Farm Futures
   Search Site:  Search Site Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | Bookmark This Site   
Skip Navigation Links
Home
Markets
News
Weather
Farm Futures NOW!
Magazine Online
RSS News
Mobile
Subscribe
Reprints
Register
Login
About Us
Advertise

'Safe, Abundant, Affordable' Not Resonating

As part of the National Ag Day celebration, USFRA shares research on how to talk with consumers: what works and what doesn't.

Published on: Mar 20, 2013

Illinois farmer Katie Pratt stood at the microphone yesterday during the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Ag Day briefing, and talked about how she grew up on the farm. They baled hay, and picked peas, and took care of cattle, and baled hay, and then baled some more hay. She talked about the farm operation she married into, and how excited she is that they can figure out down to the square foot what a corn plant needs and which ones have beetles eating silks.

Pratt's explanation was exactly the message that resonates with consumers, based on broad USFRA research. Science, facts and figures don't sway them, but the story of an individual farm does. The research was presented as part of the National Ag Day celebration in Washington, D.C. this week.

Chris Galen, National Milk Producers Federation, looks on as Katie Pratt, Illinois farmer and USFRA spokesperson, tweets and Erika Poppelreiter, Kansas farmer, shares new research on the words that speak to consumers.
Chris Galen, National Milk Producers Federation, looks on as Katie Pratt, Illinois farmer and USFRA spokesperson, tweets and Erika Poppelreiter, Kansas farmer, shares new research on the words that speak to consumers.

Erika Poppelreiter, a Kansas farmer and USFRA representative, shared that among their research, they learned that only a third of Americans believe that pesticide use has decreased sharply since 1999. Further, 38% believe the government can't be trusted; 33% believe the media gets the story wrong; and 49% believe agriculture is "on the wrong track."

What does resonate with them is the ability to address their high-level concerns, specifically, what is the long-term health impact of the way we grow food?

Illinois farmer Katie Pratt shares the story of her familys farm operation, a message USFRA says will resonate with consumers more than science, facts and figures.
Illinois farmer Katie Pratt shares the story of her family's farm operation, a message USFRA says will resonate with consumers more than science, facts and figures.

USFRA says the message has to change. "It's not what you say, it's what they hear," Poppelreiter said.

"When we say 'safe, affordable and abundant' – which I've said many times – they hear, 'are pesticides really safe, at what cost to quality and maybe we have too much food,'" she added.

When agriculture says, "our methods are proven safe," they hear, "Your methods tamper with nature." When ag says, "most farms are family run," they hear, "but beholden to big processors and the bottom line." When ag says, "we have the safest food supply in the world thanks to the ag industry," they hear, "you will take profitable short cuts if and when you can."

Both Pratt and Poppelreiter emphasized the need to change the way agriculture talks about agriculture, and as Katie did to open the briefing, tell a story and show enthusiasm for technology and other methods.

For more on the research, check out www.fooddialogues.com.

Story Tags: kansas farmer

Comments:
Add Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    Without the subsidies ( now it's taxpayer subsidized crop insurance) most all of today's "farmers" would fall flat on their rear. I am 15 years chemical free and had my best year ever, farm without subsidy and then preach to the rest of us. Modern agriculture is doomed to fail and is not sustainable, only cheap oil has allowed survival to date. You can't mine the soil forever without consequence.

  2. Anonymous says:

    ?? Really that hard to explain WHY we do somethings in Ag people. People don't want to know money side of it they want to know WHY it's being done. Like crating sows. Tell them it's for the sows protection and other sows.. spraying.. explain to them the challenges and impossabilties of farming acreage without it.. people will understand that way and those that don't well.. let them live in their make believe world.. I have told people about raising crops and my explaination is always .. do it yourself then and these are the problems you WILL have and what would you do about it.. and if you have a better way then me.. by golly i'll do it that way.. OLD SAYING.. Put your money where your mouth is.. If you can do it better then me why aren't YOU doing it..

  3. Anonymous says:

    "It's not what you say it's what they hear." And why don't they hear what we say? Go back and read all those examples of "what they hear". Where do those ideas and doubts in our products and our industry come from? Little by little we have allowed ourselves to be nudged into accepting the buzzwords and talking points of the radical environmental/animal rights lobby, who's ultimate goal is WHAT? If you are a farmer who has no idea that their utopian dream is to de-industrialize agriculture into tiny hobby-sized ventures, then you deserve to spend your life in the drudgery of the 8 to 5 world of the city. We can't win this war against us by turning a deaf ear, nor can we win it by adopting the ideas of folks who come at us using the screed of "The Environmental Working Group", et al. A sound dynamic public relations game targeting our detractors is imperative. Admittedly we are amateurs, thus we are losing. We can win every court battle and scientific review, but ultimately we are being painted as villains in the public's eye. Ignoring that fact is perilous.