CANADA - The CEO of the Center for Food Integrity says what consumers need to know is that, while technology has evolved to produce more using less, the commitment by farmers to do what is right has never been stronger, writes Bruce Cochrane.
"Restoring and Maintaining Trust of Pork Consumers" is among the presentations slated for the 2015 Banff Pork Seminar, which began on 20 January and continues till Thursday.
Charlie Arnot, the CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, says today's consumers have questions about the size and scale of agriculture, questions about confinement, animal health products and specific production practices and questions about whether public interest or profit drives food and agricultural production.
Charlie Arnot - Center for Food Integrity
The level of trust in farmers is generally fairly high until you start talking about specific production practices or size and scale that really reflects modern agriculture so again consumers assign specific values to farmers that they generally like.
They believe farmers are people of integrity, people worthy of respect, that they are engaged in a noble pursuit but then when you begin talking about specific activities in farming it makes them less comfortable.
So part of what we have to help the public understand, as farmers and those involved in agriculture is that, just like every other sector of society, our practices have evolved.
We've continued to change, to implement technology to allow us to produce more using fewer resources which allows food to be safe, available and affordable in ways that it's never been before.
But despite the changes in technology, our commitment to doing what's right has never been stronger.
We need to make that connection again to help them understand that our systems have changed, and will continue to change, but our values and our commitment to do what's right are still as strong as they've ever been.
Mr Arnot says most consumers want to know if the food is safe and if it is relatively affordable and those that have heightened levels of interest are looking for greater transparency.
He says those consumers who are most sceptical have a great deal of increased trust if farmers are willing to be open and transparent about how they operate.
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