CSU Media Festival panel provides fresh takes on a traditional model of sustainability

Agriculture stirred with dose of modern media was the main take away at the “Communicating Sustainability of Food, Beer, and Beverage” panel during the CSU Media Festival Friday. The panel’s observations came from multiple points of views, focusing on how agriculture and sustainability play a key role in how they operate in their respective careers.

The panel included Brent Boydston, vice president of Public Policy at Colorado Farm Bureau; Mike Lee, strategic director at Cactus; Bryan Simpson, media relations director from New Belgium Brewing; and Jason Kosovski, director of communications from College of Agricultural Sciences at CSU. The panelists offered diverse representatives, including perspectives from an agricultural organization, agency, brand and an institutional communicator.


The group spoke about how even though agriculture is often viewed as a classic piece of society, the 21st century created a revival buzz of sustainability, which in turn has given a fresh breath of life to the subject. Conservation of natural resources has been growing in the past years, and with it, people have been more adapt to work with it.

Though many of the panelists differ in opinion, they agree that accessible communication is major. Informing the consumer and relating to your ideals, while staying true to your own, is a huge role in any industry.

“Our job is we need to make our consumers say ‘Wow! This brand gets me. This is the brand for me. They understand why I’m making these purchase decisions,'” Lee said while explaining how sustainability makes a huge impact on Cactus marketing for clients.

In addition in making available information, the communication needs to be clear to an audience of any kind.

“A soil scientist can talk to another soil scientist, they [can] completely understand each other. However, a soil scientist can’t talk to my mother,” Kosovsk said while illustrating the daily struggle of putting out information to the general public.

Blending personal and political is not always an easy choice. Simpson explained stories of boycotts in the face of a miscommunication of New Belgium’s support, but he stood revered in the philosophy.

“That’s the price of doing advocacy, and it’s important for us to do that.” Simpson said revisiting the loss of support.

Many careers and companies face adversity from choices made to ensure environmental safety, adversaries only being a small part in a spectrum of doubt. The group explained how they all face suspicion of the public, accusations of boosting reputation being one of them.

Simpson provided a way to combat this type of barrage by encouraging companies to have their substance published as soon as possible.

“The content needs to come first,” Simpson said. “So, you actually have to have that as part of your mission. You can’t just go out there and start sticking your name on things. It’s meaningless.”


Consumers have a vital role in there hands, and organizations have the task of establishing relationships with them so that they can forge deeper connections with them. In turn, this will make consumers of any kind feel like they can put their trust and promotion into the corporation.

Sustainability is a pillar in every business from a brewery to a university. Coming to grips with hypocrisy and skewed opinions are almost a certain right of passage in the fight for sustainability. Sticking to ones long term vision and compromise are the best weapons in this battle of viability.

“Not only do we have to be sustainable for consumers, it also has be sustainable for the farmers, it has to be environmentally sustainable, it has to be economically sustainable. So to us, you have to look at sustainability as a two way path,” Boydston said while explaining Farm Bureau’s own definition of sustainability.

Agriculture works with so many organic elements. One of the most influential are humans. Connections between conscientious producers and consumers are not made but grown. Organizations are calling, are people ready to answer?