Without storytellers, farmers won’t have the public support they need to use modern technology to feed the world. That’s according to CEO Chris Policinski of Land O’Lakes, Inc., who addressed attendees this month at the 2018 Planet Forward Summit at The George Washington University.
“Farmers are rotten storytellers. They’re getting better,” says Policinski, whose remarks were streamed on Facebook Live. “But they talk about their business in farmer terms. Yield per acre. Things like that. They don’t talk about how they grow more with less. How they really are using big data, remote sensing and lots of modern technology to feed the current population and put ourselves in position—as I said, I’m an optimist—to feed the soon-to-be 10 billion a lot more food with less resources. But to do that, they have to have permission, and storytelling is central to getting that permission from the 98%.”
The Fortune 500 company has supported Planet Forward—which trains young journalists interested in covering the food system, science and the environment—since its inception because “I can talk about the story of the past, but you’re writing the story of today and the future,” Policinski says.
“I think it’s central that we get folks from lots of different places—and I’m thrilled that we have such a diverse group here and you’re broadcasting and you’ve got more colleges and universities partnering with you, and a record crowd because we need folks who aren’t part of that 1.4% to learn about agriculture and tell the story in their own words. Those won’t be farmer words. And that’s the power of this forum.”