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Animal science: communication: Is it reliable? Is it relevant? Is it responsible?”


There is a well-known saying that communication is key, but how many animal scientists really take that to heart when we discuss our business with the general public? Many modern-day consumers have little or no farming knowledge, but they care how their food is produced and don’t always trust the information that is provided. This makes communication difficult. For example, how does one explain a perceived inhumane practice such as removing a dairy calf from its dam after birth, or branding and castrating beef calves, to someone whose opinion is based on imagining how they would feel in the animal’s place? In addition, publishing a research paper in an academic journal often does not influence an audience beyond other professionals in the industry unless it is accompanied by press releases or social media posts aimed at the general public.


It can be tempting to leave consumer communication to those with formal training or to a young intern who is comfortable with social media, but ultimately, the sustainability of the livestock industry is not only reliant on continuing economic and environmental viability, but also on social acceptability, and consumer acceptance can only be maintained and improved into the future by improving communication.


While it certainly is not necessary, or even possible, to satisfy each and every whim of every consumer, if we don’t listen to consumer demands and either alleviate their concerns or adjust our systems accordingly, producers will run the risk of losing market share to other, more socially acceptable options, including plant-based foods.


This congress will include excellent speakers from industry, academia, and the general public, so get ready for some lively debates. In addition, the poster session will showcase the latest local research from various research and educational institutions.


The preliminary programme will be published as soon as possible after the declaration of the end of the national state of disaster.