Time is Now for Agricultural Brands to Position Themselves as Climate Change Leaders

Time is Now for Agricultural Brands to Position Themselves as Climate Change Leaders

Big Ideas

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January 20 2022
Big Ideas
Author: Tamara Bodi and Sarah Ivey

How Marketing, Communications, and Connection Can Better Serve Your Customers while Helping Reduce the Industry’s Impact on Greenhouse Gases

Never before has the relationship between agriculture and climate been more in the spotlight. Catastrophic weather events causes $2 billion in damage to Canadian farms. And even if you weren’t paying close attention to COP26 this fall, daily news stories, industry panels, and social media all urgently focused on how and what can be done to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) -- from farmers to governments.

In Canada, the third largest contributor to GHG emissions is agriculture at 8.2 per cent or 59 megatons. GHGs are released when applying fertilizer to fields, by operating industrial scale livestock operations, and from outdated and unsustainable soil management practices, according to the Prairie Climate Centre.

 

We can all learn from farmers.


The good news is some producers have already taken it upon themselves to reduce their GHG emissions by transitioning to sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, even as they take on risk and costs in doing so – with potentially added expenses, lower yields and reduced revenues – all of which can create higher prices at the grocery store.

But some agricultural brands already see the value by offering innovative services, products and technology to partners and farmers that can help reduce GHGs and build in efficiencies. Brands such as Cleanseed and Carbon Asset Solutions, which measures and will deliver high quality soil-based carbon credits to global markets, and generates more income for farmers, security for companies and opportunity for the planet to reach net zero emissions, are just a few companies leading the charge.

From fertilizer application to soil management practices to converting to more modern equipment, these leading-edge farmers are quietly spearheading a movement that has the potential to inform and inspire industry change, while appealing to an increasingly knowledgeable and demanding consumer.

Agricultural brands who can see the value in collaborating with and learning from these producers, and who can use their marketing and communications teammates to showcase their own thought leadership, products and services will be able to position themselves ahead of their competitors by acting now.

If you’re not worried about what other brands are doing, you should be. Brent Preston from Farmers for Climate Solutions recently told CBC Radio that international buyers, food companies and brokers are increasingly demanding lower GHG products from their supply chains, “So, if they can’t get those products in Canada, they’re going to go elsewhere.” He also noted that farmers in other jurisdictions also receive more government support on a per acre basis, with the U.S. spending 13 times more than Canada to farmers to transition to low-GHG production systems on a per acre basis, and the EU spending 73 times more than Canada.

 

Incentivize, not punish.


One of the best ways to accelerate farmers’ adoption of better practices is to not penalize them but rather, to reward and incentivize them financially for new and better farming practices, by way of the carbon credit.

While government support will be welcome when it arrives down the road, right now what we have is intellect. During these still early days, sharing and collaborating about the learning that’s taken place already when it comes to climate-smart solutions and agriculture is key.

 

Industry influencers – more than an Instagram account.

Leading-edge farmers have the ability to influence and reduce hesitancy in other farmers by sharing their successes and challenges when it comes to creating biodiversity, cover cropping, no-till farming and more.


By the sheer nature of who you are as an agricultural company, you’re already an influencer. Your leaders and employees already have relationships with partners, retailers, experts, farmers, consumers, and the media. As a thought leader who is comfortable asking questions and not yet knowing it all, you are at an important juncture where you can create opportunities for internal and public conversation and feedback. This in turn will help define and elevate your brand – particularly if you already benefit from an alignment of some products, services, and practices that can reduce emissions and increase climate resilience.

You don’t have to look far to see major brands that are already leading the charge. McCain Foods is working with thousands of Canadian family farms to practice more sustainable agriculture with its Farms of the Future program. And NexusBioAg offers solutions that benefit farmers, consumers, and the environment.

 

Utilizing marketing and communications to spread the message. 

Your relationships with existing and prospective influencers are your marketing and communications sweet spot. Advertising and marketing, digital communications, content marketing, and media interviews are all part of a package that can take you there.

It’s hard work. And it’ll be worth it.

In the advertising world, we’re becoming more conscientious of the ads we put out and the role they play in combatting climate change. Alongside our environmental responsibility, our focus is always to showcase our clients for all the good they do and help them stand out from competitors who aren’t taking the same strides.

There’s no "one size fits all" solution when it comes to fighting climate change. In these early days, it’s important to make any change you can, even if it’s a small one. What’s most important now is leading the way and making this journey as accessible as possible to help producers get on board.

With over 25 years experience in Ag marketing, we're here to help the ag industry be seen. Contact Glenn Cressman, our Chief Client Officer, to see how partnering with Sherpa.McKim and it's team of Full-Stack marketers could help your business grow 

 


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