Transparency in Agriculture

Transparency has become a buzzword in agriculture. Be transparent. Open your doors. Show the world what you’re doing on your front porch.

And I agree. Sticking our heads in the sand is not an effective way to deal with the powerful political and activist groups who oppose animal agriculture. It’s also not a good way to pick up a conversation with consumers who are interested in learning about where their food comes from. I like talking to people about cattle ranching, and I can’t do that if I never poke my nose beyond my front door.

The problem with buzzwords like transparency is that they lose power the more they’re tossed around. They lose meaning, and once the meaning is lost, how do you take action?

It seems to me that there are two main questions to answer about transparency in agriculture.

  1. What does transparency mean to you?
  2. How are you going to act on your definition of it?

I want to make it clear that I agree with the concept of transparency. I just want to encourage everyone – including me – to really stop and think about the reality of transparency in our own individual lives.

We are not all going to be Cargill on Oprah, an agricultural social media rockstar or an owner who hosts weekly ranch visits. And that’s okay.

But we can have a great impact in little everyday type of ways. With the people we work with, the folks we meet at church, the friend we invite out to ride fence.

That sounded fluffy. Fluffy is for down pillows and 70s shag carpet.

Stop talking. Start doing.

PS: Check out Ryan Goodman’s ideas and list of links on this question: how would you work differently if a non-farmer/rancher followed you around for a day?

PPS: There might be a part two on Transparency in Agriculture as I just thought of something else that relates in a roundabout, Erica-type way. It’ll probably be called…Transparency in Agriculture, Part 2.


  1. Great blog post! I agree that transparency is very important in agriculture but it’s too much of a buzz word. We need less talk and more action.

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