@TheTable Editor: Paul Spooner, USFRA Affiliate Relations and Ag Communications Manager
Hors d’Oeuvres On March 15, National Ag Day was celebrated to recognize and celebrate farmers and ranchers many contributions to agriculture. Producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others gathered in Washington D.C. for the Ag Day festivities. Here are some interesting facts about agriculture today. FUN FACT #1 Today’s average farm is 417 acres compared to 147 acres in 1900.
FUN FACT #2 More than 15 percent of the U.S. population is employed in farm or farm-related jobs.
FUN FACT #3 U.S. consumers spend roughly 9 percent of their income on food compared with 11 percent in the United Kingdom, 17 percent in Japan, 27 percent in South Africa and 53 percent in India.
In addition to the insert, USFRA invited consumers to learn more about animal welfare by directing them to FoodDialogues.com via banner ads on Media Planet’s website, where the insert lives online at www. impactingourfuture. com.
The Main Dish
ANIMAL WELFARE: A Priority for Farmers, Ranchers and the American Food Supply By: Randy Krotz, CEO of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance
On March 23, USA Today published a special insert about animal welfare, created by Media Planet in conjunction with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In response, USFRA collaborated with its animal affiliates and industry partners, representing beef, dairy, pork and poultry, to stand united in agriculture and be a voice for today’s farmer and rancher. A full-page advertorial featuring USFRA’s CEO Randy Krotz was included in the insert and touched on farmers/ranchers zero-tolerance for the mistreatment of animals. The advertorial copy is included below and can also be found on FoodDialogues.com. Animal welfare is fundamental to the work we do as farmers and ranchers. It’s an ethical responsibility – for the animal and the safety of our food supply. Without question, the videos, images and firsthand accounts of the mistreatment of animals being raised for food are incredibly painful to watch, and they are extremely infuriating. I’ve worked with animals all my life on our family farm, and like so many farmers and ranchers, I experience a range of emotions when I see this type of abuse — anger, sadness and frustration. While these pictures and videos are the rare exception and not the norm, put simply: the bad actors who do not follow the standards of care set by experts in animal science don’t belong in agriculture. We have zero-tolerance for this behavior. As CEO of an alliance representing more than 90 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, I can tell you this perspective is shared by farmers and ranchers nationwide.
Aggressive social media activation and amplification (organic & paid) garnered 207,263 impressions/reach, 53,400 engagements and 965 shares – including shares from affiliates and industry partners.
I work with people who have dedicated their lives to the care and well-being of animals, so nothing is more upsetting than seeing them mistreated. For farmers and ranchers, taking care of animals being raised for food is personal because we are responsible for their care 24/7, 365 days a year. My interactions with farmers, ranchers and
Randy Krotz, CEO of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, says animal welfare is fundamental to the work we do as farmers and ranchers. It’s an ethical responsibility – for the animal and the safety of our food supply.
consumers reinforce the fact that there is a lot of emotion tied to the care and well-being of animals being raised for food — as there should be. But, we cannot let our emotions get in the way of dialogue and understanding. A real conversation about animal welfare must include consumers, NGOs, food retailers, veterinarians, and farmers and ranchers. When it comes to how animals are raised for food, we must work together and ask questions, instead of casting judgment. We all have distinct points of view on these topics and yet, we have one shared interest — making sure animals raised for food receive proper care. Randy Krotz is the fourth generation on his family’s farm and is the CEO of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. To join the discussion on how food is grown and raised and to learn more about animal welfare, visit FoodDialogues.com and follow USFRA on Facebook and Twitter (@USFRA #FoodD).
Get connected with USFRA online.
Head of the Table
What’s Next for Agriculture in the Entertainment Industry? by
Nancy Kavazanjian USFRA Chairwoman
I often travel in my roles for U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and United Soybean Board (USB). Occasionally, it is exhausting. More often it is stimulating and thought provoking, and that’s exactly what I found on a recent trip to New York City. During our visit, National Milk Producers Federation Senior Vice President of Communications Chris Galen, USFRA CEO Randy Krotz, and I heard updates from our Ketchum team on USFRA TV and digital initiatives, presentations on prospective entertainment venues and virtual reality opportunities. The 12 different presentations we attended over two days certainly were stimulating and thought provoking, but it was two coincidental events that most impacted my psyche. The first occurred at the midtown Manhattan restaurant “Quality Meats” where the menu touted a nightly special dubbed “Heritage Pork.” I, not so innocently, asked the waiter what Heritage implied. Was it organic or pasture raised? His response, which horrified me, was: “It’s not organic, but the pig wasn’t tortured like they are on most farms.” Me: You think most farmers torture their pigs? Waiter: Yes. They definitely do.
music festivals, in particular, skew heavily millennial, and this generation shows strong interest in technology. If we can find unique and impactful ways to inform these consumer food connectors, we’d have an avenue to build appreciation for the high tech, compassionate and sustainable ways that today’s food is grown and raised. The second event that’s indelibly embedded in my memory occurred at the airport while shuttling back and forth between gates, then waiting five hours for my flight home to summarily be cancelled. Needless to say, I made several new friends during my adventure who marveled at my profession of being a farmer. Their comments ranged from “you’re dressed so smartly” (USB sweater), to “you have such nice luggage” (designer knock-offs from my last China trip) and, “you do this voluntarily?” My new city friends gave me a chance to relay how things have changed on the farm; how we farmers and ranchers care for our
During the Entertainment Influencer Tour in New York City, Nancy Kavazanjian, Chris Galen and Randy Krotz learned about virtual reality and music festivals/ sponsorship opportunities for USFRA.
animals, and how we are using technology to be more sustainable. As many of my words resonated with these individuals, I imagined how much more impactful it’d be if I’d had a virtual reality headset and some cool 360 videos to illustrate our operation.
Right of the Table DECIPHERING THE LABEL
Me: No they don’t. Why would you think that?
by U. S. Poultry & Egg Association www.uspoultry.org
At that point he back peddled, my dinner companions started squirming and I replied, “I’ll have the veal chops. I know they aren’t tortured. I have seen modern veal farms. Animals are well cared-for and in group housing…as are the pigs raised on today’s farms.”
Raised without antibiotics, no hormones added, all-natural, organic, and the list goes on. The meat case at any local grocery store displays a wide assortment of descriptive labels on the packages of refrigerated and frozen food products that are purchased for cooking. For some shoppers, the terms on the labels are confusing. While some may hardly notice or take the time to read them, for others, the labeling can raise questions.
The chops tasted great; the incident left a bad taste in my mouth and underscores the great need we face to reach, engage and continually interact with millennial and influential foodies. That’s exactly why we’re exploring pop culture, TV and digital programs, along with music, food and healthrelated festivals. Research from
We have a long way to go to close the gap between us and today’s consumer. Our affiliates and industry partners working together through USFRA is our best shot to get there.
U. S. Poultry & Egg Association provides some clarity about the labeling of fresh and frozen chicken and turkey products and also reassures that American poultry products are among the safest and healthiest foods anywhere in the world. Check out this video or view this infographic that explains the various poultry packaging labels.
U. S. Poultry & Egg Association provides some clarity about the labeling of fresh and frozen chicken and turkey products and also reassures that American poultry products are among the safest and healthiest foods anywhere in the world.
The Special What Responsible Antibiotic Use Means on a Pig Farm National Pork Board www.pork.org by
We CareSM initiative, joint effort of the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council, is a proactive, multifaceted initiative to promote responsible practices in all areas of farming and is a commitment to continuously evaluate and improve the methods of pig farmers. With growing concerns about antibiotic resistance, people ask how antibiotic use in animals could affect their health and the health of their families. While many understand that these medicines are needed to protect animal health and produce safe food, some ask how farmers can ensure antibiotics are used responsibly to minimize the selection for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to protect these valuable medications for both human and animal health. This is an important conversation and one the U.S. pork industry has been engaged in for many years. The industry is committed to helping consumers understand how and why antibiotics are used to keep our food safe and animals healthy through continuous improvement of best practices on the farm. Antibiotic resistance is a critical issue that everyone must address together through a science-based approach. Antibiotics are essential for healthy livestock and safe food. Antibiotics are critical to treat and prevent disease – in humans and animals. Without the responsible and timely use of antibiotics, sickness can spread rapidly on a farm, endangering the health of animals and the safety of our food. Our view is simple: produce healthy livestock, produce safe food. When you go into a grocery store or restaurant, you should not have to worry about the safety of the food you are buying for your family. With a focus on continuous improvement, real change is occurring on farms across the U.S.
The pork industry is committed to ensuring responsible antibiotic use in animals to protect the efficacy of antibiotics for humans and animals. The industry tests and implements alternative ways to keep pork safe and healthy. Antibiotics are just one of the many approaches in a comprehensive strategy to keep animals healthy and produce safe food. The National Pork Board has adopted a new three-point antibiotic stewardship plan that is proactive, collaborative and aggressive in its strategy and scope. Using education, research and communication tactics, the
America’s pig farmers work closely with veterinarians to ensure that their pigs stay healthy. However, at times pigs need medical attention, which may require the use of antibiotics to treat illness. Responsible antibiotic use means using only what’s necessary for pig health. Click here to view the video.
plan will ultimately work for the betterment of people, pigs and the planet. FDA and USDA play important roles to ensure responsible antibiotic use in animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of medically important antibiotics in pigs for treatment, control and prevention of disease. New regulations – FDA Guidance
209 and 213 – will be fully enacted January 1, 2017. Pig farmers embrace and support the new guidelines. To learn more about the pork industry’s commitment to antibiotic stewardship download the Antibiotic Stewardship Supports Animal Health and Safe Food pdf.
Aperitif USFRA Faces Engage with Consumers via Smithsonian Video Chat In USFRA’s ongoing partnership with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Faces of Farming and Ranching Thomas Titus, Illinois pig farmer, and Jay Hill, New Mexico Vegetable, Beef & Nut Producer, participated in the “Ask a Farmer” live video chat last month and spoke with about 100 consumers each about their farming operation, technology and challenges in agriculture. During the 45-minute session, various consumers participating at the Smithsonian asked questions about today’s farming and ranching and Katharine Mead, Food and Agriculture Programs Manager, facilitated the conversation to draw connections between the farmers’ responses and themes in American agriculture history. USFRA received outstanding feedback from participants at the Smithsonian noting Thomas and Jay did a great job engaging with our visitors and answering questions in an informative and educational way. Likewise, our Faces of Farming and Ranching enjoyed engaging with consumers via the video chat. Below is Thomas’ reflection of the experience.
Last month, Faces of Farming and Ranching Thomas Titus and Jay Hill participated in the Smithsonian “Ask a Farmer” live video chat and spoke with about 100 consumers each about their farming operation, technology and challenges in agriculture.
Thomas Titus: Recent technology has allowed us to do many great things on each of our farms from improved crop scouting with drones, variable rate planting to improved nutritional feed ingredients and utilization. However, as farmers we sometimes may not look at the technology at our finger tips to reach out to consumers. This past month, I was granted the ability to leverage technology and video chat with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. from the comfort of my own farm. Being able to connect with consumers from across the nation sometimes is just as easy as taking a 15-minute farm break!
Natural Products Expo West Makes Bold Claims about GMOs and Pesticides Recently, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance attended the Natural Product Expo West in Anaheim, California. Spanning over four days were various keynotes, sessions and exhibitors touting the benefits of organic and natural foods on health, environment and lifestyle. While USFRA did not have a booth, it was important to attend the conference and better understand how the organic industry is communicating core messages and what mediums are being utilized to deliver those messages. Within the various sessions attended, it was difficult not to be offended by the extremity of the comments and emotions inserted into the organic and natural conversation. One organic farmer proclaimed that every conventional farmer he has ever known has “died of cancer or another autoimmune disease because of pesticides.” Another session attendee stood up and made the bold claim that her children were autistic prior to consuming an all organic diet. And one organic farmer told a packed room that he has witnessed “RoundUp Rain” in Montana. In between sessions, more than 11,000 exhibitors crowded into several rooms talking to passers-by about their products and handing out samples. Each booth proudly displayed their “NO GMOs” signs, even when referring to skin care and “natural” clothing. A company that made bread hollered out “Try our bread, there are NO GMOs.” USFRA approached these individuals to discuss the fact that there are no GMO varieties for wheat. Needless to say, it was an extremely eye-opening experience. Key takeaways included: • Consumers want to be healthy, however, they don’t appear to be doing research on what that really means. They are being told through ads, internet, influencers and social media that health means the absence of GMOs and pesticides, but few have done the research to show that.
Tasty Tidbit USFRA Encourages Agriculturalists to “Show Us Your Ag” To celebrate National Ag Week in March, USFRA invited farmers and ranchers to “Show Us Your Ag,” and highlight how they care for their animals and raise their crops. Featured in a promo video, Faces of Farming and Ranching Thomas Titus and Carla Wardin called on agriculturalists to submit a video, photo or blog about life on their farm. With the help of affiliates and industry partners on social media, our promo video garnered 160 shares, and we received submissions from across the country which were featured on USFRA’s social media channels. Our winners included: • Carolann Wackerlin from Lasalle County, Illinois • The Larson’s dairy farm from Emerald, Wisconsin. • The Pellandinis’ dairy and cattle farm in California and Nevada • Brian Lehman’s corn, soybean, wheat and cow-calf operation in Morgan Country, Missouri Additionally, to celebrate National Agriculture Week and spread the word about ag education in urban classrooms, USFRA hosted a Twitter Chat with the topic: “How to incorporate agriculture into your classroom” using the #FarmlandChat hashtag. The chat garnered a lively discussion with 430 #FarmlandChat Tweets and 12.9M potential impressions. Participation was spread throughout several regions of the U.S. Notably, there was a strong turnout in several major urban areas, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.
• The organic industry is telling a good story, and consumers seem to be very interested. Bold statements, claims not backed by science, as well as emotional testimonies are used to influence a large group of people. • A huge theme throughout each session focused on sustainability. Yet, the overall theme was that only organic farmers are sustainable.
During the Natural Products Expo, a huge theme was sustainability. Yet, the overall theme was that only organic farmers are sustainable.
The Pellandinis who own a dairy farm and also have cattle in California and Nevada share: “My grandpa, dad, brothers and I each have a job in the family business. Our children enjoy the farming and dairy life and will be the 6th generation. I’m so fortunate to be doing what we do. I love the dairy and farm life.”