Lotfeeders embrace social media to build connection with city cousins

Jon Condon, 28/07/2014

The first of a new three-part series of YouTube videos featuring families involved in the cattle feedlot industry has been released by the Australian Lot Feeders Association.

Barb Madden Smithfield

Don and Barb Madden from Smithfield feedlot near Proston

The initiative aims to help bridge the much-discussed city/country disconnect by providing an insight into the lives, community engagement and typical daily activities of lot feeders.

Featuring in the series are Don and Barb Madden from Smithfield feedlot near Proston, in Queensland’s South Burnett district, and Tim and Tammy Stiller from Weroona feedlot, near Wandoan.

ALFA chief executive Dougal Gordon said research had shown that while consumers are now more interested in how food is produced, they had never been more disconnected from the industry that produces it – agriculture.

“While consumers have difficulty relating to cattle feedlot production, they can relate to the people involved in the industry. This initiative aims to humanise the industry by showing that while consumers may not understand what happens on a feedlot, they can relate to people and their families as they go about their daily lives,” Mr Gordon said.

“By showing a small snapshot of the lives of these working families, it is hoped that consumers and the broader community can better understand and empathise with the sector, particularly surrounding the importance lotfeeders place on issues such as animal health and welfare,” he said.

The series are broadly split into the summer and winter seasons to showcase the different activities undertaken by the families in their communities and with the cattle at the feedlots. The winter series are currently being filmed with the next series of videos to be released in the next few months.

Barb Madden, one of the directors of Smithfield feedlot, said it was her family’s first attempt at engaging in social media.

“For the past couple of years at least there’s been lots of ill-informed negative stories floating around about agriculture, and particularly the beef industry,” she said.

“We just felt that as a family, we needed to get involved to get a positive story out there about what we do, and how we do it,” Barb said.

“In my opinion, social media is a bit of a double-edged sword.  On one hand, you could argue that it attracts the attention of the nay-sayers, but on the other, if everybody takes that attitude, then nothing gets done to defend our industry.”

“You have to pick your fights, but simply demonstrating the human side of the industry is important. We’re all just people here, with families and working as part of broader communities.”

Barb said she and husband Don had thought long and hard about it before engaging as a family, but she was very happy with what was produced, through Condamine’s Damien Morgan and his production team.

“There’s this increased interest among consumers about where their food is coming from, but there’s never been a larger gap in awareness between the farm sector and end-users. In most cases they don’t know anyone from the country, and aren’t prepared or motivated to investigate themselves. All we are trying to do is to provide a human side to our industry and what we do.”

The first in the three part series, accessible via the links below, focused on community involvement, and the second and third will explore different themes.

The YouTube initiative has been managed by ALFA and is funded utilising grainfed cattle levies. ALFA has earlier built a suite of YouTube videos on a broad range of topics including animal welfare, environmental and people issues.

  • Click here to view the first Smithfield feedlot YouTube segment introducing Don & Barb Madden
  • Click here to view the first Weeroona feedlot YouTube segment introducing Tim & Tammy Stiller.




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