Category Archives: Advocacy

Producers respond to Food, Inc.

I posted a while ago about the opening of Food, Inc, a documentary attacking the agriculture industry. There have been two great responses to the movie on the Farm Bureau blog.

In the first post, Chris Chinn states ” This movie is an assault on food production and agriculture. No matter the size of your farm or ranch, if you are a modern farmer, using science-based production methods, the messages of this movie are an affront to you staying in business. As a farmer, agriculture is my life calling, and I have dedicated my life to producing safe, nutritious and affordable food. Our farm operation revolves around my family, and we manage every aspect of our farm in a socially responsible manner so we can pass it down to our children. Animal agriculture is the backbone of my rural community and many other rural communities across this country. I understand that contemporary agriculture doesn’t look like it did in the past. But agriculture is like many other industries that have had to become more efficient to survive.” You can learn more about Chris and her family’s hog farm by watching her YouTube video below.

In the other post, Glenn Brunkow says Food, Inc is “a sensationalized, full-on attack of the farmers and ranchers who utilized modern technology to produce the most wholesome, abundant supply of food in the world. If you a member of the agriculture community I am asking you to share our story with your non-ag friends and associates. Education is the key to stemming this tide mis-informed, anti-ag messages.”

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Filed under Advocacy, American Farm Bureau, Animal Welfare, New Media

Food, Inc. Opens This Weekend

Food, Inc. a “documentary” criticizing all of American agriculture opens in major cities this weekend. Here’s what the Reuters story has to say about it:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bigger-breasted chickens fattened artificially. New strains of deadly E. coli bacteria. A food supply controlled by a handful of corporations.

The documentary “Food, Inc.” opens in the United States on Friday and portrays these purported dangers and changes in the U.S. food industry, asserting harmful effects on public health, the environment, and worker and animal rights.

Big corporations such as biotech food producer Monsanto Co., U.S. meat companies Tyson Food Inc. and Smithfield Foods, and poultry producer Perdue Farms all declined to be interviewed for the film.

But the industry has not stood silent. Trade associations across the $142-billion-a-year U.S. meat industry have banded together to counter the claims. Led by the American Meat Institute, they have created a number of websites, including one called SafeFoodInc.com. Click here to continue reading.

I have no doubt this film will create a great deal of misinformation and ill will towards the agriculture industry. I’d encourage everyone to be prepared to do their part setting the record straight, especially in comment sections of major reviews and editorials following the movie’s opening.

Food, Inc. Poster

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Filed under Advocacy, Consumer Communication

Quick Beef Facts

A coworker at K-State’s Beef Cattle Institute had me pull together some quick facts about beef production this morning. Many of these are taken from the Master’s of Beef Advocacy program and the web site www.beeffrompasturetoplate.org. I thought I’d share them with you. It’s important to always have a couple talking points ready to discuss key issues in beef production because you never know when the opportunity to make a positive impact for the beef industry will show up.

GENERAL
Today’s American farmer feeds about 144 people worldwide.

Cattle and beef production represent the largest single segment of American agriculture. There are more than 1 million beef producers in the United States who are responsible for more than 94 million head of beef cattle.

Most farms and ranches in the United States, including cattle ranches, are family owned and operated. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms. More than 97 percent of beef cattle farms and ranches are classified as family farms.

Beef production affects the U.S. economy. According to USDA, producers of meat animals in 2008 were responsible for more than $66 billion in added value to the U.S. economy, as measured by their contribution to the national output.

NUTRITION
There are 29 cuts of beef that meet government labeling guidelines for lean, including 15 of consumers’ 20 most popular cuts like tenderloin, sirloin and 95% lean ground beef.

Just one 3-ounce serving of beef supplies 51 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for protein, 38 percent of the DV for zinc, and 14 percent of the DV for iron. And it contributes less than 10 percent of calories to a 2,000-calorie diet.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and beef provides the most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron.

It’s especially important that young children and older adults get sufficient protein. Children need the high-quality protein, iron and zinc in beef in order to develop their minds, as well as their bodies. Older adults can benefit from the protein in beef to help prevent loss of muscle mass and strength as they age.

ANIMAL WELFARE
Animal care and raising cattle go hand-in-hand. Producers know that giving animals the proper care, handling and nutrition they deserve is the right thing to do and it makes good business sense.

The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program was initiated in 1987 to provide cattle producers with the tools and training necessary to assure animal health and well-being as well as provide a safe, quality product. BQA principals influence the management practices of more than 90 percent of cattle in the United States.

The “Producer Code for Cattle Care,” first developed in 1996, reinforces the industry’s strong stance against animal cruelty or neglect. It contains a comprehensive set of sound production practices and states that “persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.” In addition, producer leaders worked with animal health and wellbeing experts to develop the “Guidelines for Care and Handling of Beef Cattle,” which are endorsed by the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners as well as the Food Marketing Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants.

ENVIRONMENT
America’s cattle farmers and ranchers are committed to leaving the environment in better shape for the next generation. Preserving, conserving and restoring this country’s natural resources like open space, grasslands, wetlands, clean air and wildlife habitat are extremely important to agriculturists.

Approximately 85 percent of U.S. grazing lands are unsuitable for producing crops. Grazing animals on this land more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food.

Animal agriculture contributes minimally to the production of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. According to EPA, the entire U.S. agricultural sector contributes just 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

BEEF SAFETY
Beef producers have invested 27 million dollars in beef safety research through the beef checkoff since 1993 and, collectively, the industry invests $350 million each year in safety research, technology and practices.

Consumers play a very important role when it comes to food safety. Using an instant-read thermometer to make sure ground beef is cooked to 160 F is the best way to ensure burgers are safe and savory.

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Filed under Advocacy, beef, Beef Cattle Institute, MBA

Become a Master’s of Beef Advocacy

The checkoff-funded Master’s of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program being offered by NCBA is a great opportunity to learn more about how to advocate for the beef industry. The free program consists of six online training modules and a hands on spokesperson training where you learn how to deal with media from a T.V. interview to posting comments online.

I posted a while ago about the Kansas MBA class I helped organize. We had a great group of students, producers and beef businesspeople together for a training by NCBA’s Daren Williams in Manhattan March 30. Since then the group has been involved in NCBA action alerts where we respond to negative beef coverage with positive messages learned in the program. Additionally, I’ve joined the MBA Alumni Association, a social network site that resembles facebook just for beef advocates.

For more information read the press release. To enroll, email mba@beef.org.

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More KFB Care and Respect Ads

I’ve talked about the Kansas Farm Bureau Care and Respect Ads and how I think they’re a great example of the kind of communication consumers want before. Here’s a couple more of the KFB Ads to watch:

Joe Newland

Jim Schmidt

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Filed under Advocacy, Kansas Farm Bureau, YouTube

KFB Care & Respect Ads

A couple months ago I shared with you one of the T.V. ads from Kansas Farm Bureau’s care and respect campaign, which features real farmers and ranchers talking about what they do for a living. I thought I’d share a couple more today – and probably more again next week. These are the kind of videos producers could make about their own ranches to share with people they know and upload to YouTube and their farm Web sites if they have one.

Stacey & David Forshee

Matt Perrier

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Proof you can make a difference

This is a shout out to my friend Laura, who I met because her sister Beth was on my debate team at K-State. Laura is a vegetarian and active in K-State’s Students for Environmental Action club. I went to a cook out at Beth and Laura’s this week and Laura told me she really likes my blog and especially enjoyed reading my posts around Earth Day.

Laura also told me that things I had posted about caused her to have a conversation with my roomate Ryan about beef and the environment. Laura may not agree with Ryan and I on everything but their conversation made here realize that there is a lot of misinformation presented by motivated communicators and it’s extremely important to talk directly to all sides of an issue.

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Filed under Advocacy, Environment