Shared Values Communication – Deanna Lush

Shared values provide a foundation for all of us in agriculture to have more meaningful conversations about the industry we know, love and are proud to be part of.

The concept of communicating through shared values is not new – but in Australian agriculture in the past few years there has been a renaissance of sorts in better understanding the values we share with our urban counterparts and how we can better engage with them.

Research from various sources has uncovered a ‘two-thirds’ rule:

  • 62% of Australians accept farmers, fishers and foresters, from the Community Trust in Rural Industries project.
  • 2 in 3 Australians feel good about the red meat industry, from Meat & Livestock Australia consumer insights.
  • 65% of consumers just have genuine questions about farming and food processing, from the US Center for Food Integrity.

As part of the session I host for the Livestock Leaders workshop, we consider this data and discuss whether it represents a good opportunity for Australian agriculture. We conclude that these numbers represent a really solid base from which we can build better relationships with those outside our industry but it is important to focus on where we can have most influence. This two-thirds group is often referred to as the ‘moveable middle’.

In a standard bell curve, the two-thirds of consumers represent the large area in the middle while the small areas at each end represent the ‘pro-ag’ group and the ‘anti-ag’ group. Generally, the pro-ag group can spend a lot of time and energy focused on the anti-ag groups, observing their strategies and tactics and fighting back – sometimes politely and sometimes not – against any claims we know are incorrect.

The anti-ag group is interested in moving the opinion of the ‘moveable middle’ to be against agriculture and so we too need to focus more time and attention on how we are engaging with this large middle group.

Through Livestock Leaders, we focus on developing skills to engage with ‘the 65%’ … the two-thirds of consumers who just have genuine questions, who support agriculture and us as livestock farmers. These people are in your own family and friendship circle and in your local community – it is a great place to start to have influence.

Beyond your own networks, the Community Trust project found 42% of Australians do not know anyone working in rural industries … so if you are the one person in ag that they meet, this is your challenge … to make it a positive experience on behalf of our industry that tells the positive story that is Australian ag.

If you’re not sure how, then apply to the Livestock Leaders program to get the skills you need to be a positive agvocate!