A Marketer's Lens By Danette Amstein
Danette Amstein is a managing principal for Midan Marketing - a full-service agency that solely focuses on supporting the meat industry.

There are two sides to every story; help tell ours

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

Every September we shut down Midan Marketing for four days and gather in one spot for our annual team meeting. This year our team descended on Tulsa, Okla. Our gathering always includes a day visiting places that help us educate our team members who do not have an ag background (designers, copywriters, social media coordinators, etc.) and refuel the passion in us farm kids.

This year we spent a morning on Gentner and Wendy Drummond’s ranch. Gentner is a fifth-generation rancher, running cows on 2,000+ acres. It was weaning season and the cowboys had gotten up early to gather and transport 120 calves to their working facility.

Our team watched them sort the calves for size then run them through the Temple Grandin-designed corral and into the chute to be weighed, given a respiratory vaccine, dewormed and, if needed, dehorned, before turning them out to a nearby holding pen with grass for careful observation over the  next few weeks. We saw first-hand how they care for their calves.

But our experience didn’t end there; we traveled on to Pawhuska, Okla. where members of the Osage County Cattlemen’s and the Osage County Cattlewomen’s Associations graciously interrupted their daily chores to meet with us and share their stories.

Not one member of our team left the session unaware of the passion these ranchers bring to what they do day in and day out. They spoke from the heart about fighting back grass fires, watching over mommas about to have their first calves and, for some, working a full day in town and another full “day” each evening putting up hay and checking cows.

Each rancher keenly understands the importance of taking care of the grass in order to grow their cattle. As rancher Ron Reed stated, “I am a grass farmer who gets to raise beef.”  And Barbara Jacques very eloquently explained how the lives of her family members revolve around caring for their land and cattle.

It is always after an experience like this that I wish we could take every single person in America to a farm or ranch so they could get an up close and personal glimpse into this world. It would certainly make it so much easier to help those who don’t understand the production side of the meat industry and choose, for whatever reason, to slander it.

I am constantly saddened by false information that seems to have a much longer shelf-life than the truth. Whether it is Ellen DeGeneres, who last month encouraged her fans to eat less meat, citing false data as the reason, or the erroneous set of calculations that led to bizarre proclamations by a New Yorker reporter that there are more greenhouse gas emissions in the production of four pounds of beef than a plane flying from New York to London.

I was thankful to see the uprising of individual cattlewomen (many Ellen fans) who took to social media to give Ellen an opportunity to learn about the truth of the meat industry versus the myths. I was also encouraged by the fact that Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist at UC Davis, who was interviewed for the New Yorker article, took the reporter on via Twitter, with many others weighing in.

How can we do a better job of weighing in?  Devote a few minutes a day to enter the conversation with information that tells our side of the story. Here are some great places to start:

  • Why Do Cows Get a Bad Rap? – a 2-minute video that debunks one of the biggest culprits of misinformation about cattle and greenhouse gases
  • The Bull about Cows – a blog that outlines five “claims” followed by the reality-backed facts
  • NAMI Meat MythCrushers - a video series that dispels myths about animal welfare, meat processing and more

Whether you are in production, processing or another part of the channel, we owe it to ourselves and our collective neighbors to have each other’s back. Just like the cattlemen in Osage County come together to fight a grass fire, we must come together in the social space to spread the truth.


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