February 28, 6:30pm–8pmWhere
Homerville Township Hall State Hwy 301, Homerville, OH
Conversations about how food is produced are happening. But the voices of farmers have been less than representative in the conversation about food production.
“Engaging in an interactive conversation about food production – rather than defending food production – helps farmers understand what consumers want,” said David White, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director of issues management. “Through these conversations, we can help improve trust and confidence in food, farming and agriculture.”
This year, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Center for Food & Animal Issues aims to involve more than 2,500 members through the Conversations with EASE program, which was developed by U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.
The program focuses on four core principles:
Engage – Conversations start with interaction. Make the effort to start a conversation. It’s your choice: sit silent on your next flight, or try to connect.
Acknowledge – Consumers have concerns, and that is their right. Even if they are not based on science, it is reassuring to people to hear, “I can understand how that might scare you,” or “I’d like to hear more about why that concerns you.”
Share – Consumers learn more about how food is produced from the people who actually produce it, and farmers have a high level of credibility when they share their stories and experiences. Rather than douse the other person with facts, share your personal stories and feelings that illustrate them in a human way.
A good message educates by explaining messages supported by facts and credible sources. A better message involves story telling that demonstrates real life examples from real people like farmers. The best message allows for consumers to “see for themselves through experiences and self-directed discovery.” Moving communication activity from fact based messages to storytelling to consumer experiences will make your messaging even more powerful.
Earn Trust –If you don’t trust someone, you don’t trust their facts. Science is not the lead element in building trust. Science will determine if we can do it. Society will determine if we should do it.
By listening to questions, engaging in conversation and sharing our efforts to continually improve what we do on our farms, we learn from each other’s perspectives. In the end, we all have an interest in food.
For more information about the Conversation with EASE program, contact White at 614-246-8261 or [email protected]. To schedule a Conversation with EASE training session, visit with your county Farm Bureau’s organization director.
10 Conversation Tips
When having a conversation with consumers about food, fuel and fiber, keep this in mind:
- Consumers are most concerned about their families’ long-term health.
- Experiences and storytelling matter more than repeated messages.
- Give consumers access to all sides of information and allow them “to discover the truth” (show, don’t tell).
- Validate facts and information with the endorsement of trusted authorities.
- Certain words can derail trust – in particular absolutes and a condescending tone.
- Too much focus on scientific terms and visuals are scary; use the language of food.
- This is not a war; it is a conversation, so treat it as such. It’s best to be interactive than proactive or reactive.
- Everyone is a food stakeholder because everyone eats.
- Link your shared values with their shared values and find common ground.
- Show continuous improvement in conventional (modern) food production. There is always more excitement about the future than defense of the past.