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NCGA: Crop Producers Line Up Behind Animal Agriculture

by 5m Editor
27 July 2007, at 11:32am

US - While growers make production decisions based on scientific evidence and economic models, food consumers often base their judgments on emotional factors such as compassion, respect and fairness. How that affects livestock producers – and ultimately corn growers – was the topic of a two-day meeting this week in St. Louis.

The Animal Agriculture Coalition brought together representatives from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), United Soybean Board, livestock organizations, government officials, industry and advocacy groups to discuss what food consumers think and how agriculture should respond.

“The changes that are taking place in how society views food production are potentially serious for all of us,” said Nebraska Corn Board Director of Market Development Randy Klein, who attended the conference. “It’s important that we get together and agree on a common message to send to consumers.”

In recent years, consumers have become removed from agriculture, explained NCGA Director of Production and Stewardship Max Starbuck, who represented NCGA at the meeting. They have come to trust the arguments of advocacy groups who, Starbuck said, are not perceived as being profit-driven.

“People have been away from agriculture for so long, they don’t understand modern food production. We have to do a better job of explaining it to them,” Starbuck added.

Confidence in meat production is vital to corn growers, said Mr Starbuck:
“Livestock is the biggest market for corn. Also, corn producers also face questions about our production and environmental standards. Consumers want to believe that we’re working to keep food and environmental quality, and we need to send that message to them.”

Starbuck cited the pork industry’s Operation Main Street program as an excellent example of how industry groups can arm producers with information consumers understand easily. Operation Main Street is an intensive training program for producers to help them spread the message about the pork industry. Producers who participate in it gain public speaking experience, receive training on how to deliver a positive industry message to media and the public, and are prepared for public presentations.

“Crop producers and livestock producers depend on each other,” he said. “We both need to reach out to consumers and present a united message.”

Source: Cattlenetwork

5m Editor