Key Takeaways from Rural America: Telling It Like It Is


We were fortunate to converse with a couple dozen growers, 大多数来自伊利诺斯州, and we asked for their opinions on hot topics in agriculture.


If you want an honest opinion, ask a farmer. If you don’t, most farmers won’t actively share what they’re thinking. As a small-town boy, I know this trait generally holds true across rural America – farmer or not.

I recently attended the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, with a few of my DKY colleagues. We were fortunate to converse with a couple dozen growers, 大多数来自伊利诺斯州, and we asked for their opinions on hot topics in agriculture.

As we talked, the old phrase, “How’s it play in Peoria?” came to mind (even though we were 75 miles from that small city). Growers candidly expressed their opinions to our questions, and they clearly reflected on how rural America feels these days.

I couldn’t help but put on my marketing hat, so here are my top takeaways from these conversations:

1) Concerns about their farm and the industry

最近亚盈体育官网里到处都是, so it’s no surprise that labor is a difficult issue for farmers as well as fast-food restaurants. Today’s growers have a lot of ground to clear in not much time. It takes boots on the ground and in the equipment to get it done, and they just aren’t there.

Producers also expressed concern over the growing cost of doing business. They are grateful for a solid year of revenue, but rapidly rising input costs and shortages of parts and goods cloud the outlook for next year and beyond.

Products and services that help growers improve productivity and/or reduce input costs should get extra attention from producers in the months ahead.


It seems a new carbon program pops up every day, and sustainability has become an overused and misused term in the growers’ eyes. These programs may be the “next big thing,” but farmers are skeptical that their farms will benefit based on a history of programs that overpromised and underdelivered. Growers are understandably cautious of collecting and providing data to large corporations based on the hope of an uncertain future return.

Sustainability to growers equates to profitability – passing along the farm to the next generation. If that can be done through new approaches to conservation, then all the better. But farmers say they’ve been on that train for decades now. Nearly every grower we spoke with was already doing some form of conservation tillage. 或覆盖作物. 或缓冲带. 或者可变速率应用. 或者其他有意义的东西.

Agribusiness marketers can help our nation’s farms by telling stories of what’s already been done to protect the soil, 农村地区的水和空气, 还有正在进行的工作.


Growers have embraced technology for years, gathering data on the farm to help guide farm management decisions. But this is different from a world of digital-only relationships and transactions, 这不是他们所接受的.

A trusted, local face is still critically important to growers. They do appreciate how digital tools make their lives easier by allowing them to do business when they want. But when it comes to big decisions or when they face a problem, they want to talk to someone.

Most of us discovered in 2020 that we may not need to do all our business in person; but it is certainly nice to know that we have business partners to turn to when we need them.


Growers believe they know what’s best for their farm. And those outside of their trusted circle will be ignored if they don’t have something clearly beneficial to offer.

例如, dozens of new private-equity-backed companies pop up every year, 据说是为了帮助农民. But growers told us that many of these businesses are based on a model of what “someone in New York City” believes is best for the farm – not necessarily what is right for the farmer.

种植者是这么称呼它的. If a company’s message doesn’t align with the view on the farm, 那么它将被立即驳回. As one farmer put it when describing a startup that he recently engaged, “Money talks and BS walks. 那家公司除了走路什么也不做.”

其他营销人员应该注意这一点. 农民不需要改变. 他们需要被倾听.


在我看来, there’s a growing divide between what urban/suburban residents believe about farming, and what’s actually happening on the farm.

Marketers can make a difference, however. We heard from growers that they want and need advocates to help them tell and share their story. But they want the story to reflect their situation – not weighted to the desires of a corporation whose primary motivation is often self-serving or solely focused on pleasing consumers.

这样做, we must seek out conversations with farmers, check our preconceived notions at the door, 听听他们在说什么. 当亚盈体育官网了解到, we can then amplify their voice through marketing to help narrow the divide and foster more conversation and clarity.

To learn more about DKY’s Agriculture practice and marketing programs, please 亚盈体育官网.