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Get Active, Join the Online Conversation

amby-workshop.jpg In one of my final interviews from the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Trade Show and Convention, I had the opportunity to work with the National Beef Ambassador Team through a morning interactive training session on social media. An increasing number of agriculture folks are jumping on the bandwagon and joining the online conversation about food. This is the place where consumers are asking the important questions about where their food comes from, and it provides farmers and ranchers a unique opportunity to connect with our customers and put a face to production agriculture.

It's been said that today's consumers are three generations removed from farming and ranching. So, it's no wonder we sometimes have trouble reasoning with our consumers and explaining the things we do to care for the land and the animals on our operations. I received this list via email this week, and I thought it would be beneficial to share it with all of you today. Perhaps, it will assist us in being effective communicators as we join the online conversation with consumers about food. In addition, be sure to listen to my interview with the beef ambassadors below. They are truly an inspiration and a wonderful group of young people who are working hard every day to make sure our story is heard.

How to lose the argument on animal welfare…Top 10 reasons By: D. A. Daley, CSU, Chico

1. Assuming science will give us all the answers; it only gives us some of the answers. I believe strongly in science but science doesn’t solve ethical questions. Also, the public does not trust scientists and assumes they can be bought! Watch the news and it is easy to find “scientists” on both sides of almost every issue. It has become a contest of “my science is better than your science”.

2. Using economics as the justification for all of our practices. Although it makes sense to those of us who raise animals for a living, saying “well of course we treat them well or we won’t make money” really hurts our efforts with the public. In other words, if this is all about making money rather than working with animals we would probably be in another line of work! We need to convince the public that we truly care about animals not just about dollars. Besides that, it is not always true. You can have extreme conditions that are not good for animals that can be profitable.

3. Assuming that you have to defend all agricultural practices, regardless of what they are. Why? I believe you defend those that are defensible. Period. Defending all practices makes no sense and causes you to lose credibility with the public.

4. Assuming we can’t do better at animal welfare. Agriculture is about evolving practices. Why can’t we continue to improve a system that is already good but will continue to change?

5. Attacking everyone who disagrees with you in a negative, critical manner. We get angry very easily and that generally means we aren’t comfortable with what we are doing, so we have to defend at the top of our lungs.

6. Not being willing to listen because we are so busy responding.

7. Assuming that the lunatic fringe is the general public. We spend way to much time focusing on lunatics and not working with the public.

8. Being reactive rather than proactive.

9. Assuming that because someone disagrees with you they are stupid, evil or both. Good people can look at the same issue differently.

10. Not working hard enough to build coalitions that include the public (consumers), Most of our coalition efforts are focused on bringing agricultural groups together. There aren’t enough of us, and we don’t represent enough votes.