Pork producers today are facing a number of serious challenges, according to Hoosier Ag Today (HAT). There is the challenge to survive tough economic times, the challenge to move to new animal welfare and environmental standards, and the challenge to justify their existence to an ever skeptical consuming public.
In a sobering and thought provoking presentation called Stewards of a Global Future- Celebrating the Dignity of Raising Animals for Food, Dr. Nelson Kloosterman, with Worldview Resources International, suggested pork producers focus on stressing their animal husbandry when communicating with consumers, “I believe that animal husbandry or stewardship is a dignified calling.” He told HAT in a one-on-one interview that this calling has a lot in common with other callings, “You treat your customers honorably, you treat your tools respectfully, and you treat your product carefully.”
He said radical animal activists such as HSUS have claimed the moral high ground and have challenged the morality of raising animals for food. He told the crowd of several hundred producers gathered at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds for the Midwest Pork Conference that these activists use religion, children, and language to drive home their false message about animal agriculture. He showed several examples of HSUS and PETA videos, bumper stickers, and web sites that use religion, children, and emotionally charged language to send a strong anti-agriculture message.
Dr. Kloosterman was critical of industry efforts that stress advocacy more than customer focus, “We need to move beyond advocacy and focus on the end user”. He added customer service is not a self-oriented preoccupation, “Customer service asks about the needs, desirers, and tastes of the end user.” He did, however, praise some efforts to educate consumers such as the Pig Adventure program being developed and constructed at Fair Oaks in Jasper County. He encouraged producers to steal a page from the HSUS playbook and to use emotion and morality to tell their own stories of safe and humane food production.