To build trust and have the social license to operate, dairies must convey shared values – rather than science -- to consumers.
Source: Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
MADISON, WIS. --- The message from Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, to dairy farmers and other dairy industry professionals attending last week’s Professional Dairy Producers’ 2014 Business Conference in Madison, Wis., was clear: Transparency is not an option. It is the path that must be taken if dairy farmers want to build trust with consumers and have the social license to operate.
Addressing the PDPW Business Conference’s opening general session, Arnot said building trust and being transparent requires an understanding that today’s consumer is disconnected from agriculture and does not understand the "why" behind dairy practices. This not-knowing leads to angst.
While some in agriculture want to cite science to convince consumers and build trust, Arnot maintains that is not the avenue that should be taken.
Instead of turning to science and hitting consumers with scientific facts or trying to educate the public with our own knowledge, Arnot urged attendees to convey shared values.
When a negative incident occurs—from a cell phone photo put on Facebook or a video posted on YouTube to a person bringing an incident to our attention, Arnot advised those in the dairy industry to apologize, take responsibility, engage in corrective action and convey steps being taken to make positive changes. He added that silence is not acceptable since its perceived intent has a negative connotation.
"We live in a radically transparent environment, and need to be a radically transparent dairy producer," he summarized.
Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin is a dairy-producer founded organization that provides educational programs and services to fellow dairy producers. PDPW’s mission is "to share ideas, solutions, resources, and experiences that help dairy producers succeed."