Business & Policy
From the Poultry Editor: January 2014
Up Before the 10 Count
By Lianne Appleby
Boxing isn’t just two people who hit each other until one gives up or gets concussed, my Uncle (an amateur boxer himself) used to tell me. “That’s what you and your sister do. Boxing is mental.” So is my sister, I remember thinking.
It took me a bit of growing up to understand what he meant, but later on, I realized that training for a match isn’t done exclusively in a gym. Boxing well means being sharp-minded, not just fit, so that you can keep your opponent off guard and land unexpected hits.
It’s a good probability that the majority of egg farmers are feeling like they’ve taken one such sucker punch, of late. In October, the television program W5 broke the story – with devastating undercover video footage – that an egg farm in Alberta was allegedly treating animals unethically.
Yes, it was one farm, and yes, spokespeople quickly jumped in with statements like “what was shown in the video is inappropriate and unacceptable.” Nevertheless, Canada’s egg industry was left sporting a black eye. Secondary to the on-camera happenings was the likelihood that with one blow, a lot of good work to win public trust would be quickly overshadowed.
Boxers have the advantage of realizing that they’re actually in a fight, knowing who their opponent is, and having access to all the stats about their opponent’s previous bouts.
Those of us in agriculture aren’t so lucky, and success lies in how we parry the blows. After all, in the never-ending battle against activist groups like Mercy for Animals, there is no referee to call a time out.
What is said to be one of the most strategic boxing matches of all time took place between boxing maestro Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran II. The first time they had met, Duran simply overwhelmed Leonard with what has been described as “punishing body shots and relentless aggression.” Afterwards, Leonard speculated that to win their next fight, he would have to do it mentally. And that’s what he did.
In their November 1980 rematch, Leonard demonstrated a mastery of psychological warfare by boxing smartly. Although it’s argued that Duran was in better physical shape, he was unsure how to react to the unprecedented tactics he was faced with – and Leonard capitalized on that to score points. In the eighth round, Duran famously quit the bout with the surrender “No mas.”
The fight card may seem a little skewed where animal agriculture is concerned. Activist groups have more resources and certainly more money. But with the public looking on, whether hits are below the belt or not, how they are handled counts.
Here’s where the egg industry is in its element. The sector has put in the time and training that make it possible come out on top. PAACO certifications, Codes of Practice, transparency, superb marketing campaigns and an inherent commitment to continuous improvement all are part of the strategy. If, when and how they are used – and if, when and how they are talked about – are paramount to success.
Canada’s egg farmers can take a lesson from the Leonard v. Duran fight. Sure, unexpected left hooks may do temporary damage, but even champions usually emerge with a welt or two.