The nationwide "Food Dialogues" on Thursday was so compelling that consumers and agriculture folks alike tuned in from all across the country. A well-known dairy producer commented, "I hope consumers are listening."
“The Food Dialogues,” a town-hall style discussion hosted by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, brought a variety of viewpoints to the table to discuss the future of food and the agriculture industry.
Hugh Whaley, spokesperson for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, deemed it a huge success. “We had a lot of people asking questions,” he says.
Approximately 250 people joined the conversation in person at four different locations across the U.S., including Washington D.C., New York, Fair Oaks, Ind., and the University of California-Davis. An additional16 viewing events were held in other locations across the country. Hundreds also joined the conversation online through streaming video, Facebook and Twitter. “There were so many people coming online that we jammed Facebook for a bit,” says Whaley.
“There were a lot of really good conversations about agriculture today,” observed Daphne Holterman, owner of Rosy-Lane Holsteins LLC in Watertown, Wis.
Questions and conversations covered a variety of topics from educating students about food, portion sizes, antibiotics and labels to nutrition, plant genetics, water usage, animal welfare, food availability and shrink.
Whaley says there were no big surprises on the types of information people were seeking, but there was a clear interest by those asking questions for clarification on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and to define what sustainability really is.
“Hopefully, everyone who participated today has a better understanding about what it takes from a business, agronomic and animal care standpoint to be a farmer,” he says.
Thursday’s event was moderated by Claire Shipman of “Good Morning America” and ABC News.
If you didn’t tune in to the forum or missed part of the event, the entire conversation can be watched online at http://www.fooddialogues.com.
In addition to answer questions on a myriad of topics Thursday, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance released results from two national surveys about food and how it is grown and raised. The research found that while nearly all Americans agree that food production is important to the success of the country, they are split over whether it is going in the right or wrong direction. For more read: Survey shows more dialogue needed about agriculture and food