Shelby Carlson

Aug 21, 2017  |  Today's News |  Public Outreach

Stop for a moment and think about the number of acronyms or technical jargon you used all before your midday coffee. Now imagine that you grew up amidst skyscrapers and sidewalks and think about when you would ever hear those words in your daily life. Seems about as foreign a concept as if you left the country and had been transplanted somewhere else.

Now that you are in the mindset of an average consumer, it is easier to recognize why, as a producer, you must be careful of the language used when having conversations with consumers and non-agriculture audiences. These conversations are a valuable opportunity that when available, should be taken to the full advantage.

Illinois Farm Families does a great job of providing farmers to model these conversations after based on the research they have done. Consider how they refer to their operation as a farm. This is a word that seems more trustworthy to a consumer. People trust the history of farms and farmers where, using the word producer, which we know to mean the same thing, seems to remind consumers of large corporate managers.

If you are telling the consumer about your farm, be sure to use specific details so they can picture it. Note how long your family has been farming the ground who you currently work with. We know that 97% of farms are family owned, most consumers don’t. Rather than saying you are a grain farmer, mention that you grow corn and soybeans. All of this allows the consumer to relate to you as a person.  

Is the consumer worried about the treatment of livestock on your operation? Consider this personalizing the message and validating their point. “As a farmer, I am concerned about the treatment of each animal on my property, that’s why maintain a food and water source 24 hours a day and personally check on them twice a day. On top of that, I regularly consult with a vet…” This allows the consumer to understand that you care for the animal as much as they do.

Farm technology is always under the microscope of consumers who have little, actual knowledge of the subject. In these discussions, be sure to always validate and mention that of course you understand and share the concerns and then provide information on how you make sense of using the technology. Is the consumer worried about pesticide runoff? You are too, that’s why you always stay up to date of training and double-check your math before mixing these chemicals.

Keeping in mind these simple changes in wording can make a huge difference in consumer conversations and make a more impactful statement. Consumers often don’t understand the jargon that producers use daily and a turned off by conversations that they can’t understand. Keeping this in mind allows for a better conversation to take place between farmer and consumer.