The 2016 Stakeholders Summit, themed “Securing Animal Agriculture’s Future: Action, Please!” concluded May 6 at the Westin Arlington Gateway in Arlington, Va. This year’s event focused on securing a bright future for animal agriculture by finding solutions to the challenges facing the industry today. Attendees heared from thought-provoking speakers, participated in engaging discussions and walked away with actionable ideas that they can immediately implement on their operations or in their businesses.
Follow the action on social media!
Search the hashtags #AAA16 and #ActionPlease for pictures, speaker quotes and Action, Please pledges from the Summit!
Speaker presentations available now!
Recorded presentations from the 2016 Summit are posted here.
Save the date for the 2017 Stakeholders Summit!
The 2017 event is set for May 3-4 in Kansas City, Mo.
The Alliance closely monitors all legislation impacting animal agriculture at the state and federal level. State legislative measures dictating animal care are often lobbied for by activist organizations and have the potential to impact farmers' and ranchers' ability to provide safe, nutritious, and affordable animal products for all. The interactive legislative map below is updated every Friday.
Most newsworthy legislation
HSUS Massachusetts Ballot Initiative: Protect the Harvest challenges the ballot's constitutionality. If it is ruled unconstitutional, the question will not be on the November ballot. Update: The Massachusetts court rejected the arguments made in Protect the Harvest's lawsuit.
National Organic Program: Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices: The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service proposes to amend the organic livestock and poultry production requirements by: adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expanding and clarifying exisiting requirements covering livestock health care practices and mammalian living conditions. The comment period was extended 30 days, so all comments must be received by July 13, 2016.
GMO Labeling Compromise: United States Senate agriculture leaders announced a deal June 16, 2016 that sets a mandatory naitonal system for GM disclosures on food products. This would take precedence over state labeling laws.
College Aggies Online (CAO) is an initiative of the Alliance that connects college students from across the country who are interested in promoting agriculture. Participants receive training and instructions from industry experts and engage on social media by posting information about current and emerging issues facing farmers and ranchers and telling personal stories. College Aggies Online was created to help train the next generation of "Agvocates"! The 2016 program kicks off Sept. 19!
College Aggies Individual Competitor Resources
College Aggies Club Resources and Information
On TwitterTweets by @AggiesOnline
Take Action for Agriculture: College Aggies Online Returns this Fall
College students from across the country will have the opportunity to take action for animal agriculture this fall when the College Aggies Online Scholarship Program (CAO) returns for the eighth consecutive year. Registration is open now and sponsorship opportunities are available for this year’s competition, which kicks off on September 19.
CAO, an initiative of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, is aimed at helping college students harness their passion for animal agriculture to become confident, positive and proactive communicators. Since its inception in 2009, more than 4,000 students have competed in the program.
“CAO is one of the main highlights I look forward to when I return to school this fall,” said Jessica Dawn Miller, a graduate student at Oklahoma State University and the individual winner of the 2015 competition. “I learned so many things in those nine weeks and applied them after the event ended. I am much better at advocating for agriculture and I help teach visitors at our school dairy farm about where their milk comes from and handle their questions with confidence I didn’t have before CAO.”
The nine-week competitive program will prepare students to become lifelong positive representatives of the agriculture industry. In addition to gaining valuable skills, scholarship funds and other prizes will be up for grabs. During the program, students receive weekly assignments ranging from writing a blog post, creating an infographic, attending webinars hosted by industry experts and more. Participants earn points by posting content promoting and explaining agriculture on social media.
Student organizations can also participate as a group and complete club challenges. These challenges include holding an “Ag Day” on campus, teaching at local elementary schools, handing out candy wrapped with meat myths and facts, and many more. The clubs receive points for each challenge they complete.
“Animal agriculture needs as many skilled ambassadors as possible, and CAO is our way of preparing the next generation of ag-vocates,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “Help us spread the word to all college students interested in agriculture about this unique opportunity to connect with industry experts, engage with their peers on campus and protect the future of our industry – all while competing for scholarship funds along the way!”
College Aggies Sign-Up
Individuals or clubs, use the below forms to sign-up for College Aggies.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance has long served as a liaison to USDA relative to farm animal care and well-being issues. Alliance leadership engages frequently with USDA officials to ensure their understanding of the agricultural community’s proactive initiatives to protect animal health and well-being. Recognizing that farm animal care at all stages – on the farm, during transportation and at processing facilities – is of utmost importance, the Alliance works closely with USDA to provide a voice on behalf of all animal agriculture stakeholders in international discussions. For more information on the Alliance's international efforts, please contact Kay Johnson Smith.
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
Since 2004, the Alliance has coordinated stakeholder input nationally to USDA for the OIE’s development of international farm animal care guidelines. With input from our national advisory team, consisting of over 150 individuals from more than 50 organizations, the Alliance builds and provides consensus comments and recommendations on behalf of the total animal agriculture community. The Alliance has also participated in two of three OIE International Conferences on Animal Welfare, and represented the USA as a speaker at a regional OIE Americas conference in 2008 in Panama.
The OIE will develop international animal care guidelines for every major farm animal species. So far, OIE reports have been produced as listed below, and the Alliance has submitted comments on each. Additionally, the Alliance has provided USDA and the OIE a list of USA experts to be considered for each ad hoc committee.
OIE Reports Completed:
- Definition of Animal Welfare
- Transportation (air, land, sea)
- Slaughter (food, disease control)
- Beef Cattle Welfare
OIE Draft Reports:
- Broiler Welfare
- Dairy Cattle Welfare
USDA’s comments to the OIE, on behalf of the USA, can be found here.
For more information about the OIE’s process of developing international animal welfare guidelines, click here. To read drafts of the comments submitted by the Alliance to USDA, please contact Alliance President and CEO, Kay Johnson Smith.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards give state of the art specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective. According to ISO, since these standards are developed through global consensus, they help to break down barriers to international trade.
Founded in 1947, ISO has published more than 19 500 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business - from food safety to computers, and agriculture to healthcare.
In 2011, the ISO entered into an agreement with the OIE to develop standards for the implementation of animal welfare guidelines. A working group of representatives from member countries will be formed and the Technical Specifications will be developed.
This is the first ISO has delved into animal welfare, and the process is still in the early phase of development. The Alliance is actively engaged and regularly coordinates with other industry stakeholders to ensure the U.S. agriculture voice is strongly represented. For more information about ISO, this process and the Alliance’s involvement, contact Kay Johnson Smith.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. FAO was founded in 1945 and is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
FAO’s mandate is to improve nutrition, increase agricultural productivity, raise the standard of living in rural populations and contribute to global economic growth.
While FAO does not develop animal care guidelines or standards, it does weigh in on policies surrounding this issue. In September 2012, FAO conducted a study on private voluntary standards, codes of conduct, and guidelines in the livestock sector, as a follow-up to an exploratory survey undertaken last year. The Alliance, at the request of USDA, coordinated stakeholders to respond to ensure the U.S. was actively engaged. The Alliance continues to monitor, and respond as appropriate, to all FAO farm animal welfare activities.
FAO also maintains an international online resource specific to farm animal welfare called the Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare. The Alliance actively monitors this site and contributes information as appropriate to ensure the U.S. advancements in farm animal care are posted and recognized globally.