The following is an article published in CropLife magazine highlighting how farmers and companies can better explain complex issues by reaching out to consumers' emotions.
According to book author Michele Payn, Principal at Cause Matters Corp., the U.S. agricultural industry has a serious negative perception problem with the general public. “The anti-agricultural community has a very loud voice, especially on social media,” said Payn, speaking at the 2017 Mid America CropLife Association meeting in Kansas City, MO. “I don’t understand for the life of me why agricultural companies don’t do a better job at fighting back against this.”
And while Payn acknowledged that some agricultural entities have tried to refute anti-agricultural sentiment, many others have remained relatively quiet on the subject. “And when you sit in silence, we all lose,” she said.
Part of the challenge in reaching the general public is the fact that less than 2% of the U.S. population knows anything whatsoever about agriculture and how it operates. “Most consumers have never shaken hands with a farmer,” said Payn. “But based upon what they might know, they probably trust farmers. They don’t trust farming, however.”
To reach this audience with agriculture’s positive message, said Payn, agriculture proponents must try to “get into their shoes” when making their case. “My challenge for you here, if you really want to translate farm practices to Suzy Q. Consumer, is to get out of your work boots, get out of your offices, and get out of your comfort zones and think about making this argument differently,” she said. “Most of these consumers only want to keep their children safe and protect them from something they have been led to believe might harm them.”
To properly do this, Payn suggested that pro-agriculture advocates attempt to try a different approach to connecting with the general public. In most cases, this means moving away from the fact-laden arguments that the industry has tended to rely on for the past decade or so when preaching its point.
To read the entire article, please visit the CropLife magazine website.