Consumers are from Venus, Farmers are from Mars

Amanda NolzCommunication, Dairy Business

“Consumers are from Venus, Farmers are from Mars,” was the interesting title of the opening speech at the 2010 Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference given by Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity and Founder and President of CMA Consulting. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Arnot, in his message to producers to help regain consumer trust and confidence about where their food comes from…

“The Center for Food Integrity aims to build consumer trust and confidence in the contemporary U.S. food system by sharing accurate balanced information.”

“Always remember that growing food is a noble pursuit. Farmers and ranchers are looking for the freedom to operate. You didn’t get in the dairy business to tackle social issues, but we have to.”

“Social license is the privilege of operating your farm or ranch with minimal formalized restrictions (legislation and regulation) based on maintaining public trust by doing what’s right. What people want is permission to eat meat and dairy products without guilt. We have to give this permission to consumers, policy makers and media. If we don’t, we will lose our social license.”

“When people question what you do on the farm, it’s easy to become defensive. However, if you’re able to operate with a social license, you have the ability to do business that also coincides with society’s beliefs and ethics. If we control the issues, we control the debate. If we know what’s coming and what the consumers want, we can be proactive in controlling the conversation.”

“There is a growing unease with consumers about where their food comes from. Yet, agriculture has changed for the better, but we haven’t necessarily brought the consumer along for the discussion. We should never abandon science in agriculture, but sometimes that science doesn’t always connect with our consumers. We need to use emotions and ethics.”