DENVER-- The National Pork Industry Forum delivered a message to all U.S. pork producers: the industry must work together to tell the story about modern pork production, and your voice is essential.

Pork producers can make a difference simply by starting a conversation.

“It is a daily challenge as producers confront consumers’ changing attitudes regarding agricultural production,” said Chris Novak, chief executive officer, National Pork Board. “For so many Americans, what we do is still misunderstood. We must continue to spread our message to consumers about modern pork production.”

Novak cited the efforts of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance- a coalition of some 70 agricultural organizations, whose purpose is to advance a dialogue with consumers about modern agricultural production.

“People want to know more about their food, where it comes from, and how it is raised,” said Bill Zucker, spokesman for the USFRA. “Pork producers are the most qualified people to speak to consumers about modern pork production.”

Zucker recapped extensive research conducted by USFRA that shows consumers readily accept farmers as food experts. However, the production methods used to raise and grow food foster concern among consumers. “Consumers respect farmers, but are skeptical about the way food is grown or raised.”

According to Zucker, today’s consumer is also skeptical about family farms. “About 70 percent of retail consumers believe all farms are owned or controlled by corporations. So when we relay the message about a particular operation being a family farm, they don’t believe it.”

The situation with consumer skepticism requires a new mindset among producers. “We need to set the agenda for those who are concerned,” said Zucker. “Producers need to lead the discussion, but not be confrontational.” An informative and reassuring voice that addresses concerns among consumers is the most effective way in getting farmers’ message to the public.

Pork producers can exert a powerful influence in educating consumers, according to Zucker. Conversation is a powerful tool and it can be done with E-A-S-E:

Engage- Look for opportunities or connections to engage people in conversations about food production; the chance arises at community functions, the grocery store, social settings, church, clubs and sporting events.

Acknowledge- When concerns are raised, acknowledge them. “I understand why you are concerned about that issue. As a matter of fact, so are we.”

Share- Relay what you do on your farm that addresses the concern.

Earn trust- Show your intent on continuous improvement and your accomplishments. Cite your PQA-Plus certification, your site assessment, farm upgrades or your nutrient management plan.

For more information on spreading the message, click here.