Perspectives: Consumer trust in modern food production

Who goes without? A world without ag innovation would be a hungry one.
Terry Fleck
April 06, 2017
By Terry Fleck
No matter what size of farm or type of production, today’s farmers and ranchers are dedicated to producing safe, abundant food in a way that preserves and improves the land most of them hope to pass on to their children.


Ag technology – some of it controversial in the public’s eyes – has played an essential role in producing more food on less land using fewer resources. Isn’t that what we all want for people and our planet?

Yet public scepticism, including among those who influence the laws and regulations that govern food production, has resulted in push back that could put the brakes on some ag advancements without regard to the consequences.

Consider this: in 1950, the U.S. population was 154 million and one farmer produced enough in a year to feed 30 people. We’ve more than doubled the population and, thanks to technology, one farmer today produces enough to feed 155 people.

If the level of productivity had stalled in the ‘50s, there would be no food for the nine most populous states in America. It’s a scary proposition and begs the question: without continued ag innovation, who goes without?

As the U.S. and global populations grow, who do we push away from the dinner table if we stifle the technology that helps us produce a healthier, more abundant and accessible food supply?

We can avoid having to ask the question by engaging consumers to earn their trust in modern food production.

Most will welcome the conversation. In fact, in the latest research from The Center for Food Integrity an overwhelming majority (80 per cent) expressed a strong desire to learn more about how food is produced and where it comes from.

It’s a golden opportunity for everyone in the food chain – especially food processors, farmers and ranchers – to commit to a long-term effort, sharing their values in person and online when it comes to the technology that results in safe, abundant food, the highest standards of animal care and environmental sustainability.

Who goes without?

No one, if the public begins to embrace the innovations in agriculture that benefit all of us.

When the United States celebrated National Ag Day on March 21, I celebrated a food and agriculture system that provides so many choices for consumers and makes environmental stewardship a priority.

I also celebrated being part of The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) and its commitment to earn consumer trust in today’s food system.

Whether it’s through CFI’s annual consumer trust research (available online at http://www.foodintegrity.org/research/consumer-trust-research/current-research/), our Engage communications training or the many other programs and services CFI offers, it’s a pleasure to work with you, and on your behalf, each day.

About the Center for Food Integrity
Consumers have questions about food – where it comes from, who’s producing it and how. Their healthy curiosity and skepticism is why The Center for Food Integrity exists.

It’s not about supporting a certain outcome. We don’t lobby or advocate on behalf of any brand or company or food production method.

We simply want to make sure that consumers – in an environment where they are bombarded with contradictions – have the balanced information they need about food to make informed choices that are right for them and their families.

The Center for Food Integrity is a not-for-profit organization whose members and project partners represent the diversity of today’s food system – from farmers, ranchers and food companies to universities, non-governmental organizations, restaurants, retailers and food processors.

Visit foodintegrity.org for more information.

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