More than a buzzword


At the risk of conjuring up memories of elementary school punishments, have you ever had to write, read, or say the same word over and over again? Whether it’s for a good reason or just for fun, it always seems to blur the word a bit. The more you see the letters and hear the sounds, the less it sounds like a real word with real meaning. If you don’t believe me, try saying “omelet” 25 times in a row and see if it makes sense to you in the end.

Repetition makes us distance ourselves from words, tasks, and the world around us all the time. In the marketing of our dairy products, we regularly use certain phrases which may cause them to lose their hold on us or our consumers over time. One such example, which we also use on the farm side, is the trendy marketing tool, “sustainability”.

Why might we disconnect when we hear this word? Maybe it’s because it’s used a lot, or because it has such a broad meaning that it can be interpreted in many ways, or because we already think we know where the person saying it is going to go with it. . All of these reasons are interconnected. But it’s always worth pursuing the concept of sustainability, because we know it makes farms, workplaces, and supply chains more productive and healthier. In fact, this is often tied to practices that farms are already using.

Communicating the value of “sustainability” without your listeners getting bogged down with the word came up during a conversation on the topic ahead of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholder Summit. Connecting your audience to the specifics of what sustainable practices look like was Sara Crawford and Sara Reichelt’s key message.

“I think a lot of us are moving towards sustainability, but there are growing pains,” Reichelt said of the connotation that has developed around the word firm side. The veterinarian works with poultry producers in her animal welfare role at Aviagen North America.

To combat the connotation, she described that while she knows a practice will contribute to the sustainability of an operation, what she directs is how it will solve an animal health, waste or other issue in the business. ‘company. The “sustainability” part comes later.

“At the end of the conversation, once we’re aligned and know how we’re going to move forward, I remind them that this was a really good lasting solution,” she shared. “I know it’s become a buzzword, so avoiding it can help you steer the conversation without someone having preconceived ideas about where the conversation is going.”

Crawford, who works with the National Pork Board, backed this approach, saying it’s about helping people connect the word to the practices that take them there. She described it as a “comma and” attitude. For example, if a farmer replaces his lighting with LED bulbs, this improves his energy efficiency and reduces his greenhouse gas footprint.

Many of the practices that farms of all types and sizes use every day are sustainable in one way or another. It’s not a scary word, Crawford said; it’s just presenting the information in a different way that is helpful to people who are not as familiar with on-farm practices. “It helps them connect that these things go together,” she said.

When the specifics of sustainability are shared, it can make more sense than just a buzzword, no matter how many times you hear it.

Katelyn Allen

Katelyn Allen joined the Hoard’s Milkman team as Publications Editor in August 2019 and is now Associate Editor. Katelyn is a 2019 graduate of Virginia Tech, where she majored in dairy science and minored in communications. Katelyn grew up at her family’s registered Holstein dairy, Glen-Toctin Farm, in Jefferson, Maryland.


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