Recently videos and documentaries on television disparaging agriculture have been in the public eye. To help you correct misleading information, the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) offers the following talking points for those in agriculture, and they can be modified for your veterinary business as well:
- Agriculture is my life’s calling, and I am dedicated to producing food that is safe, nutritious and affordable. I take great pride in knowing that consumers can go to their local grocery store or restaurant and purchase food that is safe and wholesome for their family.
- I understand that contemporary agriculture does not look like it did in the past. But we’re not unlike many other industries that have had to become more efficient to survive. The production practices I use are ethically grounded, scientifically verified and economically viable. They allow me to maximize efficiency and meet the growing demand for food.
- Over the past 40 years, the price I received for the food produced on my farm has steadily declined. That means I have to run a more efficient operation in order to maintain my family’s livelihood. The only other option would be for me to go out of business.
My farm is family oriented and I care deeply about how it is operated. I manage every aspect of my farm in a socially responsible manner so I can be proud of the legacy I leave. My operation also benefits my community by the jobs it offers and the tax revenues it generates.
Keep in mind that while it is important to respond to issues involving contemporary animal agriculture, it is just as important to know if and when you should respond.
Sharing your opinions about a specific event such as the airing of animal abuse documentaries or the release of a new film about the food system may seem proactive. However, it could also create controversy where none existed, giving the issue a platform and a larger audience.
PDPW recommends gauging whether you should take action based on monitoring conversations to see if your community is expressing concern. Are friends or neighbors approaching you about the issue and is it being talked about at the local coffee shop, PTA meetings or church functions? Has the issue surfaced in the local newspaper, or on local television and radio talk shows and newscasts?
There is no need to draw attention to the topic if no one is talking about it. But, if you feel the conversation is taking root in your community, and particularly if it gets media attention, then it is time to quickly develop and implement a communication strategy.
Regardless of the circumstance, engage in civil, educational and value-based conversations. This will help earn trust and build important relationships.