Q: How do I convey how much I care about my cattle, the land I use, and the people who eat the product?
A: We’ve all heard the quote that goes like this: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This quote has been attributed to many different people over the years and there is a reason why. This quote really gets down to the basics about conveying a message of care. Let’s think about animal handling. As we know, animals can’t understand our words, but typically react in a positive fashion with time and patience versus when a situation is rushed. People are the same way. Facts are important, but without a message about how much you care for these animals, the land, and the product, most people will only hear some jumbled stats and not connect to what you are really trying to say. A great way to answer a question from a concerned consumer is by starting your answer with “I totally understand, and I feel the same way.” For example, if someone is asking about water consumption in relation to raising cattle you could say, “I’m also really concerned about how much water our cattle drink! One goal for my ranch is to carry on the traditions started by those who came before me and to hand the reins over to the next generation. To ensure that happens, I must ensure my cattle are using water efficiently, so it lasts. The amount of water my cattle drink can also let me know how they are feeling which is an important part of my animal care plan.” Conveying your sincerity and passion for your work helps change the conversation from one of defiance to one of care and understanding.
Now to put this Q & A into action - I came across a post on Facebook about "The Beyond Burger" posted by Dr. Rimka's Brain and Body Solutions. In her post, she questioned the truth Beyond Burger promoters are pushing to the public. As I read the post, I thought, "finally, a post about the Beyond Burger that I agree with." And just when I thought it was too good to be true, I began to read the comments. I began to read many misinformed comments: "my cancer was caused by red meat", "it's not about health; it's about the environment", "no one died to create the Beyond Burger, someone was murdered to make a beef burger", "beef is filled with antibiotics, and hormones", "beef is the reason for massive air and land pollution", "it's about an animal's life and the environment", lies about antibiotics, emissions, ethics, murder, the environment, hormones, and so on.
Just like each of you, at this point, I was feeling defensive, angry, and questioned how 1,700 people commented negatively towards animal agriculture. I then thought, "what will someone who has not been involved in the story of their food believe after reading these comments?" After reading a few more, I posted the following comment: "My family owns a cattle ranch in Arizona. We're also really concerned about the environment and the land! One of our goals is to pass our ranch onto the next generation better than we received it! We do this by caring for the land, natural resources, the environment, and raising healthy and nutritious beef for not only our family but for hundreds of others." I then closed my phone. A few minutes later, notifications of replies to my comment came. I was cussed at and called a murderer, BUT I also received comments thanking my family for feeding theirs, comments telling me of their dinner plans now including beef tonight, asking about byproducts, and many others.
Now imagine if we all comment to posts just like this one sharing compassion, our love for our jobs, and care for the land and animals. Consumers are interested in hearing the story of their food! Join the Arizona Cattle Growers', Arizona Beef Council, and Arizona Farm Bureau and share your family's story. One Facebook comment, one introduction at the grocery store, one answer to a question can make all the difference in someone's thoughts towards Arizona ranching!
Written in partnership with https://www.arizonabeef.org/ and https://www.azfb.org/Programs/Agriculture-in-the-Classroom
Photo credit: Justin Ladd, Arizona rancher #arizonadefined