Well-known sheep farmer Suzanna Crampton, aka @ZwartblesIE, is the first farmer to tweet this week under the handle @IrelandsFarmers as the tweeting farmers account is relaunched.

Launched last year as @tweetingfarmers, to educate consumers about where their food comes from, it ended in December. The name has been changed to @IrelandsFarmers but the premise stays the same.Irish farmers will be taking it in turns, one per week, to tweet about their farming practices, to educate consumers, connect with other farmers and socialise on twitter.

The Agchatirl team, Thomas  Duffy, Lorna Sixsmith, Fionnuala Malone and Sarah Vanden Broeck, who moderate a tweetchat on a different agricultural topic every Wednesday evening, are now organising the @IrelandsFarmers account. “We don’t know the percentage of farmers now using twitter,” says Thomas Duffy, a dairy farmer and environmental management student from Cavan, “but it is growing daily as more farmers decide to try it to find out what it is all about.”

The advantages of twitter for farmers include being able to ask questions of other farmers and almost always receiving a reply, he said. “It’s like having a discussion group in your pocket,” says Fionnuala Malone, of the Agchatirl team.

Suzanna Crampton, of @ZwartblesIE, has been tweeting for some years now and with almost 5,000 followers. She credits social media with providing a platform to grow brand awareness and increase sales of her Zwartbles woollen blankets which are now enjoyed and loved in all corners of the world. Her shepherding cat now has his own twitter account too @1CatShepherd and has amassed 1,700 followers who love to see his antics.

According to the organisers, tweeting from @IrelandsFarmers gives farmers an opportunity to showcase their farm and to ‘virtually’ meet new people.  The twitter account has 2,500 followers and it is expected this will rise once farmers start tweeting again.