FFAR Grant Reframes Polarized Public Food Narrative

WASHINGTON (June 18, 2019) – The national conversation about farming practices often oversimplifies agriculture concepts to good versus bad, which erodes public confidence in food safety, agricultural research and emerging technologies. However, if the agriculture sector could more effectively explain the benefits of agricultural advancements, consumers and policymakers would better understand of the value of sustainable farming practices. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded $150,000 to IPM Voice to develop communications strategies, in partnership with Red Tomato and FrameWorks Institute, that equip farmers and scientists to reframe the public conversation about agriculture.

Scientists, environmentalists and farmers diligently educate the public about sustainable farming practices. However, their communication methods often do not comport with the public’s oversimplified understanding of agriculture. To create alignment, FrameWorks Institute researchers are using Strategic Frame Analysis to study people’s understanding of farming to develop new frames, metaphors and strategies that inform consumers about farming practices. By mapping consumer biases and exploring the different ways to discuss technology and farming practices, this project will deliver effective evidence-based communications strategies to reframe public discussions.

“We can generate all the facts in the world about agriculture practices, but the key is to translate them appropriately for the consumer,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “This project improves how farmers talk about modern agricultural practices to help the public understand that agriculture research and technology can increase food safety and environmental sustainability.”

Strategic Frame Analysis is a communication method invented by the FrameWorks Institute in 1999 that makes academic research more digestible and interesting. This method begins by understanding how consumer choices are influenced by preexisting beliefs and develops communications tools to reframe the topic. These resulting messages orient consumers toward an evidence-based understanding of innovative agricultural practices and eliminate misconceptions.

“The growers we work with cannot readily explain advanced ecological farming practices to their customers in short, simple ways. And despite decades of marketing experience, neither can we,” said Red Tomato founder Michael Rozyne. “This project offers hope based in cognitive science, the promise of language, metaphors, and training in how to use them, so the public will actually hear and understand.”

This project will deliver frames, metaphors and suggested strategies for farmers, scientists and agriculture organizations to reframe the national conversation about agriculture in a way that productively informs the public about the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

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Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.

Connect: @FoundationFAR | @RockTalking
Contact: Sarah Goldberg, FFAR, 202.204.2605, sgoldberg@foundationfar.org