There is trust in farmers but lots of questions about farming. Yazmir said Americans question the practices used in farming and ranching. The negative words used to describe farming practices included: mass production, pesticides, big business, subsidies, chemicals, factory farming and animal cruelty.

Consumers want wholesomeness, but romanticization of farming isn’t the answer. Many campaigns try to attach the wholesomeness of the farmer directly to the food, but consumers separate products from producers. The conversation about food is very emotionally charged, and consumers, seeing beyond the romance, fear unknown farming methods and their potential long-term health impacts.

Current messages aren’t resonating. The polling exercise concluded that what the farmer is saying is completely different from what the consumer hears. One common message farmers use is that agriculture delivers a “safe, affordable, abundant food supply.” Yazmir said the testing exercise found that this message was outdated and did not resonate with consumers because the U.S. has had an abundant, inexpensive food supply for quite some time. He added the “silver spoon” mentality of the U.S. consumer is a result of never being concerned about having a safe food supply available. Other examples of what is said and what is heard: Farmer — Our methods are proven and safe. Consumer hears — Your methods tamper with nature; Farmer — Most farms are family run. Consumer hears — But beholden to big processors; Farmer — We keep food affordable. Consumer hears — But at what expense to quality? Farmer — We have the safest food supply in the world. Consumer hears — Pesticides, antibiotics and hormones may not be safe in the long run. Yazmir said rather than talking about food being safe and affordable, the conversation should focus on food’s long-term impact on health.

Future-focused conversation topics tested positively. Poll participants strongly agreed with messages related to continual improvement to reduce the environmental impact and more open dialogue regarding the future of production agriculture.