Regaining Public Trust Through Transparency

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Since experiencing violations of public trust by public institutions, political leaders, religious leaders and big business, we’ve almost grown to expect it, says Charlie Arnot. And the erosion of trust is spreading.

Arnot is the CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, a non-profit organization with the aim of building consumer trust in the modern food system. He is considered a “thought leader in food and agriculture,” and has vast experience in the industry, from communications and issues management to the corporate ofice of a leading food company. He was also a keynote speaker at both Farmtech and CropConnect,

“People now think of agriculture and farming as an institution, and therefore, since they don’t trust institutions, they’re less likely to trust farming,” Arnot told RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney in an interview (included below). “What we frequently hear is ‘I trust farmers, I don’t like farming.'”

The next question, he said, is how to overcome that bias and make that personal connection.

“The key to building trust in today’s agriculture is really to be much more transparent. And that’s a challenge in ag, because we tend to be fairly private, we tend not to want to share a lot of information.”

And it’s not that we have things to hide, he told us, but that we’ve been brought up to not really talk about ourselves, to stay fairly humble and reserved.

“But in today’s environment, where anybody who has a cell phone can be a cinematographer, we have to assume somebody’s watching and talking about who we are all the time.”

So what can you do to steer the conversation? Be transparent, Arnot says, talk about your values, and don’t give up when you don’t see immediate results.

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