Animal Ag Engage


Today’s Family Farms

Being a graduate student in Northern Virginia while working in the communication field for the animal agriculture industry definitely makes for interesting class conversations. At first I tried to keep all my facts, figures and stories in my papers instead of the class discussions to avoid any potential conflict – I was working full time, going to school full time and planning a wedding, so I really didn’t have much energy to talk much less debate. This didn’t last long because whenever agriculture was brought into the conversation I couldn’t help but speak up!

Most of my colleagues from school are interested in energy, climate change, weather and technology. Agriculture is involved in each of these areas, yet like most people, the students are usually generations removed from the farm. So, once I leave the office after a day of brainstorming communication strategies to bridge the gap between farm and fork I get to put my ideas into action in class.

Photo credit: Wanda Patsche, Minnesota pig farmer

The students are not the only ones not familiar with animal agriculture. The professors also have misconceptions. In one of my classes, a professor likes to tailor all her lessons to relate to subjects students are studying which I find beneficial as it makes abstract theories and concepts easier to understand. But when the examples include misinformation I start squirming in my seat. The professor was explaining how agriculture has changed a lot over the years (which I agreed with). Then she said there used to be family farms and farmers who depended on their farm and livestock as their livelihood, but now family farms don’t exist anymore (cue my seat squirming) and it’s all corporate farms. I quickly told her and the rest of the class that there are still family farms and they still make up the vast majority of farms today.

All of my research projects revolve around animal agriculture’s communication efforts to build trust with consumers. I was explaining one of my research projects which included interviewing farmers and ranchers about their social media habits to someone and he asked, “did you talk to family farms or big farms?” His question made me tilt my head to the side like a dog hearing a foreign noise. First, I answered his question explaining that all of the farmers I talked to were family farmers, meaning their farm is owned and operated by the family. Then I asked, “why can’t family farmers have big farms?” *crickets*

Photo credit: Rebecca Hilby, Wisconsin dairy farmer

These interactions got me thinking about family farmers, farm size and the public perception of today’s family farms. Why is it that people think family farmers must be small and that big is automatically bad? Farms come in all types and sizes. I’ve talked to family farmers who only sell their eggs, cheeses and meats at farmers’ markets, farmers who raise chickens or pigs for a company that then takes care of the marketing and sales, farmers who have 15 head of cattle and others who have 150. Family farms are all very different, but one thing they have in common…they are all owned and operated by passionate, hardworking families.

Sure, today’s family farmers aren’t always standing outside that romanticized red barn, but that doesn’t make them any less of a family farm. Why should farmers be punished for growing from a small farm to a medium-sized farm or to a large farm? Why can’t farmers use technology to make their jobs more efficient? Some farmers also have side jobs because that’s what works best for their families, yet they love what they do so they keep showing up at the farmers’ market every Saturday morning at 3 a.m. Other farmers choose to work on the farm full time and have grown their farms to meet the needs of their expanding families – both choices are equally valid.

The farms that aren’t considered “family farms” shouldn’t be demonized either. They are not owned and operated by the family, but they still employ families and are part of communities. Because of their size, they often have enough resources to hire multiple veterinarians and animal care professionals to ensure livestock’s well-being is a priority. Larger farms often have the ability to donate large amounts of protein to local food banks too. Big doesn’t have to mean bad.

I try my best to always embrace farms of all sizes. Sometimes the marketing gimmicks can get annoying, but I know that no matter what kind of meat, milk or eggs I buy at the grocery store or at the farmers’ market, it came from a farm and I’m always happy to support farmers and ranchers.

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Learning to Agvocate Outside the Classroom: College Aggies Online

Erica Ballmer, a graduate student at Purdue University and first place winner of the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2017 College Aggies Online program, shares why other agriculture students should sign up for the scholarship competition.

Erica Ballmer, graduate student at Purdue University

In a collegiate setting, especially in graduate school, learning through practice is not necessarily as common as it should be. Many times lectures and classroom discussions focus on theory rather than the practical applications of the research. Therefore, there are not many opportunities to gain practical, hands-on learning experiences. To gain some practical experience, the past two fall semesters I participated in the College Aggies Online program. College Aggies Online provides participants with a real-life learning experience outside the classroom through various opportunities to learn from and network with agricultural professionals and provide an outlet to be creative while advocating for agriculture.

Learn From the Pros

One of the best parts about competing in College Aggies Online is learning from industry mentors from all different aspects of animal agriculture. Throughout the contest industry professionals host webinars to share tips and tricks for agvocating and engaging with the non-farm public online. From the webinars, I learned about various issues the agriculture industry is facing, as well as how to handle negative trolls and how to use hashtags to break through the agriculture bubble and reach consumers who are not as familiar with agriculture. In addition, for each assignment, an industry mentor judges the submissions and provides useful feedback on how to improve on creating social media content that will engage consumers online.


College Aggies Online winners at the 2017 Summit

Participating in College Aggies Online allowed me to interact and engage with not only agricultural students, but also agricultural professionals from throughout the United States. This led to not only an increase in my social media followers, but also opportunities to learn. Through various conversations, mostly on Twitter, I learned from industry professionals – about their careers as well as how to navigate issues facing the agriculture industry. (And, if you are one of the top individuals, you’ll get to meet and converse with many of these social media stars in person at the Animal Ag Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit too!)

Agvocating in a Creative Way

Finally, my favorite part of College Aggies Online is that each week I was inspired to let the creative juices flow and create original posts for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I got to share about why agriculture is important to us all and clear up misconceptions about issues, such as animal antibiotic use, in the agriculture industry. Most importantly, I enjoyed the creative freedom to create social media content to advocate for agriculture, as it was a tremendous relief from the monotony of academic writing.

College Aggies Online was a fantastic opportunity to gain real, hands-on experience in advocating for agriculture, while stuck in the mundane routine of graduate school. I am thankful for everything I learned throughout the competition and look forward to applying the skills I gained through College Aggies Online in my future career.

To sign up for this year’s College Aggies Online scholarship program, visit

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18 Reasons to Attend the 2018 Stakeholders Summit

  1. Learn how to protect your roots!2018SummitLogo_PROTECTYOURROOTS-01

Get inspired to be proud of your roots in animals agriculture and become forward thinking on how to grow in the future.

  1. Be one of the first to hear results from research on antibiotics and animal welfare.

Dr. Randall Singer, professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota, will share the findings of a recent study examining “No Antibiotics Ever” animal production and the effects it could have on animal welfare.

  1. Find out what extreme actions animal rights activists are taking.

Jason Roesler from Fur Commission USA and Nicole Drumhiller, PhD, from the School of Security and Global Studies at American Public University System will give their presentation “Radical Animal Rights Extremism: Assessing the Nature of the Threat” so we know more about those who threaten our way of life.

  1. Make a bid at the Silent Auction.

Browse over 35 items at this year’s Silent Auction – there’s something for everyone! Take home the jewelry, a case of bacon or maybe the Star Wars signed posters.

7C Star Wars 11X14

Available in the silent auction: “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope”  signed by Carrie Fisher
 and Kenny Baker

  1. Hear Mark Gale talk about consumer perspectives on food labels.

Mark Gale, CEO and partner at Charleston|Orwig, will discuss what average Americans think of food labels and how they buy their food.

  1. Ask questions about postmodern animal ag at a panel discussion.

“Postmodern Animal Ag Begins Now” will be moderated by Chuck Jolley, president of Jolley & Associates. Hear from Danielle Nierenberg from Food Tank; Janet Riley from North American Meat Institute; and Dallas Hockman from National Pork Producers Council.

  1. Hear Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam dissect animal ag in the past and now.

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam is a cooperative extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at University of California-Davis. She will ask “Were Those the Days?” and discuss animal agriculture – past and present.

  1. Meet people across all sectors.

Meet professionals in every sector of agriculture, from aquaculture to dairy, and from the feed industry to restaurant and retail. The Summit is the premier event connecting industry stakeholders across all sectors of agriculture!

  1. Dr. Jayson Lusk will discuss how consumer choice can shape our market.

Dr. Jayson Lusk will discuss “The Future of Consumer Choice.” He is a professor and head of the department of agricultural economics at Purdue University.

  1. Hear about Agriculture’s Roots in Washington.

    Ted McKinney photo

    Ted McKinney, USDA

USDA’s Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Ted McKinney, joins us to talk about agriculture in the Capital.

  1. Meet the Alliance staff.

Meet the awesome ladies that run the Alliance and learn how they could help you!

  1. Learn why it is important to tell our story!

Jenny Splitter, a food, science and health writer; Tamara Hinton of Story Partners and Phil Brasher from AgriPulse will tell us how “Sharing Your Roots” is an important piece of animal agriculture.

  1. Learn how to respond to these threats toward animal agriculture.

Panel Moderator Dallas Hockman from National Pork Producers Council will ask Scott Sobel, senior vice president of crisis and litigation communications at kglobal, Dr. Jamie Jonker from National Milk Producers Federation and Brian Humphreys of Ohio Pork Producers Council questions about “Responding to Activist Tactics: Lessons Learned.”

  1. Network with others in your field.

With nearly 300 attendees you can make valuable connections with people across your industry.

  1. Hear why ‘plant-based’ diets seem to be on the rise.

Registered dietitian nutritionists Leah McGrath and Amy Myrdal Miller will discuss how the term ‘plant-based’ became popular and how we, in animal agriculture, can promote a balanced diet.

  1. Learn how animal agriculture is affecting the environment, and why most 
    Frank Mitloehner_006

    Dr. Frank Mitloehner, UC-Davis

    people get it wrong.

Dr. Frank Mitloehner professor and air quality extension specialist at University of California-Davis, will discuss the facts and fiction of animal ag and the environment and will debunk myths about animal ag’s environmental impact

  1. Learn what the Animal Ag Alliance does!

Become familiar with the Animal Ag Alliance and all we do to connect industry stakeholders, engage with key influencers and protect the agriculture industry.

  1. Hear how our resilience can help agriculture thrive into the future!
    Tyne Morgan, the host of U.S. Farm Report and the 2018 Summit Moderator, will close out the Summit with a session on how “Resilience Reigns in Agriculture.”


Don’t take our word for it! 95% of 2017 attendees rated the Summit as good or great and 100% say it was worth their time and money. We hope to see you at the 2018 Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, VA!

Online registration closes May 1st! Register Here!

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These Eggs or Those Eggs?

As you walk down the grocery aisle and stand in front of the egg case there are many different options you can choose. I went to my local Target and counted nine different kinds of eggs I could buy. From brown or white to cage-free or organic, there were cartons with so many different labels. It can be confusing to know what each label means!


Conventional Eggs

Let’s start by talking about conventional eggs. About 85% of the eggs in the store are laid by hens raised in conventional barns. This means that the hens are living in cages with access to feed and water. The cages are indoors in barns where the temperature and humidity are controlled to keep the chickens comfortable and prevent diseases. In these barns, they are also protected from the environment and predators that lurk outside. This method is a very efficient way to produce eggs and therefore conventional eggs are almost always the cheapest!

Brown Eggs vs White Eggs

Whether eggs are brown or white, the insides are still the same!! The color of the egg depends on the breed of chicken that laid it. Brown eggs are laid by chickens with brown or red feathers and red ear lobes (did you know chickens have ear lobes??). While hens with white feathers and white earlobes lay white eggs! All eggs have the same great taste and nutrition.

Cage Free vs Free Range

Cage free and free range sound pretty similar don’t they? That’s because they are, but there are variances that make all the difference when putting a label on the carton. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates these labels and has very specific requirements farms must meet in order to use one label or the other. To be considered cage free, eggs must be laid by hens raised in indoor floor operations. This means the hens are free to roam in a building, room, or open area and have unlimited access to food and water. Some also go outdoors and can forage for food. The only difference between that and free range is that the free range hens must have access to the outdoors, weather permitting. Both types of hens are raised under common handling and care practices that provide plenty of floor space, nesting space and perching space.


The USDA also inspects farmers using the organic label to make sure they are meeting the correct standards. Eggs marked with the USDA Organic label come from hens that are fed an organic diet. The organic diet must consist of feeds grown without the use of conventional pesticides or herbicides. The key word there is conventional pesticides, because there are many organic-approved pesticides that can be used. So why are the organic eggs at Target $3.99 per dozen and the conventional eggs $0.97? The production costs to produce the organic eggs are a lot higher than conventional eggs. The labor costs go up a lot when farming an organic operation. The organic feed also increases the cost.

Which eggs are the best? That’s for you to decide!

With a plethora of choices out there it is hard to know what is best for you! There is no right or wrong choice as to which eggs you should buy. I recommend researching all the options and all the different labels and choose the eggs that feels right for you and your family, and that fits in your budget. Click here to find out exactly what each label means. No matter what eggs you choose, all offer a healthy, protein packed meal! Eggs have six grams of protein and zero carbs or sugar, a great start to any day.

Need a great dish for your next get together? Try SISTER MARY’S HEAVENLY DEVILED EGGS recipe, they’re sure to be a hit at any party!

Sister Mary’s Heavenly Deviled Eggs:

  • 14 large, hard boiled eggsdeviled eggs
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • ¼ cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chooped fress chives


  1. CUT eggs lengthwise in half. REMOVE yolks to medium bowl. RESERVE 24 white halves. Finely CHOP remaining 4 white halves and set aside.
  2. MASH yolks with fork. ADD mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and pepper; mix well. ADD chopped egg whites, bacon, cheese and chives; mix well.
  3. SPOON 1 heaping tablespoon yolk mixture into each reserved egg white half. REFRIGERATE, covered, to blend flavors. SPRINKLE with paprika just before serving, if desired.


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!