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Be prepared for the tough questions

Progressive Cattle Editor Cassidy Woolsey Published on 25 April 2022

“Was anything discussed on how to reduce beef’s impact on climate change?”

His question caught me off guard.

I was on my way to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after a long morning of rental car woes. It was the third time my rental car wouldn’t start due to a dead battery, so the rental company called in reinforcements to pick up the clunker and sent a Lyft to hitch me a ride.

Cruz was his name – and boy, did he live up to it. Weaving in and out of the traffic that comes with being the ninth-most-populous city in the U.S., I was relieved I wasn’t the one at the wheel. According to Google Maps, we had about a 30-minute drive, and I was ready for the small talk.

I had just finished up my weekend at the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association’s (TSCRA) annual convention, so naturally our conversation turned to cattle and the great state where I reside.

“Do you have a big cattle ranch in Idaho?” he asked.

“What’s it like in Idaho? Lots of mountains?”

“What did you do at your meeting? Were there any cattle at the conference?”

But what I didn’t anticipate was the discussion on beef and greenhouse gas emissions. Lucky for me, his questions were respectful and sincere, not the adversarial and unproductive type we hear so often about.

“Was anything discussed on how to reduce beef’s impact on climate change?”

“Isn’t it possible to change their diet to reduce methane emissions?”

Being an editor for this publication, I surely know beef isn’t the climate killer it is made out to be. I know animal agriculture is responsible for 4% of the U.S.’s direct greenhouse gas emissions – and of that, beef cattle attribute 2.2%. But was I prepared to clear up some misinformation and highlight the industry’s efforts to reduce methane with someone who evidently had heard opposing views?

This experience reminded me of a presentation during last year’s NCBA convention where Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Emily Solis encouraged producers to be prepared for tough questions. She had producers think to themselves: “What questions would I hate being asked?” And then be ready to answer those questions.

While these questions didn’t prove to be too hard in this instance, it was a good reminder that these types of conversations do happen, and they can happen anywhere. I may have subconsciously thought living in rural Idaho would safeguard me from answering questions on antibiotics, animal welfare and climate change, but that was a naïve way of thinking. We know today’s consumers are inundated with information, and they just want to know the truth – and they want to hear it from you.

Are you prepared for the tough questions?   end mark

Cassidy Woolsey
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