How Does the Public Perceive Farmers?

October 16, 2020 | Ed Scharringa

How Does the Public Perceive Farmers?

In this pandemic world, there have been numerous online articles, webinars and panel discussions about how the public perceives farmers and the way food is produced.

As farmers, we’re very proud of what we do. We are diligent in producing the highest quality food and other products.

By and large, the public appreciates our efforts. But they generally don’t know much about how we do it. A 2019 survey by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity found that more than 90 per cent of this country’s consumers indicated they know little to nothing about modern farming methods. The same report also said that 60 per cent wanted to know more.

John Jamieson, the head of the CCFI had some interesting things to say about building public trust during a webinar at Canada’s Digital Farm Show, held last month. He said that, while getting the facts right is important, people also want to connect emotionally to where their food comes from.

That’s why the CCFI has embarked on a campaign called “It’s Good, Canada,” which highlights to urban and suburban audiences the real stories of farmers, truck drivers, food processors and everyone else involved in the food supply. It attaches names and faces to the people who get food on tables. It also provides the facts and a bit of education around how we are environmentally responsible, support all our workers and care for our animals.

While the pandemic has been extremely trying, it has also opened up opportunities.

It has made people sit up and take notice of their food supply, with many looking to local sources for their groceries. Our innovative industry is and will continue to be well-positioned to help lead the way out of the troubling times in which we live.

We do, however, need the support of our government, and the fact that the recent Throne Speech was positive about farmers and our critical roles in producing food and fighting climate change is encouraging.

It’s important for us to be able to tell our real story in ways that consumers can understand. We have done and are doing an incredible job through some of the toughest times the world has ever known.

As we approach the end of the 2020 season, let’s be grateful for our built-in resilience, innovative spark and compassion for others. And let’s spread the word.

Ed Scharringa is President for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and CHLP Listowel.