By Trish Johnson, PAg, Agriculture Program Specialist, North Battleford
Do consumers trust that the food on their plate is produced in a safe and sustainable manner? Today, consumers are overwhelmed with conflicting information and labelling regarding food production. Organic vs conventional. GMO vs non-GMO. Factory farms vs family farms. Modern agriculture is not always portrayed in a positive manner and its time those of us involved in the industry learn to speak up.
Most consumers believe that farmers are the most trusted source when it comes to telling the story about how they produce food. This makes sense, since farmers are consumers too. What we aren’t always good at is telling our story about why we do the things we do. Why do we rely on genetically modified crops? Why do we administer hormones to our cattle? We do these things to produce safe food in an economic, efficient and sustainable manner.
Surveys show that the public does not necessarily trust the production practices used in agriculture today. Social media abounds with misconceptions and fear-mongering about the safety of our food. The discussions are often fuelled by emotion, innuendo and unfounded accusations, with both sides having some stake in the way agriculture is perceived. Unfortunately, some of the claims made are not science-based.
Connecting consumers to farmers helps us build the public’s trust in modern agriculture. How do farmers maintain their public trust? It means complying with label recommendations for farm chemicals. It means handling livestock in compliance with industry standards with a focus on animal welfare. It means being good stewards of the land and considering the environment in everything we do. It means clearing up misconceptions about today’s farming practices and talking to consumers about why we do the things we do.
The Ministry of Agriculture is hosting Speak Up! training workshops in North Battleford, Yorkton, Weyburn and Moose Jaw in late-January and early-February. These interactive workshops will be facilitated by Clinton Monchuk, Executive Director of Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan. Participants will learn to improve their communication abilities and develop other valuable skills required to carry on meaningful conversations abut how our food is produced. These Speak Up! training workshops are valuable to anyone involved in the agriculture industry, especially farmers.
There is no registration fee for these workshops. To see a full list of Speak Up! training locations and dates please visit our event calendar. To register please call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 or the Ministry of Agriculture Regional office in these locations.
For more information on this or other agriculture program related topics, please contact your local Agriculture Program Specialist, call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.