"Let's Start at the Very Beginning” is the opening verse of a familiar song from The Sound of Music we are all familiar with, but it should also be the theme of communications we as farmers have with society.
I was amazed at the thirst for factual, “from the source” information at the MUFSO conference I attended in early October. It reinforced that we need to restart the conversation about food production, and have an open, honest, “let's hear the facts,” discussion about how and why we do things on the farm from a farmer.
I participated in a USFRA-sponsored panel, Where Does Your Food Come From? The Food Dialogues with Farmers & Ranchers, alongside seasoned foodservice operators and leaders from Sizzler International, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina and Ignite Restaurant Group. Several times after my panel discussion, conference attendees asked me, "Why hasn't someone told us this before?" The answer: conversations between those who grow food and the people involved in selling it in restaurants simply are not happening.
Farmers and ranchers need to start at the beginning of the supply chain, and have discussions with our partners that deliver our products through the chain. Make sure they understand the impacts of marketing decisions and product differentiation claims.
The common marketing phrase I often hear is "the consumer is always right." True – but not if the consumer is being misled. The problem we have is our consumers are not fully informed and are being misled by activists with ulterior motives. Let the consumer decide, but make sure they are an educated consumer not a misled consumer.
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is helping to connect farmers, ranchers and the foodservice industry, and will be continuing the conversations started at MUFSO. In early December, MUFSO and USFRA will host a public online webinar featuring my fellow panelists and me, including a question and answer session. Check back to www.FoodDialogues.com for more information and updates on this program.