b'HOW IMAGES SHAPECONSUMER PERCEPTIONS OF AGImages such as a red barn can influence how consumers view agriculture and its not always for the better.Ashley RobinsonAGRICULTURE IS ANevolving and changing industry. Overjust what the other images may be that go along with it, the past century a lot has changed in how ag operates,Wourms explains.and while some consumers are aware of that, other con- The images agriculture uses are critical. In Wourms sumers are still holding onto outdated views. work with Ag in the Classroom, they have found people One image in particular that consumers often think ofare extremely visual, whether that be from pictures or when it comes to agriculture is that of a farmer in overallsvideos. Many rely on that as their way to get information. standing next to a red barn with his cow and horse. ThisTheyre finding that with video its important the person picture and the thoughts around it are commonly referredspeaking is using the right body language and voice to as the red barn myth. inflection, as that is how trust is established.The perception in that picture is exactly the view IIf we use video to our advantage and showcase the think a lot of people have in the back of their mind aboutfull picture of agriculture, whether thats you working on agriculture. And so, theyre not very surprised whenmachinery, or your family out on a field meal. Those are something reinforces that, like an ad for something thatreally important moments to be capturing and speaking comes from an agricultural origin. But its really importantto, because theyre really going to establish that trust, that we leave that picture behind, Ellen Goddard, profes- Wourms says.sor in the department of resource economics and environ- In Goddards own studies, she has found that images mental sociology at the University of Alberta, said on aused in the past to go against agriculture technology such recent episode of Seed Speaks. as a hypodermic needle going into a tomato, have had The reality is that agriculture has moved far beyondhuge impacts on consumers willingness to embrace new that image, Goddard says. For one, not all farmers aretechnologies moving forward.male or white, as the industry is much more diverse.We have to be very careful about the images. We Theres also a lot more to agriculture other than farms,can counteract some of those things that people find a such as the work that is done in labs to develop crops. bit scary by farmers saying, This is why I use things, Shayla Wourms, thinkAG manager for Ag in theGoddard explains.Classroom, says a lot of the work they do with gradeGoddard has found that consumers have high levels school students is helping to expand their views on agri- of support for farmers, but that doesnt always transfer to culture away from what they may see driving by a field. the technology they use. If farmers are able to explain the We want to make sure we tell that story, as well astechnology they use and why they need it, she has found just encouraging students to understand their place inconsumers will be more willing to be supportive. agriculture in the future. If they love math and science, theres a place for themwe need them to understand that. Its not just a dirty hands-on job, she explains during the Seed Speaks episode.A lot of how consumers view agriculture is based on their own personal experiences. Many have some his-tory of farming, whether that was because their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents lived on a farm. Goddard says this is how some consumers will picture agriculture, meaning the image they may have is that of the red barn because their grandparents did actually have one.And while the red barn image may be dated, both Goddard and Wourms agree it still has a spot in sharing the agriculture story with consumers.Its not to say that we want to leave it behind. But its ultimately that its growing, we want that image to grow, we want it to be added upon and diversified in terms ofWatch the episode at germination.ca/busting-the-red-barn-mythMARCH 2023 GERMINATION.CA 51'