Farmers already wear a lot of hats — agronomist, mechanic, carpenter and veterinarian among them — as they tend to their daily chores.

Damian Mason, a Purdue ag economics graduate turned motivational speaker, would have them add one more title — psychologist.

“We need to appeal to consumer emotions, what makes them feel good,” Mason said Jan. 28 during his keynote speech at the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines. “Emotions trump logic 99 percent of the time.”

And, Mason said, food is an emotional topic in the United States, ranking right up there with guns and religion. In a country where food is abundant, a growing number of consumers are making their grocery purchases based on...