Here's what beef producers should be telling people

Here's what beef producers should be telling people

Beef
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Community trust: What it means and how to earn it.

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LACONIC as their reputation may be, cattle producers need to be speaking up now more than ever.

There are some conversations they need to be elbowing their way into, some messages they need to be shouting from the rooftops and some facts they should know by heart.

Because among the many things resilience means for the beef industry, it's also about not being vulnerable to criticism.

This idea surfaced in discussion around community trust at a recent industry webinar, hosted by Meat & Livestock Australia.

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Collaborative agricultural industry research is saying that building trust isn't just about giving consumers more science, more research or more information.

It's about demonstrating that you share their values when it comes to topics they care about most - in the case of the beef industry that is safe food, quality nutrition, outstanding animal care and environmental stewardship.

MLA's general manager of communications Lucy Broad said the industry could not afford to be silent on these issues.

"Whatever we want to call it - social license to operate, community trust in what we do - it's front of mind," she said.

"The conversation is happening and we absolutely need to be a part of it and on the front foot."

Social buy-in

While there is the recognition many of the 'social buy-in' issues are driven by emotion, it is important to deal in facts, the webinar heard.

"Through all the research MLA has invested in, we now have a clear and accurate picture of what the community actually thinks and what is driving their behaviour," Ms Broad said.

"We are sharing those insights across the industry so we can respond to the right things, and be smarter in how we respond.

"We need clear, simple, unified messages and a diversity of voices, including, alongside producers, voices outside the industry. We also need to be in non-traditional channels of communication."

What to say

On environmental sustainability: Tell the story of how red meat is taking the lead, the commitments that have been made, such as CN30 (carbon neutrality by 2030), the 56pc reduction in carbon footprint since the Paris baseline year of 2005, the net increase in tree cover and 62.5pc of cattle producing land now being managed for improved environmental outcomes.

On animal welfare: Australia's beef industry is aspiring to be world standard and increasingly using objective measures of animal wellbeing so it can benchmark and continually improve. As much as 21pc of the herd is now treated with pain relief for routine husbandry practices, an increase of 15pc on last year.

On nutrition: Lean meat is protein-rich, includes iodine, iron, zinc and other minerals and vitamins. The average per capita consumption is actually less than the recommended dietary guidelines of 65 grams a day. Research is confirming the recommended consumption - if we were even meeting it - is within planetary boundaries for resource use.

On alternative proteins: If something is labelled meat, it must be meat. There is room for all because global demand for protein is growing. The debate shouldn't be about denigrating each other's product. However, if competitors are selectively using information to damage the reputation of red meat, then we won't sit by.

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