The widening urban-rural divide has serious implications for Australian agriculture, with consumers not necessarily understanding where food comes from and the resources to produce it – or trusting the process.
Managing Director of AgCommunicators, Deanna lush, argues that misperceptions are compounded by disinformation campaigns on many aspects of food production carried out by militant organizations.
A National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) poll in November last year showed 83 percent of Australians described their connection to agriculture as “remote” or “non-existent”.
âThose of us in the agriculture industry know that agriculture is a professional, high-tech industry and that farmers are great land stewards and producers of food. We have to be because, according to the NFF, every Australian farmer feeds around 600 people – 150 here and 450 overseas – and that’s a big responsibility, âsaid Ms Lush.
âConsumers have conversations about food production, but farmers’ voices are often overlooked. By creating a dialogue with non-farm audiences, farmers have the opportunity to teach consumers how food is grown and raised. The people who produce the food are the best qualified to tell this story.
âResearch by the US Center for Food Integrity found that shared values ââare three to five times more important in building trust with a non-farm audience than sharing facts or demonstrating skills or expertise. . Knowing how to have real conversations about food production is therefore vital. “
Ms Lush recently returned from an intensive investigation of overseas farm organizations working hard to build confidence in agriculture and food producers.
As a 2016 Churchill Fellow, she studied methods of communication, education and engagement to enhance understanding of Australian agriculture.
She interviewed key staff from 47 organizations in the UK, US and Canada to assess their awareness and approach to consumer engagement.
She found that Australia was lagging behind its international counterparts in a number of key areas and that it was important for Australian agriculture to implement a number of actions to address this issue.
Generation of innovations conference
Highlights from Ms. Lush’s findings will be the subject of her address at the Innovation Generation conference under this year’s theme Building Blocks for Success. Innovation Generation will be held at Wagga Wagga from July 9-11.
Registrations are now open on www.innovationgeneration.com.au
Among the other speakers on the program:
Stuart whytcross, with who Brad woolner own Voyager Craft Malt – Stuart Whytcross and BradWoolner are grain producers in the Barellan area. In 2012, they started producing a series of experimental malts for their own beers from selected grains from their own producers and other producers in the region. They will share how they pursued their dream of establishing an on-farm malt house to supply malts to craft brewers and distillers.
Managing Director, Southern Cotton, Kate o’callaghan – Ms. O’Callaghan has played a leading role in the development of the cotton industry in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA), strategically building the capacities of local producers through collaboration, education and l ‘innovation. She will share the cross-sectoral lessons with conference participants.
Will raynerRural Bank CFO – Will Rayner will discuss the need for farmers to fully understand their strategic position, their financial situation and the opportunities to improve profitability and productivity. He will explain how banks make decisions based on what a farmer presents to them and what will tip the deal.
Alan woodward, Research Director at Lifeline – Alan will talk about how a healthy mind is the key to a successful business. He will also discuss the symptoms of mental illness and how to help people when you spot it.
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