NOME, ND — In a volatile consumer market, breeders need to keep in mind one of their best marketing strategies and tools: themselves.
Ernie Barnes, director of producer and state engagement for the National Pork Board, attended the North Dakota Livestock Alliance summit where he spoke about the importance of producer advocacy for of animal agriculture.
“Many pork producers are running away from this opportunity. We are always our best spokesperson. You stand up and talk about why you’re in farming, how you grew up in farming, how you feed the world, you do it healthy, you do it nutritious, and it’s safe. It doesn’t matter what species we’re talking about. Almost every animal production organization promotes it,” Barnes said.
Barnes shared the story of “Operation Main Street,” a program that trains pork producers to speak to the general public about farming and their role within it, in addition to answering questions from consumers. So far, 1,500 pork producers nationwide have given more than 10,000 speeches over the past 10 years about the pork industry. Some of these groups included civic organizations, dietary groups, veterinary groups, and many others.
Another program, “Neighbor to Neighbor”, was shared at the NDLA summit. This program helps producers connect with consumers in their day-to-day lives, helping to market their pork and other agricultural products.
“It helps pork producers talk to people at church, Little League baseball games and basketball. When they ask questions about animal production, we’ll try to help them remember to tell their story, explain why they’re in the business, and highlight all the positive attributes of working in the animal husbandry industry. “said Barnes. “You have to do it. If you don’t, who’s going to do it for you?
Tim Petry, Associate Professor and Livestock Economist at North Dakota State University, spoke about market price volatility and market uncertainty that have been heavily influenced by a variety of outside factors. For this reason, he recommends growers also make sure to think about risk management.
“Producers need to continue to use risk management on a seasonal basis because we often sell a lot of production, like lambs and veal, in the fall,” he said. “I think producers in their marketing plans have to take that into account.”