In our opinion...
Communicating to build, maintain trust is smart business
By Charlie Arnot
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
This quote, often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, sums up what The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) learned in what is now a peer-reviewed and published model for building trust in today's food system.
Research sponsored by CFI and conducted in partnership with Iowa State University shows that confidence (shared values) is three to five times more important than competence (skill and expertise) in building consumer trust. Specifically, the study measured what drives consumer trust in the areas of food safety, nutrition, worker care, the humane treatment of farm animals and environmental protection.
In our subsequent qualitative research, we learned that consumers trust farmers because they believe farmers share their values. Unfortunately, because of the change in size and structure and the use of technology in farming today, and the geographic and generational distance between farmers and consumers, they aren't sure today's agriculture still qualifies as farming. We see consumer alienation from agriculture and the food system expressed in increasing concerns about nutrition, food safety, affordability, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and other issues.
Some argue that maintaining public trust is a worthy goal, but not relevant to success in business. This outdated notion fails to recognize the financial benefit of maintaining the trust of stakeholders who can determine the level of social license or social control an organization enjoys. Maintaining the public trust that protects an organization's social license to operate is not an act of altruism, it is enlightened self-interest
Feed neighbors first, then world?
By Andy Vance
America's farmers feed the world ... It's a common sentiment and one I've said myself on more than one occasion.
In many senses, it is a true statement. U.S. cattle producers, for instance, produce 20% of the world's beef supply with only 7% of the global cattle herd.
Because American farmers are the most productive in the world -- utilizing the most advanced technologies, newest techniques and best practices -- they produce more food than ever before, and generally on fewer acres than ever before.
Our agricultural trade balance is one of the few bright spots for the economy, actually earning a trade surplus.
In manufactured goods and consumer products, for example, the U.S. typically imports far more than it exports, but with agricultural commodities and food products, the opposite is true.
For years, particularly in times when agriculture faced heavy scrutiny or criticism from its enemies, farmers and agribusiness professionals proudly rallied around the "we feed the world" banner as a source of pride.
The fact that we produced enough food to feed our own, and then some, was seen as indicative that we were doing the right things and in the right ways.
Capture not just minds but hearts, too
By Mark Klaus
I hear so many people today complaining that Americans have lost the ability to think rationally.
Some are described as "sheep" who are only able to follow an opinion or message from the most popular group or person of the moment.
If someone can't seem to think rationally about a subject, he or she is said to be "drinking the Kool-Aid," a statement that insinuates that one's thought process has been poisoned.
However, I personally feel that we are still a nation of critical thinkers; we are just programmed differently now.
Today, the media influences our critical thinking skills through emotion. We are rarely given the facts without a bit of commentary from the source. This leads us to be either very concerned about the issue reported or very happy about the wonderful news.
A news report that just lays out the facts rather than suggesting how we will be affected or how it should make us feel is now considered "boring" or "lacking substance."
My point is that we have all become a bit easily influenced.