Speakers at the 12th Annual Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit held last week encouraged producers to open up to consumers, tell the story of food production and strive for transparency in the food chain.
One speaker, Dallas Hockman, Vice President of Industry Relations for the National Pork Producers Council, said the industry can no longer afford to stay quiet.
"This is about transparency, and transparency means that it's our job to go and inform our customers, it's not our customer's job to come and ask us about something," said Hockman. "We all know what we're against, but the challenge is: what are you for? It's not what you say, it's what people hear."
Speakers also addressed consumers' right to know how food is produced.
"The consumer has a right to know anything he wants to know about where he's spending his wholly earned, almighty dollar. That's a reality," said Andy Vance, editor of Feedstuffs magazine. "Consumers increasingly want to know more about their food and they increasingly are more and more skeptical about companies and industries that don't give them what they want to know."
Vance emphasized that the industry needs to think about the things that it has issues with and analyze those issues objectively. Vance described the presentations of the day as somewhat of a rollercoaster, each offering a different viewpoint, or highlighting a different challenge facing the industry.
The Summit closed with a half-day workshop focused on crisis communications, employee hiring strategies and the intersection of the environmental and animal rights movements and how those partnerships affect agriculture.
In addition to panel discussion and workshops, the summit was also an opportunity to highlight winners of the group's College Aggies Online competition. The winners each received a scholarship: Tiffany Swanson (North Dakota State University), Zachary Frazier (Purdue University) and Karoline Rose (Montana State University).
News source: Animal Ag Alliance