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No-Tillers moving toward a pesticide-free production system are well positioned to tap into the rapidly growing environmental food market, a University of Manitoba agricultural economist says.
“This is one of the fastest growing segments in the food industry,” John Cranfield told 75 farmers attending the first annual meeting of Pesticide Free Production Canada.
But Cranfield and other speakers warned that even though the market exists and is growing, farmers will have to break with traditional marketing strategies if they want to capture and bring its value back to their farms.
It will require forging a more direct relationship with consumers than farmers have maintained in the past. “You want the environmental value generated from the farm level staying with the farmer. You don’t want all the value going to some intermediary,” Cranfield says.
Cranfield says public opinion surveys conducted by the Angus Reid polling firm in 1998 and updated in 1999 found consumers consistently identify chemicals in their food, sustainability of agriculture and food safety as their top three food issues. “Chemical and pesticide residues remain their main concern,” he says.
Consumers are increasingly interested in how food is produced and not just the nutritional content of what they are eating, he notes. Lingering consumer concerns over the use of genetic engineering as well as growing emphasis on sustainability issues are examples of how the process is becoming as important as the end result.
“Consumers are becoming more aware that the food they eat comes from a…
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