AP - Be Good And Tell It? Re-establishment Of The Connection Between Livestock Industry And Society
The pork, poultry and dairy production chains have been of major significance for the rural areas of Western Europe. They provided food in abundance, employment and economic activities. In the last decade, however, there is an increasing awareness in society to farming. A gap has grown between animal production methods and the perceptions of society. The project BGood is looking for new ways to re-establish the connection between the livestock industry and society. These ways concentrate on communication strategies. Repairing a damaged relationship is, however, more than improving image. It is a combined action between image (to see) and identity (to be) (Birkigt & Stadler, 1986). Therefore, the communication strategies focus on changing society’s view of animal production (image) and changing the attitude of the livestock industry towards society (identity). Twenty-five interviews have been conducted to explore how people working in other, non-agricultural, industries have acted in situations to bridge a gap (e.g. church and society, politics and civilians, chemical industry and their neighbours). Surprising ideas and comments have come up: “People want to identify themselves with a person (the farmer). They can’t identify themselves with the high technology systems you’re always presenting.”, or “Start to think of yourself as a food producer, not as an animal care taker.”, or “No visibleness means no engagement.” The project is now at a stage where the plurality of ideas will be used as inspirational examples in a series of meetings with people from the agricultural industries. They will form working groups that take over the ideas and put them into practice. At the IFMA-congress the process during and results of the meetings will be presented. One of the conclusions of the project so far is that the cooperation between agriculture and non-agriculture was clarifying, gave us eye-openers and was very fruitful.
Keywords: animal production, society, communication strategies.