Future of Animal Agriculture Relies On Collaboration, Communication

May 11, 2011 – The worlds of science, politics, and agricultural advocacy intersected at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2011 Stakeholders Summit, held May 5-6 in Arlington, VA. The tenth annual event brought together nearly 200 leaders across the food and farm sector to examine the theme: “United We Eat: Securing Animal Agriculture’s Future”.


Jason Shoultz of the nationally-televised program America’s Heartland welcomed attendees with a call to action to close the knowledge gap between
farmers and urban consumers. During the one-and-ahalf day conference, Summit speakers celebrated ways that agriculture groups are sharing their stories
and tackled topics ranging from animal welfare to global warming to solving world hunger.

“When I look at farmers across the country, I see the passion they have for what they do. That passion is what we need,” Shoultz said.

Senator Pat Roberts kicked off the meeting by reiterating the importance of agriculture to our national security. He declared that there is no time for infighting between conventional and niche farms, adding that production agriculture has a critical role to fill to feed a growing population.

The presentation by acclaimed agricultural air quality specialist Dr. Frank Mitloehner was a high point for many attendees. Dr. Mitloehner received worldwide attention after he used his extensive research at the University of California, Davis to challenge the United Nation’s claims that livestock are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions.

“Suggesting that consumers should cut out meat to save the planet is totally misleading. Beef production is responsible for just one percent of U.S. emissions,” he said, explaining that the way that the UN calculated transportation versus agriculture emissions differed wildly.

Later, well-known political consultant and best-selling author Dr. Frank Luntz provided an interactive and thought-provoking discussion on effective communication strategies. He showed that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to communicate- and word choice definitely matters.

He challenged attendees to speak up about how food production has become not just more “sustainable”, but cleaner, safer, and healthier. He identified groups that attack food producers as not just “activists”, but extremists that could bring detrimental consequences to our society if successful.

“Agriculture quite literally creates miracles every single day,” Dr. Luntz said. “When you think of how little land is used to produce so many products, it is amazing.”

Speaking about the multi-generational heritage of farming, he added: “If this isn’t the American dream, I don’t know what is.”

Full coverage of the event, including podcasts and video of presentations, will be hosted by Truffle Media Networks and will be posted on the Alliance’s website. The Alliance also incorporated social media into the conference to help share information with those who were unable to attend. An archive of Twitter updates from the Summit is available online. Agwired.com also provided extensive coverage of the Summit. For more information, contact summit@animalagalliance.org.

Other Highlights:

  • Nebraska State Senator Tom Carlson explained that while his state maintains a strong connection to agriculture, proactive consumer-focused communication is needed to share the positive story of farming with city-dwellers. “Agriculture’s mission is to feed the world. Next to the church, I’m not sure there is any mission that is more important than that,” he said.
  • Ohio Director of Agriculture James Zehringer discussed the launch of the state’s Livestock Care Standards Board following the passage of “Issue 2” in 2009. He stressed that each state is unique and may have a different way of addressing livestock care. “I don’t want my kids to rely on foreign food supplies like we rely on foreign oil. No one grows food like the American farmer,” he said.
  • Indiana Farm Bureau’s Andy Dietrick and Iowa Soybean Association’s Aaron Putze presented some innovative new ways that their organizations have built relationships with non-traditional agriculture allies. Rancher and blogger Debbie Lyons-Blythe (of http://kansascattleranch.blogspot.com/) got the crowd fired up about using social media to connect food producers with food consumers.
  • Tim Belstra, President of Beltra Milling, Inc., shared how his company opens up its barn doors to connect with the community through such efforts as an interactive pork production exhibit and a 24-hour live webcam hosted at http://www.realpigfarm.com.
  • Animal Agriculture Alliance Executive Vice President Kay Johnson Smith teamed up with Patti Strand of the National Animal Interest Alliance and Teresa Platt of Fur Commission USA to examine the evolution of animal activist extremism over the past 25 years.
  • Elanco’s Senior Director for Corporate Affairs Ted McKinney ended the conference on a high note, explaining that technology will play an important role to providing food, choice, and sustainability to an ever-increasing world population. More information is available at http://www.plentytothinkabout.com

About the Alliance:
The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation. Find the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter.

Category: Press Releases

Tag: Stakeholders Summit,