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Why Your Agribusiness Should Champion a Sustainability Story

Show And Tell on Dec 5, 2022

green leaf page in a book illustration
Today more than ever, sustainability stories about climate change, carbon footprints, and renewable energy are making headlines.  

The agriculture industry is at the core of plenty of these stories. But in many cases, it’s with  negative connotations.  

Large agriculture companies have been caught in the crosshairs as some media outlets and the public point their finger at the industry for global environmental issues. Misinformation and accusations have the potential to shape the current narrative for the agriculture industry, and some companies and agricultural groups find themselves playing defence. That, in turn, has made small and mid-sized agribusinesses reluctant to speak up for fear that their position might be twisted or incorrectly perceived by consumers.  

But here’s the real story: arguably no other industry relies more on environmental sustainability than agriculture and food production. And that’s why the future of the ag industry depends on changing the narrative. 

Instead of reacting to conversations where ag production is positioned as a detriment to the environment, agricultural brands should learn to lead the conversations that shape the public’s understanding of these hot-button issues. 

While your company’s corporate sustainability position may not be in the spotlight right now, it could be, and sooner than you think. Taking a proactive position by clarifying, communicating, and marketing your stance will define and elevate your agriculture brand ahead of the game — and as part of the positive sustainability story. 

The consumer is a powerful influencer

Consumers have exponential power in the marketplace. Their buying habits influence production and economies and their voices influence policy. With this level of sway, it’s critical that ag companies continually share their story to earn their trust and buy-in. 

Everyone eats. But in today’s world, fewer and fewer consumers are directly connected to farming — or even know the source of their food. With limited knowledge of the ag industry, there is the risk that consumers could be getting most of their information about ag practices and philosophies not from farmers or other industry influencers, but from sources that don’t have the whole story.  

Put simply, ag companies aren’t currently controlling the narrative. Not enough of them are  sharing that they’re interacting with and impacting the environment in positive, innovative ways. Armed with potentially conflicting information about sustainable agriculture, consumers are left to draw their own conclusions. And the more that negative perceptions are reinforced, the more they become the primary narrative people believe (and repeat). 

And from a political perspective, governments tend to listen to the majority when creating policy. If they hear the general public repeatedly elevate negative messages about the ag industry, governments are more likely to respond with regulations or tax implications that directly impact farms and the companies that sell to farms.   

Sharing your company’s sustainability story informs the public and, in the process, can improve your brand’s reputation among both consumers and policymakers.  

FREE DOWNLOAD: 3 Steps to Crafting Your Sustainable Agriculture Story

The public hears sustainability stories almost every day. In many cases, the ones involving agriculture have a negative slant. But your brand can change that.  

By thoughtfully crafting and sharing your corporate sustainability stance — and the work you are doing that has positive impacts on the environment and the economy — you can shift the narrative and secure your brand’s position as a sustainability thought leader. 

Our 3 Steps to Crafting Your Sustainable Agriculture Story will help you define and tell your story in a way that resonates with your target audiences. 

Agriculture is an inherently environmental endeavour

The world has fallen in love with the idea of being environmentally friendly. So, it may seem counterintuitive that agriculture — which is an inherently environmental activity — is often under attack. 

But lobbyists, some consumers, and some mainstream media may only be familiar with the contentious side of the industry, including loaded words like genetically modified organisms (GMOs), fertilizers, and pesticides.  

It’s time for agribusinesses to tell authentic stories of the industry’s positive environmental efforts and partnerships. 

The truth is that agriculture possesses many regenerative qualities. Fertilizer grows crops, which in turn keeps soil at an optimal level, and when the right products are applied that’s good for the environment. And across the industry, farmers continually look for ways to maximize their yield while minimizing negative impacts on resources like air, soil, and water. Their livelihood and long-term viability depend on their success in doing so. 

Transparency is important to mitigate negative perceptions

There’s no denying that producing crops and livestock creates emissions. Farmers also use fertilizers and pesticides to protect their yields. When considered in isolation, these realities feed into the public's unfavourable perceptions of farming. 

Stories about negative impacts of modern farming practices can be seen in mainstream media today. Therefore, the most effective course of action for agribusiness is to openly acknowledge common yet misunderstood practices — and tell the public about their true purpose and impact. For instance, share how pesticides and herbicides can be used as part of an integrated, intentional farming practice that maximizes yields while also promoting the health of the environment. 

And, if you already benefit from an alignment to products, services, and practices that reduce emissions and increase climate resilience, be sure to include that as part of your story. By maintaining an open and honest posture, your company can shift negative perceptions and build crucial trust.