busch enthused, noting he has seen other message boards “take off” in the past.
“Farmers here need to get on the same page regarding such things as political issues,” he stressed.
The forum allows agriculture organizations to post their own information or discussions; for the community to discuss topics such as locally-produced food, politics, beef production, and water and soil conservation; and to post farm items to buy, sell, or trade.
“It’s really appealing to youth,” noted RRFA president Trish Neilson. “They’ll be able to get ideas and discuss them.”
Neilson said the forum is one of the building blocks needed to achieve the vision of where the RRFA wants the local agriculture community to go.
“This is just a start,” she admitted. “We’re not there yet.”
While it may be more appealing to the younger generation, Busch stressed the discussion forum is for both “young and old.”
“It’s not just for the young people,” he said. “Older people can go on, too.”
Busch also noted you can read postings on the discussion forum without the obligation to participate.
“You can choose to put in your two cents if you want, or you can write a novel,” he expressed. “It’s also informal. You don’t have to post your own name, which makes it more comfortable.”
Busch hopes the lack of high-speed Internet in rural areas isn’t a barrier.
“In agriculture right now, it’s tough to make a buck at it,” Busch remarked. “So every new tip that can be shared via the discussion forum could help with profit.
“There are so many things that are trial and error,” he added. “Things are different from region to region. If someone in the district came up with an idea to share, everyone could be benefiting from that little trick.”
Historically, said Busch, ideas and information in the agriculture community were shared by word of mouth. The forum is just a new form of that, rather than going to conferences.
“And there’s a great appeal to hear information from your fellow farmer,” he added.
Busch set up the message board at no charge. A company provides the space for free and places its own advertisements at the top of the site.
“You can also get ones that it costs to maintain, but that’s not happening here,” he said.
Rick Neilson, who is from Barwick but currently is in Australia, is enjoying the discussion forum. In fact, he’s already made several postings from “Down Under.”
“I have felt for a long time that a board like this would be a really great asset to our community,” he wrote in a posting last Friday. “I appreciate the efforts that [Busch] has made in getting it going.
“It should be a place where we discuss ideas and learn from each other, and have fun doing it,” he added. “Everyone has a unique perspective and it should be shared.
“We don’t have to agree, as long as we are able to respect each other’s point of view.”
Neilson said he sees the message board as having a lot of potential and that it provides the opportunity to make Rainy River District a better, healthier place.
“On the other hand, if we accomplish nothing more than having some fun exchanging ideas, it will have been worth it,” he added. “I hope lots more people join in the discussions.
“Everyone is welcome.”
Check out the discussion forum at http://s14.invisionfree.com/Rainy_River_Ag_Forum.

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