By Sara Brown
Tonight is the night if you want to see the latest attempt to destroy the livestock industry. HBO will be airing “Death on a factory farm” starting tonight at 10 p.m. ET. A full schedule and special previews
of the documentary can be found at www.HBO.com
Farmers—be it livestock or crop—need to open their eyes to the problems we are facing in this society. If we as an industry do not take a proactive approach to informing consumers about how we raise our animals and crops, other groups will do it for us.
What should you do? Here is a lesson in livestock public relations 101.
No. 1, farmers should be the sound environmental and ethical stewards of their communities. Know your production practices, hire competent workers and train them to do their job well. Know, follow and exceed the industry standards.
Second, be involved in the community. Know your farming and non-farming neighbors. The more information you can give people about why you raise livestock or farm crops a certain way will build a level of respect. If you don’t raise organic grass-fed beef, explain why you believe corn-fed beef is better. Explain that while the manure may not smell the best, you prefer to use at this time instead of nitrogen on your corn field for whatever reason.
If a member of the media comes to your farm, or asks you questions, be prepared. Talking points with current statistics can be obtained from your local beef, pork or dairy association. (Click here for a PDF of talking points
, provided by the National Pork Board, and specific questions
relating to the HBO documentary.) Do not be caught off guard if they also have a digital camera or video camera with them. Be prepared to know which animals you will let them have access to and if no access is to be given, why. In a media world, remember that short sentences make the best sound bites. Check out this story
, released by the National Pork Board.
Will you be watching tonight? I will. That old saying “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” is ringing in my head. We have to know the message that is going out to our consumers—and know it well enough to meet it head on.