With more than half of consumers considering the sustainability of how food is grown and raised, USFRA trains farmers and ranchers on the importance of water, soil, air and habitat.

CHESTERFIELD, Mo., (November 2, 2016) – The debate about food sourcing, safety and nutritional value continues to escalate in the U.S. Conflicting and controversial headlines aboutsustainable, organic, natural, antibiotic-free and hormone-free foods have made consumers increasingly anxious about food decisions for themselves and their families.

In an effort to identify and gain a clearer understanding of consumers’ perception of sustainability in U.S. food and agriculture, USFRA funded a survey* of millennial parents, millennial non-parents, Consumer Food Connectors* (CFCs) and general consumers. Based on the key learnings, USFRA set out to conduct more than 20 trainings this past summer at venues such as Farm Progress Show, commodity group board meetings and CommonGround events to highlight how to speak to consumers about sustainable farming and ranching.

“Today in agriculture we use less land to grow more food by implementing technologies that produce higher yields and help conserve water, nutrients and energy,” says Nancy Kavazanjian, Wisconsin farmer and USFRA Chairwoman. “It’s important to remember that farmers and ranchers are consumers too, and we care about a safe and sustainable food supply. In order to earn consumer trust, we need to tell personal stories from our farms and ranches about how we’re improving the environment.”

With three quarters of Consumer Food Connectors and more than half of consumers considering how food is grown and raised when at the grocery store, these trainings empower farmers and ranchers to actively engage in a dialogue through face to face conversations, interviews and social media by addressing the importance of water, soil, air and habitat on their farm or ranch and showcasing continuous improvement – USFRA research finds that 78 percent of consumers say that sustainability and the environment are tied to these four key areas.

Sustainability is a bright spot and an opportunity for agriculture as our research shows that 52 percent of CFCs agree that the way today’s farmers and ranchers in the U.S. grow and raise food meets the standard of sustainability. Additionally, 56 percent of respondents agree that farmers and ranchers use new technologies and innovations to protect the environment. Agriculture needs to help consumers define sustainability because nearly half of those polled could not state what sustainability means to them, although they say it is important.

Core sustainability messages that farmers and ranchers should use, include:

  • Start by simply stating we care
  • Define sustainability in a tangible way for consumers
  • Show ties to smart business
  • Focus on the future
  • Highlight how technology is improving sustainability
  • Tell personal stories from your farm regarding your soil, water, and the environment

*Consumer Food Connectors (CFCs) are defined as men and women between the ages of 21-65 who do not personally work or have immediate family who works on a farm, have a bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree, have a strong interest in politics and government policy, consume news through the TV, radio, newspaper or online at least five days a week, are very involved in or make all household decisions and purchases related to food, and engage in advocacy activities related to food and the food industry on a regular basis.

*USFRA’s 2016 Perception Survey reinforced the original consumer perception of sustainability research from summer 2015.

About U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®)

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of about 100 farmer and rancher led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture, working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today's food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers' efforts to increase confidence and trust in today's agriculture. To learn more, visit our website at www.fooddialogues.com. You can also find USFRA on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

This news release was wholly or partially funded by one or more Checkoff programs.

Contact:

Paul Spooner, USFRA Affiliate Relations and Ag Communications Manager at pspooner@usfraonline.org or 636-449-5079.