More than half of American consumers would like to talk to a farmer even though the vast majority - 94 percent - indicated in a recent survey sponsored by Bayer CropScience that they have no connection with agriculture or farming.
Consumers trust farmers by far more than scientists, nutritionists, government agencies, companies engaged in farming or agriculture, even social media contacts outside agriculture.
Consumers also show strong support (73 percent) for the use of technology and farming techniques needed to keep the American food supply consistent and affordable and to help farmers be more efficient in growing crops. The survey indicated consumers generally are more willing to accept new technologies in agriculture when they are discussed in an open, transparent manner.
"Consumers desire the benefits of modern agriculture technology, but they remain apprehensive of it," said Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience LP president and and head of crop protection for North America. "Farmers can help bridge that gap.
"U.S. farmers always have focused on doing their job: raising crops to feed their communities and beyond,ˮ Blome said. "Now, with the rapid pace of change in agricultural technologies, they are hearing from concerned consumers who don't understand how and why modern agriculture is evolving.
"It's more important than ever for consumers and farmers to connect so that we can move hot-button food and agriculture topics forward and free the agriculture industry to innovate for the future.ˮ
Blome noted that a number of farmers and farm organizations already are connecting with consumers via social media, including AgChat Foundation events, and with on-farm visits sponsored by groups such as the the Kansas Farm Food Connection.
Bayer also is reaching out to consumers in a number of ways, from highlighting their stories on its unique Bayer Connect online social hub, to sponsoring bloggers at the 2014 BlogHer conference and its new Farming's Future Dialogues platform.
"Bayer CropScience is committed to bettering the lives of everyone," said Blome. "We use 'Science for a Better Life' to develop innovations in agriculture that allow farmers to produce more food with less. It's important for us-and the farmers who use our products-to operate our businesses in a transparent manner that supports consumers' trust."