Promote agriculture with positive messaging instead of engaging in petty arguments with activists.
“The sustainability of the beef industry in the future is going to be intrinsically tied to reaching out to the consumer. I think that when you have a society that’s blessed with resources, you don’t worry as much about how you’re going to put food on the table – it’s more where it comes from. We need to start engaging in the conversation to explain how food is produced,” Anne Burkholder told BEEF editors in a recent conference call.
Burkholder is a Nebraska cattle feeder who has developed an ongoing conversation – and an impressive following – with consumers via her blog, “Feedyard Foodie.” She upholds a high standard on her blog and doesn’t allow any negative or derogatory comments. She hopes to avoid the sometimes inevitable bickering with activists on the Internet and focuses instead on reaching consumers who genuinely want to know where their food comes from.
“Folks who want to be advocates sometimes end up being activists instead. We need to figure out how to have a conversation, not a rant. I see a lot of ranting in different places. Those of us who are motivated to reach out to the consumer need to continue to work to have a responsible, respectful conversation. We need to find some common ground to discuss with our consumers,” adds Burkholder.
So, what makes a good advocate? Burkholder says beef producers who can build a commonality with consumers – mom to mom or athlete to athlete, for instance – have great success in developing relationships and ultimately earning their trust.
A great example of advocacy in action is the Missouri Junior Cattlemen’s Association, whose members put together this video to help put a face to the people who raise food. The video showcases young people who are the future of the beef industry and are proud to raise cattle and feed the world.
For more information about this group, visit www.mocattle.org .
What do you think of Burkholder’s perspective on reaching out to consumers? How are you involved in building more consumer awareness of the job that beef producers do? What are your thoughts on the video effort by Missouri youth? Leave your comments in the section below.