This week members of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation are meeting in Billings for their 99th Annual Convention. Attendees have the opportunity to hear from three thought-provoking speakers covering consumer concerns and consumer trust, adjusting to change and the conversation about suicide.
Motivational speaker Dr. Gary Moore starts Thursday morning’s program with his presentation that uses the Wizard of Oz to illustrate key points. “As the world is rapidly changing around us, how do we adapt and continue to be relevant and meet the challenges of the future?” asks the retired Professor of Agriculture and Extension Education at North Carolina State University. “We are not in Kansas anymore. The world has changed from manual typewriters to computers and from reel-to-reel tape recorders to iPods. We need to use our brain, have courage, and show heart in working with family, co-workers, and clients. We will talk about the fact that we individually will have to assume the role of the Wizard of Oz at home and at work to be successful.”
Donna Moenning, Center for Food Integrity (CFI), will speak at lunch Thursday and conduct an afternoon workshop. “Consumers desire transparency from those of us in the food system and they want healthy, affordable, safe food,” Moenning explains. “Within that are specifics. They want to know what’s not in a food product compared to what’s in it; what is safe and healthy for me and the environment; and are animals treated humanely on farms. CFI believes sustainable business practices, and our communication efforts need to be ethically grounded, scientifically verified and economically viable. The key is leading with values and communicating your ethics and beliefs that connect with your audience.”
Moenning plans to let farmers and ranchers know they need to be transparent and communicate shared values. “In the workshop, we will learn how to mitigate the negatives and discuss how to embrace the skepticism and understand that consumer concerns are real … to them. The CFI consumer research along with the shared values approach will provide members with new insights they can put into action.”
One of the toughest subjects to discuss is depression and suicide. During the Women’s Leadership Committee Luncheon Friday, Darla Tyler-McSherry will address members about how to have candid and compassionate conversations about suicide within the farm and ranch community. “Although the CDC is currently re-calculating data from its 2016 report that showed farming has the highest suicide rate per occupation, it’s still clear the suicide rate is much higher in rural areas,” says Tyler-McSherry. “We need to take action now to save lives.”
Source: MFBF & Northern Ag Network