A new branding campaign from the Center for Food Integrity hopes to increase consumer confidence in the food production system by introducing people to local farmers in five states.
At the Web site, Farmers Feed Us, you can learn about farm families from Missouri, as well as Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. The site launched yesterday and looks like an attempt to tap into the locavore movement -- putting a smaller face on the world of agribusiness. This feels like a high-tech version of the old wooden billboard on I-70 -- one Kansas farmer feeds 128 people and you. There is also a contest to win free groceries for a year.
Among the members of the Kansas City-based non-profit Center for Food
Integrity are the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Missouri
Livestock Coalition. The three-year-old organization's stated mission
is "to build consumer trust and confidence in the contemporary U.S.
food system by sharing accurate, balanced information, correcting
misinformation, modeling best practices and engaging stakeholders to
address issues that are important to consumers."
It seems that the best way to do that is to introduce the public to five farmers in Missouri: Hog farmer Kenny Brinker, corn farmer Rob Korff, cattle farmer Andrew McCrea, dairy farmer Shannon Squibb (the Squibb family was one of Hiland Dairy's "farmer families") and soybean farmer Chris Filer (a country musician represented by the Ultimate Talent Agency). The site is slickly produced, with nice profiles of the farmers, their families and farms. But it is not yet long on substance.
The farmers will maintain blogs, have Facebook pages and make in-store appearances during what's described as a 90-day campaign.
But if the Center for Food Integrity really wants to help build consumer confidence in the food system, the rest of the campaign will help fill in the gaps as to where the produce and livestock from these farms ends up. While it's interesting to learn about the lives of Missouri farmers, it would be a lot more interesting to know exactly how the food system around them works.