Anna Gomes on Consumer Outreach

Tips on How to Speak to Consumers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Anna Gomes is a senior at UC Davis studying Agricultural and Environmental Education, with a focus on plant and soil science. She spoke recently to California Ag Today about consumer outreach to the next generation regarding agriculture at the recent Bayer Crop Science Agvocate Forum. She also explained the plan to open up an Ugly Food Market in Sacramento.

Gomes said her background in agricultural education prepared her for consumer outreach.

“I had a really unique journey through my undergrad career. So as an Ag Education major, not only have I been focusing on communication, but a lot of it’s been focused on, “How do we take this hard science and actually convert it into something that’s understandable from a consumer’s point of view and their perspective?’ ” she said.

Gomes said agvocacy is something that she is working on.

“I’m really interested in the science and research behind moving agriculture forward, and I think there’s huge potential there, but how do we educate consumers about this research and about what’s going on to really make it impactful and make it actually practical in the ag industry?

“I think you can really start from their perspectives. What makes them interested in agriculture, and how are they connecting to it? Is it merely that they consumed food every single day?” Gomes said. “OK, start with that. What do you eat? Where does it come from? What do you know about it? It’s good to start with them and get to know them, instead of starting with you and getting to know them.”

The Ugly Food Market is something that Gome started at UC Davis, which aims to reduce food waste and eliminate food insecurity,

“It’s a startup through the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. We’ve been participating in entrepreneurial competition. We’ve pitched for seed funds, so wish us luck,” noted Gomes. “We want to start a physical marketplace in Sacramento, focused around food waste and food insecurity. We’re using shrinks from grocery stores, cull fruit from the farm, wholesalers and distributors, all in between the food chain.”

Support Agriculture By Being An ‘AgVocate’

Bayer CropScience Says Farmers Need to AgVocate with Consumers

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

The California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) recently held their 42nd Annual CAPCA Conference & Agri-Expo in Anaheim.  It was a sellout crowd at the Disneyland Convention Center, with about 1,600 registered participants and more than 160 different trade show vendors participating.  The theme of this year’s conference was “Feeding a Nation, Fighting the Fear,” with speakers covering a variety of topics related to public interest in agriculture. 

David Hollinrake, vice president of Agricultural Commercial Operations (ACO) Marketing with Bayer CropScience, talked about a program that Bayer CropScience sponsors called AgVocate.   “AgVocacy really is about engaging the farmer population so that they can represent modern agriculture to the consumer population that has a growing disconnect from what we do,” Hollinrake said. 

vice president of Agricultural Commercial Operations (ACO) Marketing with Bayer CropScience, AgVocacy
David Hollinrake, vice president of Agricultural Commercial Operations (ACO) Marketing with Bayer CropScience

There has been a growing disconnect between those who are involved with agriculture and the overall consumer base.  “With misinformation sometimes comes misconceptions and mistrust,” Hollinrake noted. 

One of the reasons for the divide between growers and consumers is that the number of people involved in agriculture has declined significantly over the past 50 years.  “When my grandfather grew up on the farm, some 40 percent of people were involved in production agriculture. Today, there’s only 1 percent of the population involved in agriculture,” Hollinrake said.

It’s important to bridge that gap by giving consumers a better understanding of what agriculture is really about.  “Our role with AgVocacy is to enable the farmers to take an active role in describing the benefits of modern Ag and really dispelling a lot of the myths that exist in agriculture,” Hollinrake said.

Bayer-Cropscience-agvocate-amplify-your-voice-hero“One of the other topics that we spoke about was the difference between conventional agriculture and organic agriculture,” Hollinrake noted.  The growth in organic farms has created an atmosphere of misunderstanding; with consumers erroneously believing that traditionally grown produce is somehow less safe.  Without being involved in agriculture, it’s understandable for people to have misconceptions about how the industry works.  However, these types of beliefs solidify the need for the AgVocate program.

Hollinrake thinks meeting the dietary needs of a growing population will require both organic and traditional farming. “If we’re going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, it’s going to take all forms of agriculture. To me, it’s not an ‘either/or’ – it’s a ‘yes/and’ conversation,” Hollinrake said.