A Sustainable Message

In its own mind, agriculture has an image problem. Many ag retailers and their grower-customers believe their attempts at stewardship and sustainability as being ridiculed by John Q. Public because of negative stories from industry opponents. At best, they feel ignored when they do their jobs and severely prosecuted when they misstep.

But this fatalistic view of the world may not be entirely accurate. Last week, I attended an event in Chicago focusing on agricultural sustainability, hosted by crop protection giant BASF. Here, the company presented the findings of its Farmland Stewardship survey of 400 consumers and 116 growers. The news was encouraging.

“Consumers trust growers more than growers probably expect them to,” said Paul Rea, vice president of BASF U.S. crop operations. “Based on our findings, consumers feel good about advances the agricultural industry has made and are asking growers to continue to place importance on environmental impacts. The research also tells us that growers may not be aware that they are already improving their reputation with consumers through product selection and management decisions.”

According to Rea, crop protection companies and equipment manufacturers can aid in cultivating this image by helping agriculture communicate the stewardship processes already in place and keep considering environmental impacts with new products in development. For its part, BASF has produced a four-minute video called “One Hungry Planet.” Now posted on www.youtube.com, the video uses graphics and data to tell viewers why growers are important to the world’s future.

“In the end, it comes down to consumers having trust in growers, both to provide a safe food supply and to have minimal impact on our environment,” said Rea. “We can help strengthen this trust by providing growers with the information and support they need to make sure that consumers are informed with the right information.”

I whole-heartedly agree. I encourage all of you to check out the video for yourself and do all you can to promote the fact that our industry supports sustainable practices.

It certainly couldn’t hurt . . .

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