Brooks (Rural Roots Canada) – Building consumer confidence in agriculture.

Ashley Smith is a Mentee with the Advancing Ag program and presented her findings on building public trust and consumer confidence within agriculture at July’s Rural Roots Canada Virtual Ag Day.

She says more and more consumers want to know the “How” when it comes to food production.

“We all know that they really demand (consumer interest) on how their food is grown, how are our cattle raised, how are our products are produced, how are our food processed and how are they brought to market,” Smith said.

She says farmers are being scrutinized more than ever.

“The consumer’s voice is getting louder and louder and how we are getting access to that voice.  So when you see the increase in social media access to information can also be a good thing, but a negative thing at the same time because you see a lot of mixed messages.”

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Smith says farmers are thought of as being very trust-worthy, however, consumers digest a lot of information from a lot of different sources, which is why it is so important for them to get their message out there.

“As a primary producer whether you are conducting your business one on one with your suppliers and such you have to be able to make that connection with the consumers through every single link in that chain.”

She says as a supplier in the grain sector , she has always tried to build that trust level with my producers.

“I also do feel, we also have a responsibility as a supplier within the industry, we able to conduct ourselves in a professional manner, in high integrity and high transparency, with my suppliers.  in order to build that trust for consumers so that they understand what our role in the industry and what our involvement is.”

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She says consumers also want to see more transparency.

“And, what our impact is on environmentally sustainability and then on the beef side, of course, is the ethical animal care and husbandry.”

Smith says the question must be raised ‘how are we addressing these topics as a whole as an industry, but also individually in each sector.

“We have always prided ourselves  as an industry on being able to produce food supplied that is  based on high-quality raw goods from ethical practices and processes that really emanate our integrity as producers and as an industry through the entire supply chain.”