Words have no inherent meaning
Commentary by Mike McMorris, LRIC CEO, March 2022
The same word can and often does have many meanings. How we interpret a word is a result of our background and exposure to it. There certainly is no better current example than the word “freedom”. From Parliament Hill in Ottawa to Kyiv in Ukraine, the same word carries two vastly different interpretations. Two worlds, two meanings.
More and more, livestock producers live in a different world than those that buy our products. Consumers are more distant from the farm than ever and have increasingly less understanding of where food comes from and how it is produced. The words that producers use every day are often meaningless to consumers.
Or worse, they mean something completely different. Producers differentiate between sectors (beef, dairy) but most consumers do not; it is just all livestock. Same goes for those who are openly anti-livestock and make broad, negative statements like:
- The CEO of Impossible Foods describing livestock as “…the most dangerous technology on earth.”
- FAIRR, a collaborative investor network based in the UK with $45 trillion under management, stating that “…animal agriculture fosters an ideal breeding ground for the new emerging diseases."
- A recent episode on TVO saying, “In principle, cellular agriculture answers two of the problems common to all animal husbandry: high environmental impacts and serious animal-welfare concerns.”
The last example should give all livestock producers pause - not only because there is no sector differentiation, but rather because it clearly states as a given that there are serious animal welfare concerns.
Although we like to think of ourselves as dairy, egg, chicken or beef producers, most consumers and certainly opponents don’t make that distinction. Perhaps it is time to help define livestock as being a key part of a sustainable environment (soil health, biodiversity) and sound human health (highly nutritious and balanced foods) while embracing continuous improvement (climate impact, animal care).