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(This blog post also appears at www.pastureharmonies.org)

Forget the science, briefly, about our agriculture, even though that’s the wonderful legacy that has got us to where we are today.

Forget the rational.

Forget the food safety, the genetics of plants and animals, the fertiliser….all those things that are objective or measureable in their input and output.

For many of us, myself included, that’s a difficult thing. We’re programmed, almost obliged to look at the facts, to deal with what’s real.

Instead think emotions, hearts and minds, soul even when it comes to our farming.

Because that’s the trigger, hook, main consideration (even if they don’t realise it) for consumers.

In a sense, they don’t care about how a piece of meat ends up on their plate. They assume (correctly) that those technical aspects of creation and distribution take care of themselves.

(Heaven forbid that there’s a whole slicing and dicing industrial process that delivers that piece of protein – in a sense none of us want to overly dwell on that).

What they do care about is the imagery. The spirit. The essence.

And it is these intangible aspects that we’re completely failing to capture.

If we slightly modify what it is we think we offer to consumers (at least those with discretionary income who have a choice beyond cheap) we have an opportunity to prompt a passion, elicit a feeling.

That’s because consumers have a mental image of what a pastorally-based system looks like. The sun is shining, the water is clean, the animals are happy.

Indeed for the most part, the image matches the reality. From that point of view, we, our pastoral system, pasture Harmonies, is the only protein production system that can say VISIT. (It is also part of the reason you don’t see a picture of a beef feedlot or a chicken broiler barn, or soybean farm on advertising for these forms of protein).

We have nothing to hide, and from my experience, most NZ farmers welcome visitors. What you see is what you get and we don’t have to make up a story to match the reality.

We have the opportunity to globally represent responsible pastoralism.

We can own the word VISIT.

We can link into consumers’ emotions, and operate in that market space where price is less of an issue than perception.

To do that, we need to own our story.

But perhaps we’re too straight, too dour, too emotionless to go down this path, while all the time repeatedly trying to reinforce the science behind image.

Are we capable, as NZ Inc, of responding to the emotional cues consumers display in all their other purchases?