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Joining the conversation about the food you produce

—By Kathleen M. Dutro
Public Relations Team

“Something’s just not working.”

That’s the very first sentence in an overview of research that Farm Bureau and other farm groups are using to develop a new approach to communicating with consumers.

The goal of the research, which was funded by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, was to figure out what does work – to determine the best way for farmers and ranchers to communicate with consumers, increase farmers’ understanding of what consumers are interested in, and find ways to explain to consumers what’s important to farmers.

What’s truly needed, the research shows, is for farmers and ranchers to engage in conversation about food production rather than defend food production. Conversations about how food is produced are happening, but the voices of farmers haven’t been a big part of those conversations.

One of the conclusions of the research is that what farmers say and what consumers hear are often two different things. Another is that the two groups have different perceptions of what is important.

Farmers want explain that they produce the safest, most affordable and most abundant food supply in the entire world. But what consumers want to know is, “Can I trust you to do those things in a way that protects me, my family, and my community? Can I trust you to do what’s right?”

Farm Bureau – both in Indiana and across the nation – is beginning an effort to use the results of this research to teach Farm Bureau members and staff the best way to communicate with consumers and to make farmers part of the conversation about food that is going on in the U.S. and around the world.

The centerpiece of that effort is called “Conversation with EASE.” The research shows that conversation is a powerful tool that can change opinions. But it has to be the right kind of conversation, and the farmers engaging in it have to do so wisely.

Conversation with EASE won’t give you catchy little messages that are guaranteed to win consumers over. In fact, there is no messaging. It’s an approach rather than a message. And it doesn’t take a lot of special effort or public-speaking skills. All it really takes is a willingness to talk to and listen to the people around you in a mutually respectful way.

On this page is a summary of some of the key components of the Conversation with EASE approach. We ask you to consider how you might begin to implement these components into your daily life – for example, the next time one of your Facebook friends talks about biotech seed or someone in your parent-teacher group expresses fears about hormones in meat. 

Look them over, think about them, and if you have questions, call or send an email to a member of your IFB public relations team: Andy Dietrick, adietrick@infarmbureau.org, 317-692-7818; Kathleen Dutro, kdutro@infarmbureau.org, 317-692-7824; or Mindy Reef, mreef@infarmbureau.org, 317-692-7822.

 

Download "Talk is not cheap. Conversation is a powerful too" document

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