Commodity Classic is the premier annual convention and trade show of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers. I had the opportunity to represent Look East client The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) at the event in New Orleans, March 3-5.
CFI collaborated with GMO Answers to talk to folks from the agriculture community and engage them in conversations about issues affecting their businesses, farms and lives. I learned so much and had a great time meeting people and sharing how they could benefit from CFI programs. My key takeaway from this opportunity is that farmers don’t know what to say when asked about GMOs. By and large, they are irritated that a neighbor, a friend or a complete stranger can be critical about what they do for a living. When farmers are asked about the safety of GMOs, animal housing practices or long-term effects of antibiotics in animals, many don’t know how to respond.
That is why CFI is important. CFI has paved the way for the ag community to engage in healthy conversations about the “why” when it comes to food production. I discussed with many growers and agricultural professionals how it is understandable that consumers have questions. Many consumers just want to know where their food comes from and that it is safe to feed their family.
I was raised on a farm. I always knew where our beef came from and how farmers care for their animals. I knew whether the crops grown on our farm were GM or not and the benefits that came with that label. I fully understand the amount of care, patience and compassion it takes for farmers and ranchers to raise animals and grow crops. But, through no fault of their own, many consumers don’t have that same vantage point
Healthy conversations, rooted in our shared values, are key to reaching the consumer. There will never be total consensus, but the majority of people are just curious about their food. The ag community needs to be ready to address consumers’ curiosity.