Mike and Lynn Martz, DeKalb County Farm Bureau members who own and operate a custom cattle feedlot in Maple Park, are used to dealing with the public. However, in the past when it came to dealing with tough questions from consumers about beef production, Mike Martz admitted he didn't always have the best answers.To get those answers, Mike and Lynn enrolled in the Beef Checkoff’s relatively new Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

“We felt we needed to be more educated about the issues and how to explain ourselves,” Mike told FarmWeek. “We’ve got to tell our story.”

They took classes and were tested through the MBA program on modern beef production, animal care, beef safety, nutrition, environmental stewardship, and the Beef Checkoff.

And after graduating from the MBA program, Mike and Lynn now feel they have the training and resources to debunk misconceptions and answer tough questions about the ag industry. That includes questions that may arise when an alleged animal cruelty video becomes public.

“We have to speak out and explain ourselves,” Lynn said. “We’re getting more and more generations removed from the farm. In the past, I think we (in the ag industry) assumed when misinformation came out, people knew the real story. But that’s not the case anymore.”

A number of beef producers and others involved in the industry apparently felt the same need to learn how to do a better job of engaging and educating consumers about food production.

A reported 254 people graduated from the MBA program in April, a single-month record for the program established in March 2009.

More details on this story and other breaking news can be found at FarmWeekNow.com or via your mobile phone at mobile.ilfb.org.

Source: Illinois Farm Bureau