We live in a time when food consumers have less knowledge of agricultural practices than they ever had before.
Yet we also live in a time when the consumer seems to have more of a say in what kind of practices are being done. Whether it be cage-free eggs, slower-growing broilers, crate-free pork or no antibiotics ever meat, consumer demands for products carrying these labels seem to be increasingly driving methods used on the farm.
While speaking during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Natalie Kovarik, co-host of the Discover Ag podcast, questioned whether the agrifood industry is giving too much control to the consumer.
“Are we playing defense or are we playing offense when it comes to these conversations with consumers,” Kovarik rhetorically asked.
“You’ll hear a farmer say all the time, ‘We're not price makers; we're price takers.’ We give a lot of power to our consumers and sometimes I personally have to ask myself, ‘Why are we handing over so much power? Why don't we sometimes step back into that more offensive role where we're saying, no we're the experts, we know what we're doing on our farms and ranches?’”
But that doesn’t mean that Kovarik thinks building relations and trust with consumers is unimportant.
“You know, consumer trust is where we need to be focusing. … I'm not so much interested in get to understand everything I do but I am really, really, as a producer (in favor of) getting them interested in trusting what I do, and I think that's an important piece that goes back to like consumer trust.”
Kovarik, her husband, Luke, own and operate Kovarik Cattle Co, a cow calf business with a growing registered herd. She, along with New Mexico dairy producer Tara Vander Dussen, is the co-host of the Discover Ag podcast, as well as the co-founder of Elevate Ag, an online course and community providing farmers and ranchers with the tools needed to successfully advocate for agriculture online.
Vander Dussen also spoke at the AFBF Convention, held January 19-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah..
In other AFBF Convention coverage, read what Rep. Celeste Maloy had to say to Farm Bureau members.