At CFI, we know farmers are the very reason we are able to feed our families healthy meals every night. They endure subzero temperatures and scorching heat to ensure we have an abundant food supply. We are grateful to them. And despite the skepticism today about how food is produced, over a decade of CFI trust research consistently shows that a majority of consumers appreciate farmers, too.
But while they love “farmers,” they’re just not sure they can trust “farming.”
The way food is grown and produced has changed and it’s clear consumers are watching. Agriculture has consolidated and integrated and most believe “corporate” ag is focused only on profit – not the public’s interest. It’s a glaring trust gap.
The “big is bad” sentiment was expressed in our CFI Street Talk series when we asked, “Do you trust farmers?”
“Farming has become agribusiness in the U.S.,” said one interviewee. “And agribusiness is maximization of profit.”
“I think it’s largely corporations and if it’s corporate-driven, it’s profit-driven – profit-driven at all costs,” said another.
But consider a comment from one man: “I grew up in small-town Iowa around farmers and they’re good people, and so you think about them when you think about where your food comes from.”
He trusts them because he knows them.
Farmers, what does all of this mean for you? It means you have a golden opportunity to engage with a public that not only is favorable to farmers but very curious. CFI research shows that 65 percent of respondents strongly agree they “want to know more about how food is produced.”
Let consumers get to know you.
Help them understand that regardless of the size of your farm, you want the same things they do: safe, affordable food produced in a way that protects the environment for generations to come, and high standards in animal care. Of course, it’s important for you to be profitable – you won’t be producing food at all if you lose the farm, but consumers want to know there is more that drives you. What core values inspire you to ensure safe food, raise more using fewer natural resources and protect animal health? That’s the answer consumers are looking for.
How do you make this connection? It can be through digital engagement (a website or social media channels), through trade associations that recognize the value of consumer engagement and through food companies that recognize the opportunity to tell the story of where their food product comes from.
It requires a long-term effort but working to earn public trust is imperative to allowing farmers to continue doing what they love – providing food for families here and around the globe.