Food Dialogues with Consumers
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Suggested Lead: Cattle producers recently had the chance to hear from consumer influencers through interactive events hosted by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), funded in part by the beef checkoff. On September 22, The Food Dialogues, a town hall-style discussion, took place to address questions Americans have about how their food is grown and raised and the long-term impact of the food they’re eating on human health and the planet.
Weldon Wynn, Cattlemen’s Beef Board vice-chairman from Star City, Ark., attended the discussion held in Washington, D.C. and says this open dialogue was beneficial to consumers, industry representatives and cattle producers across the country.
Wynn 1: “And the big thing was that it was going to be beneficial to the whole entire industry – the agricultural industry. There were people there who had lots of questions. Our panel to me was extraordinary because of the knowledge that they had and could share for the food industry as a whole. So the comments I’ve had – it really was beneficial to the country.” (:24 seconds)
Rick Stott, executive vice president of AgriBeef, served as a panelist at the U.C. Davis Food Dialogues discussion and says there were three key take-aways communicated during the event.
Stott 1: “Number one topic is that we have the safest product in the world. Number two – that we have the best quality product in the world. And number three – that the industry really cares about that. That producers, folks within the industry, really know that they’re producing food for people that they want to feed to their families, friends, neighbors, and the world. And I think those three things were the core of the message that was trying to be portrayed.” (:26 seconds)
Wynn says by participating in open discussions, attendees’ mindsets can be changed. They came in with misinformation and left with credible, factual information about the agriculture industry.
Wynn 2: “Certainly – I feel like they had a better and a more clear message of how food safety is done here in the United States, how we in the beef industry for example take care of our animals. They were questioning things of animal welfare – that was talked about at great length – so I think the people out in the countryside understood better what we do as producers to take care of our animals.” (:25 seconds)
Stott concludes that these dialogues were necessary and by sharing the story about what farmers and ranchers do every day – by being transparent – consumers can know and trust their everyday food supply.
Stott 2: “I think they’re long overdue. There really needs to be an effort at this level with all of these ag groups behind it, talking about what we do and how we do it because for the last, literally decade, we’ve allowed other people to tell people what we do. And that’s been very detrimental obviously. We’re going to get criticized, I believe, by those nay-sayers for doing it in that way, but I think it’s critically important that we start talking about what we do in very frank and open terms. My opinion is that we, and I believe this, but we have nothing to hide. We have everything to gain by opening up our doors and providing access to our businesses and to what our operations are.” (:47 seconds)
For more information on the Dialogues, to view video from the event and to engage in the conversation, visit www.fooddialogues.com. For more information about your beef checkoff, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.