The difference between how survey respondents viewed a corporate farm and a family farm seemed to boil down to one word: motivation.
Wenck made it clear that survey participants did not understand that family farms are often incorporated for accounting purposes, and the media often play up the incorporated aspect.
“Negative information by media impacts consumers,” she notes.
To help the audience understand consumers, Wenck says that research shows that today’s consumer values are derivatives of fear and insecurity.
“These fears and insecurities have been put there by someone,” she says. “And we’ve left a void.”
Wenck went on to explain that more consumers today are removed from the farm, with many having never visited a farm except perhaps a school visit years ago.
To help consumers understand and narrow the trust gap with farmers, Wenck suggests that those in agriculture communicate with consumers and relay information about regulations, best practices and commitment. But this communication must be a dialogue and not simply a monologue.
“Real authentic farmers are viewed as credible messengers,” she says. Other Illinois Coalition conclusions show that consumers listen to everything a farmer says through a “Do you care?” lens and that firsthand experiences trump all.
“They want to hear the reasons to trust you,” Wenck wrapped up. “It would be most powerful if the farmers in this state are equipped and prepared to have conversations.”
Wenck offers four steps to building good will and trust with consumers:
- Prepare now.
- Build a plan.
- Know your resources.
- Participate in training.
“Training programs such as PDPW’s Visible Voice will give you the skill-set you need to communicate confidently,” she says.