Thursday on my lunch break I watched the first panel of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance's Food Dialogues. I thought it was a great opportunity for the ag community and consumers to start an open conversation about what expectations they have of each other while sharing thoughts and questions. Two great posts about the entire town hall can be found at Common Sense Agriculture and Cause Matters. While I didn't get to watch it all I did think about the concept of it while I was on the tractor that afternoon.
To achieve success a business must produce a quality product that the consumer will want to purchase. The ag community has to do the same. Consumers also must have reasonable expectations for the products they want. A desire for specific production methods may not be feasible for anyone on any level. But where should the products and the consumer cross paths?
I like to think that I fall in the "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" camp, but I still have to make money to take care of my family. The one thousand cow dairy and the man that is selling veggies from his garden at the farmers market are the same. At the end of the day they have to make a profit because they cannot do it for free.
Dialogue was the purpose of those town hall events. I don't know if they achieved that goal, but I do know they made a start at it. I think farmers need to convey how and why they do the things they do. When 100% of the people use agriculture products maybe everyone needs to listen.