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Don't Give In To The Squeaky Wheel

img_7502.JPG “Fifty-two million people in the U.S. today are food insecure, and First Lady Michelle Obama’s push for locally grown food is an elitist point of view that is compounding the problem. Meanwhile, the media continues to spew the politically correct rhetoric of the day, which is leading to food shortages in this nation. If ranchers give in to the squeaky wheel of popular perception, who’s going to pay the price? Our consumers, of course,” says rancher, radio personality and agriculture speaker Trent Loos. Speaking to a group of young producers at the 2011 Cattle Industry Convention earlier this month, Loos made some compelling statements about connecting producers and consumers, and today I will recap some highlights from his presentation.

“The best advocates are the best listeners. Pay attention to what our consumers are watching and start up a conversation about food production. You always have to be looking for a place to plant the positive information,” advises Loos.

Loos shared some positive examples and great conversation starters to keep in mind. For example, many consumers might be surprised to learn that ZIP (zinc, iron and protein) deficiency is the number-one deficiency of children in the U.S. Of course, beef is a great source of all three of these nutrients, and a mother’s testimony on this topic is a great way to connect with other families. A healthy, well-balanced diet with nutrient-dense beef is important for health.

While it may sound like odd advice, Loos urged his audience of young producers to question the things they have always done on their ranches and step outside of their comfort zones.

“Lee Cockerell, a highly regarded leadership consultant, once said, ‘Begin to doubt what you have always believed.’ Twelve years ago, I went to my first animal rights convention, where people questioned everything I ever knew. You have to question everything you have ever known and be confident about the things you do. Saying that you're just doing what Grandpa and Dad always did isn’t good enough. You have to know WHY we put cattle in a feedlot and WHY we feed corn. Unless you’ve been in a position where your views are challenged, it’s hard to be prepared for questions about why we do what we do.”

Loos ended with a challenge for the group.

“We have to spend more time talking to people we don’t know. Social media is a tremendous avenue, but it’s not the total solution. Each one of us has to accept the challenge to be a soldier for agriculture and tell our story.”

The choice is clear. We can shrink at the popular rhetoric of the day or stand and confidently defend the safe and nutritious food we work year-round to produce. Be proud of what you do. Agriculture has nothing to hide, and it’s high time we stand up and introduce ourselves to the world once more. I’m in. Are you?