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Farmers Recognise Need to Communicate with Consumers

11 October 2017, at 12:00am

CANADA - An Agricultural Economist with the University of Alberta says more than ever farmers are listening to consumers when making decisions on whether or not to implement specific technologies, Bruce Cochrane reports.

"Consumer Perceptions of Agriculture" will be discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2017 on 14 and 15 November in Saskatoon.

Dr Ellen Goddard, an Agricultural Economist with the University of Alberta, says farmers in Canada are recognizing that they need to be aware of consumer perceptions of agriculture.

Dr Ellen Goddard-University of Alberta

The gap between the consumer and the farmer is much bigger than it used to be 40 years ago.

Most consumers have had no direct connection through their family with actual farming so they are easily swayed by information that could be of a negative nature about agricultural production because they have no background in which to evaluate it.

So we sometimes see consumers changing their purchase patterns in an attempt to deal with concerns that they are feeling from, it could be media coverage, it could be articles that are on the internet or through social media and sometimes this can make agriculture feel that they are kind of being misunderstood at the very least by the public.

I will say though that I think farmers are aware that this is an issue.

When they make decisions about using technology they are particularly sensitive to the fact that the public may or may not like it and I think through many initiatives that are going on in Canada at the moment organizations that represent farmers and farmers themselves are taking a direct role in trying to communicate more effectively with the public.

Dr Goddard says people who are effective social communicators can have a profound effect on the attitudes of the public toward agriculture.

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