Farmers urged to lead food and farming debate

Farmers must stand together and start leading the discussion on sustainable food and farming.

That’s the message Montana logger and environmental advocate Bruce Vincent told a record audience at the Speakers’ Forum hosted by AGCare and the Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC) in Guelph yesterday.

The public is tired of doom and gloom, Vincent said, and they need to hear more from farmers actively promoting their proactive environmental practices in order to bring balance to the ongoing debate about environmental stewardship.

“Society doesn’t dislike us but they just don’t know us,” he said, adding that most of our modern society is distanced from farming, food and the environment, forming their perceptions instead from Disney and Hollywood imagery.

The cost of doing nothing is letting activists and fear mongers dominate the debate.

Urban media specialist Wallace Pidgeon of Brick and Ball Media, who has been working with OFAC and AGCare on proactive media initiatives since 2007, offered some practical public relations tips to help farmers tell their story:

  • Put your story into words people outside farming can relate to
  • Put a local face on your story to bring it back to what it means to people in your area
  • Although professionals and third party experts can provide information and tools, it’s farmers who need to speak for farmers about farming

“Farmers not only grow our food but they are also our best environmental activists, working daily to safeguard our air, soil and water,” said Crystal Mackay, OFAC Executive Director and interim Executive Director of AGCare. “It’s our goal help the public get to know farmers – if you know your farmers, you know your food.”

A more detailed post of Bruce Vincent’s presentation will follow in the next few days.

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