Is farming on the right track?
An episode of Oprah, a hard-hitting Time magazine cover story, a film called Food Inc. – farming is under increased, often one-sided scrutiny leaving many people to wonder whether modern agriculture is on the right track.
Rob Hannam, President of Synthesis Agri-Food Consulting, believes it encourages everyone to do more to address public perceptions of farming, he told a meeting of the Guelph Partnership for Innovation I attended last week.
Hannam shared his top ten list of things the agri-food sector and consumers can do to speak up for Canadian food and Canadian farmers. For agriculture, he recommends:
• Adopt new technology like traceability and biotechnology as a way to advance.
• Embrace and share agriculture’s sustainability story. Talk about what farmers do to take care of the land, air and water.
• Self-monitor; use – instead of dismiss – criticism to continually raise the bar.
• Offer choice. Responding to consumer requests for food choices can be a great market opportunity.
• Explain, explain, explain. Communicate with emotion to go beyond the science.
For consumers, he suggests:
• Food is not one size fits all. Different consumers have different needs.
• If you want it, ask for it – farmers and food companies respond to consumer demand.
• Vote with your food dollars to influence and shape the market.
• Support local food whenever possible and recognize how lucky we are to have such a wide range of Ontario-grown products to choose from.
• Make informed food choices based on all – not just some – information.
I will be posting a longer article about Rob’s presentation and his analysis of public perception of modern agriculture shortly. Stay tuned.