Research from the new U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance shows that consumers believe food production is important to the success of the country, but they are split on whether or not it is headed in the right direction.
That's why several Minnesota farmers and food industry leaders recently met with a group of consumers and students at the University of Minnesota and answered questions about farming and food production.
The meeting was part of a national event with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance which hosted four internet panel discussions that took place in select cities across the country. Attendees viewed a national panel discussion from Washington, D.C. on health and food prices, and were able to submit questions to the panelists via the internet.
Following the national panel, a panel of Minnesota experts spoke, including Al Juhnke, aide to Senator Al Franken; Minnesota Senator Doug Magnus, who chairs the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee; Sara Wyant, editor, Agri-Pulse Communications; Don Baloun, Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist; and Sameh Wadi, executive chef and co-owner at Saffron. They answered attendees' questions on organic food, biotechnology, local food production and how farmers can gain more trust from the consumer.
"This event helped bring different groups together to open up the lines of communication regarding food production and consumption," said Brian Greenslit, a Franklin soybean grower, who also serves as Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council vice president and USFRA representative. "It is important for both farmers and consumers to understand each other's thoughts and concerns in order to come to a better understanding. That way, we'll be able to move forward in a more positive manner."
Sponsors for the event were University of Minnesota Agricultural Club, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Pork Board and Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council.
USFRA is a new alliance representing more than 50 of the top farmer and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners. The organization works to improve communication between consumers and farmers.
NOTE: For coverage of the national Food Dialogues, visit www.farmprogress.com/fooddialogues