For the Love of Food: Farmers & Consumers Must Bridge the Communications Gap

“Musings of a Pig Farmer”
By Larry Sailer

Michele Payn-Knoper, Michael Libbe and Larry Sailer share “food love” on Valentine’s Day. Michele is author of “No More Food Fights!” and Larry is one of 35 contributing writers. Michael is host of “Insight on Business.”

Last Tuesday I wrote a blog about how farmers spend their time when there aren’t any crops in the fields.  I mentioned that winter is the “meeting season,” and today I want to share highlights of one particular meeting I had on Valentine’s Day in Des Moines.  I got to share some “food love” while making media visits with Michele Payn-Knoper (pronounced “Pain – Ka-nope-r”).

A food and farm advocate, Michele wrote No More Food Fights! Growing a Productive Farm & Food Conversation.  This is the first-ever book to speak to all sides of the food movement in an attempt to bridge the divide between farmers and consumers.  I had the honor and privilege of being one of 35 contributing editors.  Chefs, registered dieticians and Olympic athletes also share their stories.

“Food and farming seem to have become the new politics and religion,” says Michele during an interview last Thursday with Michael Libbe, host of Insight on Business.  “You don’t dare talk about it with people because you don’t want to get your friends upset with you.  That’s really unfortunate.”

More than 98% of Americans are several generations removed from first-hand farming experiences and very few have even visited a farm.  Most are very disconnected from and distrusting of modern agriculture, writes Michele in a No More Food Fights! news release.  At the same time, Michele says many farmers have done a poor job of talking about today’s farming practices.  Not enough farmers are taking advantage of tools like social media that could help facilitate connections to the farm that food buyers crave.

To satisfy your own craving for knowledge, check out No More Food Fights!  It’s providing me with great insight as I work to bridge the communication gap with consumers through social media and presentations.

That reminds me… I’m looking forward to getting together Friday evening and all day Saturday with fellow #agnerds and #agvocates at the AFC Upper Midwest Regional Conference.

Before I head north to that conference in Minnesota, I must head south for another meeting.  Today I’m making about a 90-minute trip south to the Statehouse in Des Moines where Iowa Farm Bureau members will visit elected officials.  Side note: Anyone can be a member of Farm Bureau.  You don’t need to be a farmer to become part of the IFBF’s grassroots efforts either.  Members can sit in on board meetings or even go to the member section of the web site and voice your opinions on topics ranging from education to what our kids (or grandkids in my case) eat in school. #Schoollunchrules

Thursday, in the middle of a forecasted blizzard, I’m planning to attend a PQA Plus continuous improvement program for pork producers.  Although I’m not due to renew my CEU’s, this class is being held right within 10 minutes of my farm.  That’s too good to pass up!  I can always learn something.

This busy week is sure to be disrupted by weather, but we’ll “play the hand that Mother Nature deals us.”  How’s your week looking?