The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is an organization working to improve the dialogues between agriculture and our customers to answer questions about how we raise our food. They can be found online, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. There’s always a good list of topics to be found on the Twitter hashtag #foodD. There is also a host of conversations on their blog.

This week USFRA traveled to Hollywood, CA to host 4 panel discussions with a farmers from a variety of backgrounds, chefs, TV directors, entertainers, journalists, academics, and restaurant operators to take a look at food entertainment and technology. The sessions were 2 hours long, but well worth watching.

The first panel featured California farmer Jeff Fowle (@jefffowle), celebrity chef from The Chew (Danny Boome), a TV director and Producer (Juliet D’Annibale), a representative from American Humane Association (Karen Rosa), and college professor/founder of I Love Farmers (Scott Vernon). All of their bios can be found here. Take a moment to watch this panel discussion (It is 2 hours, but at least give it a go)

Hollywood and “Vine”: The Intersection of Pop Culture and Food Production

 There were many great topics raised in this discussion. How does entertainment influence the customer’s perception of food and farming? Jeff and Dr Vernon did a great job of representing a voice for agriculture on this panel and had great points to make. It was interesting to hear the entertainers perspective and recognition that both farming and entertainment rely on revenue as businesses.

There was another panel live-streamed on Thursday covering food science and technology. That video and more information is found here. There were some great farmers on this panel who offered up great insight to modern farming technologies. A take home question for me – Why is technology so well accepted by the everyday consumer, while technology in food production can be seen as a bad thing?

Discussions like these from a group like USFRA are great in facilitating more conversation between agriculture and customers. In the online discussions I see many vocal people hating on “Big Ag” and food technologies, but we should be well aware there are many people out there watching and learning who are not as vocal.

There are many great topics and questions addressed (though I believe we can do a better job in actually listening to, understanding, and asking the questions on both sides) in these discussions. BUT What are we doing to answer these questions and find solutions? I believe that should be part of the discussion as well. Education should apply to both sides of the fence and should include all parts of the equation.

What are your thoughts on forums like those from USFRA?

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. — Chinese Proverb

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