With winter on its way, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that its National Farmers Market Directory lists 898 winter farmers markets across the country, accounting for more than 14 percent of the nation's 6,132 operating farmers markets and extending opportunities for consumers to access locally grown food. Okay, so we know where SOME of the farmers are. According to recent research funded in part by Illinois Corn, it’s those farmers that are forming, or maybe you could say “farming,” your image.
One of the key pieces of information that came from the Illinois Farmer Image research (funded by Illinois corn checkoff dollars) was that of the people surveyed (defined as “influentials), 40% of them reported that they got their information about farmers and farming from going to a farmers market.
Ut-oh. I’m guessing that most of our members and corn checkoff contributors aren’t regularly setting up booths around Illinois to sell their farm products at a farmers market. Undoubtedly some of you are, but most aren’t. So, with that in mind, who is framing the image that the non-farm public has about you?
Perception is reality. No matter how hard it is to choke down that the farmer most often pictured is the farmer selling fresh greens and herbs on Saturday morning, that is the most often reported perception. The question is, how do you function within that paradigm? How do you use the positive impressions and fundamental level of trust of “that farmer” and transfer it to “you” as a farmer?
As a member of the Illinois Farmer Image group, IL Corn is working to find answers to these questions on your behalf. Hopefully you’re as eager to engage in these conversations as we are to give you the tools to do so.
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board has enjoyed working with Illinois Beef Association, the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, and the Illinois Soybean Association on the Illinois Farmer Image campaign.