The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is embarking on an $865,000 public relations and engagement campaign over the next three years to increase public trust in the country's ranching industry.
Dennis Laycroft, the executive vice president of the Calgary-based association that represents Canadian ranchers, said the campaign will be a “full engagement effort” to try and tell the CCA’s story.
“There are incredible stories we have in the Canadian cattle industry,” he said. “I always say, if people don’t know what we’re doing, is that their fault or is it actually our fault? Have we gone out and shared our story properly? A lot of this is sharing that story and making sure when we’re sharing that story that we’re sharing it in a way that gets the greatest appreciation of what we’re doing.”
The CCA formed in 1932. According to its website, the association lobbies to government on behalf of the beef production industry and claims to be the national voice of Canada's approximately 55,000 beef farms.
Laycroft said the campaign will investigate how the CCA is viewed by the general public – particularly among younger generations. He said the intent is to have a conversation with millennials and raise awareness of what the ranching industry is doing.
“I think there’s a wider story that still needs to be discussed more actively with Canadians and around the world,” he said.One aspect of the organization’s campaign will be the exploration of a possible name change. Earlier this year, the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA) made headlines when members discussed the possibility of changing the organization’s title to something more gender-neutral to reflect the industry's growing diversity. The consideration was ultimately voted down by SCA board members.
Laycroft said he expects the CCA’s nomenclature to be discussed during the engagement, but added the association is moving forward with its communication focus regardless of a potential rebrand.
“That’s an interesting one, because a lot of people view cattlemen as a generic term, and yet there are some who view it as a gendered term,” he said. “That’s part of the discussion that will take place, but this initiative is moving forward whether we’re called the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association or whether we’re called something slightly different.”
He added the CCA has built up a strong identity over the last nine decades in Ottawa, and is typically referred to in industry circles by its acronym.
“We want to make sure we maintain the strong history of the organization and the industry,” he said. “At the same time, [we want to] make sure we have messaging out there that is going to work well in today’s world.”
Above all else, raising awareness of the cattle industry and dispelling some of the negative reputations the sector has developed internationally in recent years is the primary reasoning for the campaign, according to Laycroft. In the midst of a global pandemic, he said food security has been at the forefront of people’s minds and that a strong public appreciation for the agriculture sector is paramount.
“I think the understanding and appreciation for agriculture is the highest it’s been in decades,” he said. “Now is a great opportunity to have that conversation and show people all the great things being done here in Canada.
“I’m excited to be able to tell our story.”