Effective Ag Communication—Different Accents, Different Methods, Same Results

I haven’t met Brennan Costello or Jude Capper, but in different ways—and in different accents—they impress me with their abilities to promote agriculture.

Costello is enrolled at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he has been serving as a National FFA Central Region Vice President. I have a feeling this young man has herded cattle and dug into some rich topsoil, but he also knows how to cultivate words. His “Midwest Cornhusker voice” comes through as he crafts an essay that does three key things:

1.   He mentions but dismisses a misleading ad campaign, and he does it without getting defensive or slanted.
2.   He uses concrete examples to paint straightforward images of farming.
3.   And he encourages others in the ag world to communicate clear, honest stories.
Costello describes a dynamic ag-ed program, and his words remind me of what I like best about the farm community I came from—the farmers. They enjoy working the land and they acknowledge the challenges—the dizzying growth, the huge capital costs, the tech and weather complications, the spider web of regulations, and even the few bad apples who give ag a bad name. But like the farmers in Brennan’s piece, they are trying to make a living and produce quality food—they have stories to tell, but they usually walk the walk, not talk the talk.
Jude Capper “talks her talk” loud and clear to the public and policymakers alike. She uses science, logic, and her smooth British accent to explain why animal agriculture is not only improving its environmental and sustainable qualities, it has become essential in our efforts to eradicate world hunger. As a university

professor and an in-demand presenter at many ag events, Capper uses visual aids, exhaustive research, and clear messages to explain why agriculture’s carbon hoofprints are getting lighter while the need for livestock products has become greater.

Dr. Capper recently spoke at three rollout events on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.—to House staffers, to Senate staffers, and to a gathering at the Farm Bureau building. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology organized the sessions to roll out its latest publication—Issue Paper #53, Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050. Authors and reviewers led by Dr. Jude Capper have examined the facts and provided science-based research to support credible information about animal agriculture and the “feed versus food” issue.
News headlines, social media blitzes, and even company ad campaigns tend to paint farmers with certain broad strokes, and the results sometimes leave only stereotyped stick figures. It takes thought and common sense to explain the innate qualities of agriculture—the National FFA Organization is developing young agriculturalists with those qualities. It also takes time and effort to examine the facts—CAST strives to do that with its publications, videos, social media releases, and collaborations with well-respected experts. by dan gogerty

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