It was a really an excellent panel moderated by Lucas McKelvie, farmer program manager with McDonald's, and a communications expert himself. We had participants from 15 countries.
Amie Peck, stakeholder engagement manager from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, started us off by telling the story of the making and launch of "Guardian's of the Grasslands", a documentary that highlights the very positive role of cattle in native grassland ecosystems in Canada, and the working relationship between ranchers and environmentalists. The film is pitched towards people who may not have given any thought to the subject, ie. potentially a more urban audience who are concerned about the environment. It has been very successful at garnering film festival awards and has been viewed in many where we would not have expected messages from the beef industry to be shared, and has been well received by them.
Next we heard from Howard Parry Husbands of Pollinate, familiar to those of you who came to our communicators summit in 2019. He has done extensive work with MLA in Australia and emphasised the desire that consumers have to feel good about beef. A large majority of them still eat and enjoy beef, and want to be reassured that doing so is the right thing to do. He gave the parallel story of the forestry industry in Australia, the 'ultimate renewable commodity' had gained negative connotations over the years as people saw forests being felled, but rarely noticed replanting. The work he has done for both industries has helped connect consumers with more of the positive roles of both industries.
Joe Proudman is from the CLEAR center at UC Davis. I think most of GRSB's audience will be familiar with the work of Frank Mitloehner and the team supporting him at UC Davis who are steadfast in their reporting of clear and simple information on the true impact of livestock compared to the 'headlines'. They emphasise that there are positives and that there are also ways in which we can and have successfully been addressing the challenges.
Finally Skye Buttenshaw, from Engine MHP who are running our communications narrative development this year, shared some of the insights they have gained in the course of their interviews, literature reviews and member surveys. I have been closely involved over the past two months since they began, and have been really impressed by their professionalism, particularly given the challenges that 2020 has brought.