Communications and Outreach

Develop an overall action plan

Develop a timeline so you can anticipate what is going to happen in the future. Map out the known and estimated dates for key decisions or deadlines. Assess the kinds of activities that will be required over the next several months based on the season, the requirements of the project, the approval process requirements, etc. Include other significant and relevant dates and events such as elections, conventions, community events, etc. Once you have a picture of what will or might happen, and when, you can develop a strategy for intervening, getting publicity, influencing decisions, etc. Review and update the timeline every few months and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Develop a petition listing the reasons you are opposed to the facility

There are two ways to use petitions depending on the results you wish to obtain. One would be used more as a media or political tool to demonstrate support for your cause. The other is a document which would have legal standing depending on the laws in the part of Canada where you are located. Legal petitions require very specific language and signatures must conform to specific requirements. Ask your local MLA, MNA or MPP for the applicable petition format for your province.

In some provinces there are specific types of petitions that are legally binding on the councils of local municipalities. Check with your local administrator or the provincial department in charge of municipalities to find out if this applies in your municipality.

Even with informal petitions, restrict signers to those 18 years of age and older who live within the county or municipality. This gives the petition more credibility. Ask for volunteers to go to your local shopping area, Main Street, or other high traffic areas to get signatures. If you know storeowners sympathetic to your cause, see if you can leave petitions in their store. Don’t forget to pick them up!

If you’re short on time, place the petition in your local paper. A large ad that people can cut out and mail to you is a great way to get people’s attention. Run the ad at least twice, in case people miss it the first time.

The petition itself probably won’t stop the factory farm but it can let facility owners, as well as local and provincial government officials, see this is a community problem and not just one person’s complaint. This is also a good way to collect names and addresses of people interested in the issue. Never throw away your petitions, no matter how much time passes. They can be used in different ways, such as at a news conference or as a tool in testimony to help pass a local resolution against a factory farm.

Build coalitions

Speak with members of your community; try to both educate them and get them to join your organization. Make connections with other groups in your area. Get them to support your cause or at least distribute information to their members. Here is a list of possible groups to get you started:

  • Clubs (garden, book, sports, fishing)
  • Consumers
  • Environmental
  • Fall Fair
  • Food Co-ops
  • Local chapters of national groups
  • Neighborhood groups
  • Political and Governmental
  • Professional Associations (medical, business, etc.)
  • Religious
  • Senior Citizen’s groups
  • School Associations (Home and School, alumni)
  • Unions
  • Wildlife Associations
  • Women’s
  • Youth and Student (4H, college)

Create a flyer or brochure

Use quick facts, quotes from testimonials, or any of the information you gather in order to explain the potential impact on your community. Always use credible and documented facts. Keep a file of all your sources; this is advisable even if you footnote your brochure. Distribute to individuals, groups and elected officials. Find sympathetic places, like restaurants or stores that will put out your information. Mass mail to your surrounding community. You can find facts in the Educational Tools section handouts and on the internet at:

Establish a list-serve

Establish your own list-serve (email list) to distribute information. Go to or to register and start a list-serve for no charge. Assign one person to post short, weekly updates on what the group is doing. Each member must keep up to date with activities. If a member does not have access to a computer, develop a phone system where s/he can contact one or two people for updates.

Create a website

It’s a great way to get information to your community and a good resource for the media. If you create one, email the web address to Beyond Factory Farming at—we’ll link to your site. Web sites can become very expensive if you pay someone to design and upkeep them, so try to find a volunteer with web experience--or teach yourself. Many email accounts offer free web space and often have simple tutorials on how to create a site.

Meet with your Elected Officials

Set up meetings with local elected officials, including provincial and national representatives. See the Organizing Tools section for tips on arranging a meeting. Remember that unless elected officials (local and provincial) hear from you, they will assume that nothing is wrong. The proponents will be lobbying for their cause so make sure you do the same. Remember, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”.

Letters of Concern

Submit letters of concern to local and regional government officials. Keep a copy for your files and give a copy to others in your group so they can also submit similar letters. People who might not be inclined to get involved publicly might still be interested in sending a letter of support for your concerns.

Learn from Others

Collect testimonials from people living near a factory farm. Use them at meetings, news conferences, hearings, etc. They are very effective. Hearing someone’s personal story about what its like living near a factory farm is extremely effective in helping people understand the issues. (See the Educational Tools section.)