A key to success for people in the meat and poultry industry is to understand the consumer and to meet their needs — even if those consumers are members of the animal welfare community.

Jayson Lusk, professor and Willard Sparks Endowed Chair at the Oklahoma State University Department of Agriculture Economics, shared that philosophy January 31 at the 2013 International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

Lusk asked: “Can you sell what the activists are wanting? Will they buy it?”

Advertisement

In animal agriculture, a farmer takes animals and feed inputs to produce meat, which is sold to consumers. But Lusk said poultry and livestock growers also produce another product: animal welfare.

Lusk told IPPE attendees that bad news about the industry resonates with consumers more than good news, and risks often get over-stated. But producers can also spread the news of the good things they have done in animal care, or the bad things they prevented from happening to the animals. “That’s a product like anything else," said Lusk. "Can it be sold separately? I think it’s possible."

Lusk added he realizes there are extremists who will not support animal agriculture, no matter how well the stock is treated. But there are others who can see the good. “They’re not necessarily abolitionists," he said. "They really are concerned in increasing the well-being of animals that exist."