Consumers want transparency. Are you ready?

 Transparency requirements flow down the supply chain. Are you ready for consumers to take a hard, long look at your operation?

A Handbook for Ranch ManagersThe cold hard facts of life. — jtl, 419

by in BEEF Editors’ Blog

If you’re growing weary of hearing about the need for further transparency in this age of consumer inquisitiveness and activism, then consider the implications of recent research from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).

Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual “Transparency works,” says Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “We have statistical data to show that increasing transparency in farming, food production and processing will increase consumer trust.”

Arnot is talking about results from CFI’s research report titled A Clear View of Transparency and How it Builds Consumer Trust. It includes results from an online survey of 2,000 people, exploring which attributes are most important to consumers when it comes to trust-building transparency – policies, practices, performance or verification.

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewResearch focused on these areas of consumer concern:

  • Impact of food on health
  • Food safety
  • Impact on the environment
  • Human/labor rights
  • Treatment of animals raised for food
  • Business ethics in food production

Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits Combat Shooter's Handbook  “Consumers want to know more about what you are actually doing in these important areas,” Arnot says. “They also want the ability to engage by asking questions through the company website and they expect straight answers in a timely fashion.”

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)While this pertains directly to food companies, Arnot points out that companies may increasingly rely upon more information from suppliers in order to provide consumers the transparency they seek.

Consider third-party verification as an example.

“This study clearly shows consumers hold food companies most responsible for demonstrating transparency in all six areas,” Arnot says. “Even when it comes to on-farm animal care, an area one might assume people look to farmers to provide, consumers told us food companies are most responsible. This could lead to food companies requiring more information from their suppliers and reporting more information to consumers when it comes to the treatment of animals raised for food.”

As chronicled over time in BEEF magazine, various food companies are already going down this road.

Incidentally, Arnot adds, “Third-party audits of animal well-being and food safety practices are the minimum level of investment for transparency, but because it’s somebody from outside an organization reporting on its performance, a third-party audit doesn’t reflect the organization’s values and therefore is not as powerful in demonstrating transparency.”

Examples of practices that demonstrate transparency include the information provided on product labels, offering engagement opportunities through company websites and protecting whistleblowers.

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Understanding more about what grows consumer trust is good news, considering current and emerging technologies that will require plenty of transparency.

The ongoing debate over the judicial use of antibiotics in livestock comes to mind. As well, there is growing concern that debates in that arena could ultimately carry over to other long-used technologies.

There are the occasional black swans like the recent blunder by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. And there’s all of the new stuff, too, like the Food and Drug Administration granting approval to GMO salmon, after years of foot-dragging.

Bernie Rollins, distinguished professor and university bioethicist at Colorado State University—a longtime friend of beef producers—offered insights about consumers’ evolving views of animal welfare in a BeefVet article earlier this year. The point is germane to all of these other issues.

“How many of you think that people advocating for animal welfare or for animal rights are a small group of crazies, malcontents, ingrates or extremists that don’t appreciate the fact that we have the safest food supply in the world, blah, blah, blah?” Rollin asks. “If people in defense of animals were radicals and extremists, they (animal-welfare-based referenda) could not, by definition, pass by a handy majority.”

Rollin explains that state referenda spearheaded by the Humane Society of the United States in a dozen states—aimed at things like banning battery cages, veal crates and sow stalls—have all passed by margins of at least 2 to 1.

“Blindness to obvious points like this can hinder your ability to manage issues such as referenda that dictate change to animal agriculture,” Rollin explains.

A Handbook for Ranch ManagersA Handbook for Ranch Managers.  In keeping with the “holistic” idea that the land, the livestock, the people and the money should be viewed as a single integrated whole: Part I deals with the management of the natural resources. Part II covers livestock production and Part III deals with the people and the money. Not only would this book make an excellent basic text for a university program in Ranch Management, no professional ranch manager’s reference bookshelf should be without it. It is a comprehensive reference manual for managing the working ranch. The information in the appendices and extensive bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.

You might also be interested in the supplement to this Handbook: Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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