Commentary: Get in on the conversation

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What are you doing on Sept. 22?  I know you’re busy, but if at all possible, make time in your schedule to check out The Food Dialogues and get in on an important conversation with Americans about how we grow and raise our food.

The event hosted by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) will stream live on the organization’s Web site from Washington D.C.; New York; Fair Oaks, Ind.; and Davis, Calif. USFRA has invited voices and viewpoints from across the food spectrum to share their opinions. Farmers, ranchers, consumers, students, retailers, media and leaders in business, food and food service are all welcome to the table.

“We realize farmers and ranchers haven't always done the best job answering Americans' questions about how food is grown and raised, and hope The Food Dialogues event will be the start of an ongoing dialogue that addresses these questions and more. We hope everyone who cares about the future of food and how we provide healthy choices for people everywhere will join the discussion, including farmers of all sizes — small and large, conventional and organic, consumers and food decision-makers," says Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation

The Food Dialogues will include four panel discussions, featuring leaders in food, food service, media and policy, farmers of all types, and business leaders, who will share different viewpoints about the current and future states of food, and how food is grown and raised.

Here’s the list of panelists and the agenda.

The panel discussion begins in Washington, D.C. at 11:30 a.m. E.D.T. and concludes with the final panel taking place in California.

The entire event will stream live online, providing opportunities for farmers, ranchers and the general public to register to watch and participate in the discussion online.

"This event will allow anyone with an Internet connection the ability to join a conversation about food and where it comes from," said Stallman.

"Consumers rightfully want to know that farmers and ranchers are treating animals well, maintaining food quality and safety and doing our jobs in ways that don't harm the environment. This is an opportunity to ask questions, challenge current thinking and truly engage in a real-time, two-way conversation taking place on www.fooddialogues.com and USFRA's Facebook page about food with farmers, ranchers and other major thought leaders in the food and agriculture industry," he adds.

The town hall-style discussion will also feature findings from recent surveys of farmers, ranchers and consumers, conducted by USFRA in July and August 2011. T survey aimed to identify topics the agricultural community wished Americans had more information about when it comes to how food is grown and raised.

These and other concerns highlighted in a new national consumer survey conducted in August 2011 will be at the forefront of discussion topics.

Even if you can’t catch the entire event, at least go online and check out part of it; the future of your business may very well depend on what you learn from those who buy your products.



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