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Livestock producers could be their operation's best marketing tool

Livestock producers should take into consideration that their voice could be a powerful marketing tool for their farms and operations.

Ernie Barnes spoke about advocating for animal agriculture at the NDLA Summit, saying it is a great marketing tool. Photo taken Feb. 3, 2022, in Nome, North Dakota.
Emily Beal / Agweek
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NOME, N.D. — In an uneasy consumer marketplace, livestock producers should keep in mind one of their best marketing strategies and tools: themselves.

Ernie Barnes, director of producer and state engagement for the National Pork Board, attended the North Dakota Livestock Alliance Summit where he spoke of the importance of producer’s advocating for animal agriculture.

“A lot of pork producers run from that opportunity. We’re still our best spokesperson. You stand up and tell why you’re in agriculture, how you grew up in agriculture, how you’re feeding the world, you’re doing it healthy, you’re doing it nutritiously, and it’s a safe product. It doesn’t matter which species we’re talking about. Almost all animal livestock production organizations promote that,” Barnes said.

Barnes shared the story of “Operation Main Street,” a program that trains pork producers to be able to talk to the general public about animal agriculture and their role within it, in addition to answering any questions consumers may have. So far, 1,500 pork producers nationwide have given over 10,000 speeches in the last 10 years about the pork industry. Some of these groups included civic organizations, dietetic groups, vet groups and many others.

Another program, “Neighbor to Neighbor,” was shared at the NDLA Summit. This program helps producers talk to consumers in their everyday lives, thus helping market their pork and other agriculture products.


“It helps pork producers talk to people at church, Little League baseball games, and basketball. When they ask about livestock production, we’re going to try to help them remember to tell their story, tell why they’re in the business and point out all the positive attributes of working in the livestock industry,” Barnes said. “You have to do it. If you don’t do it, who’s going to do it for you?”

Tim Petry, an associate professor and livestock economist at North Dakota State University, spoke about the volatile market prices and the uncertainty of the markets that have been heavily influenced by a variety of outside factors. Due to this, he recommends producers also make sure to think about risk management.

“Producers need to continue to use risk management on a seasonal basis because a lot of times we sell a lot of production, like lambs and calves, in the fall,” he said. “I think producers in their marketing plans need to take that into consideration.”

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