In 2017, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council partnered with Aimpoint Research to commission a research study with South Dakota consumers to determine sentiment toward farmers, agriculture and food issues as part of its Hungry for Truth initiative. The study included 18 focus group participants and a telephone survey of 950 people. The results were an update to similar research conducted in 2014 and provided valuable insights to guide strategy for consumer messaging.
Key findings include:
- Hungry for Truth brand recognition is strong. Nearly 30 percent of South Dakota residents are familiar with it despite being relatively new.
- Consumer sentiment regarding farmer intentions has become more positive. More consumers now believe that“growing high-quality food”best describes the primary goal of farmers. In 2014, the top response was “making a profit.”
- Consumers have become less confident in farmer sustainability. While farmers know they are becoming more sustainable and focusing on continuous improvement, that message needs to be communicated to more consumers.
- The use of pesticides remains the top concern of South Dakota consumers,outpacing the use of GMOs and the use of antibiotics and hormones.
While the increase in consumer sentiment is positive, the erosion of confidence in farmer sustainability is an area of concern. It’s clear farmers should continue engaging in conversations with consumers to grow trust in South Dakota agriculture.
The goal of Hungry for Truth is to build consumer trust in South Dakota farmers through conversations around the table. The initiative helps farmers take action by giving them a platform to engage in conversations online and at events. It also hosts trainings to share insights on how to have more effective conversations based on shared values.
However, building trust takes time. It involves showing up consistently in peoples’ lives and newsfeeds, welcoming questions, providing transparent answers, supporting choices and understanding differences. It requires South Dakota farmers to work together. To get involved, visit www.hungryfortruthsd.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the Moms
Though the true impact of building trust may not be easy to measure in the short term, feedback from women who have connected with farmers through Hungry for Truth shows positive progress. Let’s meet a few of the moms who use it as a resource.
Oksana Silchuk is a designer, blogger and mother who is thankful Hungry for Truth gives her the chance to teach her children about South Dakota farm families. Her kids even get a chance to learn about how crops like soybeans are used for so many different things like animal feed, cooking oil and even the crayons they color with.
“My appreciation for farmers runs so deep. Every time I am at the grocery store, I am reminded that the produce and meat I purchase is there because of their labor and care. It’s humbling.”
Andrea Boerigter, a.k.a. The Speech Mom, is a blogger, mother of two and creative genius behind Bloombox, which helps children enhance language, social, fine motor, sensory and cognitive development. She uses Hungry for Truth as a resource for her family and advocates for it to those she serves.
“Hungry for Truth and its farmers are a great resource for families who have questions about food and how it’s grown and raised on South Dakota farms.”
Cynthia Mickelson is a Sioux Falls school board member and mother of three who attended the Farm-to-Fork Dinner. She enjoyed the conversations with farmers, which opened her eyes to just how helpful it can be to ask the experts.
“Agriculture across the country, but especially in South Dakota, is so interconnected. Pig and cattle farmers rely on soybean farmers to provide quality feed for their animals, and we rely on pig and cattle farmers to raise high-quality, safe meat for us to eat. Everyone at dinner had the chance to ask questions and learn about food right from the source. It was the perfect environment for open dialogue, and it was great to see this community become more comfortable with their food and who raises it. I think we can all learn something from farmers.”
This blog post is brought to you by the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council.