Turning the Burger King controversy into a conversation about conservation

The virtual American Farm Bureau Convention wraps up today, and one session brought the fast food community and agriculture together.

Mid last year, Burger King released a marketing campaign detailing their initiatives to reduce methane emissions by feeding cows lemon grass. This commercial gained quite a lot of criticism from the ag community.

This turned into a conversation about conservation.

Iowa farmer and social media influencer Michelle Miller saw the ad Burger King released last July, but instead of calling for a boycott, she decided to take another route.

According to Miller, “Everyone keeps blaming cow farts for global warming and there is so much more to that. Nobody ever questions the carbon footprint of their coffee; they never question the carbon footprint of their alcohol. It’s always cows, cows cows. Well, why is that? We have to think about the marketing behind the animal rights activists groups, and how they get celebrities involved. A lot of the negativity toward animal agriculture comes from special interest groups...”

So, Michelle reached out to Burger King’s Chief Marketing Officer and invited him to tour some Midwest farms. The Iowa Farm Bureau stepped up to help connect the dots.

“We found that sustainability was the name of the game; that was the focus of the tour,” Iowa Farm Bureau’s Andrew Wheeler states. “We wanted to show from beginning to end how farmers are committed to sustainability, whether that is on the farm, throughout the animals lifecycle, or when it comes time to process that animal... We were able to connect and show some different people along the way to show that full picture...”

Fernando Machado, the Chief Marketing Officer for BK, says that he learned quite a bit about the ag industry.

“I think that every time when people don’t belong or don’t live in that environment that they are talking about, there will be misconceptions. It’s not that people are mean spirited... they don’t know...,” he states. “I think, probably, people see farmers still like a romantic, classic, dated view of the farmer. They don’t see that farmers are progressive and modern...”

Machado says that he is now able to see first-hand the work farmers are doing to reduce their environment impact.


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