“Transparency” has become a hot buzzword in the last few years. From an industry association standpoint, the implication is that one is better off explaining your industry rather than leaving it to activists to explain for you. When I left the poultry industry and joined USPOULTRY 12 years ago, our association’s focus was on communicating with our industry and its immediate stakeholders, with little emphasis or priority given to communicating with the public at large. Obviously, times have changed. So, for example, in the last year we have released two Web-based videos specifically intended to help educate the public at large on our industry.

Fortunately, we have an absolutely great story to tell! We are producing ever-safer poultry and egg products, while using fewer and fewer input resources. Safer product, more sustainably — the wonder of modern food production!

Of course, as you might expect, not everyone believes this. For example, our first video release is called “Raising Chickens & Turkeys – for Today and Tomorrow.” It’s about 12 minutes long and describes the poultry-growing side of the industry. It is available on YouTube (channel: PoultryEgg Assoc), and we had a comment posted claiming the video was the “Disney version of factory farming.”

While I’ll admit that we did choose a grower we thought would be at ease in front of the camera, and a farm that sits in a prettier setting than perhaps some others, what is shown in the video is factual and reflects farms across the country. We responded to the comment asking the original poster to contact us, and we’d arrange a tour of a farm. The poster has not taken us up on that offer.

Our most recent video addresses the “hormone myth,” dispelling the legend that we feed or inject hormones to promote growth in today’s poultry. And, we have one on antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance, in the works.

I’m not naïve enough to think that a few videos we produce will swing the tide of public opinion. But I have to believe that all of us in modern agriculture and food production — trade associations, companies, as individuals in our respective communities — can and must influence public opinion if we are going to be able to feed ourselves.

To borrow a line from Tyson CEO Donnie Smith, “The first one to the microphone controls the conversation.”

Go grab a mic.