Innovation Generation '18: Churchill Fellow calls for action to build trust in Australian agriculture
An increasing urban-rural divide has serious implications for Australian agriculture with consumers not necessarily understanding where food comes from nor the resources required to produce it - nor trusting in the process.
Deanna Lush, Managing Director of AgCommunicators, says that incorrect perceptions are being compounded by misinformation campaigns on many aspects of food production by activist organisations.
A National Farmers' Federation poll in November last year showed that 83 per cent of Australians described their connection with farming as 'distant' or 'non-existent'.
"Those of us inside the agricultural industry know that farming is a professional and high-tech industry and farmers are excellent land managers and food producers. We have to be because, according to the NFF, every Australian farmer feeds an estimated 600 people - 150 here and 450 overseas – and that’s a great responsibility," said Ms Lush.
“Consumers are having conversations about food production, but the voices of farmers are frequently left out. By creating a dialogue with non-ag audiences, farmers have an opportunity to teach consumers about how food is grown and raised. The people producing the food are most qualified to tell that story.
"Research by the US Center for Food Integrity has found shared values are three to five times more important in building trust with non-ag audiences than sharing facts or demonstrating skills or expertise. So knowing how to have genuine conversations about food production is vital.”
Ms Lush has recently returned from an intensive investigation of overseas agricultural organisations who are working hard to build trust in agriculture and food producers.
As a 2016 Churchill Fellow, she investigated communication, education and engagement methods to improve understanding of Australian agriculture.
She interviewed key personnel in 47 organisations in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada to assess their awareness and approach to consumer engagement.
She found Australia to be lagging behind its international counterparts in a number of core areas and it was important for Australian agriculture to implement a number of actions to address this issue.
The highlights of her findings will be the subject of her address at the Innovation Generation Conference as part of this year's theme Building Blocks for Success. Innovation Generation will be held in Wagga Wagga from 9-11 July.
Registrations are now open at www.innovationgeneration.com.au