This past year, many bloggers have brought light to the advertising techniques of restaurants Chipotle and Panera that aren’t favorable for all agricultural producers. Even I wrote a post a while ago on a Chipotle video that ruffled my feathers. However, as I take a step back and consider the biggest issues affecting our industry, I don’t really think it is the Paneras and Chipotles of the world. I would contend that our greatest issue is the dissention among farmers.
As I’ve discussed before, it shouldn’t matter how many cows a person has…or how many acres they farm…or if they are organic or conventional. But as humans, we are often drawn and connect with people similar to ourselves, and put ourselves in categories. But really, the category lines are more blurred than we even realize.
I was recently in a group setting where a small organic producer was talking negatively about “big ag”. I’m not really sure what his definition of “big ag” is, and I guarantee that every one of us could come up with our own definitions for “big ag” and “small ag”. While he might’ve been pointing the finger at size being the differentiating factor, I think that the underlying issue is that he feels these farms accomplish their goals different that he does. Unfortunately, I had the sense that he did not respect these other types of farms.
Oftentimes, we perceive other farming operations to be very different from our own, but I think there are probably more commonalities than we realize. This dissention among producers is doing a lot of harm to our overall industry by convincing consumers to take a side. Why can’t we all get along?
- There is a place for all types of farmers. Diversity is good, allowing consumers to have choice. Would you really want every farm to be exactly like yours?
- We will need all farmers to feed a growing world. Statistics show that global food output must rise 70% by 2050 to feed approximately 9.1 billion people worldwide. Continued enhancements in technology will be an important part in helping us to provide the amount of food that the world will need.
- Connecting with consumers is increasingly important, no matter what size your farm is. There is tremendous opportunity in sharing our story with consumers to enhance their understanding of modern-day agriculture.
Imagine a world where agricultural producers can respect one another, even if they take a different approach to farming or marketing their product. It might be a long-shot to ever get to that point, but I think it will be critical to move the agricultural industry forward into the future.