Do you want to speak out for agriculture but aren’t sure where to start? Have you ever wanted to respond to a news article that didn’t quite get the facts right about modern agriculture? Do you seek ways to keep your farm secure from “undercover” activists?
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you should call on the Animal Agriculture Alliance. Since 1987, we have worked to connect stakeholders across the food chain, educate the public about agriculture’s importance and protect consumer choice.
The Alliance is the nation’s largest and oldest coalition speaking for the entire animal agriculture industry – we are celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2012. The Alliance works closely with those in the animal agriculture industry to address the threats posed by the animal rights movement and respond to misconceptions about modern agriculture.
Since we are a 501©3 non-profit organization, we don’t lobby Congress. Instead we provide educational resources to industry leaders, the public, and the media through a variety of innovative communications programs. The Alliance also plays an important “behind-the-scenes” role in coordinating collaborative efforts from each sector in response to pressing issues.
The Alliance is based in Arlington, Virginia and led by President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith, who has served the organization since 1994. Our current chairman is Dr. Chris Ashworth, a veterinarian with Elanco Animal Health who also raises cattle in Arkansas. The Alliance’s membership is very broad, ranging from individual farmers and ranchers to agricultural associations and companies to retailers and others across the food chain.
Our predecessor organization, the Animal Industry Foundation, was formed in 1987 by a group of farm associations in order to be a positive, united voice for all stakeholders. We continue in that unique role today.
I enjoy my position as Communications Director of the organization because every day I get to speak up farmers and ranchers. I grew up surrounded by farms in rural Northern California and graduated with a degree in agricultural communications from Chico State. Farming is a way of life that I truly appreciate. I work to make sure that people far removed from the farm get agriculture’s side of the story when they turn on the television or pick up their morning newspaper.
This past year was a big one for all of us at the Alliance. We provided detailed reports from a variety of activist meetings – including the Humane Society of the United States’ annual “Taking Action for Animals Conference” and Farm Sanctuary’s first “National Conference to End Factory Farming.”
We re-launched our third annual College Aggies Online advocacy scholarship competition.
We coordinated an industry-wide response to the myths of Meatless Monday. And in October we partnered with Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan (pictured with Animal Ag Alliance staff above) to launch realfarmersrealfood.com, a celebration of the importance of American agriculture.
In May 2012, the Alliance will host its eleventh annual Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Virginia. The theme this year is “Real Farmers Real Food: Celebrating Tradition and Technology.” The Summit is our premier event each year and brings together a wide variety of food and agriculture leaders to address hot topics in the industry. We are in the midst of planning our program now and I am sure it will not disappoint! This year’s Summit will feature innovative new “agvocacy” campaigns from groups across the country.
Our fundamental goals for the future remain the same as ever – protect the future of American animal agriculture through education and outreach – but our strategies have changed with the times. Case in point: the rise of social media has meant more opportunities than ever before for the agricultural community to interact with consumers. The Alliance is active on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – if you are, too, please connect with us there! PD
Animal Agriculture Alliance