Nobody understands consumer concerns quite like a mom who didn’t grow up on a farm. That’s what’s given Sue McCloskey a compass for how she communicates with consumers.
“We need to understand that about people desiring information about our farms,” she told attendees at the Executive Women in Agriculture conference last week.
According to McCloskey, consumer questions about where their food has come from, how it’s produced, how sustainable it is, and how safe it is are questions that are not going away. She says the No. 1 way to fight these consumer fears is for farmers to strike up conversations and invite people to the farm.
“People want to look into your farm,” she says. “We’re all proud of what we do, so why not espouse that.”
Even though farmers aren’t always comfortable getting in front of a large group of people or even having a conversation in the grocery line with somebody that has no ag background, farmers must.
“Get uncomfortable. Have that conversation, initiate that conversation,” she says. “We can’t count on brands. We can’t count on brands anymore to tell our story.”
It’s up to farmers, she says, adding brands will do whatever it takes to gain market share. At the end of the day, a simple conversation can help dispel fears and misunderstandings.
"We can have campaigns and commercials, but when you have a human being talking to another human being you can’t help but have emotion involved and that’s the most powerful tool,” she says.