ALABAMA: Tweets From This Farm Reach the World
Will Gilmer showcases life on a U.S. dairy farm through cow photos and snippets not exceeding 140 characters.
Picture this: Holstein cows grazing contentedly on Alabama pasture in the foreground, a dazzling sunset of purple, orange and red in the background.
Will Gilmer captures beauty and delight on his Lamar County dairy farm and shares it with the world, thanks to a social media presence that includes 11,400 followers on Twitter and nearly 5,000 on Facebook.
Gilmer does it because he loves it. But painting a pretty picture of this one farm also presents a positive global image of the entire U.S. dairy industry. That can only help U.S. dairy exports.
Some in Alabama might ask: Who cares what the world thinks? All the milk from Gilmer’s 220 cows stays right here in the United States. The same is true for most dairy farms in Alabama. All told, Alabama dairy creates more than 31,000 jobs in the state, generating more than $5 billion in economic impact.
How dairy exports help Alabama farmers
Gilmer knows that what happens globally affects him and his neighbors locally through the economic principle of supply and demand.
Without the $5.5 billion in U.S. dairy exports last year, more U.S. milk would have stayed in domestic markets, including Alabama, depressing prices. Alabama is not a big dairy state, by any means, but exports still have a $4 million economic impact there.
“The more American milk we can get into international markets the more it will help all of us, whether we live in California, Wisconsin or Alabama,” Gilmer says.
Gilmer does his part with superb photography and the universal appeal of farm animals, dosed with humor and reality. For instance, on July 12 he informed everyone there’s a flat tire on the feed wagon.
Sharing his farm through social media has almost become his second job. “It is neat to me that the images I post have a global reach,” he said. “If that is helping to boost the overall opinion of U.S. Dairy, that’s pretty satisfying.”
Join Will for ice cream
When Gilmer posted an image of heifers grazing outdoors―again, at sunset―he got 166 “likes,” “loves” or “wows” on Facebook. One of them was from a mechanical foreman in Qatar.
Ingegerd Berg from Sweden simply said, “Wow!” when she saw the photo of that colorful sunset over the farm.
All the messages aren’t accompanied by photos. Throughout the day, Gilmer pauses to offer tidbits about the daily routine at his farm. These are little glimpses into his world, for the world.
“The morning milking is finished,” he tweeted.
At the end of a hot Alabama day last summer, Gilmer had this for his friends in Qatar, Sweden and anyone else online fascinated by one man’s life on a U.S. dairy farm: “Ya’ll please join me in enjoying a Tuesday evening bowl of ice cream.”