South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Ag industry strives for improved communication

Katie Berndt Columnist

As I write this month’s column I am sitting on a plane to Washington, D.C., headed to the Agriculture Future of America Policy Institute.

The conference invites college students from across the country to our nation’s capital to discuss current policy issues, the common mission to feed the world and the future of agriculture.

In the agriculture industry, we often lament the fact consumers aren’t listening to us. They turn to blogs and online sources for information about their food, rather than what we, in the ag community, consider “real” scientific sources. But the problem isn’t with them; it’s with us.

Agriculture as an industry tends to avoid engaging with consumers and therefore fails to understand the reason behind their doubts. Consumer involvement with agriculture is sometimes limited to driving by cows or flying over fields of crops. The information they receive about the industry and its practices is confined to videos they see online.

In most cases, these videos don’t come from the industry, and are definitely not positive.

While we can’t necessarily stop this information from being distributed, we can join the conversation in a way that supports the agriculture industry.

This is where the younger generations come in. As an age group branded as tech-savvy and innovative, why not put those skills to good use?

We have the tools to create and promote information that consumers can understand and engage with. Interactive programs, videos of farm production and a positive social media presence provides a relatable and easy-to-understand resource that can both ease the mind of consumers and support producers in the industry.

If online sharing isn’t your speed, one of the best, and easiest, ways to engage with consumers is in person. If you are involved in agriculture, make yourself available to people who ask questions. Participate in local “meet a farmer” activities. Visit with people in lines and on airplanes and share your story about agriculture.

Agriculture of every kind spans across the United States, and the world. Looking at fields and pastures from 20,000 feet, I can still see it’s beautiful, diverse and worth sharing.

As we enter the workforce, the younger generation has the potential to change the conversation about agriculture. We are coming together as an industry in ways we never have before. By keeping the best interest of consumers in mind, we are confident that we can create a positive conversation to help everyone understand the industry that feeds all of us.

Katie Berndt is an agricultural communications major and can be reached at [email protected].

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