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Tag Archives: beef advocacy

CMT Encourages Followers to Go Meat-Free For a Day

By: Sarah Ryan, YPC Leadership Board

I was perusing my news feed on Facebook this morning (Oct.1) and came across this message from Advocates for Agriculture: “CMT started off today with an insulting tweet, asking people if they can go meat-free today for World Vegetarian Day. They may play country music but they obviously don’t understand much of anything about what happens out in the country.”

Time for an admission, I haven’t joined Twitter.  But, I did follow the link provided by Advocates for Agriculture to CMT’s tweet  and was impressed by how quickly the meat raising agriculture community started to tweet back.  Among the tweets was a call to boycott CMT.  Can’t say I disagree… but I’d have to start watching so I could quit.

I am most impressed by the constant message that 1. CMT should be supportive of ranching families and eating meat and 2. constant positive messaging that eating meat is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Obviously this exemplifies again that programs like MBA are working!  I’m really proud that agriculture has come so far (joining social media, etc.) and is ready with positive messages to promote our way of life.

Finally, I’m disappointed that companies, like CMT, have decided to promote one lifestyle choice over another.  As one person tweeted, (in my words) wouldn’t CMT’s tweet have been better spent talking about today as the start of pink month and awareness than promoting a meat-free diet…

How do you react to these types of messages?  Do you boycott any company that promotes meat-free days, especially meatless Mondays?

 

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Fluffy Cows are the Beauty Queens of Beef Production

Surely you’ve heard about fluffy cows by now, right? If not, you are missing out and need to check out that link.

If you have heard, then you’re also probably aware of the mixed emotions and opinions about the internet sensation. The following post is the opinion of one of our YPC Leadership Board members and is not representative of the opinion of anyone else, NCBA or YPC. If you have an opinion on this topic, please feel free to comment below or write a post and send it to us!

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By: Margaret Ann Smith

While volunteering at a 4H Livestock event two weeks ago, I received a text message imploring me to check out this video on Yahoo News. In a lull in activity, I took a moment to watch and actually laughed out loud.  It was the fluffy cow sensation. 

The fluffy cow phenomenon has made major news network blogs such as ABC News and NBC’s Today Show.  They have also appeared on the radar of Huffington Post, Perez Hilton, examiner.com, and Yahoo News.  Is this a true representation of the livestock industry?

I had the opportunity to judge a local beauty queen pageant several years ago as a favor to a friend (understand that I have NO background in this area). I was shocked; these were not true representations of young girls but rather little doll-like girls with big hair, fake eyelashes and flippers (fyi- flippers are fake teeth for young girls that have not grown their adult teeth yet).  A 6 year old with a full set of pearly whites is a little disturbing!  While they were great at presentation, knew exactly how to speak and when/what to say, there was no depth to their answers as they were really just little girls.

The fluffy cows are somewhat similar: they are the beauty queens of the beef industry.  While they are cute and adorable, they are not connected with the real world of beef production.  The fluffy cows have hair care bills that could rival that of any diva (super-duper hair spray), they spend significant time under fans (hair dryers), and they are washed twice a day to be primped and preened. Just like a beauty queen, presentation is everything here.

Being a fluffy cow or beauty queen are great opportunities for some, but not all.  The rest of the world operates on what is practical and realistic. So remember that the fluffy cow is not reality…he or she is only getting ready for a pageant.

 

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Involve, Prepare, Educate: The Beef Industry Issues Course at Texas Tech University

TTU_NCBA

While on faculty at South Dakota State University, I was tasked with developing a “Beef Industry Center of Excellence”, a concept derived to engage students seeking careers in the beef industry. I have taken many of the underlying principles of the Beef Industry Center of Excellence to develop a course in beef industry issues at Texas Tech University.

The beef industry of the future promises opportunity for those who seek it. Along with these opportunities are challenges to navigate as the industry faces changes in environmental, welfare and global trade issues, along with high production costs and competition for resources. The innovative Beef Industry Leaders Course through the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech University aims to prepare students for those opportunities and challenges.

Whether a student is pursuing a career in the beef industry or plans to carry on the legacy of a family farm or ranch operation, the Beef Industry Leaders Course is designed to help individuals gain the communication, critical thinking and networking skills to enable them to be successful in their future beef industry endeavors. Throughout this process, students will be trained to become advocates for animal agriculture.

Beef Issues_Presentation

Major objectives of the class are to expose students firsthand to issues facing the industry, to facilitate interaction with industry leaders, and to share the message of the beef industry with other audiences. Many of the issues that the industry faces are a result of consumer misinformation and lack of education; students in the class learn the facts about the issues and learn how to speak to non-agriculture audiences regarding these topics.

Engaging students with industry affiliates and leaders is achieved by taking the class to NCBA and Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers conventions. These opportunities are pivotal in providing students with firsthand perspectives of the roles that NCBA and state affiliates play in the industry as well as provide tremendous networking experiences. In addition to the networking that students are able to do while walking through the tradeshow at NCBA, meetings with industry affiliates are also set-up, in an effort to further the opportunities for interaction. Students agree that this is one of the most impactful aspects of the class.

To culminate the semester, in conjunction with Agriculture Awareness Week, students make a presentation to the College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources to advocate the beef industry. It is the goal that in future years, this presentation will expand to a broader audience.

Past students have indicated that: “The Beef Industry Issues Class offered us a truly unique experience to meet industry leaders, travel to conventions and to educate others about the current happenings in the beef industry. These opportunities would not have been available to me without this class and I thoroughly enjoyed the class” Tressa Lawrance, Senior in Agriculture Communications and Education from Buffalo, WY. Nellie Hill, a graduate student in Agriculture Communications also reflected on the class: “The class brought together many different perspectives on the beef cattle industry, allowing the content to create dynamic discussion about key issues. As an agriculture communications major, I enjoyed the opportunity to work with people outside of my department and share what we learned throughout the class through our presentation to the college.”

Throughout the semester, teamwork, critical thinking and communication skills are fostered among students in the course. Moreover, by attending state and national beef industry events, students are exposed firsthand to issues facing the industry – many of which are addressed throughout the course. Most importantly, the course aims to aid students in developing leadership skills and a network of personal connections with industry leaders, giving them resources to utilize as they return to a family farm or ranch or pursue careers within the beef industry – and inspiring them to support and serve in industry organizations in the future.

 

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Women Need Beef!

Beef has made a spotlight appearance in an article on Yahoo.com titled, “Top 10 Superfoods for Women” as Skinny Steak is promoted for its heart healthy attributes. Below is the actual wording,

“The “Skinny” Steak
Red meat has a bad rap. The thing is, it really is good for you. Ideally, go for a cut that is both lean and grass-fed. A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that meat from grass-fed cows usually has more conjugated linoleic acid (which has been shown in animal studies to combat cancer) and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than the grain-fed variety. Plus, meat from grass-fed cows is lower in total fat and calories. As long as your serving is a lean cut, such as tenderloin, feel free to make this smart choice two or three times a week, says Bowden.
Bonus benefits: Beef is a great source of protein, iron (a mineral that one in five women are deficient in), and heart-healthy B vitamins.”

While I take issue that grass-finished is being promoted over grain-finished (dieticians have stated that the differences in linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids between grass and grain finished beef aren’t enough to affect human health) this is a home-run for beef.

As it states, lean beef is where it’s at. This includes most cuts from the loin (top sirloin steak, tenderloin), 95% lean ground beef, round steak. I had some amazing sirloin steak at a wedding this past week and can’t wait to try a similar recipe.
And guys, don’t feel left out. Just because the article doesn’t talk about male diet plans, you can rest assured that lean beef is just as good for you as it is the ladies.
Go BEEF!

 

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Your Action Needed!

As you may have recently heard, the Farm Bill is being debated, revised and hopefully approved/accepted this year. And as always, there as those who know little of agriculture but deem it necessary to try to over-regulate our industry. This latest initiative is Farm Bill amendment 2252 which would regulate on-farm production practices. If approved, this amendment sets a dangerous precedent that would potentially enable the federal government to mandate production practices in all agriculture settings. You can read more about the amendment here (I encourage you to do so).

Don’t like it? Neither do I – but you can do something. Contact your state Senators to let them know of your disapproval. You can easily do that by clicking here. For more information regarding the hazardous legislation click here.

Your action is needed to stand up for our industry!

Until next time,

~ Buzzard ~

 

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How would you farm differently if…

by Ryan Goodman

How would you farm differently if a total stranger (non-farmer/rancher) followed you around all day?

I am always up for some good conversation between bloggers that inspire new blog post ideas. This past week Ryan Bright (Tennessee dairy farmer, @farmerbright) sent me a message with this thought. How would we work differently with a non-farmer following?
Your first impulse may simply be to do nothing differently, but is that really the truth? Would you really do everything the same in a day’s work? Would you be able to answer questions? Why do you do things in a certain way? Why is it that you pick up the house when guests show up? I know whenever guests are expected at the farm or ranch, there’s usually a little extra straightening up, whether we realize it or not.

So on Tuesday, November 15 we invite you to post your thoughts on the topic. Have you hosted visitors on your farm? Please share the experience with others, share a few questions you may have received, and offer any advice. Use your blog, facebook, twitter, and other social media sites to share your thoughts. The goal is to encourage agriculture to evaluate how we would react to visitors, and reflect on knowledge of our daily practices. This is also a great opportunity to share our thoughts with non-farm consumers and open our doors of transparency.

Be sure to post your thoughts or blog links on the Blogging for Agriculture Facebook page or use the #farmvisit tag on twitter.

Ryan Goodman comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about production systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan recently moved to Tennessee to begin work on a Master’s degree. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same. Ryan’s daily blog updates can be found at www.AgricultureProud.com.

 

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Advocating for the Beef Community, Part 3

by Ryan Goodman

In the previous two posts (Part 1Part 2), I have discussed tips from my discussion with Daren Williams, Director of Communications with NCBA. Story telling is the most effective method of communication and we have a responsibility to communicate our story of production agriculture to the world.

In Part 2, I gave a challenge to create a 30-second elevator speech. How did you do? Maybe you are actually in an elevator, or more likely in line at the Wal-Mart register. A conversation comes up and the other leaves a window of opportunity for you to give a plug for yourself and agriculture. What would you say? It is important to have something in mind. Mine would be something simple, along the lines of “I come from a family of Arkansas cattle ranchers who raise the beef that ends up on your plate.” If it looks like someone who may be a social media user, I may add, “I also help farmers and ranchers learn to use Facebook and Twitter to bring farm life to town.”

Starting the conversation is only the first step. Whether the conversation is in a grocery store or in front of a media reporter, you have to keep a specific message in mind. Who is the audience? What questions will be asked? Take time to write down any questions that may be asked in that situation. Keep in mind the message you want to convey. Will your message be relevant or resonate with the audience? Keep your message simple and trimmed to two or three key points. During media interviews think in sound bites and headlines that will be easy to use in a news story.

“It’s always a risk to speak to the press; they are likely to report what you say.”
–Hubert H. Humphrey

The conversation includes more than just your message. The words you say can have an impact on how well the message is received.  Groups appealing to consumer emotions are good at painting a picture with using words, and this is something agriculture needs to be observant of as well. Avoid industry lingo when talking with non-Ag consumers. Words like producer or industry may better be replaced with farmer or community. Notice I used “Beef Community” in the post title. Does it paint a different picture compared to “Beef Industry” for non-Ag consumers?

Be careful when using education, facts, and statistics. Remember, consumers trust farmers and ranchers as individuals. They are looking for our stories of food production, not a walking book of statistics and definitions. It is important to know the nutritional power of beef (provides 10 essential nutrients, provides 50% of daily protein in 1 serving, or 29 lean cuts), but if I want to know these facts, I will make an effort to look em up. It is ok to work them in as a part of your message, but do not make them your message.

Whatever your message, however you communicate your message, be passionate about it, make it your personal story, and have fun making those connections. If you are truly passionate about being a part of the beef community, in front of a camera or in line at the grocery, sharing your story should come easy.

What did you take from this short-series of posts about advocating about the beef community?

Ryan Goodman comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about production systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan recently moved to Tennessee to begin work on a Master’s degree. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same. Ryan’s daily blog updates can be found at www.AgricultureProud.com.

 

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