Animal Ag Engage


What you learn when you take a cow to campus

So much of our population is so far removed from the farm that kids grow up thinking their food is made in the store. Sometimes people in agriculture joke about chocolate milk coming from brown cows, but there are some people that really do think that. A survey conducted by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy revealed that seven percent of adults in the U.S. think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. I love talking to people and showing them where their food comes from. As a part of the Dairy Club at Purdue University I got the chance to talk to others about the agriculture industry, and I realized how much misinformation exists.

17799985_1459990627353852_5989654650842141746_nEvery year the Purdue College of Agriculture hosts an Ag Week on the main campus to promote agriculture to the rest of Purdue’s students and the most anticipated event is Milk Monday. The Dairy Club hands out free grilled cheese and milk and brings calves and a cow to campus. I assumed most students would know the basics about food production, but there were a lot who didn’t. Growing up on a dairy farm I always knew where my food came from and I thought that everyone else did too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Free food makes people stop.

I learned a lot the first time I took a cow to campus. The first task in engaging the college crowd is getting them to stop and get their attention. Hand them a free grilled cheese with a dairy sticker on the wrapping – free food always gets college kids to look up from their phones! Then point them to where the cow is to show them how that cheese started. It is interesting to see the people who know cheese is a dairy product, but don’t make the connection between the cow and the grilled cheese they are eating.


Ready for a grilled cheese!

Cows can break the ice.

When the students go over to the cows you really have their attention and have a great opportunity to start a conversation. Everyone wants to pet the calves and as soon as they ask their first question, the dialogue is open. It could be them asking the calf’s name, if it’s a boy or girl, how old they are, no matter what it is you have started a positive conversation about agriculture. The Dairy Club also lets people try their hand at milking a cow, and apparently it is a lot harder than I thought! I grew up milking cows and it came natural to me so watching college students try something new for the very first time is fun. It gets them to sit down and get a fun, hands-on experience in the dairy industry. And then when the milk squirts from the teat, their reactions range from bewildered and shocked to completely fascinated!

Cows make people happy.


Lined up in the rain to pet the calves!

Spending time in the barn with cows always made my day better and it’s not only farm kids that feel this way. Petting the calves would make people’s week.  I’m sure most of you understand that after a stressful week of homework, class and studying, it doesn’t take much to brighten your day. And if that bright spot involves the agriculture industry, all the better. Last year I was talking to a girl that had been by to pet the calves at least three times already that day. She was from Indianapolis and had never seen a cow before, but quickly fell in love with the two little calves we brought to campus that day. She stopped by between every class just to ‘check on the calves.’ We talked about the industry and the Dairy Club and she ended up joining the club that day! Every time we had an event with the cows, she was always the first one there. She loved working with the cows and said it always made her feel better.

People do appreciate us.

There are people that are really thankful for the dairy industry and agriculture in general. It is really nice to hear that many people do appreciate all the hard work we do. When hosting events, we always get some people that thank us for what we do in the agriculture industry. They talk about how much they love milk and cheese and know that they have the farmers, and the cows, to thank for it. We love to hear that our event is appreciated and love to hear about positive experiences with agriculture.

You can’t please everyone.

On the other side, there are always going to be people that disagree with you and you won’t be able to change their mind. One year we had a few people show up to protest milk and production agriculture. Through this experience, I learned that some people will agree with you, some will disagree, and there is a portion that falls somewhere in between. Focusing on the “moveable middle” will help us communicate about agriculture, and I believe handing out free grilled cheese and introducing them to a cow is a great impression on our part.

Milk Monday (1)

Purdue Pete getting his chance to feed dthe calf!

As a Dairy Club member, Milk Monday became my favorite day of the year. Not only did it kick off Ag Week, it was the day I got to share my passion. I got to spend all day hanging out with the calves and talking to people about the dairy industry – it can’t get much better than that. On Milk Monday, students get a taste of the dairy industry, they see how awesome cows are, realize how hard farmers work, and remember that dairy products can be a great part of a healthy balanced diet.






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5 things to attend at the International Livestock Congress


This year the International Livestock Congress is focusing on science-based strategies for meat in the diet and new perspective on global trade. Consumers have more options than ever when picking out their protein sources, so it’s important that we learn the science behind why animal-based protein is important and communicate that message. Here are 5 things that you must attend at this year’s ILC to help you protect your roots!

Wednesday, February 28, 9:30-10:30 AM
Keynote Address: Meat in the Diet. How We Came to Believe that Meat is Bad for Health: The Politics and the Science
Nina Teicholz, author of “The Big Fat Surprise”
A look at the history of why today’s experts favor “plant-based” diets and recommending reductions in meat consumption despite a lack of rigorous evidence to support these views. Teicholz will help us understand the political, industrial and other forces driving these trends and will review the most recent science.

Wednesday, February 28, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Does Meat Fit in a Healthy Diet?
David M. Klurfeld, Ph.D. ARS, United States Department of Agriculture
A working group of the World Health Organization concluded that eating red meat probably causes cancer and processed meat is a definite cause. As a member of that working group, Dr. Klurfeld will explain how the majority got the science wrong.

Wednesday February 28, 1:40-2:40 PM
What Do Healthcare Givers Know About the Role of Meat in the Diet?
Hawley Poinsett, Texas Beef Council
What do healthcare practitioners know about the role of meat in a healthy diet? Have these professionals received up-to-date, evidenced-based education on the research regarding the impact of animal protein on human health? How do practitioners formulate their opinions about specific foods in disease prevention, management and overall health? What strategies have been tested in outreach to the healthcare community to ensure a role for animal protein?

Wednesday February 28, 2:40-3:40 PM
Industry Accepts the Challenge Posed by Fake News: Fake Meat, Fake Milk, Fake Butter and Fake Eggs Are Not Alternatives to the Nutrients of Real Animal Source Food. What is the Plan for Going on Offense?
Jamie Greenheck, FleishmanHillard Global Managing Director, Food, Agriculture & Beverage
Jamie Greenheck will analyze social media data, as well as current attitudinal research, to determine what’s really driving consumers’ meat eating decisions. How can the industry can engage differently with the individuals who are shaping what we eat to change the conversation and ensure consumers feel good about eating meat?

Thursday, March 1, 1:10-2:15 PM
Hot Topics: Current Issues
Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Animal Agriculture Alliance
HannahThe animal agriculture industry is under attack by a small but vocal segment of the population who want to see meat and poultry taken off of the menu for good. From pressuring restaurant and retail brands to adopt certain policies to staging protests outside of farms and plants to targeting religious institutions, the animal rights movement is constantly working to damage the reputation of the meat industry. The Alliance’s own Hannah Thompson-Weeman will share ongoing and emerging tactics being used by activist groups and provide strategies for minimizing their potential influence and proactively engaging with key audiences.
Contact Hannah if you’d like to visit with her during the event.

Chick here for the full program to see all the great talks scheduled at ILC!

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How are farm animals not freezing in this winter weather?!

Bundled up in scarfs, hats and gloves, families across the country are bracing for ice and snow with wind chills in the single digits. As children build snowmen and parents curse the wind while clearing snow off their vehicles, farmers and ranchers are making sure their animals stay comfortable. Farmers are the 24/7 caretakers of livestock and poultry – whether it’s 64 degrees or -2 degrees!

Jennell Eck, a poultry farmer from Maryland, showing how warm the chicks are in the house.

Broiler chickens (raised for meat) are usually raised indoors, so they don’t have to worry about the cold weather. All modern chicken houses have a computer system that controls the lights, temperature and ventilation. When chicks arrive to the farm from the hatchery, the houses are pre-warmed to feel like summertime. As the chickens grow, they’ll be able to more easily regulate their body temperatures so farmers turn the thermostat dial down 10-20 degrees.

Turkey barns also come equipped with fancy computer systems to ensure the temperature is just right for the birds, especially with a lot of turkey farms in Minnesota where it often gets into the negative digits!

Peggy Greenway, a pig farmer from South Dakota, sharing a beautiful sky while her pigs stay warm inside!

Pigs are also typically raised inside where farmers can set the temperature. Piglets need extra help staying warm, so they sleep under heating lamps with the barn temperature set at about 85. Similar to broiler chickens, once they are older the farmers adjust the thermostat to a comfortable 65.

Taking care of cattle in the winter is a bit different compared to pigs and poultry as most cows are outside and/or in barns with open doors/curtains, but that doesn’t mean the level of care is any less. If it gets frigid, dairy farmers can close the curtains, but did you know adult cows actually prefer cooler temperatures? Calves on the other hand need a little extra help keeping warm. Dairy farmers give calves jackets, extra hay and make sure they stay dry. Extra feed is given to beef cattle and water buckets are always checked to ensure they don’t freeze. Cattle also have much thicker skin than humans, so they are able to handle the chilly winters without shivering.

Jacob White, a college student studying agriculture who helps his family on their Oregon beef ranch, remembers how last year’s snowfall was a bit too cold for a newborn calf, but his mom and dad jumped into action and made sure the calf received the best animal care:

Joan Ruskcamp, a rancher from Nebraska, making sure her cattle have enough feed and water during the snow.

“Rural eastern Oregon was hit with an unexpected two feet of snow last February. Usually, the majority of snowfall comes around December with never more than a few inches. At the crack of dawn, my dad was up, hooking the snowplow up behind the tractor. He was on his way to plow trails in the snow for the cattle herd to reach water. Mom followed closely behind with a trailer of fresh straw for the cattle to lay on. With the unexpected cold front, this also meant increasing the amount of hay the cattle consumed to sustain their health in the cold weather. Windbreaks (tall and wide wooden structures to give the cows shelter from the wind) had been put up in the months prior and the “the girls” (female cows, as my dad likes to call them), were enjoying a fresh hay bale of alfalfa. All was well, or so my dad thought.

Changing weather conditions can also cause stress for the cow and sometimes induce birthing earlier than expected. On this cold and snowy day, exactly that had happened. After giving birth, the mother cow had done what she was biologically conditioned to do—lick her new offspring clean and stand the calf up for the first taste of colostrum (nutrient-rich milk of the cow present after the cow gives birth). But the newborn calf was cold, perhaps too cold on the brisk day. Seeing this, my dad did what any rancher would do – anything and everything to ensure this newborn calf’s survival. Cautiously approaching the cow, he scooped up the calf and placed it on the floorboard of his truck with the heater going full force.  Hightailing back to the barn, the calf was placed under a heat lamp and given a nutritional milk supplement. A few short days later, the calf was in full health and frolicking in the fresh snow.

The calf warming up!

While this seems like an anomaly, it goes to illustrate the genuine passion and care agriculturalists have for the animals they raise. When temperatures drop, the health and well-being of the herd are on the forefront of a rancher’s mind.”

Now you know how farm animals aren’t freezing in this winter weather. Because farmers and ranchers care!


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5 things to catch at IPPE

With consumers hungry to learn more about where their food comes from and animal rights activists trying to tell them a negative, misleading story, it’s more important than ever for the animal agriculture industry to come together to support the future of animal ag. These five can’t-miss things at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) will help you protect your roots.

1. Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Jan. 30 in room C107
Representatives from the beef, dairy, pork and poultry industries will share details on the development of industry programs or tools to advance the production of sustainable protein.

2. How to measure and improve on-farm broiler welfare
7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. on Feb. 1 in room B217

Presented by WATT PoultryUSA, a panel of animal welfare researchers and live production professionals will discuss what welfare indicators can be easily measured and the husbandry methods that can lead to improved bird welfare.

The panel is free, but separate registration is required to reserve your spot.

3. Get the Facts with Meat Mythcrushers

8 a.m. – 10 a.m. on Feb. 1 in room B408

This session will cover information on some of the biggest meat myths, and provide attendees with tools needed to talk to consumers and customers about the way food is produced.

4. International Rendering Symposium
12 p.m. – 5 p.m on Feb. 1 and 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Feb. 2 in room B203
The rendering industry is a sustainable and vital part of the agricultural chain.

This symposium will focus on the opportunities and challenges to the industry today. Allyson Jones-Brimmer, director of membership with the Animal Agriculture Alliance, will be presenting on the social pressures facing animal agriculture and rendering during this symposium.

Additional registration is required.

5. Animal Agriculture Alliance – Booth #B8869
AFBF Booth

Stop by for security resources to protect your farm and facilities from activists. Talk with the Alliance team about the Farm Security Mobile App available to Alliance members and how to receive access to up-to-date information on animal rights activists’ strategies. Contact Allyson if you’d like to set up a time to meet. We hope to see you there!

See the full educational schedule and the TECHTalks schedule for even more ways to protect your roots at IPPE!

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5 Things You Won’t Want to Miss at AFBF

With consumers hungry to learn more about where their food comes from and animal rights activists trying to tell them a negative, misleading story, it’s more important than ever for the animal agriculture industry to come together to support the future of animal ag. These five can’t-miss things at the 2018 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show will help you protect your roots.

Kay Farm Bureau Presentation

1. Activism at the Altar II presented by Kay Johnson Smith and Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Animal Agriculture Alliance
Sunday, Jan. 7 at 1:15 pm in Governors Ballroom AE

At last year’s AFBF convention, the Alliance team shared how animal rights extremist organizations are targeting faith-based organizations and using religion to spread myths and misinformation about animal agriculture. In a follow-up to that popular session, we’ll provide an update on this issue and explain what steps the animal agriculture industry has taken to respond. In this workshop, we will share new resources that farmers and ranchers can use to engage in your own community. You’ll leave with talking points, key messages, letter templates and other tools.

2. The Danger of Allowing Ideologies to Grow Unopposed- A Fireside Chat with Vance Crow, Monsanto, and Jordan Peterson, University of Toronto
Sunday, Jan. 7 at 2:30 pm

Political ideologies have the power to shift policies around the globe and, if unchecked, can destabilize even the most robust economies. Dr. Jordan Peterson will discuss in plain language the political ideologies being propagated in universities and among environmental NGOs. This discussion will focus on how agriculture historically has been the target of these movements and how farmers can respond to the looming challenges building on the horizon.

Proteins3. Meat Matters presented by Allyson Jones-Brimmer, Animal Agriculture Alliance
Sunday, Jan. 7 at 3:40 pm at the Cultivation Center in the trade show

Learn about the anti-animal agriculture activist organizations behind the “Meatless Monday” campaign and arm yourself with resources to prevent it from coming to your community. The Animal Agriculture Alliance’s “Meat Matters” campaign debunks myths regarding nutrition and environmental sustainability of consuming animal protein. Take the social media pledge to show you are a proud omnivore. Leave this workshop with white papers, talking points and infographics to share and steps to take if any organization in your community is considering a “Meatless Monday” pledge.

4. Bridging the Gap between Farmers and Consumers presented by Michelle Miller, the “Farm Babe”
Monday, Jan. 8 at 10:15 am

Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is one of commercial agriculture’s biggest voices working to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. With 60,000 social media followers, her messages have been shared with tens of millions of people all around the world. She will share her tips on how to further spread the word of agriculture to the general public by giving listeners the tools they need to become their own AGvocates.

5. Animal Agriculture Alliance – Booth #717Alliance booth
Stop by for security resources to protect your farm or ranch from activists. Talk with the Alliance team about receiving access to the Farm Security mobile app and up-to-date information on animal rights activists’ strategies. Learn about membership opportunities for individuals, farms, ranches, agribusinesses and state associations. Contact Allyson if you’d like to set up a time to meet. We hope to see you there!

As a bonus, check out these additional opportunities at AFBF:

  • Workshops:
    • How to Implement and Rock an Influencer Farm Tour
    • Purple Plow Challenge: Join the Maker Movement!
    • New Gene Editing Technologies and Consumer Acceptance
    • Telling U.S. Agriculture’s Sustainability Story
    • Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman
    • Making Videos Part 2
    • Fun with ‘Food and Farm Facts’
    • Gene Editing
    • The Rosetta Stone of Farming
    • From Grassroots to Elevator
  • Cultivation Center
    • Telling A Compelling Story through Social Media
    • Today’s Skewed Perception of Sustainable Farming
    • Don’t Hate on Consumers…They’re Just the Do-Gooders
    • Is This the Next Green Revolution?
    • Food Evolution Panel


Farmers to follow on social media

Farmers know people are hungry to know more about how food gets from the farm to the fork. Here are dairy, pig, poultry, sheep and cattle farmers you can follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get an inside look at how livestock and poultry are raised!


  1. Modern-day Farm Chick
  2. The Farmer’s Wifee
  3. Farmer Bright
  4. Dairy Carrie
  5. Gilmer Dairy Farm
  6. Hastings Dairy
  7. Eastview Farm Dairy
  8. Matt Nuckols
  9. Jessica Peters
  10. Tillamook Dairy Farmer
  11. Snider’s Dairy

For more information about dairy, check out and search #UndeniablyDairy online!


  1. Cristen Clark
  2. Brad Greenway & Peggy Greenway 
  3. Minnesota Farm Living
  4. Drew Kuhn
  5. Lauren Schwab
  6. Erin Brenneman
  7. Lukas Fricke
  8. Jennifer Osterholt

Visit and search #RealPigFarming on social media for more about pig farming!


  1. Jennifer Rhodes
  2. Lauren Arbogast
  3. Matt Lohr
  4. Jennifer Odom
  5. Daniel Hayden
  6. Justin Bowman
  7. Shaunee Cyrus
  8. Jenell Eck
  9. Meschke Poultry
  10. Martin Van Zandwyk 
  11. Jacqueline Gingerich 
  12. Ryan Kuntze
  13. Nicole Stewardson 
  14. Jason DeVet 
  15. Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch

Want to know more about chicken farming? Chicken CheckIn is the place to go! For more about turkey and eggs go to Minnesota Turkey and Incredible Edible Egg.


  1. Emily Buck
  2. Brad & Jenny Osguthorpe
  3. Brittany Cole Bush
  4. North Star Sheep Farm
  5. Ryan Mahoney
  6. J12 Ranch and Livestock
  7. Kristen Local-Farm Mom
  8. Farm Babe
  9. Sara Hollenbeck
  10. Cylon Rolling Acres (goats!)

You can find even more information about sheep and lambs at American Lamb!

Beef Cattle 

  1. Terryn Drieling
  2. Brandi Buzzard Frobose
  3. Kellie Lasack
  4. Sierra Blachford
  5. Joan Ruskamp
  6. Alison McGrew
  7. Kacy Atkinson
  8. Tierra Kessler
  9. Debbie Lyons-Blyth
  10. Whitney Klasna

For more about everything beef, go to!

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Agriculture doesn’t take a break for the holidays!

As my time with the Alliance comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the brief but impactful few months I had with this amazing organization. Throughout my undergraduate studies in animal and poultry science I was always focused on the production side of agriculture. I hadn’t spent much time thinking about the immense opportunities available to me if I looked in another direction. After graduating, I gained a curiosity for different opportunities in the industry, which is what led me to apply to intern with the Alliance. I love agriculture and I love sharing my passion for this industry, so why not combine the two? That turned out to be a great decision. Not only have I learned incredibly important and relevant career skills during my time here, but I have become a much more confident communicator in all aspects of my life. Here are just a few things I have gained a greater appreciation for while interning with the Alliance:

Women in agriculture can do amazing things.


Photo by Erin McCarty

Obviously being a woman in agriculture, I already knew this. But there is a six-woman powerhouse at the Animal Ag Alliance, and I have been so impressed by the incredible collaboration and communication of these women. During my time with the Alliance, I had numerous opportunities to connect with women all across agriculture and realize that though we may be a minority in the industry, we are a powerful minority constantly working to advance the industry for future generations. According to a 2012 USDA Census, women make up 30 percent of the farmers in America and operate 14 percent of US farms. This constantly increasing number of women in agriculture is wonderfully encouraging. I can only hope that in my work of advocating for the industry, I am able to help continue increasing the number of hardworking, influential women across all facets of agriculture.

The agriculture industry is incredibly broad.


Biosecurity comes first!

Farmers are an integral part of the agriculture industry, without whom there would be no ag industry, no food. But the farmer isn’t the entire industry. We have the scientists, who are the backbone of our welfare, technology, and efficiency practices. Agriculture is a science-based industry that functions according to factual, proven evidence, and the science researchers are crucial in those discoveries. Then we have the veterinarians, who not only provide necessary health care and treatments to our sick or injured animals, but also provide insight and guidance on appropriate welfare practices and regulations. Then, we have the processors, suppliers, restaurants and retailers who package, transport and sell the agriculture products. The list is extensive: communicators who work hard to share science-based facts about ag, policy workers who help to secure the future of agriculture through government regulations, and consumers who place their trust in us to continue providing them with a safe and secure food supply. There are so many different ways to be involved in agriculture and they are all equally as important as the next.

There is so much misinformation out there.

Whether it be at the hands of activists intentionally passing down doctored or false information or consumers unknowingly sharing it, misinformation is everywhere. It’s understandable, we’re all guilty of being lazy researchers and critical thinkers at some point. With social media, misinformation can be spread like wildfire so long as it has a click-bait, catchy title. However, we as agriculture supporters are responsible for not only holding ourselves to higher standards as critical thinkers, but correcting the false information or half-truths about our industry. It can feel overwhelming not knowing where to start to inform people of the science-based facts about agriculture, but making yourself a non-judgmental source for knowledge among your peers can open up communication opportunities and help correct some misunderstandings.

We are all consumers.

egg-1316407_960_720It’s easy to have an “us versus them” mentality as a agricultural advocate. We constantly talk about consumers’ choices, beliefs, and tendencies. This separation between those who are involved in agriculture and those who are not makes it easy to forget that we are all consumers. We all go to the grocery store and make decisions based on money, preconceived notions and desire. So when we’re reading an article from an agriculture perspective about consumers, let us not forget that we, too, can identify with those statements.

Agriculture doesn’t take a break for the holidays!

The world doesn’t stop eating on national holidays. This means that the farmers who grow your food will be out feeding their animals while you’re opening presents early Christmas morning. As you enjoy your holiday season, I hope everyone remembers to thank ag and the hardworking farmers and ranchers who continuously prioritize their livestock over themselves. Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays! - blog


Sustainability is more than a buzzword for farmers and ranchers

We’ve all heard the word sustainability, but what does it really mean? For farmers and ranchers, it’s a promise to future generations. A promise that they will care for the land, air, water and livestock in a way that ensures their children can take over the family business if they so choose.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance puts together a report every year spotlighting farmers and ranchers commitment to continuous improvement in animal care, responsible antibiotic use, environmental sustainability and food safety.

Here are a few key points from the 2017 report:

  • The health of broiler chickens in the U.S. continues to improve with scientific advancements in genetics, management and nutrition. As a result of these industry-adopted developments, quarterly mortality rates remain at historic lows. According to 2016 statistics, today’s mortality rate is 4.8 percent compared to 18 percent in 1925.
  • Hens under the United Egg Producers Certified program now account for 95 percent of all the nations laying hens and are independently audited annually based on guidelines recommended by a committee of world-renowned scientists in areas of food safety and animal behavior.
  • In turkeys, the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service reported Salmonella continued to decline to 1.7 percent in its most recent analysis updated in 2015. The turkey industry has continued to aggressively drive down the occurrence of Salmonella, to achieve the lowest count possible among raw poultry products.
  • The pork industry’s flagship education program for farmers and employees is the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus. As of March 2017, more than 63,000 farmers and farm employees were PQA Plus certified.
  • More than 80 percent of research funded by America’s beef producers is used throughout the beef supply chain on a daily basis to enhance the safety of beef and beef products.
  • The U.S. dairy industry conducts almost four million tests each year on all milk entering dairy plants. In 2017, only 0.011 percent of all milk tanker samples tested positive for residues of animal medications, indicating that efforts at detecting and deterring harmful drug residues in milk are effective. Those samples that tested positive were dumped and never reached the grocery store shelf.

Sustainability is more than a buzzword to farmers and ranchers. It is their promise to never stop giving food, fuel and fiber to families across our nation and around the world.

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#GivingTuesday with the Alliance

The Alliance is celebrating our 30th Anniversary this year. Thirty successful years of working to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork by connecting industry stakeholders through common ground, engaging with both producers and consumers about agriculture, and protecting the industry that feeds us all. This is why General GT instathe Alliance will be participating in Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving on November 28th, again this year to help us continue our mission for years to come. We are attempting to reach new heights for our #GivingTuesday campaign this year by increasing our goal in hopes of expanding our support for those involved in the agriculture industry who work so hard for our nation’s food supply. We are excited to have participation in our campaign this year from two companies: Cooper Farms, who will be matching all donations up to $5,000, and Cattle Empire, LLC, matching gifts from $5,001 up to $10,000. Here are some examples of how the Alliance team has been working hard over the last year in pursuit of bridging the communication gap between farm and fork.

Monitoring activists and animal rights groups.

The Alliance has been working hard to protect animal agriculture through constant monitoring of activists and animal rights groups. We keep our members up-to-date with the continuous formation of new activist groups to add into our Activist Web, and provide activst websummaries of key activist groups to help others understand the various goals and tactics of each organization. Additionally, the Alliance sends representatives to the Animal Rights Conference every year, releasing a report afterwards of important takeaways from the gathering.

Not only are we proactive about learning new methods and tactics used by activist groups, but we also work to keep our members informed and knowledgeable about how to protect themselves from a possible threat. Through the Alliance’s Farm Security Mobile App, we arm members with the most up-to-date security and crisis management advice and resources designed to keep their farms safe.

Engagement with food chain influencers.

Restaurants, retailers, and foodservice establishments are constantly being pressured by activist groups to meet their unrealistic demands. That is why the Alliance has ramped up efforts this year to engage with these food chain influencers to help them become more well informed about animal agriculture and aware of the potential repercussions of their decisions.

Earlier this year, the Alliance launched a series of Lunch and Learns for DC-area food chain influencers to build relationships with these associations and provide resources to restaurants and food retailers. Attendees this year included representatives from the Food Marketing Institute, National Grocers Association, National Restaurant Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants and several ag organizations. Additionally, the Alliance organized a #FamersThankDominos campaign this year in response to Domino’s’ outward support of farmers and ranchers. We encouraged everyone to order a Domino’s pizza on June 2nd, followed by a posted picture on social media using the hashtag #FarmersThankDominos, which was used over 1,000 times.


Group picture at the pig operation we toured – Langenfelder Pork.

Most recently, the Alliance hosted a farm tour for various food chain influencers, in which we visited a poultry farm, dairy operation, and pig farm in Maryland. We encouraged attendees to become involved and pose questions to become more informed on the workings of the animal agriculture industry. The tour was an excellent way to develop relationships with individuals in the restaurant, retailer, and foodservice industry and we received a lot of positive feedback about the tour.

Mainstream and Trade Media Engagements.

Working to bridge the communications gap between farm and fork means we need to be highly involved with various media outlets. We have been working hard over the last year to build and maintain positive relationships with key influencers in the agriculture industry. Between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017 the Alliance was mentioned in more than 760 articles, and issued 31 press releases during this time period. Our attendance at various media events such as the Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum is crucial in the amplification of our mission.

egg advanceWe also use these relationships to share various reports or recent news from the Alliance, such as our recent Advances in Animal Agriculture report, the Alliance’s 2017 Annual Report, and updates regarding our College Aggies Online scholarship competition. We plan to continue engagement with various media outlets and resources over the next year, building mutually beneficial relationships to ultimately reach a consumer network outside of our own and continue public access to factual, science-based information about agriculture.

Join the Alliance for #GivingTuesday, November 28th.

Help us continue these efforts and amplify our mission to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork by supporting the Alliance for #GivingTuesday this year. By supporting the Alliance, you are helping give farmers and ranchers a positive voice to further engage with consumers. Visit our website on Giving Tuesday, November 28th, to donate and be sure to follow us on social media!


15 scary food myths

Halloween is here! Here are some scary food myths that are tricks, but knowing the truth is the treat!

  1. Scary Food Myth: Today’s farm animals are raised on “factory farms” in poor conditions. Truth: Many of today’s farms may be larger than farms of the past, but the farms are also have better animal care practices, enhanced nutrition and housing. Indoor housing protects animals from predators, disease and extreme weather. Modern housing is well-ventilated, temperature-controlled and scientifically designed to meet an animal’s specific needs.
  2. Scary Food Myth: Chickens, turkeys, laying hens and pigs are fed hormones to make them grow bigger and faster. Truth: Federal law prohibits hormone and steroid use in all poultry and pig production in the United States. All chicken, turkey, pork and eggs are free of added hormones and steroids regardless of whether it is labeled.
  3. Scary Food Myth: Farmers only care about profits, not animal care. Truth: Farmers’ top priority is ensuring their animals receive the best care possible. If the animals are not appropriately cared for, they will not produce quality beef, eggs, pork, milk or chicken. Not only is quality animal care essential to a profitable farm – it is the right thing to do.
  4. Scary Food Myth: Cattle are the primary cause for climate change. Truth: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data show that all of agriculture contributes nine percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, transportation accounts for 26 percent.
  5. Scary Food Myth: Farmers irresponsibly use antibiotics. Truth: After Jan. 2017, veterinary oversight is required for the use of medically important antibiotics, though it is important to note farmers and ranchers already routinely consulted with their vet before using antibiotics. Farmers work closely with veterinarians to develop herd health plans and when/if an antibiotic is needed for an animal to treat, prevent or control a disease, the farmer consults with their veterinarian to ensure an antibiotic is the best solution or if there is another form of treatment that will work better. Any antibiotic in animal feed requires a prescription from a veterinarian first.
  6. Scary Food Myth: Inspectors rarely visit meat plants. Truth: Few industries in America are regulated and inspected as comprehensively as meat and poultry plants. U.S. meat packing plants where livestock are handled and processed are inspected continuously. Large plants may have two dozen inspectors on site in a two-shift day. Plants that process meat or poultry, but do not handle live animals are inspected daily.
  7. Scary Food Myth: Meat is full of antibiotics and other drugs. Truth: Antibiotics are sometimes used in livestock production – but never in meat production. Under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules, farmers and ranchers must wait a defined period to send animals to market if they have been given antibiotics or other medications. In meat and poultry plants, USDA inspectors sample carcasses and organs to ensure no residue violations are found.
  8. Scary Food Myth: Hormone use in beef production is a health concern. Truth: Hormones like estrogen are used in modern beef production to increase the amount of beef that can be harvested from cattle. However, these hormones are the same as, or synthetic versions of those naturally produced by cattle. The estrogen that is used in beef production, for example, is used at levels that are a fraction of what is naturally found in soybean oil, soybeans, eggs and what is produced by the human body.
  9. Scary Food Myth: Nitrite in cured meats is linked to diseases like cancer. Truth: The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), which is considered the “gold standard” in determining whether substances cause cancer, completed a multi-year study in which rats and mice were fed high levels of sodium nitrite. The study, finalized in 2000, found that nitrite was not associated with cancer. NTP maintains a list of chemicals found to be carcinogenic. Sodium nitrite is not on that list.
  10. Scary Food Myth: Animal welfare in meat plants is not monitored. Truth: Under the Humane Slaughter Act, all livestock must be treated humanely. They must be given water at all times, given feed if they are held at a plant for an extended period and they must be handled in a way that minimizes stress. Federal veterinarians monitor animal handling continually and may take a variety of actions — including shutting a plant down — for violations.
  11. Scary Food Myth: Alternatives like almond, soy, coconut and rice milk are healthier than dairy milk. Truth: Milk alternatives use lots of additives to try to match the taste and nutritional profile of real milk. Cow’s milk is simply milk with added vitamins A and D. It has more nutrients that occur naturally – including eight grams of high-quality protein in every glass – with no added sugar. And the health benefits like improved bone health, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure in adults are supported by decades of science. It’s nature’s original protein drink.
  12. Scary Food Myth: Milk is full of antibiotics. Truth: All milk is tested for antibiotics before it leaves the farm, and again before it is sent to the store. If milk tests positive for even the slightest amount of antibiotics, it is safely discarded and never reaches the store.
  13. Scary Food Myth: It’s not natural for humans to drink cows’ milk; no other mammals drink milk from other animals. Truth: Decades of research have proven that cows’ milk does a human body good. Humans do a lot of things other mammals don’t. We grow crops, read books, fly planes and make music. You wouldn’t call those things “unnatural.”
  14. Scary Food Myth: Milk is full of dangerous hormones. Truth: All cow’s milk – whether conventional or organic – naturally contains minuscule amounts of hormones (actually, plants contain hormones, too!). The majority of these hormones are eliminated in the pasteurization process; the rest are broken down safely and completely by your body when you digest the milk. Some milk also contains tiny amounts of a synthetic hormone call rbST, which has been closely studied and declared harmless by multiple organizations, including the FDA. Multiple studies over more than two decades agree that milk from cows treated with rbST is just as safe as milk from untreated cows.
  15. Scary Food Myth: Pasteurization destroys the nutrients in milk. Truth: Pasteurization kills germs, not nutrients.