By Miranda Burski, Communications Branch
There are a lot of steps involved in building public trust in the agriculture industry. One of the first is ensuring that our producers have the tools they need to follow proper production practices.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s Crops Extension Specialists play a direct role in that work. “We make recommendations every day to producers that could impact how the public views agriculture,” said Kaeley Kindrachuk, a Crops Extension Specialist out of Outlook. “My job is to give producers and agronomists the information they need to be able to make the best decision they can for their farm or give the best advice to their clients.”
The connection between making the right decisions for the farm and the right decisions for building public trust is often a straight line, but occasionally it requires further discussion. Kaeley finds, however, that most producers are open to these discussions.
She explained that when she relates public trust back to why she makes the recommendations that she does, producers are open to hearing about it. They’re also generally already aware of the potential issues that a lack of public trust poses.
“Most producers and agronomists understand that public perception of agriculture is very important, but sometimes in the heat of the moment—we all know how busy a growing season can be—this can be forgotten,” she said. “The conversation needs to continue with our clients in a respectful way.”
Recently, Kaeley and other Ministry staff have utilized Crop Walks to continue that conversation.
Crop Walks began as a way of sharing agronomic information and research, as well as showcasing the value of the research sites in Outlook. Since then, they’ve evolved into virtual field days, hosted live through the Ministry’s Facebook page (where they’re also saved as a playlist for easy viewing later) and the Irrigation Crop Diversification Corporation’s Twitter page.
While the Crop Walks already encouraged producers to make good production decisions, making the move to Facebook Live provided a secondary public trust boost. “We began reaching general consumers, as well,” Kaeley said. “This gives them a chance to see several things: What’s happening in the field, what producers are concerned about during the growing season, how they make decisions, and it also gives them a chance to ask a question if they so choose.”
This opportunity to ask questions, whether it’s during Crop Walks or not, is something that Kaeley thinks is important for any consumer—including those already working in the agriculture industry. “Remember that we … are consumers, as well. If there is something you’d like to know, ask. Then share that information.
“Talk about why you like [your job], and why you are passionate about the agriculture industry. You may not change minds, but you can get people thinking about things differently, and be there if someone has questions about their food.”