17 Jan 2016 - The Frustration Continues

At the American Farm Bureau convention in Orlando, Florida a few days ago there were many topics on the convention program. There were also many conversations in the hallways and conversations at dinner after the convention sessions ended for the day. I am willing to bet during every program and every conversation, sooner or later, the inability to bring the true food production story to city consumers came into the conversation.

There is a growing sense of frustration on the part of producers of food, fiber and energy in this country over the lack of understanding that the non-farm community has over how food is produced, where it is produced, and the care that farmers and ranchers provide for their livestock and the environment.

While we were in Orlando covering the convention, the Campbell Soup Company added to the frustration by announcing it would now label all of its soup products containing GMO’s, making it the first major food company to do so. That prompted one farmer to say “If you are going to have soup without a GMO ingredient, it is going to be pretty thin soup because GMO technology is found in nearly every food we consume today.”

In his news conference, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack talked about the Campbell Soup decision, saying it is certainly their right to do it but at the same time, he repeated what he has told me before
“. . . my feeling on GMO labeling is it is necessary only if there is danger involved, and of all the scientific studies done world-wide, there is no scientific proof that there is any danger in eating food coming from genetically modified crops.” I have yet to hear of a death certificate listing cause of death - “consumed GMO foods”.

So it came up, time and again . . . “What can we do to tell our story better?” The frustration over consumers believing blogs by self-appointed, but unidentified ‘experts’ was very evident. Food producers see social media as an effective way of communicating their story and some do it very well, but remember the downside of social media. Anybody can put anything on it, factual or not, somebody will read it and believe it.

The bottom line to me is we keep working at communicating the story of U. S. agriculture to non-farm consumers and legislators, pointing out that as consumers we are blessed with a modern agriculture that makes us the one country on the planet that doesn’t have to depend on any other country for a safe nutritious food supply. It is a never-ending work in progress, but don’t quit telling the story.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.