This Spring marked the official creation and funding of an issues management program under the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.
In April 2018, the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off was increased from $1 to $2.50.
Some of the increase will go towards funding this new program, which is now known as Public and Stakeholder Engagement.
Public and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Tom Lynch-Staunton, says the increase in funding will allow them to create a concentrated effort across Canada when answering consumer questions and addressing articles which may not be telling the whole story.
"Consumers are asking a lot of questions. They're not as connected as they were once to agriculture, and it's our responsibility to help get them the answers to the questions they have in a factual and transparent manner."
Lynch-Staunton says, one of the immediate actions they've taken with the funding is hiring a full-time Manager, who is set to start in September, replacing his part time position asManager.
They also have another full-time staff member who will be working in Public and Stakeholder Engagement.
He says, in their Issues Management pilot project, one of the major reoccurring concerns consumers expressed was the environmental impacts of beef production.
"The production of beef does emit more GHG (greenhouse gas) than many other products. However, when you're trying to measure environmental impacts or benefits based on one metric, that can get dangerous, because raising cattle we know in Canada can have tremendous environmental benefits in terms of preserving natural grasslands, increasing carbon storage in our soils, nutrient recycling, providing natural habitat to wildlife and biodiversity."
Funding through the Stakeholder and Public Engagement will also be going towards training industry spokespeople, social media training, and consumer research.
He says, moving forward it will be a challenge to measure the progress of changing consumer perceptions, but their goal is to make consumers feel good about buying beef by providing nutritional information and reassuring people beef is raised responsibly.
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