Advocacy is a big part of modern farming and a huge part of my life as I share my farm story with the world as a writer, blogger and speaker. In fact, it was through my advocacy efforts that I received this opportunity to write for Farmers Hot Line.
A farmer doesn’t have to travel far to see consumers’ concerns about their food. They’re plastered on posters, labels, TV, social media and in our schools. Consumers are voting with their dollars, expressing their food preferences through what they buy at the grocery store.
Today’s consumers want to know more about where their food comes from and how it is grown than ever before. However, they’re also more removed from agriculture than they ever have been before. Farmers make up less than 2% of America’s population, and the average consumer is at least 3 generations removed from the farm. Still, consumer demand changes how all farms operate.
Therefore, it is our responsibility to connect with consumers, to share our stories and to answer their questions. If we don’t, someone else will. Sadly, that someone else is frequently a misinformed celebrity, news anchor, mommy blogger or friend who read something somewhere that simply isn’t true.
I’ve spent much of the past few months traveling across the country learning how to better connect with consumers and studying consumer research so that I can better answer their questions, calm their fears and clarify any misconceptions. Not every farmer has the time or interest to reach out to the public in the same ways that I do, but every farmer does have a voice to reach someone.
Whether that someone is the curious neighbor kid hoping for a ride in the tractor, a fellow church member, a customer looking for freezer beef or someone who has stopped to take a picture of your barn, you can advocate simply by sharing your story and your passion for farming with whomever you come in contact with.
About the Author
Rebekah Gustafson spends her days as a mom to three horse-crazy little girls, and as a wife to her husband, Neil, in a small town in northwest Wisconsin, where they were both born and raised on small dairy farms. She shares her passion for agriculture through her blog Cooped Up Creativity, as an administrator for the Ask The Farmers blog, and volunteering for CommonGround.