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Food Label Warnings 2019

Grant reframes polarized public food narrative

FFAR funding to help develop sustainable agriculture communications strategies more digestible to today’s consumers.

The national conversation about farming practices often oversimplifies agricultural concepts to good versus bad, which erodes public confidence in food safety, agricultural research and emerging technologies. However, if the agriculture sector could more effectively explain the benefits of agricultural advancements, consumers and policy-makers would better understand of the value of sustainable farming practices.

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded $150,000 to IPM Voice to develop communications strategies, in partnership with the Red Tomato & FrameWorks Institute, that equip farmers and scientists to reframe the public conversation about agriculture.

Scientists, environmentalists and farmers diligently educate the public about sustainable farming practices. However, their communication methods often do not comport with the public’s oversimplified understanding of agriculture. To create alignment, FrameWorks Institute researchers are using Strategic Frame Analysis to study people’s understanding of farming to develop new frames, metaphors and strategies that inform consumers about farming practices. By mapping consumer biases and exploring the different ways to discuss technology and farming practices, this project will deliver effective, evidence-based communications strategies to reframe public discussions, according to FFAR.

“We can generate all the facts in the world about agriculture practices, but the key is to translate them appropriately for the consumer,” FFAR executive director Sally Rockey said. “This project improves how farmers talk about modern agricultural practices to help the public understand that agriculture research and technology can increase food safety and environmental sustainability.”

Strategic Frame Analysis is a communication method invented by the FrameWorks Institute in 1999 that makes academic research more digestible and interesting. This method begins by understanding how consumer choices are influenced by pre-existing beliefs and develops communications tools to reframe the topic. These resulting messages orient consumers toward an evidence-based understanding of innovative agricultural practices and eliminate misconceptions.

“The growers we work with cannot readily explain advanced ecological farming practices to their customers in short, simple ways, and despite decades of marketing experience, neither can we,” Red Tomato founder Michael Rozyne said. “This project offers hope based in cognitive science, the promise of language, metaphors and training in how to use them, so the public will actually hear and understand.”  

This project will deliver frames, metaphors and suggested strategies for farmers, scientists and agricultural organizations to reframe the national conversation about agriculture in a way that productively informs the public about the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

TAGS: Business
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