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Every Month Should Be Dairy Month

June is celebrated as Dairy Month, so I have one question for you: got milk? If not, stay tuned. I am going to remind you why you should be obsessed with this delicious beverage that has been giving us artificial mustaches since we were children. It may be cheesy (see what I did there), but I have narrowed the long list of reasons of why to down a glass of milk to three important points:

  1. Dairy products are like a bath bomb of health and wellness for our bodies

Glass of MilkI may be 20 years old, but I still go wild when someone hands me a GoGurt. If loving this childhood snack is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Slurping down a tube of this mobile dairy delicacy is proven to be good for your health. Did you know that a glass of milk a day could keep the type-2 diabetes away? That’s right, folks. In an article published by the Dairy Alliance, research has found that higher consumption of low-fat dairy foods is associated with a 40-50 percent reduced risk for type-2 diabetes. So, the next time your cute 5-year-old niece hands you a GoGurt to eat with her, go to town, buddy. She is looking out for you.

  1. Dairy does not discriminate

Okay, fine. I’m guilty. I am that girl with a complicated coffee order. I take my coffee 1/8 espresso, 7/8 whole milk. Basically, I like milk with a dash of espresso. As much as I wish I could buy into the whole black coffee movement, I just can’t. Thankfully, we live in an age where one can order a coffee drink that does not taste like coffee at all. Just like how we can order a black coffee or a triple mocha chocolate chip Frappuccino, we have infinite possibilities to enjoy the delectable taste of dairy. Where I would buy a gallon of whole milk, some put their money towards 2% or skim. Where I choose to stop by the frozen custard shop, some stick with the classic ice cream parlor. For some, cheddar is the cheese of choice. For me, I like to chow down on some mozzarella. What I’m getting to here is that you cannot go wrong with dairy. There is something for everyone— even you weird strawberry milk lovers. Don’t worry, lactose intolerant community. You can enjoy the pure perfection of dairy, as well. Yes, you heard me right; lactose-free dairy products are a thing. So, put down your soy “milk,” and fill up a glass of the real stuff. I promise, one taste, and you’ll never go back.

  1. Dairy farmers are the real MVPs

Full disclosure: I wish I was a dairy cow. First of all, they sleep an average of 12 hours a Dairy Cowday. As if that isn’t enough, dairy cattle are spoiled. Comfort is key when it comes to milk production. Therefore, dairy cattle are provided with clean, comfortable bedding daily, aisles are cleaned multiple times a day to ensure that the barn they live in is top-notch and sprinklers and fans are installed to keep the cattle cool and comfortable. In addition, veterinary care is top priority for the livestock. Depending on the herd size, a veterinarian may come out to the farm as often as weekly to ensure the well-being of the cattle. Who makes all of this happen? Dairy farmers. As you can imagine, this is not a nine to five kind of gig. Dairy farmers work well over 40 hours a week to ensure that these 1,500-pound divas stay happy so you can have as much creamer in your morning coffee as you desire. And to think…their livelihoods are based off whether you go buy that gallon of milk I have been trying to sell you this whole time.

Multi-generational dairy farms are collapsing under the pressure of the current market. With every dairy farm bankruptcy, another farmer’s pride is crippled, another family loses its lifestyle and another young person is turned away from farming. Buy that gallon of milk, order your pizza with extra cheese and, for the sake of our dairy farmers, their families and future generations, do not limit Dairy Month to the month of June.

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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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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.

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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.