Cattlemen’s Association addresses the cow in the room

The organization counters climate concerns about beef by presenting the upsides.

Beef has been falling out of vogue for environmentally-minded meat eaters for some time as the potential impacts of beef on climate change have become more broadly understood. But the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is looking to change that with a new campaign.

The campaign – “Love beef? And the environment?” – was developed by creative agency Bob’s Your Uncle and aims to highlight some of the positive environmental impacts of cattle ranching. It came about “both from research as well as social listening,” says Amie Peck, stakeholder engagement manager for the CCA.

“We know Canadians enjoy eating beef, but consumers are increasingly aware of both the carbon emissions and environmental impacts of the foods they eat. The brightest spotlight has been on global beef production,” she explains. “We really wanted Canadian consumers to know that they can feel good about eating our beef because there’s a lot of positive environmental impacts that come from having cattle on the land.”

Among those impacts is the preservation of Canada’s native temperate grasslands, “one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world,” Peck says.

“What little remains is cared for by beef farmers and ranchers who keep it intact so that it’s not converted for crops or development,” she notes. “On those lands where beef cattle are raised, you find the majority of wildlife habitat for all food-producing land in Canada.”

The industry also has other environmental upsides, Peck says – among them, that it “diverts a lot of damaged crops or crop byproducts and upcycles them into delicious beef.” Meanwhile, cattle grazing in communities in B.C. help to mitigate the risk of large wildfire events, “especially surrounding communities where they can’t do prescribed burns.”

“Some of these benefits are more obvious than others, and we’re really excited to bring these stories to Canadians,” Peck adds.

But the creators of the campaign don’t have blinders on. Methane emissions – one of the main complaints among people who oppose beef farming – is a focus of the organization, as well. In fact, Peck says, the CCA is working to reduce methane emissions from cattle ranchers by 33% by 2030. “We want to take ownership of where we can do better as beef farmers and ranchers and be part of the solution to climate change in Canada.”

The campaign is running digitally on Slice, HGTV and other such websites, “focusing in on our key demographic of millennials who skew female in that 25 to 44 year old market,” Peck says. “We know from our consumer research, they have the same concerns as all Canadians but feel really strongly about the need to reduce their meat consumption for the environment.” The ads point to a microsite featuring a number of small documentaries that discuss cattle ranching’s benefits.

The campaign is running through the end of May.