In a Super Bowl commercial earlier this year, Dodge Ram proclaimed 2013 the "Year of the Farmer. " And to keep the momentum going, the company has featured a variety of farmers and ranchers in a guest blog.
As the latest guest blogger, Debbie Lyons-Blyth, named the 2012 America’s Farm Mom of the Year, invites farmers to start a dialogue with consumers.
“Farmers and ranchers are busy people. We don’t punch a time clock, but if we did, we would probably get a raise. The job needs to get done and we don’t count the hours it takes to accomplish it. It seems the “to-do” list never shrinks; there are always more jobs being added faster than we can scratch them off,” Lyons-Blyth wrote. “But there is a job that most farmers and ranchers neglect to do, one job that they really don’t know how to do, and therefore they don’t even add it to their list of things that need doing. That job is connecting with consumers.”
Lyons-Blyth explains that as more consumers are making choices based on how their food is raised, dubbed by some as the “Food Morality Movement,” many in the agricultural community have let the conversation “go on without them.”
“When encouraging farmers and ranchers to take time to connect with consumers, I often say that imagination can take the place of facts, especially when people don’t have facts to consider. If we, as farmers, don’t get involved in the conversation, how will people know what we do to raise their food?” she asks.
Lyons-Blyth adds, “Take my advice, farmers. Get involved. Connect with a consumer. Answer a food question today. You will find that consumers are just like you and me—they just want to feed their families safe, nutritious, delicious food. When we step up to the conversation, we are able to share truths and connections and encourage understanding and healthy decisions!”
Emily Meredith, Communications Director for the Animal Ag Alliance, agrees.
“Ag has been sticking its head in the sand and pretending those legitimate consumer questions don’t exist for too long—and now we’re playing catch up,” Meredith wrote in a blog available here. “There’s a lot of turmoil surrounding food right now: what’s healthy, what’s sustainable, what’s humane, what’s safe. Everyone has a different opinion, and unfortunately, the groups that scream the loudest are the ones that are given the most credence.”
Farmers interested in getting started in communicating with consumers, whether in person or online, should check out the AgChat foundation. The group hosts “agvocacy” training programs and has a plethora of resources to empower the ag community.