CHESTERFIELD, MO. – The movement to raise the voices of America’s farmers and ranchers and facilitate the dialogue about today’s food is gaining momentum. The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), a unique organization that is a collaboration of more than 75 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, is creating new ways for farmers and ranchers from all types of agriculture to reach consumers – whether that’s in the national news scene, popular culture or social media.
“We’re changing the conversation about how food is grown and raised,” said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Farmers and ranchers are telling their own stories and leading the dialogue on some of the hottest topics about food. In six months, we’ve been able to provide more powerful ways for farmers and ranchers to get involved, add their voices and provide their perspectives to an audience that may not have experienced this first-person interaction with the people who grow their food.”
Research shows consumers welcome the opportunity to talk to “real” farmers and ranchers and turn the conversation from one that is often strained to one that is constructive, where all viewpoints are welcome.
“For many years, people outside of actual food production have been telling our story, and sometimes not accurately,” said Jim Schriver, a soybean farmer from Bluffton, Ind., and Production Chair of the United Soybean Board.
By the Numbers
USFRA’s public debut happened in September 2011 with a four-city simulcast panel discussion about food production, called The Food Dialogues Town Hall. More than 4,000 people participated in the discussion either online or in person in New York City, Washington, D.C., Davis, Calif., and Fair Oaks, Ind. The Food Dialogues Town Hall also included an interview with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Newspapers, radio stations and television news programs helped the conversations spread – more than 24 million impressions were generated via Twitter alone.
Between November and the end of 2011, USFRA in partnership with Discovery Communications, produced and aired four video vignettes on Discovery’s network of channels including Discovery, Animal Planet, TLC and others featuring farmers, ranchers and consumers discussing how food is produced. These stories of farmers and ranchers engaging with consumers about food were seen by 78 million on television and another 4 million online nationwide. Both The Food Dialogues and Food Discovery videos can be viewed at www.fooddialogues.com.