Less than 1 percent of the United States population claims farming as an occupation, according to EPA demographic information. However, those farmers are itching for Congress to pass a farm bill in the wake of this summer’s record-setting drought. Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the U.S. During a keynote address at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., in November 2011, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack promoted the farm bill by saying that America is one of the only countries in the world that can produce all of its own food without the need to import. For Americans, this means less money is taken out of workers’ paychecks compared to other countries.
With agriculture playing such a key role in people’s lives, it’s no surprise that the industry has embraced mobile technology. “Mobile technology brings new options for access to information, and filtering out extraneous and non-applicable details, for consumers,” write authors Gary Woodill, Ed.D., and Chad Udell in Knowing What You Eat, one of the latest mobile agriculture research reports available from Float Mobile Learning. Gary and Chad classify the benefits of mobile technology into four broad areas: buyer-seller matching, consumer education, product alerts and household self-reliance.
Buyer-seller matching looks at mobile apps that can bring consumers and vendors together by giving consumers the opportunity to arrange their grocery list by factors such as the availability, price, quality and consistency of items. They can also discover a food’s country of origin and the distance from the source to the destination. Further, consumers can use personal criteria, or cultural or religious preferences and requirements, to determine ethical purchasing.
Consumers learn informally when finding out how a food item was produced or processed and its relationship between diet and health. Mobile applications can be used to find out more information about food, the additives it may contain and what allergic effects it can have. What’s more, a number of apps are focused on promoting healthy eating.
The final two categories of apps include product alerts and household self-reliance. Alerts range from commodity price fluctuations, government and individual restrictions, and food safety scares. Self-reliant mobile technologies allow household gardeners to be proactive about the issues they may face, and for retailers to build relationships with their customers.
“The increasingly ubiquitous and pervasive nature of mobile technology makes it almost an extension of our senses,” write Gary and Chad. “For this reason, it may have a greater impact on consumer behavior than any single previous innovation in media.”
Our latest mobile agriculture research has dozens of examples of mAgriculture apps now available for consumers, so be sure to know what they are today.