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"!
College Aggies Individual Competitor Resources
College Aggies Club Resources and Information
On TwitterTweets by @AggiesOnline
Congratulations to the 2015 College Aggies Online Scholarship Program Winners!
On December 2nd, 2015, The Animal Agriculture Alliance announced the results of its seventh annual College Aggies Online (CAO) scholarship competition. The program is a nationwide initiative aimed at helping college students and collegiate agriculture clubs utilize social media and community engagement to share agriculture's story.
In the Individual division, the winners were:
- First place: Jessica Miller, Oklahoma State University
- Second place: Jennifer Weinberg, George Washington University
- Third place: Heather Abeita, New Mexico State University
In the Student Organization division, the winners were:
- First place: Agriculture Club, Western Illinois University
- Second place: Gator Collegiate CattleWomen, University of Florida
- Third place: Sigma Alpha, University of Missouri
In addition to the scholarship prizes, the top individuals and representatives from the winning organizations will receive a trip to the Alliance’s 2016 Stakeholders Summit in Washington, D.C. to be formally recognized.
CAO is an online competition open to all college students with an interest in agriculture. Since its launch in 2009, more than 4,000 college students from more than 175 different colleges and universities have competed in the program. The Alliance wishes to thank the 2015 College Aggies Program sponsors, which include Tyson Foods, Inc., Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI), National Pork Industry Foundation, National Turkey Federation, United Soybean Board, Ohio Poultry Association, American Dairy Science Association, Belstra Milling Company and Pennsylvania Beef Council.
Each week, individual participants received assignments, called “Aggies Homework,” which focused on a specific social media platform or a segment of the agriculture community. This fall, CAO participants engaged with the public by utilizing Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, as well as by writing blog posts. Additionally, industry experts hosted webinars and served as program mentors to help educate participants about the pertinent issues facing the industry and how to communicate about those with the public.
Over the course of the competition, students generated over 1,530 Instagram and Twitter posts and over 530 Facebook posts. In total, there were over 1.4 million impressions on social media.
“Often, college is the first time that students are making food purchasing decisions on their own,” said Kay Johnson Smith, President and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “Because of that, college students find themselves sorting through a deluge of information about food and agriculture, including the often confusing labels at the grocery store. We started CAO to provide college students with a passion for agriculture the tools they need to be confident communicators to engage their peers and influencers in their community on these important issues. We are thrilled with how the program continues to grow and develop.”
While the individual participants were assigned tasks week by week, participating clubs were able to pick and choose from a variety of challenges including teaching at local schools, hosting an Agriculture Day event on their college campus or hosting a food drive in advance of the holiday season.
“The participants in the College Aggies Online program bring credible voices into the discussion of agriculture, often just by telling others about their own personal experiences.” said Annetta Tirey, Tyson Foods, Inc. “Our goal in partnering with the program is to help them share this important perspective and make sure the real story of agriculture is amplified.”
To see pictures and highlights from the club competitors, visit the CAO Facebook page. Special thanks to our generous sponsors for their support, allowing us to reward these hard working students for their achievements, and to our other program partners. For more information about the contest, or to become a sponsor of next year’s competition, contact Morgan Hawley, program manager, at email@example.com.
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.