Illinois farmers have formed a coalition to educate consumers about the people behind the food they eat.
"Illinois Farmers," a group comprised of members of the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB), Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Beef Association and Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), was created after recent research showed that the average consumer does not trust farming practices and believes that "corporate farms" control the majority of the agriculture industry. In reality, according to United States Department of Agriculture data, family farms represent 94% of all Illinois farms.
"The American family farm should be the most trusted food-producing enterprise in the world," said Ron Moore, ISA chairman. "But our customers think the family farm is passing from the scene. Nothing could be further from the truth." When given the actual statistics, 71% of consumers polled said they felt more positive about farming.
Illinois Farmers plans to use the research to come up with ways to redefine the image of "farmer." "We who farm need to change the way we relate to consumers," said IFB President Philip Nelson. "We must listen to their concerns even more than in the past and open the gates and doors of our farms to rebuild trust in the way we really farm today."