Help Consumers Understand Ag
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
Many Californians aren’t aware of the amount of agriculture in the state, and the diverse crops that are grown here, and sometimes this leaves farmers in the back seat when it comes to policy making. Cindy Smith is the Ag Policy Relations Director at Gowan. She spoke with us about the importance of consumer relations in agriculture and helping them learn to support ag.
“That’s the key message that we have to deliver, because increasingly the people who are making decisions in Washington DC are disconnected from the field,” Smith said.
“So they really need to understand that the decision that they make has an impact on a farmer, and if it has an impact on a farmer, it has an impact on a consumer,” she explained.
We all know that it’s difficult to blame consumers for not knowing about agriculture.
“Unless you live next to a farm, or you have a family member who’s in farming, a person just will not know much about agriculture,” Smith said.
“Farmers represent less than two percent of the population, in the United States, so it’s very understandable that the consumer may not have a direct connection to the farm,” she said.
“Helping consumers understand what farming actually mean, and what farmers think about, and care about, when they’re growing foods that we eat, or that go to our clothing or whatever, I think would really help consumers have a better appreciation of the value and the importance of keeping American agriculture viable and successful,” she explained.
“Talk to the people you know, talk to them at church, talk to them at Rotary, talk to them at work. They’ll tell you: ‘I like the idea that these apples, peaches, carrots, come right here from California, and I want them to continue to be available,’ ” Smith said.
“The disconnect is that I’m not sure they always understand that some of the policy decisions made might threaten that. Making sure that consumers make that connection, I think, is key for our success, too,” she said.