October 29, 2016

Will Ag’s “Straight Talk” Campaign Work?

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

This week U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and the National Milk Producers Federation announced a new campaign to address the non-GMO food movement. “Straight Talk”, as the series will be called, comes on the heels of dairy giant Dannon announcing plans to move some of their brands to GMO-free in 2017. While industry experts are happy to see ag groups stepping up to the plate, some aren’t confident that it will be effective.

“[The campaign] makes a lot of sense and it’s about time agriculture starts speaking up,” Jim Weismeyer of Informa Economics told Agri-Talk Radio host Mike Adams. As price takers, farmers aren’t always willing to challenge buyers, often because they lack leverage.

“The problem I see is that I don’t know what leverage we have,” said John Phipps of U.S. Farm Report. “If you’re one of those companies looking across it’s like ‘Ok, or else what?’.”

Phipps argued that companies like Dannon and Campbell’s do extensive research before making these kinds of decisions. He says the campaign won’t be effective because there isn’t something else in the marketplace backing up why this claim is wrong.  

Greg Henderson of Drovers Cattle Network agrees.

“I think we have very little leverage,” he said.  “There’s lots of science that says beef production is much more efficient than it was 20 years ago. Still, consumers are interested in a warm fuzzy purchase.”

Henderson says the leadership of these food companies have discovered what consumers want and unfortunately will try to give them that at all cost. While he’s not sure the campaign will work he applauds the effort.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t make these efforts I’m just saying we’ve got to find a better way to connect with consumers,” he said. “The message has to resonate with consumers that in fact production is sustainable or we wouldn’t be doing it.”

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