“Agriculture needs lots of different people”

How can consumers and farmers understand each other better? Author Andreas Möller says poor communication can lead to serious conflict.

Stop the prejudice

It isn’t farming overall but just some aspects and practices that deserve criticism – we need to make this differentiation clear in public debate and then focus on specific points. Otherwise there is a danger that we make farming part of the economy that is seen in hostile terms by large parts of the public. And also that farmers feel more and more like outcasts.

Work together on solutions

In many regions, farms are key employers, and businesses that train people, and numerous families depend on them. Not only that though, they also take on many other activities from clearing the roads in the winter to volunteering for the fire department. Above all, though, they are highly competent specialist producers of food.
And they are producing that food at quantity and quality levels that are historically without precedent. This is just one of many positive stories that should be told – without covering up ethical questions about animals and the environment. These questions are not just for farmers and a faceless “agribusiness“ to deal with but should be faced by society as a whole, together with farmers.

Andreas Möller, author of “Zwischen Bullerbü und Tierfabrik. Warum wir einen anderen Blick auf die Landwirtschaft brauchen“ (“Between fairy tales and factory farming. Why we need to look at farming differently“) Andreas Möller Published by Gütersloher Verlagshaus. You can contact the author directly via his Twitter account, @andmoeller

Making it personal

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, you can see by such well-known names why the latest trend in communication is called personalization, and it is growing because business is becoming more complicated. In agriculture, too, we need to see stories about people, so that the public understands that we are talking about individuals and their business ideas. And who have the guts to say straight out what they mean. Agriculture needs to show its human side, with people who the public can get to know and can identify with, innovators, farmers who drive change and make things better! Nothing is more powerful than people and their biographies – even if not everyone is born to be the founder of Apple.

Taking debates seriously

Without social acceptance, it is going to be more and more difficult to succeed economically in a highly networked, media-dominated society. That means associations nowadays should no longer see their main task as bundling interests and presenting these as powerfully as possible to the outside world, so people say “hear hear!“ Rather, they need to create a credible interface to society that is respected by allies and critics alike. And they need to listen to what is happening.

They need to analyze this early on, and feed it back to their members, so farmers are prepared for the real situation out there.

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