America, Shake ‘The Hand That Feeds U.S.’

February 1, 2009

By: Doug Albin

When most people think about challenges farmers face, weather and crop prices likely come to mind. But these days, the uninformed public perception of agriculture worries farmers almost as much as market uncertainty.

That’s not just an observation—it’s what 800 Minnesota corn producers told us in a recent survey. Nearly half of the respondents identified a skewed public image as problematic—more than environmental regulations or financing availability. One farmer wrote “we need better public relations,” another that “connecting with consumers must be our top priority.”

Corn growers in Minnesota have recognized that in order to meet the very real challenges facing farmers today, it’s necessary to work together, not only with other corn producers but also by working with other ag groups across the country.

That’s why the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) has partnered with nearly a dozen other agriculture groups from across the nation, forming a project called The Hand that Feeds U.S. The campaign serves as an educational resource for urban media to provide accurate information about the farming industry. It also strives to correct misinformation campaigns about food prices and renewable fuels.

The effort stemmed from forward-thinking Minnesota corn growers and our colleagues from across the country—producers who recognize the need to “promote our industry” and “work with a variety of partners.” As MCGA’s involvement with the campaign continues, more Americans will hear the true facts about U.S. agriculture—not selective spin from a handful of well-funded ag policy opponents.

More than 60 percent of the Minnesota corn growers surveyed said of all issues they face, MCGA can be most effective in addressing the uniformed public perception of agriculture. With the Hand that Feeds U.S., that’s just what we plan to do.

About the author: Doug Albin is president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and farms in Yellow Medicine County.