Leadership Updates - David Andresen

Mar 19, 2019

I recently attended the Land O’ Lakes annual meeting in Minneapolis and the theme was “All Together Better.” While the theme may seem ordinary, I assure you it was not.

In our current agricultural environment, there are so many disruptors in the market place that make being involved in agricultural exciting. However; some people I had conversations with, look at these disruptors as very challenging, if not scary. People expressed the opinion multiple times: “I sure am glad I am close to retirement and I won’t have to deal with these issues.” Some of the disruptors that the different panels spoke about were, sustainability, EPA regulations on runoff, the digital transformation in agriculture, the GMO debate and the how, what, and why consumer purchasing habits are changing. I agree that agriculture is undergoing a massive transformation, but where there is a challenge, it can lead to positive outcomes.

One of the panel sessions had several consumers (who did not know they would be in front of an agricultural audience) give us their perspective on today’s production agriculture. Prior to the panel discussion, everyone in the audience was given each panelists background and asked not to groan, make faces or ask direct questions. The point was to find out what they thought of, or understood about, production agriculture.  While I was sure I knew what they were going to say, I was not prepared for their thoughts. Very few, if any, believed production agriculture is good for the environment, all corporations are evil, they shudder at the words "GMO," "fertilizer," "pesticides," and "Monsanto."  I must admit, it was very difficult not to groan or show displeasure in my facial expressions, but I will admit it was very enlightening. The purpose of this exercise was to show the audience how and why consumer buying habits have changed and why they will continue to evolve. Those of us in production agriculture need to understand this issue because the consumers will get what they want, one way or another. Currently, less than 1.5% of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture. It is our task to understand and educate the balance of the population on the safety, the sustainability and the importance of agriculture in the U.S. If not, the consumer will make their choices and it might not be us. Just because we may not like what the consumers are saying, does not mean we do not need to pay attention to their thoughts and buying habits.

I believe in the short term, their will be a link to this panel on our website and I would encourage everyone to listen to this panel.

This brings me back to the theme of "All Together Better.”  If those of us in production agriculture get this right, it will open up tremendous opportunities in the future. However, to get this right means we all need to work together better from the producer to the end user. 

As I have said in several annual meetings and newsletters - we need to tell our story to everyone and anyone we talk to. There is so much misinformation in the media about production ag that if we don’t tell our story, we will lose game.

Dave Andresen


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