Longwood Gardens

Winners of the 2016 DuPont Environmental Respect Awards toured Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. The 1,077-acre garden estate was orginally developed by Pierre S. du Pont in 1906.

The message explaining the contributions of the crop protection industry to feeding the world is often drowned out by voices spewing half-truths and misinformation. Everyone in the ag industry can play a role in changing that narrative, says Krysta Harden, Vice President Public Policy and Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to be in agriculture,” Harden says. “We need some good stories.”

Agriculture is filled with good stories. It’s just that the industry isn’t doing a good enough job delivering its message to consumers.

Krysta Harden

Krysta Harden, DuPont

Harden, a former deputy secretary of the USDA and self-described “policy wonk,” joined DuPont in February. She spoke to winners of the Environmental Respect Awards during lunch following their tour of Longwood Gardens, the 1,077-acre garden estate originally developed by Pierre S. du Pont in 1906. The awards program is sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection with assistance from Meister Media Worldwide publications CropLife and AgriBusiness Global.

Harden recognizes members of the ag industry need to have better communication with consumers. “What are we doing wrong,” she asked the attendees. “Why is our story not getting through?”

There are certainly many reasons not the least of which is the disconnect so many people (especially in the U.S.) have with farming.

“We’re the victim of our own success,” Harden says. A relatively small percentage of Americans are able to produce enough food for everyone in the country and well beyond. As deputy secretary, Harden toured a number of colleges around the country. While students at the Land Grant universities understood her message, it was at other schools where she made the most impact – schools outside small towns with students who, like much of America, have lost touch with its farming roots.

“For some reason they seem smarter than our scientists, our governments, and other experts,” Harden says. “In the U.S., we’ve done a really good job of tearing down the credibility of our government.