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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.

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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!


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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.


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Happy National Farmer’s Day!

Today is National Farmer’s Day! Sometimes we don’t think about all the people involved in producing that juicy burger as you chomp down on it, or the turkey that centers your well-decorated Thanksgiving table. And as I took the time to think of all the reasons I’m grateful for farmers, I realized most of them centered around the sacrifices farmers make in putting others – especially their livestock – before themselves. The pig farmer who trudges out to the barn in four feet of snow to fuel up the generator so his hogs don’t freeze while the power is out. The cattle rancher who moves his cow-calf herd to a higher field so an approaching hurricane won’t drown them in the flood waters. These are just a few stories of many, and they are all examples of the tough decisions farmers must make every day.

Thank them for their hard work.

Farmer_and_tractor_tilling_soilIt’s easy to forget, and we so often look at farming and say: “I bet I could do that, easy.”  But farming is not as simple as just feeding the pigs once a day, weeding the garden weekly, or collecting a few eggs every morning. Farming takes dedication, responsibility, care, and patience. Patience in dealing with animals, in waiting for the harvest to come in, and in pushing through the tough times that make you question your decision to ever start farming.

I had one of those instances this past spring, which started with a heifer who struggled to deliver a calf. I first noticed her in what looked to be the early stages of labor as I headed out of the driveway to run errands, figuring she’d have the calf on the ground by the time I returned. No such luck. I came back to see the calf’s hoof exposed and the heifer still pushing, looking exhausted. I jumped in our Kawasaki mule and raced to the field where she lay, carrying a set of calf chains and prepared to do as much as I could by myself. Sloshing over to my heifer, my boots filled with rainwater from the raging thunderstorm, because cows are nothing if not timely in their deliveries. My dad came out to help and together we spent about twenty minutes working to get the calf out, but to no avail. It eventually took three of us (after calling the vet) to pull the large bull calf, giving relief to the momma, who was so exhausted from the ordeal she just lay still and let us administer antibiotics and pain medication to help her heal over the next few days.

Afterwards, I sat on the couch at home, feeling frustrated with myself for not thoroughly doing my research on the bull we put with the cows the previous year, or for not having intervened sooner when I saw her in labor before I left. The large size of the calf had left my heifer paralyzed for a few hours (a relatively common occurrence during long labors when the calf is pushing on nerves in the hips). Though the vet assured me that the heifer would make a full recovery, I felt as though I had let myself down. I was a better cattlewoman than this, and needed to hold myself to a higher standard. In that moment it would have been easy to throw my hands up in defeat, and it was tempting, but remembering that the time I gave to get the calf out in turn helped save my heifer helped me see the positive side of my work.

Thank them for not giving up.

wyoming-188870_960_720One of my favorite stories that my dad tells from his younger days as a farmer is of a cow in a similar situation. After attempting to deliver a calf much too large for her frame, she was paralyzed in her rear legs; and unsure that the cow could make a full recovery, the vet advised my dad to euthanize her. My dad, unwilling to give up on the cow, drove out into the field twice a day with heavy duty straps on the forks of his tractor, and hoisted the cow up on all four feet for a period of about 20 minutes. He made sure she had water and feed at all times, and slowly encouraged her to stand on her own. He worked with this cow for over two weeks until she was fully able to walk on her own, when she went on to become fully readjusted back into the herd and continue producing calves for years afterwards.

Deciding when to take a chance in farming is always difficult, never knowing whether it will turn out in your favor or completely devastate production that year. Farmers make these decisions daily. Decisions that, whether or not we realize, impact us every day. Enjoying the bounty of corn in late summer? Thank the crop farmer who just spent weeks harvesting every day from sunup to sundown. Savoring that delicious Easter ham? Thank the hog producer who hooked up the generator for his barns during a power outage to ensure the pigs didn’t freeze in negative temperatures. A farmer’s sacrifice in these situations is to benefit consumers, and we are grateful for the care and time they give so selflessly.

Thank them for putting others – people and animals – before themselves.

photo-1506976785307-8732e854ad03In everything in life there is a give and take. However, farming contains some of the largest swings between positive and negative outcomes. There are few jobs in which circumstances out of one’s control, such as natural disasters, can completely devastate society on the vast scale that occurs in agriculture. Farming is difficult, and it is not always rewarding. Yet because of farming in America today, we can sleep knowing that we will always have access to an abundance of food. This is why it is important to remember to thank farmers every day, not only on National Farmer’s Day. So before you bite down on that BBQ sandwich, or post a picture of your delicious meal on Instagram, take a moment to thank a farmer and remember what they sacrificed to get you that food.


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From Small Farms to Feedlots: The Agriculture Industry Needs Us All

Growing up, I was an active member of the local 4-H Livestock Club, raising many species of livestock and showing them in local fairs as well as shows throughout the state. Though I lived on a small farm in which I was the only family member raising animals for show or consumption, I took a strong interest in the agriculture community in my area and did everything I could to actively engage with producers. I felt as though I had a clear understanding of modern day agriculture – at least in my area, which consisted mostly of smaller cow-calf operations.

straw-bales-2638678_960_720Then I went to college in southwest Virginia, an area rich in large-scale cow-calf farms with feedlots scattered between. I met other agriculture students who lived or worked on 10,000 plus head operations, or had grown up with three chicken houses in their backyard, and I was overwhelmed. I felt as though my experiences surely couldn’t compare to these individuals who had spent their entire lives working cattle through the chute weekly or waking up early on the weekends to take care of piglets. Little old me, who had come from a non-working farm and raised my very meager herd of purebred Angus cattle to a whopping 10 head, I certainly couldn’t give my opinion on farming in front of these other students. However, after spending time around individuals with varying degrees of experience, I found that everyone brought interesting insights to the table regardless of their background.

Don’t discount yourself due to lack of experience.

Experience isn’t everything in the agriculture world. Though previous knowledge certainly helps to understand the workings of agriculture production, lack of experience does not mean you are unable to have informed opinions about its practices. Even though I didn’t have the thorough background in production that some of my counterparts brought to the table, I still had something to contribute. Just as the person who grew up in the heart of a city with no hands-on experience working livestock had valid opinions to offer. Though some of us are more involved in the process, we all

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Me with some Virginia Tech friends attending the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Conference in 2016.

participate in the agriculture world and have something to share.

Never be afraid to speak up.

Even when you feel outnumbered by those who carry more experience than you: speak up! Share what you know! Ask that question to which you’ve been dying to get an answer! This is how we grow and learn from each other as a society. Growth in modern day agriculture comes about when everyone is an active participant in its conversations, and everyone who cares about the future of agriculture deserves to have a part in those discussions.

Learn from others.

If you are the person who grew up on a large scale operation, always have an open mind to others’ opinions, even though your experience may far exceed theirs. Additionally, if you did not grow up on a farm, listen to shared knowledge from those who had that exposure. Never pass up an opportunity to have an educational and potentially enlightening conversation with someone. Furthermore, always be respectful in your interactions with individuals of varying backgrounds, and remember to treat every conversation as an opportunity to learn and grow in your knowledge of agriculture.


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Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg!

Mr. Zuckerberg,

As champions for farmers and ranchers, we know sharing the stories of the people and families who raise and produce our food is key to helping consumers better understand where their food comes from. We are excited to see you joining us as you visit farm families across the country and share their stories on Facebook.

As you know, there is a lot of misinformation being shared online about food and agriculture – often times by people generations removed from agriculture. We appreciate you sharing how much hard work, dedication and passion farmers and ranchers have for raising livestock while feeding families everywhere.

The Alliance is no stranger to receiving negative comments from groups that are opposed to animal agriculture as we work to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We’ve noticed that you are now receiving some of the same comments on your posts and standing strong in the face of their tactics is not always easy. The Alliance team and the farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, animal health companies and other farm organizations we represent want you to know how much your recognition and appreciation of the people who grow and raise our food means to each of us.

We sincerely thank you for being a supportive advocate of the agriculture community!

 

 


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What Will You Do?

My Roots

cornfield.jpgFive generations. For five generations my family has grown crops and raised livestock for food, fuel and fiber just outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. I have always considered myself lucky to be raised on a farm that is committed to providing food for a hungry world.

Growing up on a farm in a large metropolitan suburb, my family’s farming intentions were questioned more than once as housing developments, new roads and businesses started closing in on our acreage. It seemed that not everyone understood what my dad does as a farmer, and I often had to explain how the crops and livestock we grow get from our farm to their table.

Realizing that even my peers did not understand much about agriculture, I became interested in telling my farming story and sharing facts about farmers’ role in producing healthy food. To become a more skilled advocate and learn techniques that would help me share my story with others, I chose to major in agriculture communications.

We Have Work to Do

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The peta2 brochure that was handed to me freshman year.

It wasn’t long after I settled into my freshman year, that a group of students in matching t-shirts handed me and other students walking to class a ‘Guide to Going Vegan’ brochure. After class I read the brochure, published by peta2 (a branch of PETA that targets youth and young adults). The brochure was filled with vegan recipes and false information about “factory farms.”

I was concerned. There I was, surrounded by impressionable college peers who were uninformed about the safe and humane animal agriculture practices. Being handed a brochure with misinformation about animal agriculture on an agriculture campus while walking to an agriculture education class made me realize… those of us with a passion for animal agriculture have our work cut out for us.

Taking Action  

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This summer, I will take action while interning with the Animal Agriculture Alliance: an organization that stands up to protect producers, engage influencers and connect industry stakeholders to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. There is an immense need to share farmers’ commitment to responsibly and ethically produce meat, milk, poultry and eggs.

For those who have the privilege of working in the agriculture industry, I encourage you to share your story. Personally, I get to spend my summer creating social media content that busts myths, shares facts and answers questions about the animal agriculture industry. What will you do? With all of us working together, we can dispel the myths of animal agriculture and ensure a secure, safe and reliable food future.


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“This is My First Summit!”

Over the course of my semester interning with the Animal Ag Alliance, preparation for the 2017 Stakeholders Summit was the main focus. I had witnessed how much work each member of the Alliance team had put into this event, listened to them discuss new ways to ensure every attendee was engaged, and strategize how they would make this year’s Summit the best one yet. Needless to say, I had pretty high expectation for the annual event.

Myself at the Alliance photo booth at Summit.

Board of Directors Meeting

The day before the official start of Summit was the Alliance’s spring Board of Directors meeting. With their strong connections to major industry organizations, the Alliance’s Board is filled with individuals who I am completely in awe of. Surrounded by and having the opportunity to mingle with representatives from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, etc. was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. Stepping into my first “real” job, it was incredible having the opportunity to spend the day alongside so many people in positions that I aspire to be in.

Connect, Engage, Protect

Once Summit officially kicked off, each morning and afternoon focused on one core aspect of the Alliance’s work: connect, engage, and protect. The connect segment focused on misconceptions related to food. The Alliance team was able to provide a consumer focus group comprised of people that ate out at least 4 times a week. Attendees were able to hear why they choose the foods that they do related to labeling and what they associate those labels with.

Casey, Alliance communications manager and I having fun at one of the receptions.

The engage portion of the day was headlined by author Nina Teicholz, who spoke the importance of animal products in a healthy diet. It was great hearing from someone who was not biased related to this issue. She admitted that previously she was a believer that animal products were not good for your health, leading her to follow a vegetarian diet. She eventually discovered that this was not true and noted that she actually lost weight after introducing animal products back into her diet. The remainder of the day was broken into two breakout tracks: engaging with consumers, and engaging with the media to ensure the public has accurate information related to animal agriculture. I sat in on the media portion and was able to gain a better understanding of how to work with biased media.

Thursday morning was focused on protecting animal agriculture from people and organizations that are working tirelessly to end it. This was probably my favorite part of the event! Part of my responsibility with the Alliance was to monitor the news every morning for issues related to animal welfare and animal rights, and it was so cool to hear from experts on these issues in their fields. Diane Sullivan, an anti-poverty and affordable food advocate, closed the conference and was absolutely great to listen to. She brought up an important food topic, but one that I do not think of often. She shared her personal story and the hardships she’s faced securing food for her family. She was a great choice to wrap up Summit!

Two of the College Aggies winners and I showing people how to use the photo booth props!

College Aggies

I was fortunate enough to spend a good bit of time with the College Aggies Online winners during Summit. These winners are peers that I look up to and were absolutely deserving of the recognition they received. It was so cool meeting students from across the country and hearing about their campus experiences at their perspective schools. Hearing about how much they enjoyed participating in the College Aggies Online program has inspired me to participate in the contest this fall. I can’t wait to signup! 

Attending the 2017 Stakeholders Summit was an incredible experience and I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to attend! The event provided so many networking and learning opportunities which is super important for a college student like me! If you were not able to attend this year, I highly encourage you to signup for next year!

 


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Animal rights activists masquerading as consumers

Consumer demand is powerful. It can be the champion of a company’s success or the culprit of their failure. What I find even more interesting is how consumer demand is defined. Does a group of people with no intention of ever buying a restaurant’s product qualify as their consumer? With the avalanche of recent restaurant and retail pledges caving to pressure from animal rights organizations, it seems so.

At the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s recent Stakeholders Summit, speakers offered insights about consumer demand – suggesting consumers aren’t the ones demanding restaurants and grocery stores to change their supply chain policies at all. Dr. Dan Thomson of Kansas State University stated, “activists today are masquerading as the consumers.”

I have yet to hear a person order their chicken sandwich only with meat from “slower-growing” chickens, so Thomson’s statement didn’t surprise me. Although I understand why restaurants adopt certain sourcing policies in the face of mounting activist pressure, it would be refreshing to see a company stand up against the “self-appointed food police” as Diane Sullivan, an anti-poverty and affordable food advocate calls them. Thankfully, there is still at least one brand with a backbone – Domino’s Pizza.

Tim McIntyre of Domino’s Pizza

Tim McIntyre from Domino’s shared how the pizza company hears from animal rights “extremists” all the time, but they value the hard work of farmers and ranchers and will never make a policy announcement threatening farmers’ livelihoods [cue standing ovation].

Animal rights organizations hide behind the guise of being concerned about animal care and well-being, but in reality they are campaigning for animal rights. No matter how well animals are cared for, if it benefits humans in any way it is unacceptable in their eyes. The pressure campaigns are about one thing – driving up the cost of production and in the end, consumer costs to put farmers and ranchers who raise meat, milk and eggs out of business.

I urge the consumers who don’t want to be bullied by animal rights organizations to take a page out of Domino’s playbook and stand up and take action. A simple thank you to our favorite restaurant or the manager at your grocery store can go a long way.


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4 Things I’ve Learned Interning with the Alliance

With only two weeks left until the Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit, my time here is quickly coming to an end. Managing work responsibilities, homework and studying, and extracurricular activities, this semester has been one of my hardest yet – but definitely the most rewarding. I feel like now is a good time to share the four greatest opportunities and learning experiences I’ve had because of this internship.

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#1: Time Management

This is absolutely the biggest thing I’ve learned these last couple months. A full college course-load is hard enough, but when you add in this internship and stepping into a presidential role for a club, it’s safe to say I kept busy. With daily deadlines and to-do lists a mile long, I learned hard and fast the importance of working quickly, efficiently, and not wasting any “down time”.

#2: “Ag-vocate” wherever and whenever

In a coffee shop, at the store, in class, on social media; there are always opportunities to advocate for the animal agriculture industry. Those involved in the industry are eager to share their stories, and consumers are seeking more insight about the agricultural world. The Alliance has shown me the importance of forming relationships with everyone – consumers, food retail associations, producers – to help bridge the gap between farm and fork.

#3: Take advantage of every opportunity

You always hear “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”. This internship has provided me with many opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I’ve had the chance to attend receptions, events on Capitol Hill, and even a barnyard social with other animal ag interns in the area! Stepping out of my comfort zone and engaging in these events has left me with memories that will last a lifetime.emily 4

And #4: Animal rights activists are crazy

Period.

I am so thankful for everything the organization has taught me and the wonderful people that I have met in my short time here. My last month will be bitter-sweet as I am sad to be moving on from the Alliance, but looking forward to finishing this experience with a bang at the 2017 Stakeholders Summit in Kansas City!