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Consumers' Ag and Food Education Starts With You

Consumers' Ag and Food Education Starts With You
Only you can tell your urban neighbors what it's like to farm and raise food for them.

You are surrounded. It's a big battle, and opposing forces have you cornered on all sides. Is there any possible way to squirm free and salvage your day? Yes. You must disarm your opponent.

What does this have to do with agriculture? The person who's surrounded is a farmer. There are 1,000 non-farmers for every one of you – a farmer on a commercial scale. A few of them will oppose you no matter what you do. These are the activists which seem almost militant at times. However, the vast majority of those who don't farm just don't understand why you do what you do.

Only you can tell your urban neighbors what it's like to farm and raise food for them.

In the past, many ag groups fought back by acting defensive and running out videos and commercials that were straightforward and fact-based.

Related: Nostalgia Plays A Huge Role In The Perception Of Agriculture

That's the way things should be done, but it's hardly a match when the opponent is ruthless enough to try to convert this vast majority to their side with stark black and white videos, undercover tapes obtained by questionable means and a story line that paints you and agriculture as the bad guys.

Who cares about the facts? What you're after are the hearts and minds of the great majority of people who just want cheap, wholesome food available whenever they choose to visit a grocery store, restaurant or farmers market.

You can use facts, and you should use facts. That's what decision-makers need. Usually, they're based on science and studies that get to the heart of the problem, not just the emotion around an issue.

So how do you get the vast majority of your urban friends who don't have an opinion one way or the other about agriculture to see your point of view? If there was an easy answer to that question, people would be patenting it and marketing it. Agriculture is desperate to find a way to get people to understand its point of view.

Related: Bibs, Fried Chicken and a few Animals? Not On Today's Farms

No solider worth his or her salt would back off because the fight isn't easy. One way which seems to work, based on observations, is engaging people one-on-one. Show them your kind, understanding side, not your defensive side. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and realize that they simply have questions about agriculture today. They want to form rational opinions.

Invite an urban or suburban friend to lunch in honor of National Ag Week this week. Enjoy the time and get to know them. Then give them a chance to know you, and understand why you do what you do on the farm.

In the long run, the easiest way to get out of a corner when you're surrounded is to convert those closing in one you to your point of view, one person at a time.

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