When the subject is food and how it’s raised, who better to turn to than the farmers who grow it? South Dakota’s soybean farmers are inviting the people of South Dakota to take a seat at the table and discuss how farmers raise food and work to keep it safe.
South Dakota Soybean will launch a comprehensive outreach initiative in January called “Hungry for Truth” to talk with people across the state about food and farming. “Farmers want to know what’s on consumers’ minds about food safety and farming. We believe it’s important for people to have a better understanding of what we do on the farm to grow food in a safe and sustainable manner,” says Marc Reiner, farmer from Tripp and chairman of the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council.
The primary discussion topic of the “Hungry for Truth” initiative is food, and the focal point is the kitchen table. In many homes, the kitchen is where most conversations occur, and family and friends share food and fellowship. Images of farm families sharing a meal with non-farming families at the kitchen table are also used throughout the initiative as a symbol for this dialogue.
“Farmers will see this initiative all over the state,” said John Horter, farmer from Andover and president of the South Dakota Soybean Association. “It’ll be in news coverage, in advertising, on social media and on our own website. We truly are putting it all on the table.”
The outreach initiative uses several methods to create conversations between non-farmers and farmers. Communication techniques include social media and advertising in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, where the largest populations are. There will also be multiple promotions to encourage consumers to join the conversation and farmer participation in special events around the state to reinforce the fact that farmers and non-farmers have many shared values regarding food safety, family and strong communities.
To prepare for the initiative, South Dakota Soybean conducted research on consumer attitudes about agriculture. It showed that food safety topics are the primary concerns for South Dakotans, specifically, the use of crop protection products, biotechnology in crops and antibiotics and hormones in livestock production.
The research also showed that even though non-farmers might not understand today’s farming, people in South Dakota do trust farmers.
Nine out of 10 people in South Dakota know someone who farms, and South Dakotans understand that most farms are family farms. They appreciate that family farms must be profitable to be sustainable, but they also trust South Dakota family farmers to put food quality and responsible stewardship ahead of their own profitability. People in the state say they believe farmers are good environmentalists who grow crops in a sustainable manner.
“With that base of trust, there is no one better or more reliable to talk with people about their food than South Dakota farmers themselves,” states Reiner. “We believe this initiative will have a positive impact on farmers as well as consumers. It will open up conversations for farmers to gain an understanding of what’s important to consumers and consumers to understand what’s important to us. It will build trust that will benefit South Dakota farmers.”
The Hungry for Truth initiative is an outreach program about food and farming funded by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.
Source: South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council
Posted by Jami Howell