Adrienne Ivey operates a family ranch in Ituna, Sask.
By Diego Flammini
A Saskatchewan rancher believes consumers want to know where their food comes from but it can be challenging for producers to educate the public.
And that’s not because farmers can’t express themselves, said Adrienne Ivey, who farms in Ituna, Sask. Rather, falsehoods are around every corner in today’s digital age.
“There’s so much misinformation out there, but many consumers don’t realize how much of what they’re reading is misinformation,” Ivey, who recently received Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan's 2017 Food and Farming Champion Award, told Farms.com today. “Consumers might not realize that some groups have agendas or can actually profit from misinformation surrounding food.”
The myths surrounding agriculture may be a good thing for the industry in the long run, she said, as it opens discussion.
Each time a consumer discusses an issue of concern with a farmer, the producer must work even harder to reassure the consumer that what he or she is doing is in the best interests of the land, animals and public.
“The standard of proof and believability is that much higher and that’s actually a wonderful problem to have,” Ivey said. “It means people are thinking twice before just believing something they’ve read.”
Another way farmers can effectively connect with consumers is to speak from personal experience.
Some members of the public may believe all producers operate the same way, but pointing out elements from your own farm can help humanize the process, Ivey said.
“Talking about what happens on your own farm, why you’re doing it and what the ramifications are, can go a long way,” she said. “Farmers also need to be able to admit their mistakes. We’re human, like everyone else, but we’re trying to be better every single day.”
Teaching elementary school children about agriculture is a way to help future consumers understand food production.
Ivey’s children attend a rural school but the number of kids from farm families is almost zero. Even the teachers are generations removed from farms.
“The teachers used to be farmers or spouses of farmers, but that’s dwindled away,” she said. “It’s important that we have a voice for agriculture in our schools and that we explore the natural curiosity of children.”
Top photo: Adrienne Ivey
Photo: Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan