Dr. Jayson Lusk Tells Ag Advocates to Focus on Win Win Conversations with ConsumersMon, 26 Feb 2018 05:36:05 CST
Jayson Lusk, farm economist, professor and Head of the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University, a former faculty member at Oklahoma State University, addressed attendees at the 2018 Bayer AgVocacy Forum in Anaheim, Calif. this weekend. Lusk spoke to leaders in industry innovation, social media advocates for agriculture and the media on consumer trends and how those issues pertain to the development of the upcoming Farm Bill. He discussed ways in which those in the ag industry should advocate for their interests and how to position their messaging to achieve the best terms possible for farmers. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn is on location covering the event and had the chance to speak with Lusk about the challenges and opportunities he sees ahead as Farm Bill discussions get underway. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
Lusk expects the next Farm Bill will look relatively to similar to those we have seen in the past. However, over the long-term, he hypothesizes that agricultural policy will eventually grow to become more heavily focused on food, and less on farm. With more people at the table than ever before when it comes to policy development, Lusk says the many different interest groups involved are fighting over a shrinking pool of resources. Instead, Lusk advises farmers not to advocate for just their piece of the pie, but rather promote expanding the whole pie. One way to do that he suggests, is by advancing the science and technology with which farmers produce food, to make it more affordable while increasing productivity, efficiency and sustainability. The challenge in doing so, however, is communicating the benefits of new technology to a consumer-base that is increasingly more concerned with how their food is produced. Growing consumers’ trust in producers and their acceptance of new production practices is key to viably achieving this goal.
“It’s important to think about in communication, who we’re communicating with and we may not always be getting a representative view of the average person’s perspective,” Lusk said, explaining how influencers of ag policy are generally of higher means and concerned with things like animal welfare, environmental impact, nutrition and naturalness - but much less on the price of food. “These people of higher-income have different preferences than lower income people. That’s something really important to keep in mind, particularly in policy discussions that impact the price of food for everyone. That’s also an area where technology matters because a lot of the ag technologies that’s being adopted on the farm bring down the price of food and that matters a lot to people on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.”
As the rural and urban divide continues to persist in politics, Lusk suggests industry advocates debate from a position of understanding of others with different values. He says coalitions are an effective tool to elevate a collective voice with shared opinions. A popular argument that is shared between producers and consumers is the issue of sustainability, which Lusk says is at its heart, product growth. For farmers to explain to consumers how they can be more productive while using less resources, is a message that resonates with people.
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