Did my title get your attention? Trust me, it was painful to type, let alone think, that it may be a reality that activist groups are doing a better job reaching consumers with marketing campaigns than are agriculture companies.

For farmers and ranchers to gain a better reputation with consumers, they need to do a better job of gaining their trust by using values to drive purchasing choices, explained Leah Dorman, director of food integrity and consumer engagement at Phibro Animal Health.

Dorman spoke April 16 at the “Values First – The Building Block that Connects with Consumers” workshop, held during the Egg Industry Center Forum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Consumers are out of touch with what producers do and why they do it, regarding animal agriculture.

She explained consumers are often turned off by science-based facts and frequently see them as just another opinion. Dorman suggested using values consumers can relate to in order to gain their trust. It is also important not to belittle their opinions.

Anti-ag groups successfully reaching consumers

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) came out with a billboard in Portland, Oregon, that reads, “Face It — You Can’t Claim to Be a Feminist and Still Eat Eggs.”  The ad further explains that eating eggs and dairy is supporting the abuse of females.

PETA plans to place a billboard in Columbus, Ohio that proclaims, “Pro-Life? Go Vegan.”

It is no secret that PETA likes to get its message across by stepping on the heart strings of what it thinks matters to people. In my opinion, they are great at dramatizing and inaccurately describing the fundamentals of livestock production.

I know we have all seen those sad HSUS videos of animals that have been abused. Unfortunately, I think consumers have been misguided to believe that perception is reality.

Time to make an ag movement

The livestock industry needs to fight back and better educate the generations of consumers making buying decisions by generating marketing campaigns that appeal to their morals and ethics.

While talking to other industry members over lunch at the forum, something became very apparent: we were all in agreement that the industry could do a better job of creating marketing messages that resonate with consumers.

We can not continue to let organizations beat up on us in order to advance their agenda. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, why not have farmers create an ad campaign that creates the personal relationship consumers are looking for?