The sustainability conversation and you—Why it’s important

The sustainability issue is real and it’s imperative that beef producers take control of the message.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

February 12, 2020

2 Min Read
Heifers on pasture

If we don’t deal with the sustainability message, we could repeat 1980-2000. That’s our biggest risk.

So said Randy Blach, CattleFax CEO, during the outfit’s annual outlook session during the Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

No doubt many of you remember those dark days during the last two decades of the 20th Century. And you no doubt have seen the graphs that show the gut-wrenching decline in beef demand that occurred because the beef business wasn’t able to meet our consumers with the products they wanted.

That’s now changed. We have a market that is better able to recognize and respond to consumer signals and much better genetics to produce the type of beef that our consumers demand. And we have a much better understanding of who are consumers are, thanks to the Beef Checkoff.

READ: Sustainability is worth how much?

But Blach’s impassioned plea for beef producers to own the sustainability message caught my attention.  BEEF has, both in the magazine and digitally, carried plenty of articles on sustainability over the past several years.  

It won’t be the last sustainability article you’ll read from BEEF. As Blach says, it’s that important.

Like many of you, I first thought the whole thing was just another angle that the anti-beef activists were cooking up to attack you and what you do. After all, if anybody knows about being sustainable, it’s ranchers.

But the sustainability issue is real and it’s imperative that beef producers take control of the message. Blach said every beef producer needs to get involved and tell their story. Start in your own community by offering to make a presentation in your local schools and chambers of commerce, service clubs and churches.

READ: Cattle industry improves sustainability 5%

There’s plenty of positive, science-based information available that you can use. Contact your state cattlemen’s association or state beef council. They’ll be happy to help with information and with helping you craft your message.

I realize talking to a crowd may not be something you’re itching to do. But you can write a letter to your local newspaper, offer to have a reporter come out to your place and see what you do to produce the best beef in the world, or invite folks from town for a visit—4-H kids, FFA members, service clubs—there are lots of folks who would enjoy spending part of a day with you.

So make the commitment to tell your story and the story of the beef business.


About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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