The conversation was ably led by Nick Barron, deputy CEO of Engine MHP of our communications firm, who has experience working with agricultural organisations that have turned adversarial relationships into positive partnerships. Nick started by listing some of the reasons that 2021 will be a year in which the beef industry will be under great scrutiny, and asking our panel what their priorities would be for 2021.
~ Dennis Laycraft, Canadian
Cattlemen’s Association, was first to respond. In Canada, the beef industry has seen first hand how UN pronouncements can influence national policy. If we are not at the table, who will speak about us? We need to be sure that we turn up to speak for ourselves.
~ Jesse Sevcik from Elanco followed by emphasising that all GRSB members can give input with their national governments, whose voices are heard better than those of individual companies in UN forums.
~ Justin Ransom, Tyson Foods, pointed out that while a lot of those in the agricultural world are used to working hard and getting things done, they might not be as accustomed to communicating about the good work they are doing. 2021 is certainly a year to do that, with transparent and real information on what we are doing.
~ Heather Tansey from Cargill stressed the need to Educate and Elevate. In interactions, she has often found that, in general, the level of knowledge and understanding of the beef industry is quite low, and simply communicating some of the basics can often be quite enlightening. The elevation part concerns the fact that producer voices are credible with consumers, and we should elevate them in our communications.
~ Marcela Arnaiz Elduayen, an independent trade consultant, made the point that when it comes to the promotion of dietary guidelines, we need to be more clear about the downsides to recommendations that restrict meat intake, particularly for certain ages and gender.
~ Dr. Federico Lanfranco, a rancher from Uruguay, made the point that ranchers have progressed a lot, but similar to others, they may not feel inclined or have time and opportunity to blow their own trumpet even though they do have credibility.
~ Justin Ransom followed with the point that we can no longer wait to be approached by governments or others, we must be proactive in communicating the good work and progress we are making. Tyson has been doing this in the WEF, COP and other such forums, and recommends that we should all be asking to be involved in them to bring clarity and facts to discussions when they are required.
The discussion continued in a positive vane, and the view from the panelists was that there were great opportunities for collaboration in the coming year.
I would encourage you to watch the recording of the webinar in case you missed it; you can find it HERE. You will need the password grsbeef2021 to watch it.
As a follow up, I plan to hold a briefing call next week to share where we are engaging in the Food Systems Summit, and calling members to share where they are involved so that we can identify where we need to focus our collective attention.
We are collaborating closely with the Global Dairy Platform and through Emerging Ag. We also have a group of livestock organisations including IMS, GDP, the International Poultry Council, Health for Animals, Dairy UK, IDF and CEVA for sharing information. I would be happy to add interested members to that list.