By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: I’m regularly representing Arizona Farm Bureau at special “foodie” events around Arizona. In fact, the next one where Arizona Farm Bureau will be at is Phoenix Cooks, one of the largest “foodie” events in Arizona. Representing Arizona Farm Bureau is always a real treat since I’m often privileged to hang out with Arizona agriculture’s farmers and ranchers, my favorite group of people.

These special events draw all sorts of people asking any number of questions about local Arizona agriculture. On one occasion, a woman approached our Farm Bureau booth and told us the food sold at farmers’ markets in Arizona is too expensive (she claimed she’d been to farmers’ markets all over the world and lived in Seattle where prices were more competitive at their markets)! You could tell she was on the warpath as she approached the booth. She was in a “fightin’ mood.” We kept the smiles on our faces and tried to answer every one of her questions. In the end, she walked away with greater knowledge of Arizona farmers and ranchers, organic Arizona agriculture, food safety in Arizona and much more. She seemed a bit calmer too.

The challenges of engaging the public can be numerous but the value of the time investment is priceless. And, it extends your brand as an Arizona farmer or rancher.

And I don’t mean Arizona Farm Bureau’s brand (though I want to promote that too). I mean your brand. A recent conversation with Glenn Hickman convicted me even more how the brand of the farmer and rancher is critical.

And some have it down to a science.

For example, you and I know the Hickman Family Farms brand. You can see it coming a mile away. Their brand is on everything. Their trucks have Hickman’s emblazoned across them. Granted their product is direct to the retail market, but regardless, it is all about brand.

Look for the Hickman label where you buy your eggs!

Bob and Marsha McClendon of McClendon’s Select are great at this too. Bob shared with me about his conviction about the USDA Organic label

Glenn contends that even the cotton farmer (will pick on them since mom and dad are retired cotton growers) should have his or her brand emblazoned all over their equipment and on their trucks. And, I might have been able to talk dad into stenciling Murphree Farms on the sides of his pickup, but the point is that whatever your agriculture, people need to know about you, who you are and what you represent. We feed, clothe and fuel the world. Shouldn’t this be reflected in everything we do?

And maybe we do. We’re more open to engaging with the public now than ever through special events and social media. Maybe it’s time to take some of the traditional elements of media and marketing to extend the brand even further. If you’ve been contemplating a special wrap on your truck with your farm’s logo that means it’s time to do it!

We know there are costs to this. But the cost of not engaging may someday far outweigh not doing anything.

If you want more information on the cost of a tailgate wrap, contact Peggy Jo Goodfellow at 480.635.3609.

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