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Mr. Farmer: Who's Your Customer? - 05 August 2014

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Tuesday 5th August 2014.
Sarah Mikesell - TheCropSite Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell
Senior Editor



Mr. Farmer: Who's Your Customer?

Greetings! I'm just back from a week-long vacation in Ohio and when we returned home to Chicago, it was looking pretty dry, but some nice rains came through last night (Monday night). 

The fields I saw driving from Chicago to Indianapolis (I-65) to central Ohio (I-70) and back looked great! I tweeted a few photos along the way (@sarahmikesell). I saw a few dips here and there and a bit of uneven tasseling, but overall the crops looked a healthy dark green. I saw no signs of dry fields – no leaf curling at all.

My 19-year-old niece is living with us this summer and helping drive our kids to their many activities throughout the day while I’m working and traveling.

As you know, I'm a farm-girl who lives in the city, whereas Allison is a city-girl born and raised, but not really a big-city girl. She grew up in Warren, Ohio, which is in the northeast corner of Ohio (population ~41,000).

What I realized as we were driving to Ohio is that she doesn’t really know much about agriculture. If I had asked her which plants were corn and which were soybeans, she would have figured it out, but she wouldn’t have just known automatically.

Allison is a great young woman and incredibly intelligent; she just wasn’t raised day-to-day around anyone who farms crops or livestock.

She’s a millennial (born in the 90s). And she’s about to become your customer.

In a year she’ll be living off campus while she finishes college, and she’ll be buying groceries on a regular basis. In five to 10 years, she’ll be married and buying food for her husband and children.

I know what you're thinking… I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. Most consumers don’t understand agriculture or where their food comes from.

I just had to share because it was an ah-ha moment for me - that reminder that you don’t know what you don’t know. Whatever the topic - if you haven’t learned it or experienced it, you probably don’t know much about it.

I can tell you that Allison now knows what volunteer corn is and why it’s there. And she knows the difference between production corn fields and regular corn fields. And having been to the grocery store with me, she knows why we don't buy organic food for our household, but that I think it’s good for consumers to be able to buy what they want for their families. And she’s excellent at picking out really fresh sweet corn and she can pick an awesome watermelon.

Allison is open to learning the how’s and why’s of agriculture – she’s just never been exposed to most of it.

My challenge for each of you – talk to someone about food and farming (crop/livestock/fish). A little information can go a long way to help shape customer perceptions and understanding about where food comes from.

On a separate note: Congrats to my other niece – Hannah Williamson – who won Champion and Reserve Limousin Heifer at the Ohio State Fair last week!

Have a great week!


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