By Amy Skoczlas Cole

Making Farmer-Centered Innovation Common Practice

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March 21, 2024

Earlier this week, Farm Journal was named to Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies list for Trust In Food’s™ work on “cultivating a changemaking relationship with farmers” on the pathway to regenerative agriculture. 

The honor is thrilling, especially as we were an outlier agricultural stalwart in a sea of ag-tech start-ups. But, it does leave me with a question: Why is our strategy of meeting farmers where they are, with what they show us that they need, considered a noteworthy new innovation?

At the heart of the work we were recognized for are two key principles of the Human Dimensions of Change™.

Principle #1: Behind every practice, on every acre, is a human being making a decision, influenced by a cacophony of other people, values, beliefs, experiences and barriers.

Principle #2: Farmers don’t fit neatly into boxes, because they are human. 

These principles are applicable to any change program. Yes, we have unique assets at Trust In Food to do this work – especially the ever-expanding insight and information we have about how farmers, ranchers and growers make decisions. And of course we’d love to add to the growing number of partners that we’re helping build more effective solutions and strategies. (Our team is standing by!)  

But I hope that in the not too distant future, putting these principles to work is not at all innovative, but common practice.

Conservation agriculture has made great strides. But we aren’t getting solutions to scale at the pace and depth that is needed. To do that, we need to engage mainstream producers, meet them where they are, and support them in the ways that they need. We’ve worked with great partners, like the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, to make free tools available to help other organizations take the same approach as we were recognized for.

After all, agricultural change is human change. The sooner that becomes conventional wisdom versus innovative thinking, the better off we will all be.

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