OK. I am going to be talking some very basic and fundamental philosophy today. Rational people act on the basis of how they perceive the world to be. I make decisions based on my understanding of how the world works compared to how I think the world is now and how I want to change or not change what is going on about me. The important phrase is “how I perceive”.
Perception of reality on the supply side (Farmer’s side) is usually fairly cut and dried. What we perceive is pretty much what is actually going on. The pond that the cattle drink from is dry, therefore, the cattle need a new water source. The grass in the pasture is waist high and green, therefore, the cattle are getting good nutrition from their grazing and I may only need to supplement a little or not at all. The ears are set on the corn and we have had good soil moisture, therefore, the corn is doing well.
My perception may not always reflect reality. I may think the corn is looking dry, but when I actually check the soil moisture, it is fine. I do not need to start irrigating today which saves me one more day of irrigating work and expense. I have checked my perception against reality and modified my behavior as a result.
The other side of the coin, the demand side (consumer’s side,) is where the perception of reality becomes a lot trickier. Consumers are bombarded by all kinds of information on different choices they can make as to how they consume or purchase the things they need. Farmers are constantly deluged with ads about which feed, fertilizer, equipment brand, and every other option we have to sort through. We also eat food just like everyone else. We get the same food ads, i.e.”The Scarecrow” by Chipotle, that everyone else does.
This is where the whole Perception/ Reality thing kicks in. Poultry producers know that hormone use in growing chickens is illegal. Pork Producers know that hormone use in raising hogs is illegal. Farmers know that the best way to increase productivity is to treat your livestock as well as possible. Animals need the best food, water, air, and living conditions we can afford to provide.
Mr. Average Consumer (The A.C.) has more than likely lived her/his whole life without ever seeing a sow or a cow except in pictures. The A.C.’s perception of Reality is based on what they,and everyone they know, get in Media, NOT REAL LIFE! The Chipotle video is just as Real to them as my perception that my corn is dry by just looking at it is Real to me. I checked my perception by checking the soil moisture. How does the A.C. check his perception? Why should the A.C. check his perception unless someone tells him that perception may not be correct. Why should someone not believe that “Conventional Wisdom”, otherwise known as “what everybody else around me Believes” isn’t the rock solid Gospel truth?
The Perception is the Reality. Everybody makes their life decisions based on how they think life is. I am not judging the correctness of those decisions. People come to different decisions based on the same information all the time. That is why there are 50,000 different restaurants to go to in the first place. I am talking about influencing the A.C.’s perceived Reality and decision making. I am talking about getting the message into public perception that American Agriculture practices are healthy, safe, and humane.
The bottom line is that consumers make decisions everyday based on the best available information. Chipotle would like their very well produced video, and associated game apps, to be the only information their prospective audience sees. The “Behind the Scenes” video of “The Scarecrow” states that their target audience is one who does not pay much attention to these types of issues! American Agriculture producers and suppliers have to make sure our version of Reality gets to our target audience, all Americans. Please, spread our word.