Community & Culture

Practicing Word-of-Mouth Advocacy for Agriculture

As more consumers show an interest in learning where their food comes from, American farmers have an opportunity to share their stories.

As a parent, I teach my son that every story has two sides. As a leader in sustainable agriculture, I also find myself having to remember that every day. Too often, we miss our opportunity to tell our side of the story — the story of the American farmer, the progress that has been made in sustainability and the groundswell of new efforts underway to further success in sustainable agriculture. Though most consumers are at least three generations removed from the American farm, they are showing increased interest in learning where their food comes from and knowing more about the farmers who produce it.

So how do we start the conversation?

Authenticity, coupled with facts, is a great place to start. Put a few statistics, such as the percentage of family-owned farms in the U.S. (98%) coupled with your own family farm story, into the conversation. I have been amazed to learn how many of our customers are operating farms passed through generations all the way back to the Homestead Act of 1862!

Knowing the facts about your farm exponentially increases public interest. That story is better told with robust on-farm record keeping, which also helps tell your environmental sustainability story. Tell people about the practices you use to improve soil health or optimizing production through technologies like genetically modified seeds.

For the big picture, in this issue you can grab a few data points on the differences between organic and conventional crop production. And, as in every issue, we share information regarding American agriculture’s commitment to strong, economically sustainable production.

Every one of us has opportunities to tell our story in a genuine way, inviting conversation and further developing relationships between farmers and consumers. By taking time to listen and understand other perspectives, then sharing our own stories, we can build farmer-consumer relationships one conversation at a time.