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Big Ag's Opposition Research

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 11:01:33 AM PDT


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A new big ag group formed last year, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). Don't be fooled: their president is Bob Stallman, who is also the head of the American Farm Bureau Federation. (Check out Stallman's 2010 speech to the Farm Bureau... I don't think he's a fan of Michael Pollan.)

Several weeks ago, a well-known sustainable food & ag writer received an email from a PR firm working for USFRA. Over the next several weeks, many other sustainable food writers and bloggers received similar emails. Here's mine (Subject Line: Seeking Your Insights on Agriculture):

My name is Kyle and I work for a word-of-mouth marketing agency, Zocalo Group. [A subsidy of Ketchum]

We're partnering with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a newly formed alliance consisting of a wide range of prominent farmer and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, in an effort to help them connect with the public in an open discussion about food production and agriculture. As part of what we're doing, we're speaking with people who would likely have valuable points of view on this. And, we thought you would be able to contribute some useful insights, given your reputation in the food and ag industry

We are working toward holding events and activities in the coming months so we'd love to talk with you soon. Would it be possible to touch base for a few minutes by phone to get a sense of your thoughts on agriculture, give you a heads up about what the USFRA is doing and maybe discuss your interest in participating in the conversation?

For more information about the USFRA, please visit us online at: www.usfraonline.org

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Hmm, would I like to help the Farm Bureau et al conduct opposition research so they can use it to work against everything I hold dear? Gee, that's an appealing thought but, no, not really. I'll pass.

Few others have replied and offered to talk. After a long silence from me, Kyle followed up with a second email. I asked for info about USFRA. Here's what he sent back:

As far as a little bit more about USFRA and where it's funding comes from, USFRA is a newly formed alliance consisting of a wide range of prominent farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners. It's the first time agricultural groups at the national, regional and state levels have collaborated to lead the dialogue and answer Americans' questions about how we raise our food - while being stewards of the environment, responsibly caring for our animals and maintaining strong businesses and communities.  Details about our membership and funding can be found here: http://usfraonline.org and here is their list of affiliates http://usfraonline.org/about/a...

"being stewards of the environment, responsibly caring for our animals and maintaining strong businesses and communities"? Boy that sounds nice. Too bad none of it's actually true.

Jill Richardson :: Big Ag's Opposition Research
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My general rule of thumb... (4.00 / 2)
...is to never work with someone who makes the its / it's mistake in professional correspondence.

Okay, kidding.  Kinda.  But still...

;-P

Oh yeah, and to not do this either -

Hmm, would I like to help the Farm Bureau et al conduct opposition research so they can use it to work against everything I hold dear?

Heh.


It's good to talk with the other side (4.00 / 2)
The organic community reached out to Farm Bureau in the 80's and they became an ally for organics in DC; even as they continued pushing GMO's and chemical Ag.

Politics makes strange bed fellows, you should talk with them, just be professional and pleasant.  

 


Good points George nt (4.00 / 2)


Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
In that case, perhaps (4.00 / 2)
but this is clearly an astroturf group here.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
"When your enemy gapes his great jaws at you, (4.00 / 2)
go in through them, for he is softer on the inside"

Got that from a vampire book, but it's true none the less.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.


[ Parent ]
But the problem is... (4.00 / 1)
...Jill doesn't have at her disposal the millions of dollars with which to take advantage in that case.

[ Parent ]
I'm aware of that (4.00 / 1)
but you don't need millions of dollars to enter an organization like this one, especially when they have invited you.

The whole gist of that saying in a situation like this is to infiltrate (much easier to do when asked by the organization you'd like to enter) and then you'll know exactly what's going on in that organization as well as having access to people that you ordinarily might not. That access gives one much more potential to influence the organization and its members than standing outside locked gates shouting at them with a bullhorn.

And it costs absolutely $0.00

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.


[ Parent ]
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