The how and why of Agriculture consumer education

There is no denying that Australian agriculture today recognises two very important things

1. Without customers we would not exist

2. We need to move heaven and earth to reengage with our customers. 

Currently all agricultural industries are TALKING about re-engaging with their customers and some are actively DOING it.

Agriculture doesn’t have a lot of dollars to do this so we need to get very smart about how we do it and focus on why we are doing it to get the best return on investment in the shortest turn-around time we possibly can

Building relationships with the next generation of customers through schools is obviously one of those smart choices. But unless you have been in that space it’s unlikely you will know how fraught this opportunity is with challenges.

Teachers are under a huge amount of pressure to deliver top down government outcomes On top of this anyone who has visited a classroom knows working with children is often not all it’s cracked up to be. So I for one salute the teachers who take on extra curricula programs and do it well.

Agriculture also tends to get a bit bogged down with ‘educating the public about the paddock to plate’ processes – the HOW we do it rather than the WHY we do it

Telling the WHY we do it is what drives the Art4Agriculture in school programs

Four years ago when the Art4Agriculture team first started delivering the Archibull Prize into schools the aim was (AND STILL IS) to build partnerships between farmers and their customers to take on the challenge together of feeding, clothing and housing the world with less land, less water and growing levels of waste we had to write the whole program content ourselves because there was nothing out there that did this

The last four years have been such a rewarding experience particularly for me with the way the industries we work with have fine-tuned their education resources to meet this need and deliver world class outcomes.

Let me show you what I mean

The MLA Target 100 Sustainability Guides found here

The Cotton Australia’s e-education kit found here

The Australian Wool Innovation Learn about Wool School Resource kit looks like this


The resource kit bag even fits a laptop and contains this adorable 4GB flash drive that is chock a block full of more ‘Learn about Wool’ resources


This week I also received the entry/exit students and teacher survey results from the Archibull Prize.

We ask the students many things in the survey including . “Did you learn anything new and if so what was it?”

What we have discovered this year is the better the industry resource kits are at sharing the WHY story the higher level world view responses we get from the students

For example from students studying wool, beef and cotton

  • I learned how important agriculture is to Australia and how reliant our modern farmers are on advancing technology.
  • Farming is something that is important to every single Australian every day of their lives and Australian farmers are important to every single person in the world.
  • I learnt livestock export is a complex issue. People in under developed countries need the protein our animals provide them with but getting the best outcomes for people and animals is often not easy. It is important for Australia to continue to work with other countries for this to happen
  • I learnt about how important managing natural resources and looking after the land is and our farmers’ role in this and what my role should be.
  • I learnt about genetic modification, and all of the reasons behind doing it – it changed my mind about whether we should keep exploring the opportunities the technology offers.
  • I learnt how little land Australian farmers have to produce food on and how challenging the weather conditions and price variations they get paid make it

Whereas we got answers like this about the dairy industry which is still focussed on telling the HOW story

I learnt

  • Different methods of milking
  • Breeds of dairy cows
  • Facts about cows and how they produce milk
  • Different breeds of dairy cows.
  • How dairy cows are milked by robotic dairies.
  • About the progression of the milking process, especially about using technology and machines for milking

I was also amused that this response kept coming up

I learnt we should not buy milk from Coles

I want to strongly reinforce we do NOT teach this as part of the program and this response appears to be driven by what the students and teachers see and hear in the media.

Customers I am confident are something Coles is firmly focussed on ( it looks to me like they could do with a lot more advocates)

As the experts remind us

Customer satisfaction is at the heart of the selling process. One estimate is that it costs five times as much to attract new customers as it does to keep an existing one. The relationship between the customer and the organisation is, therefore, an important one.
Building customer relationships can be seen as moving up a ladder. At the top rung of the ladder are your loyal customers (advocates).
The ladder consists of four main rungs (with 4 being the highest):

4 – Advocates

3 – Regular customers

2 – Occasional users

1 – One-off purchasers

The extent to which customers move up the ladder depends on how well they are treated by the organisation. Well focused sales methods and attention to individual detail is likely to encourage customers to move up the ladder.

At Art4Agriculuture we aim for the top rung of the ladder with the next generation of customers graduating school as advocates for agriculture  

Telling the HOW story is important but it is telling the WHY story and sharing our values with our customers that will ensure agriculture retains its customers, attracts new and emerging ones and farmers in this country are paid a fair return on investment.

We must get this right

Congratulate your industry when they get right and if your industry needs to raise the bar put some pressure on

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

One thought on “The how and why of Agriculture consumer education”

  1. Great post! I am a Dairyfarmer’s daughter and I have to be honest and say we have never really talked about the why of dairying, mostly just the how. I agree that the WHY is what will really engage people! Right – time to for the Dairy industry to change things up then!!!

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