We don’t have to look very far in today’s world to see all types of views that are extremely polarizing. This is especially true when it comes to opinions about food and production practices.
It doesn’t seem to be a wise use of our time to try to change the minds of people who have polar opposite views from what we know to be true on our own farm. However, there are many people out there who hear scary things about production practices, and simply want to determine if their food is safe for them to feed their family and if the farmers who produce food have similar values to themselves.
People who are truly searching out answers are probably the ones that we, as an average farmer, need to focus on.
Here are five ways to connect with consumers who have questions about modern farms and farm practices:
1 - Ask questions about why they have a concern. If we don’t take time to understand where the concern is coming from, we might go down a totally different path than what the concern actually is. This creates confusion, and we may not even address what the real issue is.
2 - Talk from your own personal experience of what you know to be true about your farm or other farms that you’re familiar with. There are numerous types of farms. You may not produce the crop or livestock that they have questions about. However, there are farmers from all areas of agriculture willing to share about the way that they operate. Tell them you have limited experience in that area, and get them in contact with someone who can answer their questions. USFRA or CommonGround are able to connect you with farmers who produce other commodities.
3 - Don’t share too much information at once. You’ve got a lifetime of experience in your agriculture world. If this individual is asking questions, they’ve likely been considering information from different angles. Have an honest conversation, but don’t try to tell them everything you know on the subject in one conversation.
4 - Share information then follow up with another conversation in the near future. Think of it as planting seeds of information.
5 - The goal should be for you to become someone that they can ask questions of and get honest answers from.
Why are these steps successful? Because the person who has questions feels connected with you as a person first, and knows that they can come to you for an honest conversation.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. - Robert Louis Stevenson