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Moving the Meat Momentum Forward

Over the weekend, my kids watched the movie, “The Lorax,” inspired by Dr. Suess.

A quote in that movie stuck out to me, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

This reminder rings true for what’s happening in the beef industry right now. There are so many things on my radar right now that I’m deeply concerned about.

Biden’s 30X30 executive order, cyber hacking like what happened at JBS and what that means for food security in our country, the Green New Deal, the Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act in Oregon, the Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation (PAUSE) Act in Colorado, the United Nation’s Agenda 2030, the fake meat company’s open agenda to eliminate beef from the dinner table and replace it with their products, and the media’s odd push to normalize eating bugs, maggots and cicadas as a protein source.

Let’s not forget that while we fight political threats and potential burdensome regulations that seek to put us out of business and make meat more expensive and unattainable to the average consumer, animal rights activist groups are working harder than ever behind the scenes.

And during this pandemic, we see more and more articles being published by the medical community blaming the pandemic on animal agriculture and suggesting that our industry needs to change in order to avoid future pandemics, while addressing climate change, of course. Consider this article from Florida Atlantic University as just one of many examples: “Future pandemic? Consider altering animal agriculture practices.” 

So back to the Lorax quote. I know there are so many of us who have lost sleep over these issues and have huge worries about how they will impact the industry we love so much. We care, and we care deeply, but what can be done to truly move the needle closer to the truth? What can be done to change hearts and minds about who we are in agriculture when it’s quite evident there is a multi-faceted agenda meant to kill us with a thousand cuts?

These are the questions that were discussed at the Colorado Livestock Association’s annual meeting last week in Greeley, Colo. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel alongside Keith Belk, PhD, a professor from Colorado State University; Jordan Levi, program manager and founder of Arcadia Asset Management’ Jennifer Brown, a reporter for the Colorado Sun who broke the “Meat Out” story in Colorado; and Sarah Beatty, of M&C Communications, who served as our moderator.

The panel discussion was robust, and the energy, determination and readiness to act from the audience was palpable. With the PAUSE Act as a direct looming threat on their livelihoods, these folks know this battle isn’t one to take lightly, but the question remains, what is the next best step?

From my vantage point, I loved the momentum that was created as a result of Governor Jared Polis’ declaration of “Meat Out Day” in Colorado. Of course, I clearly disagreed with the erroneous statements he made in his proclamation, but the response showed me that we have consumers on our side, who will readily fight to defend their freedom to choose the foods that they enjoy without government interference.

On Meat Out Day, we saw counter events celebrating meat lovers. The day turned into Meat In Day with many grill outs, fundraisers, strategy meetings, and community outreach events.

In the panel I asked the crowd, “Remember how you felt when you read the draft of the PAUSE Act? Did you feel scared, anger, worried, and frustrated? Then do you remember how it felt to read your governor’s proclamation shortly after? Did it feel like a kick in the teeth?

“But how did you feel on Meat In Day when friends, neighbors and communities gathered together to celebrate beef? Did you feel pride, hope, passion, strength and enthusiasm?

“The big question is, how do we bottle up all of these emotions and use them as effective tools to continue to build a strong momentum amongst producers and consumers to safeguard our meat supply and ensure that family farms stay on the land to provide us with the beef we love?”

The answer may not be as simplistic as we all hope, and I’m not sure one single person or agricultural organization has the perfect counter strategy developed yet. However, I feel quite positive that with so many concerned, caring producers and consumers out there, we can rally together to make the change we are hoping for become a reality. 

But the key will be, we’ve got to do it together. In June, during Steak Month, let’s continue to find ways to build this growing momentum that was started on Meat In Day and seek opportunities to create positive experiences with the customers we serve. If they can get to know the people in this agricultural community, I believe they will have that in mind should these ballot initiatives come up for a vote in the future.

Let’s get fired up and continue to share the good news of beef in our communities! It’s up to every single one of us because remember, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

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