The public’s increased awareness of food safety has lead to perception problems for some Illinois farmers.
That challenge will take center stage at the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Farm Income and Innovations Conference this week at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Uptown Normal. The opening session will feature Center for Food Integrity CEO Charlie Arnot talking about building and maintaining trust with influencers driving food trends.
Arnot’s goal with the public is to build trust. During an interview this week on GLT’s Sound Ideas, Arnot says instead of trying to fight and defend what the farmers are doing, he’d rather embrace consumer skepticism and have a conversation.
“The vast majority of people have concerns: They’ve heard something, they’ve read something, they’ve seen something on Facebook, and they’re interested in learning more or they’re skeptical and they want to share that concern with somebody who might be able to provide some insight,” said Arnot.
In the past, when questioned about food safety, the Illinois Farm Bureau has deployed a scientific response with graphs and data. Arnot believes that this defensive and general response has given the public the wrong impression of what the farmers do to keep the food, animals, and environment safe.
Arnot said having a conversation and discussion with someone will boost consumer confidence. He will be able to validate their concerns and then explain further what farmers do on their farm that promotes food safety.
Arnot explains that when he or a farmer finds someone who is willing to engage in a conversation about food safety, then they are able to go more in depth into the data of how farmers are keeping the food safe. Some examples of this are the research done on genetically modified foods, or GMOs, the increase in productivities, and safety studies that are available.
“We give consumers the opportunity to see in a very transparent manner what happens on today’s farms, the kind of care and dedication they’ll see from those who are engaged in agriculture and food production,” said Arnot.
See the full schedule for this week’s Illinois Farm Bureau conference.
You can listen to the full interview with Arnot below:
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