Ranchers fight animal activists
Beef consumer study helps cattlemen tell their story, boost battered image
By MATTHEW WEAVER
PASCO, Wash. -- Tom Field doesn't mind if consumers think a little differently, so long as they're eating beef.
In the midst of a fragmented consumer market, Field, the producer education executive director of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, presented marketing measures the beef industry needs to take during the Washington Cattlemen's Association annual convention in Pasco, Wash.
Consumers are besieged by negative messages from animal activists, said Field, a Centennial, Colo., rancher.
However, the majority of consumers do not necessarily change their beef consumption behavior, an association study showed.
"(Our) enemies want to paint us into this realm of being these unfeeling, uncaring industrialists running a chemical company," Field said. "I say to every reporter, 'On our ranch, we would love being able to control just one variable.' We react to the market, the weather, policy and our urban development neighbors. We don't have control over nothing, except our attitudes."
Field recommended that the best tactic to battle negative campaigns is to personalize the industry, promoting an image of good people with a legacy of caring for their animals, the environment and their land.
"People want to hear your story," Field said. "It's the best story you have to tell." Read More
I know that some people may be getting tired of hearing that they need to go tell their story. But unfortunately, until everyone is out doing something, we have to keep emphasizing the importance of doing so. Now I know that some folks don’t think they have the opportunities to talk to our consumers. That’s simply not true. The best place to start is in your own local communities. Even in our rural communities, there are people that don’t understand how their food is grown. If that isn’t a big enough stage for you, then take your advocacy online and share with the entire world how you grow food and fiber. It doesn’t matter so much what you are doing, so long as you are doing something to advocate for agriculture. Our consumers are asking for this so let’s deliver it.