Giving Agriculture a Voice is Important

Food is at the center of the world right now.  Between the movie FoodInc, Michael Pollan on Oprah and the many new-reports commenting on the dangerous side of agriculture, it is time that agriculture makes is voice heard. Now before you click on somewhere else because you think I am going to talk about Twitter or some other social media tool….stop.

One of the best tools to make sure the voice of agriculture is heard is your actual voice.  Just starting to talk is the beginning.  Before you say that the consumer doesn’t care, ask yourself ……Really?  If the consumer doesn’t care then why do we have this new show on ABC called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  People are increasingly caring about their food and we need to make sure that there is a connection between great food and agriculture.  Good food cannot be synonymous with only gardens and organics.  Agriculture produces healthy safe food for this continent and that message must be conveyed before Oprah creates misconceptions for everyone.

Crystal Mackay is with the Ontario Farm Animal Council and she discusses how farmers and ranchers can better communicate with consumers.  Crystal makes a great point in this interview by saying when discussing what you do on your farm with a city person, don’t try and give them a PhD in agriculture.  I think this is a great comment on trying to make people understand.

Crystal Young is from the American Angus Association and she talks about farmers and ranchers can better share their stories to the masses through the use of different tools.  Crystal makes some great points on the fact that it is agriculture’s turn to tell it’s story and not the mainstream media.  Crystal also comments on some of the differences going on in the US and Canada regarding activist pressure.

Jenny Van Rooy works for Farmers Feed Cities in Ontario and her job is to be the spark for improved communication to the urban population.  When you go to the FarmersFeedCities website you will see immediately that they try and show the real faces of agriculture.  Farmers are not faceless people.  They are people with real stories of triumph and struggle in an effort to make sure the world has something to eat.

I firmly agree with this concept of not letting Anderson Cooper or Oprah represent the interests of agriculture.  Let me know some of your successes or failures in trying to communicate with urban consumers.  Did they challenge your use of pesticides or hormones?  Did they understand after you explained the reasons why you do certain things on your farm?  Which communication approaches or methods worked best for you?

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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One Comment

Joe

You have to wonder how effective some of the check-off funded organizations are at marketing and product development. ABP as an example has spent a lot of money on marketing yet you get the feeling their is still a disconnect between what is done on the farm and what is purchased at the store. Maybe they need to stop with the giant cowboys and start with the Oprah’s and Jamie Oliver’s.

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