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August 3, 2015

Water is a critical element to everything. With many players and rules that have built up over the years, understanding and solving the coming water issues will not be easy nor simple.

Water and the Future of Animal Agriculture The 2015 NIAA Annual Conference: Water and the Future of Animal Agriculture, March 23 - March 26, 2015, Indianapolis, IN, USA, brought out conversations around the issues of water, the perceptions of agriculture by media, and what agriculture groups need to think about in their conversations with consumers, the public, and media.

Of note:

  • Ms. Aubrey Bettencourt, Executive Director with California Water Alliance, passionately shares her views on the trends in the politicization of water in California and the rest of the US. Ms. Bettencourt says we [in agriculture] need to tell consumers and the public at large what we want them to know [about the water crisis]. "We have to speak to it with confidence and show that we know what we are doing" [video].
  • Dr. Jay Famiglietti, Associate Professor at University of California, Irvine and Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shares data and analysis of the issues of water, with a focus on the current water problems in California. Key message: "Take ownership [of water conversations], clearly articulate the issues, and become industry leaders and stewards" [video].


June 30, 2015

Creating an open barn policy for everyone takes training and commitment.

Gary Cooper, COO, Cooper Farms, tells about the journey his family farm is taking to have an open barn for people including consumers and media. Mr. Cooper shares the story of how they brought in Temple Grandin to help improve turkey flow to meet consumer expectations of animal care.

Mr. Cooper's take aways: Bring animal care to top of mind and provide visual standard work instructions for all employees.

May 23, 2015

What happens when you get thrust into the media light based on undercover videos?

Editor's Note: This presentation has been removed at the request of the presenter.

Dr. Helen Wojcinski, DVM DVSc ACPV, Science & Sustainability Manager, Hybrid Turkeys, shoes what happens when you get thrust into the media light based on undercover videos.

Dr. Wojcinski's timeline is a great case study in how media can work against you and what preparations people in agriculture need to accomplish. Key take away: Obtain training before a real media event occurs. Even if it is for a little bit, that preparation can save you and your livelihood.

May 22, 2015

How does biodiesel with animal fats generate additional revenue for the livestock industry?

Alan Weber, Economist and Founding Partner, MARC-IV, states biodiesel demand for animal fats generates an additional revenue stream for the livestock industry. So the biodiesel and livestock sectors are tied together in the future success. Mr. Weber shares the connection points and the economics for both groups.

Mr. Weber closes with thoughts on the need to maintain the stakeholder connections for their success into the future.

May 22, 2015

What are the sustainability trends driving the conversations within Nestlé?

Brian Jones, Responsible Sourcing Manager, Nestlé North America Procurement, talks about sustainability and the trends that are driving the conversations within Nestlé.

Mr. Jones closes with several key points: Nestlé has recognized the need to sharpen it’s focus on sustainability and Nestlé is committed to measuring and reporting its progress.

May 22, 2015

Is Agriculture an appeaser feeding the activist crocodile, hoping it will eat him last?

Brian Klippenstein, Executive Director, Protect the Harvest, works for an organization that is willing to wade into politics and conversations about agriculture and food affordability. Mr. Klippenstein shares some of the tactics and approaches being taken by activists against agriculture.

Mr. Klippenstein closes with a quote from Winston Churchill that sums up some of the activity against agriculture: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."; Mr. Klippenstein suggests that sometimes we need to directly take on activists.

May 22, 2015

What is happening with food consumer demand, beliefs, and reality?

What is happening with food consumer demand, beliefs, and reality? Cameron Bruett, Head, Corporate Affairs, JBS USA & Pilgrims and President of the Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, provides a reality check for meat producers and what media concerns are influencing consumers. Mr. Bruett's take away: Keep focused on what you are really trying to accomplish.

May 22, 2015

Why is food so important now?

Back to the Future of FoodBack to the Future of Food Dennis Dimick, Executive Editor, National Geographic Magazine, shares a media person's view of food and agriculture. Why is food now important?

Mr. Dimick shares what has happened over the last few years on how food came to the forefront of media. Mr. Dimick challenges the audience with the idea that consumers need to know more about the issues and what is being done to continue the education and informing of the greater public about food ecosystems.

May 22, 2015

What are the global policies and regulations affecting the US meat businesses?

What are the global policies and regulations affecting US meat businesses? Dr. Travis Arp, Manager of Technical Services, U.S. Meat Export Federation, shares a summary for all the major animal agriculture markets. Dr. Arp points out several issues gaining attention and the assessment of how to address them.

May 22, 2015

Do you know the details on understanding trends about millennials?

Creating Increased Brand Love and Profits in an Age of DisruptionCreating Increased Brand Love and Profits in an Age of Disruption Jeff Fromm, Author of Marketing to Millennials and Executive Vice President of Barkley U.S., brings out the details on understanding trends about millennials. Mr. Fromm highlights the myths that many believe to be true and offers that those myths are not all true. Mr. Fromm offers a set of questions and tools to help people understand the millennial trends and develop plans to evolve to meet those people where they are now and in the future.

May 22, 2015

Will consumers accept new agriculture technologies?

John Graettinger, Director Food Chain Affairs, Merck Animal Health, aims to address the question of "Will consumers accept new agriculture technologies?" Mr. Graettinger states that consumers do not understand what agricultural technologies exist today and how they work.

Mr. Graettinger offers several examples on how the names of many technologies are not well formed and scare consumers. Mr. Graettinger suggests several changes and challenges people to frame the customer's needs into the messages companies share.

May 22, 2015

"Is there a problem in feeding 9 billion people?" - "Only if you want to eat."

Mandy Hagan, Vice President, State Affairs and Grassroots, Grocery Manufacturers Association, asks the core question of "Is there a problem in feeding 9 billion people?" and rhetorically answer it with "Only if you want to eat".

Ms. Hagan shares approaches to utilizing technology, like genetically modified organisms, to meet the needs of those future 9 billion people.

May 22, 2015

Has the poultry business arrived late to the sustainability table?

Paul Bredwell, Vice President of Environmental Programs, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, opens with an admission that the poultry business is late to the table with sustainability solutions.

Mr. Bredwell shares what is being done today to develop, launch, and execute sustainability programs. Mr. Bredwell closes with an outline of what will happen next and what key performance indicators will be used.

April 24, 2015

FoodTank is a mix of media, event, and personality that is driving food conversations for consumers and providers.

Danielle Nierenberg - The Role of Food in Social JusticeChanging The Food System This short conversation between Danielle Nierenberg, FoodTank, and Frank Sesno, the Ag Issues Forum host and master of ceremonies, highlights some of the thoughts that many people outside of agriculture have about the business of growing and producing food.

Danielle shares how she arrived at co-founding FoodTank as a way to raise the level of awareness about food, nutrition, and the environment within communities of people interested in food. She also talks about how she developed FoodTank as a digital and event based platform to carry the food messages further.

April 7, 2015

Pork producers are looking to gain insights on the Checkoff funded programs and the policy activities being pursued.

The Pork Industry Forum, held March 5-7, 2015 in San Antonio, TX, gathered pork producers looking to gain insights on the Checkoff funded programs and the policy activities being pursued.
Of note:

April 7, 2015

With 40% of the global economy represented, trade agreements represents an opportunity to expanding markets and leveling the playing field for US agriculture.

Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agriculture Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative, provides perspective on the recent trade conversations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Ambassador Vetter outlines the issues and challenges of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and why it is important to the USA.

April 7, 2015

What is the history and future on issues and needs of the Common Industry Audit?

Sherrie Webb, Director Animal Welfare, National Pork Board, addresses the Pork Industry Forum producers about the Common Industry Audit. Ms. Webb provides the history on what issues and needs drove the Common Industry Audit creation.

Ms. Webb highlights the program elements and the role of the Industry Audit Task Force in the implementation of the processes. Take aways: Audit tools are available for all to use and training is available. Additionally, audits are part of a comprehensive approach to having a quality industry.

February 4, 2015

Is the race to commit to sustainability outpacing the processes and tools in place?

Dawn Robinson, Regional Director, Latin America, Proforest, talks about the context, drivers, and trends of sustainability. Ms. Robinson highlights some of the standards and tools that are available to help support sustainability efforts.

She closes with some of the challenges, including audit fatigue / duplication, exclusion of smallholders, and the race to commit maybe outpacing the processes and tools in place.

February 4, 2015

Can we share our story in an authentic way that's fun?

Francesca DeBiase, Vice President for Strategic Sourcing & Sustainability, Worldwide Supply Chain, McDonald’s, shares a video of people from different backgrounds and ages showing off their football (soccer) ball handling skills in surprising settings. The video is "about sharing our story in an authentic way that's fun". For beef sustainability,

February 4, 2015

The "S" word is over used and, from a farmer perspective, the word is lost in the conversations.

Karl Williams, Director, FAI Farms with Benchmark Holdings, talks about farmers can measure sustainability. He suggests the "S" word is over used and, from a farmer perspective, the word is lost in the conversations.

Mr. Williams uses the model of the three Es (Economics, Ethics, and Environment) throughout the presentation, highlighting how real farmers are accomplishing sustainability. He suggests there only needs to be a set of simple measures in order for there to be a meaningful conversation.

February 3, 2015

Can building the trust between agriculture/food companies and consumers work?

Charlie Arnot, Chief Executive Officer, Center for Food Integrity, talks about building the trust between agriculture/food companies and consumers. Mr. Arnot shares how building a social license to operate is key for companies to sustain that trust.

Mr. Arnot also covers what happens when companies loose the trust and regulation is implanted to "fix" the social license and trust shield. Mr. Arnot suggests that companies need to begin their public engagement, open their digital doors, and commit to an online and in person engagement culture throughout.

February 3, 2015

Dos & don'ts on doing beef lifecycle assessments.

Dr. Kim Stackhouse, Director of Sustainability Research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, shares the dos & don'ts discovered in the USA on doing lifecycle assessments. Dr. Stackhouse says it is important to remember that "Zero impact is not possible": there are tradeoffs and food production will result in an impact and the the goal is improvement over time.

Dr. Stackhouse concludes with the importance of having good science as a baseline for sharing beef sustainability stories over time.

February 3, 2015

How can one develop sustainability indicators?

This panel discussion with Dr. Marty Matlock (University of Arkansas), Dr. Kim Stackhouse (National Cattlemen's Beef Association), Brian Lindsay (SAI Platform), and Karin Kreider (Executive Director, ISEAL Alliance) addresses challenges in sustainable beef. Two of them: 1) how to develop sustainability indicators and, 2) what is the role of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

January 9, 2015

How is McDonald's creating a path to sustainable beef?

Susan Forsell, V.P. Sustainability at McDonald's Corporation, talks about McDonald's journey to sustainable beef. Ms. Forsell outlines their sustainability framework and the collaboration efforts from everyone in the value chain. Ms. Forsell shares how their sustainability pilot program in Canada is working and what their next steps will be in the rest of the world.

McDonald's and Beef Sustainability - Susan Forsell, V.P. Sustainability at McDonald's Corporation, from the 2014 Iowa Cattle Industry Convention, December 8 - 10, 2014, Des Moines IA, USA