Forget about the science; agriculture needs to use what opponents have been using against the industry for years.
“I would stop using the science” when trying to defend agriculture, Damian Mason told a standing-room-only crowd at the Iowa Pork Congress. Mason, a professional speaker, entertainer, writer, businessman and farm owner from Huntington, Ind., refers to a study that found 26 % of U.S. citizen do not know that the earth orbits around the sun. “You want to explain to them about GMOs; you want to explain to them about saturated fats; you want to explain to them that they are fat because they haven’t exercised since seventh grade PE class.”
Instead of trying to explain agriculture to consumers who are so far-removed from the industry, Mason says agricultural producers should employ the methods that groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) use when trying to turn consumers against agriculture.
“These groups are not just enemies of the livestock industry, they are also enemies of corn and soybean growers because their product goes to feed your livestock,” Mason says.
Livestock producers need to appeal to consumers by promoting self-interest, emotion, patriotism and by telling a “feel good story.” “We can talk about that pigs have been feeding humans for years and years. Why are we not telling them that pork is the most widely consumed protein in the world? We need to tell that story,” he says. “There’s upside to pork, protein is cool again. Push the pork story; you’ve got a good story there.”
Without giving in to the emotions PETA and HSUS have been using against agriculture, Mason says the swine industry needs to do something about gestation crates. “I don’t know how you do it, but you need to get rid of the crates. It’s your biggest black eye, biggest stumbling block, biggest PR problem. You have got to get rid of them.”
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