Cartoon by Chris Slade:

This editorial was recently penned by Bryan Gibson, editor of Farmers Weekly. Reprinted with permission.

As he suggests, the future story of farming in NZ (that would include Hawke’s Bay) is about quality, not quantity.

Storytelling vital to winning trust

A lot of the discussion around carbon neutrality in New Zealand farming focuses on science.

Will it affect production?

Will we need to reduce stock numbers of fertiliser use?

Will the numbers stack up?

Science is important, it’s how we’ve made the gains in efficiency and sustainability that have made us known as the best farmers in the world.

But it’s only part of the picture.

Marketing is also important and it’s the social science aspect of this that is the key.

People are inherently irrational. Decision-making is often not based on the facts, but on personal values, the opinions of those they trust and on their gut feeling.

Changing people’s minds isn’t about showing them a set of facts, it’s about appealing to their values.

That’s why telling stories is vital when it comes to winning consumer trust.
Geoff Ross, the owner of NZ’s first certified zero carbon sheep farm, knows a bit about marketing and telling a good story.

He’s the chap who brought us 42 Below vodka, Trilogy skincare and Ecoya candles.

So when he says NZ needs to seize the opportunity in front of it right now to break out of the commodity cycle, we should listen.

Ross has a proven track record of seeing the big picture, picking the trend line and making sure he’s a first-mover.

And when it comes to farming, he’s picking that NZ is already ahead of the curve but needs to push on to capitalise on that advantage.

That’s why stepping outside the science, and into the stories, is so important.

Science can tell us if we can do something, such as push production to the limits.

But it’s the humanities and social sciences that tell us if we should.

Judging by the move in consumer sentiment at the moment, future prosperity lies in quality, not quantity.

Bryan Gibson
Farmers Weekly
2 August 2021

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