This week I had the amazing experience of acting as tour guide for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef AGM Tour. The CRSB is an unprecedented initiative where stakeholders from the entire food chain have come together to define and improve beef sustainability in Canada. Stakeholders that have dedicated their time, effort and funds to this include Costco and Walmart, McDonalds and A&W, Producer Groups (Canadian Cattlemen’s Assn), wildlife groups (World Wildlife Federation) and packers (Cargill). It is an incredibly diverse group of people with diverse, and sometimes even divergent goals.
A common thread
As I chatted amongst these high level thinkers within competing industries I was struck by one overwhelming common thread. Each person there, each organization, was there for the sole purpose of making the beef industry (from the beginning, middle to end) not perfect, but BETTER. With so many opinions, and so many end goals, reaching each groups perfect goal is impossible. They each understand this fact, but it does not stop them from working together to make things BETTER. BETTER is not perfect, and it may never be, but it IS with working for.
What farmers can learn from this
My time recently spent on social media has been disparaging to the point of causing me to actively avoid Twitter. Agricultural in-fighting feels like it is at an all time high. Organic vs conventional, supply management vs export markets, big farms vs the little guy. It feels as though every sector of agriculture has backed itself into a protectionist corner, spitting mad and firing uncalled for shots at anyone that dares question them.
So what would happen if we chose instead to put down the word cannons and focus on making things BETTER? Instead of ripping each other apart, we asked questions? What if we chose to stop the strive for perfection in our own section, and switched our focus to making all of Ag BETTER? Surely if McDonalds can work with A&W, then beef and dairy, organic and conventional, large and small can chose the same path. BETTER sounds good to me. Is BETTER enough for you?