Public Outreach by Agriculture Grows Stronger
The message seems to have been delivered. Better still, it is being heeded.
For several months now I’ve been preaching to the agricultural marketplace the importance of reaching beyond the industry’s “normal comfort zone” and earnestly begin telling our story to the general public. As attacks on modern agricultural practices have intensified recently, I thought it was extremely important for the industry to actively defend itself by sharing its “good news.” A few months back I devoted an entire column to some of these efforts from major industry players, such as Bayer and Syngenta.
Since that column appeared, I’ve heard from several other companies and trade groups eager to get out the industry’s positive message to the general public. I’m now proud to highlight some of these efforts.
Over the years one of the critiques I’ve often heard about agriculture from opposition forces is that the industry doesn’t try hard enough to protect the surrounding countryside. In particular, critics have pointed to off-target application work as an example.
But in June crop protection/seed giant BASF opened a global Agrochemical Application Research Center in Research Triangle Park, NC, to address this ongoing issue. This facility contains a wind tunnel to test the drift potential from spray applications by measuring droplet size distribution in each crop protection product.
“The new Research Center will help us bring new technologies to growers that reduce drift, use rates, and fulfill required regulatory testing,” said BASF’s Paul Rea.
That same day UPL announced its new OpenAg initiative. “The sustainability of our food system relies on agriculture to operate without limits or borders, which is what OpenAg will do,” said UPL CEO Jai Shroff. “The brand is therefore a living entity, symbolizing our business’ commitment to create open agriculture for connected, sustainable growth.”
Finally, the Mid America CropLife Association is planning to look at the general public question at its annual meeting Sept. 3-5 in Indianapolis. Themed “Consumer-Driven Agriculture,” the meeting will feature myriad speakers focused on the consumer sector. This includes Phil Lempert, supermarket guru on “What Do Consumers Want in Supermarket?” and Jennifer Maloney, a member of the Bayer Food Chain Partnership, discussing “Food Chain — What do Consumers Want? What are their Buying Habits?”
And many other such programs are likely in the works. As The Andersons’ Jeff Blair observed at the recent The Fertilizer Institute 4R Summit: “We’ve got to convince the public that these programs are going to work.”
I couldn’t agree more …