Australian beef producers have been told they need to start tweeting, blogging and Facebooking to regain the community's trust and repair their industry's tarnished image.
The advice was from Troy Hadrick, an American cattle rancher who is also one of America's highest profile social media 'agvocates'.
Mr Hadrick says Australia's beef industry can recover from the live export crisis. The first shipment of cattle since the lifting of the live export ban to Indonesia left the Port of Darwin on Wednesday.
"It's important for individual producers to get out and make sure consumers know how this is affecting you, what you are trying to do to fix this, and why you care as much as they do in making sure this doesn't happen again. That is how you work your way through it," he said.
"Don't sit back and wait for it to resolve itself. You have to be an active participant in this conversation."
In Australia as a guest of the embattled peak red meat body Meat And Livestock Australia, Mr Hadrick says American farmers and ranchers have been forced to use social media to defend their industry against increasingly powerful animal rights groups.
"There are groups of people all over the United States and all over the world that really have a goal of trying to eliminate agriculture, and especially animal agriculture," he said.
As part of the growing agvocacy movement in the United States, Mr Hadrick and his wife Stacy blog, tweet and Facebook about life on their South Dakota cattle ranch.
"Consumers definitely are listening. They can sit in a large city like New York or Chicago and really make that connection with where their food is coming from," Stacey Hadrick said.
Mr Hadrick says the future of agriculture in Australia and in the US depends on farmers explaining what they do.
"We have got people who really don't understand where their food comes from, and don't understand what it takes to raise that food," he said.
"We used to laugh about it because we thought everybody knows the difference between a beef and a dairy cow, but now I think we're standing back and saying 'this isn't so funny'.
"This is something we need to take seriously because it's important people know these things.
"We have committed ourselves to making sure we're doing whatever we can to educate people about agriculture so our children have the ability to become the sixth generation of our family to be involved in this business."
Reach and powerThe Hadricks says the power and reach of Twitter has been a revelation.
"I quickly realised after a few minutes on Twitter that there were conversations taking place about agriculture on there and we needed to be a part of that, because if you are not at the table when those conversations are taking place, if you are not part of the conversation, you are getting eaten at that table," Mr Hadrick said.
Stacey Hadrick says they are reaching hundreds of thousands of people through social media.
"It's free and it's really levelled the playing field for us in the US," she said.
Recently appointed Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) managing director Scott Hansen says MLA is committed to helping its members learn to use social media.
"MLA must start focusing more on equipping producers to tell their own story," he said.
The agvocacy movement is becoming increasingly sophisticated in the US.
"In the last three years more than 2,000 American beef producers have completed an online agvocacy training course," Mr Hansen said.
"They are now armed and equipped to talk to their community groups, local media and consumers to be their own agvocates."
He says in Australia more and more groups are standing up for themselves.
"Like Save Australian Farming; in four weeks it's website had 40,000 views. The authenticity of their stories is evident in every keystroke," he said.
MLA chairman Don Heatley concedes the organisation failed to harness the power of social media when the live cattle export crisis struck.
"Social media drove this issue like you would not believe," he said.
"We weren't ready. We weren't well enough organised in that sense of using social media.
"As an industry we must grasp this medium, get with it and get on with it. We must use it to our advantage, not have others use it to our disadvantage.
"Average everyday producers have a tremendous role to play here. We must stand up and tell our story."
After hearing the Hadricks speak, Central Queensland beef producer Rick Greenup says he felt empowered.
"I really enjoyed the inspiration that they gave us an industry to give us power back, and I think coming here today we were feeling a little powerless," he said.
"I think we've got a lot of power and we've got a great story to tell, and as Don Heately said, we've got nothing to hide - let's get out there and tell our true story."
Troy and Stacy Hadrick (centre) tour Eidsvold Station with Australian beef producer Rick Greenup (right).