The 2018 Bayer AgVocacy Forum recently concluded in Anaheim after two days of thought-provoking discussions centered on multiple facets of the agriculture industry. The event has been taking place for 13 years and while a lot has changed in that time, the purpose behind the forum remains the same.
“Our main objective really is to stimulate terrific conversations and so we bring ag groups together, we bring food groups together and others,” said Darren Wallis, Vice President of North America Communications for the Crop Science division of Bayer. “It’s really to have an important discussion about food, agriculture, and how we can reach consumers better.”
The forum featured speakers from several areas of the ag sector offering presentations on topics such as the importance of soil health, the continuing adoption of drones in agriculture, and sustainable agricultural practices. One of the major themes throughout the event was the changing trends in the food industry and the need to engage consumers more effectively.
Information was presented on what consumers value when making food choices. Those trends are continually shifting to meet the demand of younger, more environmentally conscious consumers. Confusion regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and a growing interest in organic foods and sustainable ag practices are all concerning subjects for growers.
Wallis highlighted the work that farmers are already doing to become even better stewards of the land and noted the importance of reminding the public of the safety and quality of their produce. “All those things are important to consumers, so the more we can do as an industry to promote all of those valuable things, we think we’re improving the discussion as well as informing and educating a consumer population that’s increasingly off-farm,” said Wallis.
The underlying message of the Bayer AgVocacy Forum was that the future success of the agriculture industry is going to rely heavily on increasing the amount of understanding the public has about where their food comes from. Technological advancements are continuing to make production safer and more efficient. Transparency, honesty and consistent engagement with consumers is going to ensure the agricultural industry’s ability to continue to feed a continually growing population.
“We think it’s important to meet people where they’re at, but have a discussion about what the technology does, what it doesn’t do, and importantly how it helps their daily lives in terms of improving food costs and putting safe, affordable food on their table,” Wallis said.
Listen to the interview below.