It’s said that the average American is two generations removed from the farm. For those not entrenched in the daily work of agriculture, there is a disconnect between the farm fields they drive past, and the food they purchase in the grocery store. This disconnect leads to confusion, misinformation, and fear.
The Michigan Ag Council wants to reach a larger audience to share farmer stories and facilitate conversations about where food comes from. Through these efforts to build trust among consumers, we sought out individuals viewed as trusted sources for information– online content creators and social media influencers. According to marketing experts, its estimated 69 percent of consumers trust influencers over information coming directly from a company or brand. By working with these content creators, we could reach a broader audience than we would solely utilizing our social media channels.
Beginning in 2022, the Ag Council hosted a farm-to-table dinner bringing those influencers and farmers together in an intimate and casual setting. The goal was to provide a unique experience that would be both entertaining and informative, while reaching 150,000 consumers. In 2023, we broadened our scope to three dinners, two directed at community thought leaders, and one for online content creators.
Each dinner provided an opportunity for farmers and influencers to mingle while making cocktails, picking flowers, building their own charcuterie boards, and touring the farm in a hay wagon. They heard about the elements of a nutritionally balanced animal diet; the ways soybeans touch our everyday lives, and how livestock is cared for on the farm. By the time they sat down to their Michigan-grown meal prepared by talented chefs, they were engaged in conversations about how food is grown and what farmers do every day to care for their land and animals.
Throughout the evening, the content creators did what they do best – shared the experience with their online following, generating a reach to more than 200,000 consumers. Armed with information and enthusiasm for their experiences, they created reels, posts and blogs highlighting the work Michigan farmers do to feed us. Following the event, influencers reported that their knowledge of agriculture increased by 49%.
The Down on MI Farm Dinners achieved the goal of connecting consumers to food, but it did much more – it brought together multiple segments of the industry, who are occasionally adversaries, to promote the entire sector. It wasn’t animal protein vs. plant protein or dairy vs. soy, it was a wholistic picture of how all work together to raise the profile of Michigan farming.
For more information on how the Michigan Ag Council works to build trust in the food system among consumers, visit michigangrown.org.
- What are the biggest misconceptions you’ve seen among consumers regarding food and agriculture?
- What opportunities does your farm take to engage with consumers?
- Would you ever host an event on your farm that is open to the public? Why or why not?
- What is the most important thing you want consumers to know about your farm and your role as a farmer?
And/or submit the following via email:
- Would your farm be interested in hosting a Down on MI Farm Dinner in 2024? If so, please tell us what types of experiences you would offer to consumers that are engaging and informative.