FieldRise Invites Farmers and Consumers to Find Common Ground This Holiday Season

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Breakthrough Research into U.S. Farming Practices Reenergizes the Tradition of Sharing the Harvest, Finding Common Ground Around Farming and Food

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As the holiday season is in full swing, food is the foundation of family functions. Alternatively, farming and food sustainability can also be the wedge that divides us, driven mostly by misinformation and misaligned marketing agendas.

FieldRise, a sustainability management firm using an easy survey and breakthrough analytics, is bridging that divide this holiday season using field-level facts and innovative research to build common ground between farmers and consumers.

This holiday season, FieldRise is inviting all farmers to document the adoption of sustainable practices and help speed sustainability progress. They also will invite consumers to measure their food sustainability. Everyone is encouraged to go to http://www.holidayharvest2020.com and sign up to be notified when the national surveys become available.

FieldRise also encourages people to share how food plays an important part of their holiday season and thank the farmers who make it happen. Please visit http://www.holidayharvest2020.com to upload your holiday “food” photos and enter for the chance to win a $50 Cabela’s gift card.

“Sustainability is something that most people don’t think about much, but family farmers and many consumers champion. For farmers, sustainability is not a recent trend, but continuous improvement that has been a part of farming since the beginning of agriculture,” says John Osthus, director of marketing for FieldRise. “COVID-19 proved the food system is fragile. The future poses even more challenges that need to be solved through collaboration, not division driven by divisive marketing agendas. FieldRise is inviting all consumers and farmers to gather around the table this holiday season to hear field-level facts about sustainability and find common ground around food so people can find new solutions to long-standing sustainability challenges.”

The FieldRise independent science and advocacy team uses simple surveys and advanced math to objectively measure, analyze and help advance farm and family food sustainability quickly and inexpensively. Farmers can complete surveys that document sustainable practices in about the time it takes to drink a slow cup of coffee. Results are provided in a report card that benchmarks practices, offers advice on continuous improvement and provides comparisons to other farmers from their region.

The FieldRise team collected data from more than 2,000 farmers in 17 states, representing nearly 1.7 million acres. The team recently closed surveys for the United Soybean Board, National Pork Board and Ocean Spray. Checkoff program plans are in place to invite every farmer in the country to join together to start a new conversation around sustainability.

According to FieldRise Agronomy Director Dr. Shawn Conley, farmers already are highly advanced in their adoption of sustainable practices and are constantly looking for ways to improve. Still, farming is one of the best kept food sustainability secrets. Over the past several decades alone, farmers have improved soil conservation, reduced energy use, cut carbon emissions and implemented social programs worldwide.

Consumers are starting to take note of these advancements, but there is room for improvement. A recent survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation shows that 88% of consumers trust farmers, and more than half rate the sustainability factors of U.S. farmers positively. While those numbers are encouraging, the sustainability results should continue to improve.

Soybeans are an exceptional example of this sustainability success story. Soybean meal is what many farm animals eat, present in nearly every pig, poultry, aquaculture and livestock diet. Research has shown that soybeans also have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in pig diets. Soybeans also are an alternative energy success story, since more clean-burning renewable energy is produced on an acre of soybeans than the fuel it takes to produce the soybean crop.

Most of the U.S. food chain is focused on advancing food sustainability from the farm to the fork and beyond to help ensure food security around the world. For example, family farmers operate a global human health program to advance human nutrition and solidify trade. In addition, multiple U.S. farmer groups work globally to advance sustainability and build global preference for commodities in nearly every country in the world.

Facts are facts but they can be polarizing, not clarifying, according to a 2012 Yale University study that looked into why people question climate science. They found that people are more motivated by their identity within their social circles than by the facts. That leaves agriculture outside of food conversations or worse, defending practices that have sustained generations of family farmers.

“From the farm to the dinner table, applying traditional values makes room for everyone to create a better future together around food,” says Osthus. “It’s time for new conversations around sustainability to include more farmers, more families, and more field-level facts, and less marketing spin.”

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