By: Alicia Sopatyk, BSA, PAg, Regional Livestock Specialist, Tisdale
With so many buzz words used in the food industry today, nothing is more of a buzzkill than hearing those words used incorrectly. It can be easy to get frustrated or angry. But we have to remember that the connection between food and agriculture isn’t first-hand knowledge for a large portion of the population anymore. And while there are endless facts and figures that can be shared to bridge the gap from farm to fork with consumers, having a genuine conversation can yield greater results.
October is Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan, the theme being Our Food Has a Story. Ag Month is a time to tell the story of how food is grown, with consumers in mind, and the reasons why we do it the way we do. Those directly involved in the agriculture industry are in the best position to address consumer concerns about production practices used in modern agriculture. Consumers trust farmers and ranchers as a source of information. That’s why it’s important for us to speak up and connect with consumers based on shared values.
Values are long-lasting beliefs gained through knowledge and experience that shape the basis of what is important to an individual. They ultimately become standards we choose to live by. As human beings we have shared values. We all want safe, nutritious and affordable foods for ourselves and our families. Our shared values can serve as a connecting point, even when we disagree about something. For example, I value health which is why we administer antibiotics as needed to sick animals on our farm. But I also value safe food for my family, which is why we work with our local veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment and adhere to withdrawal times to ensure a safe product.
As producers and agriculture professionals, we have to take action to positively promote agriculture and our production practices. Consumers are curious, and rightfully so! Rather than getting frustrated with people who perhaps don’t understand production practices, use the power of shared values to connect with them. Keep calm and talk on.
For more information on this or anything else related to agriculture, contact your regional livestock specialist or call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.