Want to be an advocate for Canadian beef? There’s a program for that.
Beef Advocacy Canada is about to launch a new training program for beef producers willing to be the faces — and voices — of the beef sector.
“We are looking to empower advocates for the beef industry — people who are raising the beef and bringing the beef to people’s tables,” said Tayla Fraser, Canada Beef’s manager of corporate affairs.
“We want them to tell their story, as they know best.”
The program, launched three years ago, is modelled after a similar American program called Masters of Beef Advocacy. It was set up by Canada Beef, the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA), and Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, and is supported by other producer groups and provincial beef associations.
“The program is split into two levels,” said Fraser. “The first level, Course 1.0, is geared toward anyone who ever wanted to know anything about beef and cattle production on a basic level — consumers, people in retail, food service, producers.
“The producer angle we were going for in the first level is if you are a cow-calf producer, you may not have all the knowledge about feedlots and we want to be able to tell all the beef value chain story. We want people to be able to talk consistently about the industry as a whole.”
Module two will look at “hot-button” topics such as the use of hormones and antibiotics, and grass-fed versus grain-fed beef.
The target audience of module two is mostly producers, however, anyone is eligible to apply.
“We are looking for beef-friendly people,” said Fraser.
The second module will focus on giving people speaking points and getting all industry players on the same page. Unlike module one, which uses quizzes at the end to test participants’ knowledge of the material, the second module allows for open responses and encourages participants to let their passion show.
The goal is to create a network of “go-to” people within the industry who can speak to consumers and also, if they’re willing, to the media.
“Often we’ll get media coming to Canada Beef or CCA looking for beef producers in (a specific geographic area),” said Fraser. “When we look at our list of people who have gone through this program we know who can speak confidently about the industry. We know who has specialties in what area. We know they are going to be positive about the industry.”
Social media is another focus of the program.
“With more people present on social media and multi-generations represented, we want people to have positive conversations with others while engaging in social media,” she said.
Many producers want to engage with the public, but “many don’t want to speak up because they are not comfortable about having conversations about the industry.”
While the program is designed to make producers feel more confident, its underlying basis is that they are the beef industry’s best representatives.
“No one knows the industry better than the people who live it every day,” said Fraser. “If going through and reinforcing things they know and learning the little details they may not have known, helps them speak up for the industry, then that’s great.
“We aren’t asking everyone to speak to the media, it’s not a requirement of the program, we just want people to be confident, and if you want to step forward and be a vocal advocate then that’s good, too.”
For more information or to register, visit beefadvocacy.ca.