Working towards a good cause
Enhancing the relationship between the beef cattle farmer and the meat processor
By Ronnie P. Cons
Beef Processors want and need a consistent supply of dependable high-quality beef to supply to their distributors and retailers. In order to achieve this, many processors have contracts with multiple beef cattle farmers who together supply the needs of the processor.
Establishing trust and communication between the farm and the processor will help ensure that the processor receives their expected quantities and quality of beef from their cattle suppliers. An open and trusting relationship between the farmer and the processor will motivate the farmer to produce higher-quality cattle as they will feel more like an important partner with the processor than just the “50th” supplier. Thus the processor must make sure to develop and work on the relationships he has with the farms. They must develop communication channels and make sure to give positive feedback and encouragement to farmers for supplying high-quality beef cattle. Open lines of communication will allow farmers to express any complaints or concerns they have as a supplier. This way problems will be solved before they become worse. Managers of farms should be encouraged to report potential supply problems or other issues on the farm that can impact supply, so that processors can be prepared. Of course the farmer must feel confident that they will only gain by this openness.
In this article we will elaborate on one method of enhancing trust and communication – specifically that the processor and the farmer should contribute to similar worthy causes. This will lead to a closer and more trusting partnership-oriented relationship which will encourage the supplier to maintain higher quality. Below are details of implementation:
- The processor should appoint an in-house existing director to be in charge of running this program. He should research and come up with about five worthy causes that are relevant and local (if possible) to both the processor and the farmer.
- He should then contact the owner/director of the farm and ask him if he would like to partner up in supporting a worthy local cause. He can explain that they don’t need to donate much but that this will help their public image which is good for business, and bring both their businesses closer together.
- The joint contribution is then made to the cause under a program name such as “ABC Processor and XYZ Cattle Farm Good Cause Fund.”
- A publicity release is made in the local paper of the poultry farmer outlining their joint contribution to a good cause. The article will explain how they work closely together and care about local causes. Ideally they should both bring the cheque to the good cause and have a photographer take pictures of the donation.
- Next the processor makes and delivers to the cattle farmer two to three laminated certificates to the effect that they are proud partners in contributing to good causes. These certificates are to be placed in the owner’s office as well as a place where the farm employees will see. It is important that the workers see it, as they are crucial to the quality of the product.
- A letter signed by the CEO explaining how happy they are to be jointly contributing to a worthy local cause and to have the farmer as a supplier is sent to the owner of the poultry farm. This can be followed up with a phone call to this effect. The processor can use this call to further open the channel of communication between both firms.
- Another letter should be sent addressed to the employees of the farm explaining, again, how happy the processor is to be partners in this good cause. This letter should also express appreciation for their good work and the quality of product supplied to the processor.
The above steps and contribution should be repeated yearly to reinforce the relationship.
The result of this easy-to-implement program will be a closer and more productive relationship. In addition, the processor will now have a beef cattle supplier who feels like a true and appreciated partner with the processor. This should encourage the farm management and employees to work even harder to maintain the quality and quantity of the beef cattle supplied to the processor.
A happier and more productive relationship is all for a good cause. A true win-win situation!