How does the global farmer communicate

Do you ever think the consumer is dis-engaged with agriculture, agricultural practices and generally has a disconnect and lack of trust with the Rural sector? How much do you think this also effects the succession of young people into the industry?

I have just completed the most interesting week with 60 other Nuffield scholars from around the world. This topic was one of the recurring themes of the week and as a result, we were asked to tackle it and try and find a solution. It was a very interesting topic to tackle as the perception of agriculture by our consumers is in our hands. We summarised that it could be done one of two ways, both with starkly different consequences.

1. Natural/current method

WHAT —————-> WHEN

As farmers, we are generally very interested in what we do and we think the consumer should understand what we do and why we do it.

–> so we tell them what we think they need to hear, when we want to.

The answer is mainly based around science and statistics and is the same message for everyone.

Think of the consumer and how different they are in their needs. The same story will never work. Here’s an example;

We run 4500 ewes at a current stocking rate of 13DSE per Ha on a perennial basest pasture (just lost the high income earner buying on sustainability – not interested in stats), in a fully sustainable and traceable way providing a niche product to the high end consumer (just lost the mother of four buying on price), we sell direct to the public to cut out the middle man (just lost the retailer), we farm ecological which is way better than the conventional farming way (just lost the conventional farmer and given a negative message about global agriculture), the 10 year old kid lost interest long ago and all you have left is the activist to fight against.

I think it is because we are trying to educate the consumer rather than connect with them on a level they want to be connected on.

It got me thinking, when I am asked a question by my non-farming friends or new people, what sort of answer do I give. I am always disappointed and a little frustrated that the conversation doesn’t go very far and they are not interested in what I have to say. I realised this is my fault though as I tell them what I think they need to hear rather than what actually matters to them.

I have not engaged with them and as a result, they are not likely to ask again —> disconnect.

New Approach

WHO ——–> WHY ——–> HOW

To have a constructive conversation and start to promote agriculture in a positive light – to benefit succession of young people into the industry and consumer trust – we need to have common ground. We need to find out who we are talking to and what matters to them, why this matter to them, then we can work out how we best deliver it to them – social media, newspaper, flyer, website, personal communication etc.

Each conversation needs to be tailored to who we are talking to, to have any sort of engagement and gain/maintain trust by the consumer – one conversation at a time!!

My thoughts from 30,000 feet above the Indian Ocean. If it doesn’t make sense – you know why!



5 thoughts on “How does the global farmer communicate

  1. Hey Hannah,
    I used to be involved in Agriculture, I picked up the article through David Hugill – David and I were once on a course together.
    You are right, and its the same problem that has been going on for years – we don’t know how to talk to people outwith the industry …. we don’t use the appropriate language in our discussions for the audience we work with.
    I am now a ski instructor and the same thing happens in this industry – the answers my colleagues often give are way to technical, way too focused and often miss the point of the question, because they see the question from their standpoint …. not the person asking the question.
    Good luck

  2. Interesting thinking Hanna.

    Is it that “we can’t be all things to all people?” Should we be more closely identifying our market/consumer & tailoring our story to them and accept that our story may not be of interest to the broader market….or…..keep the story at a broad enough level to hold the interest of the whole community? I’m not sure.

    I look forward to seeing how your thoughts develop.


    Chad Taylor Marapana 456 Wuuluman Rd Wellington NSW 2820 T 0268453620 F 0268453608 M 0458453608 E W

  3. Well written Han, communication has to be a two way street if we are to turn the conversation from one of preaching to one of engagement! Fantastic stuff. Can’t wait for the Giraffe and apple story!!! xx

  4. I agree Han with the language that we use not being understood by people who are not involved in agriculture. People do lose interest. I think, however, that if we can find the language or the emotion that they can relate to then there is more chance of success.
    I think that if we can paint a picture that is something like people deal with on a daily basis and understand the issue in their own lives then we have a better chance. I can’t think of anything right at the moment but will contemplate more over night. xoxo

  5. Having thought a bit more about the issue and reading some information about more people buying fresh food than before then perhaps that is the way that we open the conversations again. “We produce the food that is keeping your family healthy” “Would you like to know a bit more about that?” “Would you like to come and see how we grow this food or look after this land or keep your air healthy” etc xo
    Very interesting to read about what you are doing. xo

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