Oprah is a rich and powerful woman. Via her talk show, magazine and multiple retail brands and endorsements, she is incredibly influential here and around the world. Love her or hate her, when Oprah speaks, people listen, and that's the problem.
Not only is she an extremely enthusiastic and passionate speaker, who people have come to love and adore, but Oprah knows what topics sell. The scarier the topic, the more sensational the news and the more dramatic the people she interviews, the better.
As consumers become increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, they aren't asking us farmers and ranchers directly. Nope. They are asking Oprah. And, what she has to say about the beef industry is almost always less than flattering.
For example, there was the incident in 1996 when jurors rejected a multi-million-dollar defamation lawsuit by Texas cattlemen, after she trash-talked the U.S. beef industry in a program on BSE.
As she left the courthouse, Oprah told reporters that day, "Free speech not only lives, it rocks! And, I'm still off hamburgers."
Fine, don't eat beef, but leave us alone, Oprah. And, she did, for a little while. But, she earned headlines again, and lots of money, for a show in Feb. 2010, which featured a tour of a feedlot and a Cargill packing plant, while also pushing her staff members and fans to try a one-week vegan challenge. You can read all about it here.
Most recently, she takes a stab at ranchers again -- this time in her magazine. An article titled, "One Woman Takes a Brave Stand Against Factory Farming," was written by Kathy Dobie and features a one-sided, emotionally-based opinion piece, lacking in facts and figures. Dobie knows what she is doing to get buzz on her piece, pushing a growing elitist movement and defaming the 97% of families who own and operate U.S. farms and ranches. I'm told the magazine piece also features some questionable photos that look edited to increase the scary-factor, but I'm not going to buy the magazine to find out.
The reason I share this piece isn't to bring more attention to it, but to call of you to action. Please, respectfully leave comments on the piece, sharing your personal story along with the facts about who we are as food producers. Agriculture needs a voice in the conversation, and I hope you will join me in doing so.
Why does Oprah continue to bully beef? The answer is simple. It sells magazines. It increases viewership on her show. It drums up additional sponsors. And, it makes Oprah rich.