There’s no one better to get tips from about advocating for agriculture than someone who’s at the top of her game. Brandi Buzzard Frobose spoke Sept. 8, 2020, at the virtual Cattle U and Trade Show event sponsored by High Plains Journal.
She was recently selected as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Masters of Beef Advocacy Advocate of the Year in 2019 and is a Top 10 Industry Leader Under 40 as chosen by Cattle Business Weekly.
Buzzard often gets questioned as to why advocate for agriculture. That answer is simple.
“One of the reasons is there's a lot of misinformation,” she said.
She passionately believes in standing up for her livelihood and the lifestyle she loves. Along with her husband, Hyatt Frobose, and daughter, Oakley, they raise seed stock and purebred Gelbvieh and Balancer cattle in southeast Kansas. The family has been ranching for about five years.
“I advocate because I want to preserve this lifestyle,” she said. “I want my daughter and my grandchildren, I want them to be able to live this also.”
Consumers top of mind
But that work can be hard because consumers have so many questions—and many of them are tough questions to answer. Questions like “factory farms,” the safety of the beef supply, how cattle are treated, sustainability or if cows are causing climate change.
“So consumers have tough questions and it can be hard to answer them,” she said. “And one way that we can do that is just talking about issues that arrived in the beef industry.”
For example, in 2013, lean finely textured beef more commonly known as pink slime arrived front and center. It was a tough topic for beef producers to discuss and ultimately many didn’t realize the issue it would be come with grocery shoppers.
“That's an important issue that we need to talk about and get ahead of on grocery shoppers,” she said.
Animal welfare is always an issue for beef producers, especially when mistreatment videos go viral.
“That's never good, obviously, and hopefully that outfit has remedied their ways and is not going to be doing that anymore,” Buzzard said. “But that's obviously a big scar for the industry when that happens.”
And then there’s the battle with human health and beef consumption and how it can play a positive role in a heart healthy diet.
“So talking about these issues is difficult, but it's really important that we do it so that we can make sure that we have a positive story out there about interesting people in our industry.”
When it comes to bad press and beef being in the media, Buzzard suggests staying in your lane.
“Don't open the door to a firestorm,” she said. “Basically, don't go into a fight that isn't yours. Talk about what you know.”
This means don’t spread bad media and talk about the issues.
“We're talking about issues so that we're not doing more hard work than we absolutely have to,” she said.
Buzzard is a rancher, mom, runner and rodeo athlete—and that’s what she talks about—whether it’s on her blog, her social media or other platforms.
“I don't talk really about farming, soybeans or corn,” she said. “That's not stuff that I know anything about.”
By the same token, Buzzard doesn’t want companies or businesses telling her story either.
“Additionally, if we're doing the hard work of advocating, you have to be relatable and real,” she said. “Most people who know me know that I am authentic. Me in person is the same me online.”
In her training of advocates in the past, she encouraged them to be the same way. In order to be a positive voice for agriculture she suggests:
• Do the right thing.
• Be yourself.
• Tell the truth.
“I think it's really important to be yourself and share the real-real. Sometimes when we're on social media, we can choose only to share the really exciting, positive things—like when we make a really nice steak meal or this great beef roast,” Buzzard said.
Farmers and ranchers don’t have trouble telling the truth, and Buzzard believes this group has some of the highest morals in the world. But she also finds it important to find common ground.
“If you have nothing else in common with someone, find that common ground that we are both grocery shoppers and want safe, healthy food,” she said. “I always advise people to ask questions.”
It’s hard to advocate for agriculture when you’re not listening to what people are asking. For example, if someone comes up to you in the grocery store and says they don’t eat a lot of beef and you just jump into the why beef is healthy and ramble off the 10 essential vitamins and nutrients.
“They could have said, maybe they lost a family member to heart disease or something like that. And the doctors had said that it was because they ate too much beef and red meat,” she said. “So it's really important to listen to understand, rather than just listening to be heard.”
She also suggests giving personal examples to go along with sharing your story and be authentic.
“I also really encourage people to stay informed,” Buzzard said. “In this day and age of where we are inundated with news on Facebook and Twitter, and we've got these phones always glued to us. It's really easy to stay informed.”
It would be difficult to talk to someone about the Burger King commercial or dietary reports if you didn’t actually know what was going on.
“What you don't want to do is be hateful or insult people or make comments about someone's intelligence, no matter how hateful they are being to you,” she said. “So just be the bigger person and walk away.”
To listen to more tips from Buzzard, watch the recording available from Cattle U at www.cattleu.net.
Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or email@example.com.