Sunday, October 15, 2017

Rethinking Communication- Ranchers, Beef Industry

I'm in Denver, CO, my flight is delayed, and I'm feeling exhausted.  I really want to go home and I'm absolutely sick of traveling. But it is so worth it.  Every week I look at the calendar with dread, but after every trip I'm grateful for the opportunity, and glad to meet so many wonderful people. 

I was able to attend the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Communicators Conference and it was an amazing morning.  It was a small meeting of industry reps, producers and retailers.  The central theme was the idea of sustainability-- a fuzzy term in many respects.  We sometimes have a hard time defining it, but we know it when we see it.  

I don't think this kind of thing would have happened even five years ago.  The need for precise, honest and consistent messaging around the things ag does well has never been more important. Now farmers, ranchers, and associated industries are stepping into it, impressively. 

Really sweet to meet such wonderful professionals and see their efforts in helping us all be better communicators.  The tweets were quite nice. 

There is a need for honest discussion about antibiotics, hormones, daily practices, environmental impacts and all of the good things ranchers do to facilitate animal care.  The public has questions and is wondering who to trust.  

The most wonderful thing about this conference was the consistency of the messaging, and the admission that years of not communicating and communicating incorrectly got us nowhere.  It actually made things worse. 

Over the last twelve years I've learned how to talk to a concerned public about agriculture. I made a lot of mistakes. The lessons learned along the way were really important. I've learned a lot, and listened to experts. 

This was a meeting were I was brought in to inform, but I actually went home being the informed. 

Today it is evident that we have all starting communicating out of a passion for spreading the truth about agriculture and science in general. We all took different paths, different journeys, but are arriving at the same place. It makes me happy to hear the concepts I've learned the hard way spoken by others in beautiful eloquence. 

Are we getting somewhere?  I think so.  

After all I've been through in the last two years personally and professionally, getting to attend such events and see people taking leadership in agricultural communication brings me great joy.  It is wonderful to see people stepping up to teach others about what we do, and more importantly why we do it.