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Hi I'm Leslie

I'm a full-time farmer in Western Wisconsin where I raise meat goats and sheep on pasture using regenerative and rotational grazing practices.

I created this website because
I had so many people reaching out, both locally and beyond, wanting to know more about how I was raising and marketing goats.

I also recognized that it IS so hard to find information in this space. I wanted to share what I've learned along the way and reduce your time searching the depths of the internet.


Properly Citing Sources in Farm Marketing + Brand Protection

Whether it’s a website, brochure or even social media post, statistics, data and news sources can be a great asset to supporting and developing marketing materials for your farm.

However, you need to be aware of the right way to use this information so you’re respecting the work of the original author, AND not in violation of the U.S. Copyright law. 

Additionally, it’s important to be on the lookout for any copycats of your own work to not only protect your brand and business, but potentially even your customers (more on that later).

infographic about protecting your farm brand, includes the same information in the article

Let’s jump into the legal side of things right away. The U.S. Copyright law was enacted in 1976 and has been updated over the years to reflect different forms of media, including digital materials, with the addition of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “copyright exists from the moment the work is created,” and doesn’t not need to be registered (U.S. Copyright). 

Learn more about the U.S. Copyright law and protections here

If you’re from Canada, here are a few resources related to your copyright law. While many of these resources in this blog will likely apply, please still do your own research or consult a lawyer to learn how copyright law works in your country.

How to cite sources correctly

When using data or other informational resources in your marketing materials, website or social media you’ll want to make sure you’re citing the information correctly.

The work you’re referencing was created by another person who likely spent a lot time and effort researching/writing/videoing/creating it. It’s possible the individual or business may even have paid for an outside service or consultant to create the material for them.

Additionally you’ll need to make sure you’re citing sourcing in a manner that is not plagiarizing the original source. 

So what is plagiarism? It’s taking someone else’s work or ideas as your own and using them without permission or giving credit. 

And, it’s not as simple as just listing a reference with the material used. In fact, it can seem pretty harmless just to copy-and-paste text and/or photos and reuse them in today’s digital world. It’s super easy to do with little thought. However, it actually is a big no-no and that simple act can lead to legal trouble and even fines.

In fact I know of a farmer who had to pay a $900 fine for a photo used on their website. They had gone over citation and photo usage protocol with the employee at the time, but it turned out the former employee had just Googled a photo and used what she thought looked like was “probably free.” 

In my college coursework in marketing and journalism we were trained on how to cite our sources properly, and later as a professional in the ag communications field this standard held true as well in our profession. 

Marketing professional values

As an example, the Agricultural Communicators Network (ACN), is a professional association of agricultural journalists and professionals working in marketing and public relations related jobs in agriculture. ACN includes in its Statement of Professional Values:

“These values provide the foundation for the member code of ethics and set the industry standard… These values are the fundamental beliefs that guide our behaviors and decision-making processes. We believe our professional values are vital to the integrity of the agricultural communications profession as a whole.” 

Agricultural Communicators Network

One of the values listed is honesty: “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interest of those who we represent and in communicating with our agricultural audiences and the public at large,” from the Agricultural Communicators Network Code of Ethics, 2018.

How to properly cite sources

The good news is that you don’t need to be a journalist or have extensive training to make sure you’re accurately crediting sources and not unintentionally plagiarizing.

A good rule of thumb is to use the same approach as reference sources when writing a paper or essay in school, where sources are directly quoted or facts are presented in your own writing/words, along with direct references. 

In some situations, if you find a reference that refers to another data source (as an example USDA statistics), try finding the original source of data and report it directly from that particular source.

These two articles are great resources for learning more about preventing plagiarism and giving more guidelines on how to source references:

Additionally, there are tools available to check your work for plagiarism, which can be helpful when referencing information or statistics in your own words. Tools such as Grammarly can offer help not only with writing, but also checking for unintentional plagiarism

Using ChatGTP can also be a tool to do a final edit on your writing. It doesn’t specifically prevent you from plagiarism, but it can be useful to refine your final writing. In the big picture, it will serve as an “editor” to continue to make your written work your own. You’ll still want to do your own final review, making sure it doesn’t sound like the original source and the proper citations are used.

How to use images, graphics and videos from other sources

Just like existing written work and research, photos, videos, charts, infographics, and other illustrations are protected under copyright law. 

Using your own photography, videos and graphics is the best option for creating your own farm’s marketing materials, website content, social media content, and other digital marketing efforts.

It can seem overwhelming at first, but take the time to photograph your farm, you doing farm chores and other day-in-the-life work, as well as product photos. A smart phone and a selfie stick can go a long way in creating your own stock photography. 

The next option can be to work with a local photographer to take a similar assortment of photos. Be sure to let your photographer know upfront how these photos will be used so they can assess how they will properly charge you for the work they do. Also confirm how you can use the photos and if or how they want to be given credit for their work.

If you’re concerned about a photo budget, you might consider talking with the photographer about a swap or a combination of payment/swap. For example, your swap might be meat, your farm as a photo session host site, or other small business skills/talents you could offer for consulting. In return your photographer might do a direct swap or offer their fees as a reduced rate.

This swap approach will be dependent on the photographer and their needs. You might find newer photographers more open to this type of arrangement as they’re working on building their business and portfolio of work. 

You can also purchase stock photos from websites such as is a free stock photography website. With both of these options be sure to document your transactions for these photos so you can provide documentation of your ownership if it ever comes into question.

Ultimately though, original photography, videos and graphics are stronger in storytelling and branding for your farm business over using generic stock media. 

If you do find photos, charts or infographics that you’d like to use from a source. Reach out to the owner to ask for permission before using. Often illustrations of data or facts can be recreated in your own design or perspective, rather than using someone else’s work. is a great resource for creating illustrations. It’s easy to use and fairly inexpensive for the paid version. SketchWow is also another tool where you can create your own infographic style illustrations.

How to protect your brand: website and content 

We’ve covered a lot on how to protect your own farm’s marketing work from copyright legal issues. But, you should also be thinking about how you can protect your own farm brand and work. 

Monitoring your farm brand

The first way is to monitor your farm brand. You can do this by using two free Google tools: Search Console and Google Alerts. To use Google Search Console, you’ll also need to set up Google Analytics (also free). Here’s how you’ll use them to monitor your brand:

  • Google Search Console: While there are a lot of other great benefits for using GSC, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Referring Links from Other Websites. These are known as backlinks and they are generally good since they can drive traffic to your website. But you’ll want to take a look at where and how your website is referenced to see if there’s anything concerning. 
  • Google Alerts: Google will send you a report whenever your search terms show up in the news or as new online content. Terms you should set up, include your farm’s name and potentially your own name. The search terms should have quotations around it to make sure the search is specific. 

Create a protocol for your farm

It can be helpful to create protocol or policy for your farm business on how citing and references sources and content needs to be handled. This policy should also include where to find stock photography, such as a Google Drive file with your own photos/videos or access to a stock photography account. 

Even if it’s just you running your own farm business, this policy is still important. You can share it with family if they help you manage social media accounts or if you work with a marketing consultant or contractor to create marketing materials or manage your website. It’s an important policy to review annually or even have those involved in any work related to marketing sign the policy, acknowledging they understand and will follow the policy in place. 

Protecting your website

You might consider using add-on tools on your website that prevent copy/pasting of text and photos, and/or even blocking other countries. This might seem extreme, but farms have had their website material used with not only fake farm Facebook pages, but fake farm websites that look nearly identical to the real thing. This recently happened with two more well known farms White Oak Pastures and Alderspring Ranch, but that doesn’t mean other farms can’t be targeted.

In the case of fraudulent websites, unknowing prospective customers paid for products that they never received. As a result, the farms had to deal with not only trying to get the websites taken down, but also manage unhappy customers that weren’t technically their wrong doing. 

How to take action

So what do you do if you find yourself in one of these situations? First, document the issue, making sure to record the date as well. This includes screen capture, screen recordings and/or printing out the material. Then make notes on where the infringement occurred. This way you have your own records in case you need to reference back to it or, if you have to take legal action (hopefully not).

Second, just reach out to the individual, website or source and inform them they are using your material incorrectly and infringing on copyright law. In many cases, it could be an innocent mistake, yet it still is a matter that should be taken seriously and the content should be taken down.  As mentioned before, the idea of using images, videos and written content that is easily accessible online can seem harmless in the moment. But that doesn’t make it right. 

If the content isn’t removed you can consult with a lawyer on next steps. You’ll want to seek out a lawyer with experience in the area of intellectual property, or sometimes referred to as IP, trademark or copyright. 

If your website has been fully replicated, you can look at filing what’s known as a DMCA Takedown Notice. DMCA is known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was established to protect material published online. The takedown notice is a process of how you can legally get the content removed. To learn more about this process read this article here. You can also work with a lawyer on this as well. 

Duplicated material on Social Media

If your content (photos, videos, text, graphics, etc.) are taken and used (duplicated) on social media, you can ask the account to take down the material. 

If they don’t do so, you can follow the social media platform’s process of reporting copyright infringement. Most platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube have the processes outlined in their help resources. 

This is in no way legal advice, but to provide you with context on how to create your marketing materials in respect to using articles and research as reference points in your work. For specific interpretations of the U.S. Copyright law or specific situations, please consult a legal professional.

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Legal disclaimer: All information provided is based on personal experience and is provided for educational and information use only. You agree to indemnify and hold harmless our website, company and owner for any direct or indirect loss or conduct incurred as a result of your use of our website and any related communications. This applies to, but is not limited to, business operational information and consulting, as well as farm and goat management practices.Any animal health information provided on this website is based on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed with a veterinarian. In all situations, it is the responsibility of the livestock owner to consult with a veterinarian before using any animal health practices shared on this website or by this company and its owner. See the full legal disclaimer here.