Farmers vs. Consumers

- Jim Schweigert

The intersection between today’s farmers and consumers is an intriguing place to sit. Urban consumers are a heterogeneous group of conflicting opinions, finicky taste buds and growing affluence. Many have never met a farmer and even fewer have actually been to a farm, outside of the stray corn maze or apple orchard. They want more information about their food including the production system, chemicals used and the location of the farm. In some cases, they even want to know what music the animals listened to. Consumers will tell you that farmers can only sell their food to people who will buy it. Today’s consumers are specific in what they want and are willing to pay for it.

We know that farmers take great pride in their work and care about the health of their land, animals and crops; it’s pivotal not only to their success but also to their survival. Each and every day, farmers around the world work diligently to produce more from their land while using as few resources as possible. Farmers will tell you that the only reason you don’t have to dig through the dirt for your food is because they’ve already done it for you. A farmer’s work is his or her most important asset.

Because of Gro Alliance’s diversity (organics, GMO seed, popcorn seed and custom seed corn nursery work), I’m continually engaged in unique conversations with an incredibly diverse set of individuals. But, nearly everyone can be divided into two distinct groups: those with knowledge of farming or farmers and those without. From my experience, it’s clear that those in the seed industry, have the perspective, knowledge and duty to help bridge this gap.

I believe seed companies can play a powerful role by engaging farmers and consumers in conversations to give insights into how modern farming practices, conservation techniques, better seeds and other innovations have improved lives and safeguarded the environment. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help communicate these critical messages, seed industry organizations such as the American Seed Trade Association and Independent Professional Seed Association should be your first stop.

What we do everyday on the farm and in research fields delivers an abundance of safe, high-quality food to consumers. Together, we make the world a better place, and it’s our job to let everyone know.