On Wednesday, farmers and commodity groups from Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania launched a new outreach program in Washington, D.C., targeting what's near and dear to consumer hearts – their stomachs and taste buds.
Called Mid-Atlantic Farmers Feed US, it's aimed at introducing the region's consumers to the hard-working farmers who raise healthy, nutritious and affordable food, explains Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity. "We need to show that even though our systems have changed and our use of technology has increased, the farmer's commitment to do what's right has never been stronger."
Open to residents of those three states and Washington, D.C., the program will offer consumers the chance to win one of four Free Groceries for a Year sweepstakes prizes. The www.FarmersFeedUS.org website introduces them to these 10 featured farmers:
Jay Baxter, soybean grower, Georgetown, Del.
Carla Blackwell McKinney, mushroom grower, Toughkenamon, Pa.
Jordan Calloway, watermelon grower, Mardela Springs, Md.
Chip Councell, grain and vegetable farmer, Cordova, Md.
Ted Esbenshade, egg producer, Marietta, Pa.
Mike Harrison, soybean grower, Woodbine, Md.
Burli Hopkins, dairy farmer, Lewes, Del.
Brian Krieder, soybean grower, Lebanon, Pa.
Doreen Shearer, pork producer, Mount Joy, Pa.
Jesse Vanderwende, poultry producer, Bridgeville, Del.
"Farmers Feed US" is based on consumer research conducted by the Center for Food Integrity. CFI has documented that "shared values" are three to five times more important in building consumer trust than demonstrating competence. The program uses a variety of strategies to engage consumers with those who produce food, including featuring the region's farmers in online video farm tours, earned and social media and television advertisements.
The goal is to build public trust that farmers share the same values as consumers. Since July 2009, Farmers Feed US has connected farmers and consumers in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois. Those programs have accounted for more than 1.35 million Free Groceries for a Year sweepstakes registrations, with each one introducing consumers to farmers from their state.
Additionally, the program has built a consumer "opt-in" list of more than 85,000 consumers in participating states, who have requested on-going communication on farming and food, as well as social media platforms on Facebook and Twitter with more than 20,000 likers and followers.
Sponsors for Mid-Atlantic Farmers Feed US include Delaware and Maryland Farm Bureaus; Delaware and Maryland Ag Departments; Maryland Grain Producers; Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania Soybean boards; Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council; Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association; DelMarva Poultry, Inc.; Purdue Farms; and Turkey Hill.