Members of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance’s communications team emphasized the importance of sharing the production side of the agriculture industry with consumers while speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting.

Melissa Kinch and Keith Yazmir offered conversation tips to attendees which would help educate consumers on the food they eat. Kinch said farmers and ranchers should have an open a dialogue with people about the consumer’s real concerns. Farmers and ranchers should answer questions truthfully to earn trust.

"You can't build trust if you can't have a conversation," according to Kinch, senior vice president of Ketchum Communications.

Yazmir advised attendees to avoid industry terms like “GMOs,” and instead use words or phrases others can embrace.

Farm Bill

American Farm Bureau Federation farm policy specialist Mary Kay Thatcher stated the importance of passing a new farm bill in 2012 to attendees at AFBF’s 93rd Annual Meeting.

Tighter budgets and other economic concerns will restrict benefits of the new farm bill if Congress moves discussions to next year. If the economy is unable to improve the next farm bill could focus more on food stamps and other nutrition programs.

Thatcher said current proposals suggest more support for farmers, but less coverage of a farmer’s losses.

AFBF economist John Anderson provided an explanation of Farm Bureau's Systemic Risk Reduction Program farm bill proposal, which is designed to protect farmers from catastrophic revenue losses. Proposed SRRP coverage levels would be in the 70 percent to 80 percent range. It would be administered by the Agriculture Department's Risk Management Agency and operate as a core program with farmers buying crop insurance as "wrap-around" revenue risk protection.

One of the most attractive features of the SRRP proposal, according to Anderson, is the impact it would have on lowering farmers' crop insurance premiums.

"As a program that's integrated with crop insurance, crop insurance premiums could be re-rated to account for the fact that much of the risk is covered elsewhere," he explained. "That would lower premiums and make buy-up coverage more affordable."