Bridging the Gap

March 12, 2011 01:17 AM
Bridging the Gap

Historically, consumers have had a hard time connecting to the farm. That disconnect continues to grow as the generation gap between consumers and farmers increases. Pam Fretwell and Farm Journal Media are working to change that with the "Consumer Ag Connection" radio show.

Fretwell, the creator and host of the show, interviews individuals across the country who are working to tell the story of agriculture. Each week, the show features the story of a different "agvocate," from school teachers to cattle ranchers.

The show began because Fretwell saw a need for consumers to know more about agriculture.

"One of the biggest subjects today is that consumers really aren’t acquainted with how the food, fuel and fiber they use every day is produced," Fretwell says. "That disconnect is starting to have huge ramifications for agriculture, so I felt like there was a real need to tell the story."

Fretwell set out to put a face on the farmer and to tell consumers about life on the farm. Growing up in the city, Fretwell married into agriculture. She knows firsthand how much of farm life is foreign to people who live in the city.

"Farmers are just people," Fretwell says. "They work very hard and they are passionate about what they do, and that is what I set out to capture."

All-around education. "Consumer Ag Connection" hosts farmers from all sectors in the industry, but the show also includes processors, retailers and even consumers.

"It is all about connecting to each other," Fretwell says, "whether you’re a farmer or a consumer."

The show takes ag education to a new level, and listeners often learn something about agriculture that they didn’t know before.

"I might have one show with a guy who is a cattle rancher talking about what it means to wean calves, or I might talk to a person who works for a large chemical company who is sustainability-minded and knows that we have the ability to sustainably continue to farm," Fretwell says.

Social networking. Fretwell uses social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to find people to feature on her radio show. Those mediums allow individual voices to be heard, and serve as a great way to connect farmers with consumers.

"I think farmers have embraced the social media platform better than anyone else in their quest to tell their story," Fretwell says.

She doesn’t stop there when looking for guests to have on the show. Her 12 years of experience in the farm broadcasting and public relations industry has connected her with many people across the country. She often uses those connections to find new guests seeking to tell the story of agriculture.

"Anyone who is passionate about telling their story and wants to share their story with others is welcome to contact me," Fretwell says.

Where to listen. "Consumer Ag Connection" is distributed to more than 80 radio stations in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. If you are not in those areas, you can listen to the show from anywhere each day online. There are also links to the show on Farm Journal’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. You can contact Fretwell for show information, or, if you would like to share your story, e-mail her at

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