“Our mission is to relate to consumers; answer their questions; and build trust,” says Bob Stallman, chairman of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.
With 49 producer-led agricultural groups as members, USFRA has been in an organizational phase since the fall of 2010. But it’s now moving into action on behalf of American agriculture. Among the producer groups, committed to the cause are the National Pork Producers Council, National Pork Board, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, major crop associations and general agriculture groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, of which Stallman is chief executive officer. “This is the first time in my 30 years of working in farm organizations that all of agriculture is working together for a common cause,” Stallman notes. That being to “increase consumer trust in today’s agriculture.”
The USFRA Web site includes a complete list of affiliates. “Individual farmers and ranchers are starting to sign up as well,” Stallman adds.
While USFRA’s efforts are multi-layered, recently announced the first stage of a program to bring farmers and ranchers into a national conversation using social and conventional media, to engage the public and key influencers, and tell their stories about how they produce food.
“Farmers and Ranchers have raised just about everything but their voices,” Stallman says. “We’re encouraging them to speak up and begin the conversation with consumers.”
“We are ultimately accountable to our customers – consumers both here and abroad – and need to show we are listening and improving,” says NCBA’s CEO Forrest Roberts, who serves as chairman of the USFRA Communications Advisory Committee.
“We want a variety of people – including a diversity of small, medium and large farmers and ranchers – to join our conversation. This includes some people we may not always agree with. But we want everyone who is striving to create a better future for, and accessibility to food at the table,” says Forrest Roberts, NCBA’s chief executive officer, who chairs USFRA’s communications advisory committee
USFRA wants farmers and ranchers to participate in a survey to help the group learn what you think Americans should know about where their food comes from. Interested producers can sign up to take the phone survey yet this week on the USFRA Web site. All survey results will be shared and used in future conversations with the American public, including influential consumers and decision makers. The phone survey will take between five and 10 minutes to complete.
“About in September, we’re going to have a national town hall event, including consumers and even critics of modern agriculture,” Stallman says. “We tend to tell consumers what we think they need to hear.
“But what we need to do as farmers and ranchers is understand their concerns, and answer their questions, rather then just preach to them,” he adds.
The new USFRA Website (http://usfraonline.org/) offers additional information on the program, including videos, advertisements, posters and brochures available to download and share.