By Allyson Jones-Brimmer
Special to Poultry Times
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Animal Agriculture Alliance is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Over those 30 years, our organization has seen changes and innovation in technology on the farm and in communications.
Today, the Alliance has 300 members and donors. We have grown from one part-time employee to five full-time staff members, plus interns and contractors who provide critical services. Thirty years ago, the Alliance started as the Animal Industry Foundation with membership from the national livestock and poultry groups, Continental Grain, International Multifoods, Purina Mills, Pfizer Animal Health (now Zoetis), American Feed Manufacturers Association (AFMA, now American Feed Industry Association) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
The Foundation was a formalization of the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC), an ad hoc coalition of national animal agriculture organizations formed in 1984. FAWC was focused on ensuring any regulation or legislation affecting on-farm animal production and handling was science-based, actually enhanced animal welfare and gave the economic welfare of the farmer and farm family equal consideration.
The coalition was brought together by AFMA, AFBF and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) because they identified animal rights activism as a threat to American agriculture. In the early 1980’s the Humane Society of the United States had lobbied for legislation to investigate and regulate on-farm animal welfare. Europe had already made moves to regulate on-farm practices that in many cases negatively impacted farmers or had a negative impact on animal welfare. There was valid concern that these changes could happen in the U.S. At the same time, more animal rights groups were being formed, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Rights International.
In 1987, the ad hoc coalition realized the need to develop an independent organization solely focused on these issues and the Animal Industry Foundation was established. The board of directors were the eight groups who originally formed the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition — the national groups representing the various species producing meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, as well as general farm groups. Pfizer Animal Health and Continental Grain Company lent executive expertise.
The Alliance is honored to have had the American Feed Industry Association and American Farm Bureau Federation as members for all 30 years. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council have been members for 29 years. Our 300 members and donors consist of many who have been committed to the organization for 20 or more years and new members are joining regularly. The poultry industry accounts for the largest segment of the Alliance’s membership today and we have strong support from pork, beef and dairy. Many members are in public relations, publishing, animal nutrition and feed, animal health, crop production, finance and more.
While we’ve seen a lot of changes over the last 30 years, we’ve also seen some things remain the same, including farmers’ and ranchers’ commitment to continuous improvement in areas such as animal welfare, sustainability, responsible antibiotic use and food safety. The Alliance has remained focused on providing a unified voice for animal agriculture and working to bridge the communication between farm and fork. We continue to connect stakeholders in food and agriculture, engage relevant influencers and protect the industry from the damaging blows of misinformation spread by groups who are opposed to the mere existence of animal agriculture and meat consumption.
There are certainly challenges facing the animal agriculture, but with the support of 300 individuals, organizations and companies, the Alliance team is committed to working every day to connect, engage and protect on your behalf.
For more information about the resources available from the Alliance or how to join the Alliance, visit www.animalagalliance.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat.
Allyson Jones-Brimmer is director of membership for the Animal Agriculture Alliance with offices in Arlington, Va.