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Open up, Grandin tells farmers

DANIEL LOOKER Updated: 12/06/2012 @ 9:57am Business Editor

Temple Grandin, a woman who overcame autism to become one of the world’s most influential authorities on livestock behavior, shared her ideas on how farmers can tell their story to the public at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Des Moines, Wednesday.

 

Instead of public relations formulas, Grandin offered a blunt appraisal of what commercial agriculture needs to do to win over ill-informed and skeptical consumers.

 

“The problem is, agriculture has done a lousy job of communicating with the public,” Grandin said.

 

Consumers don’t understand food production. In Britain, for example, 10% thought that beef is made from wheat, according to one poll, she said.

 

“The most basic things, people just don’t know,” she said. “It’s kind of appalling.”

 

Nor does the public know about progress in animal production. Grandin can remember a time when packing plant workers would move live pigs around by pulling them with a meat hook. Today the USDA would shut down a plant using such methods.

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