Food and Farm Leaders Share Ways to Strengthen Relationships With Consumers

Animal Agriculture Alliance Attendees were urged to open the barn doors and showcase the importance of modern food production at the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 2012 Stakeholders Summit, held May 2-3 in Arlington, VA. The eleventh annual event brought together nearly 200 leaders across the food and farm sector to examine the theme: "Real Farmers Real Food: Celebrating Tradition and Technology".

Sixteen speakers helped attendees learn how to ensure authenticity while telling their unique agriculture story. Other recurring themes included the need to protect consumer choice and embrace ongoing consumer education efforts. See a full list of Summit speakers here. View photos from the event here. Now in its eleventh year, the Summit is a unique learning and networking opportunity for leaders from across the food chain.

Author, film maker, and science advocate Shawn Lawrence Otto led a strategic discussion of tactics to better communicate science to decision makers, consumers, and the media. His core message? Food producers must get involved in the dialogue, demonstrate shared values with the public, and continue to make science-based business decisions. After his presentation, Otto signed copies of his book FOOL ME TWICE: Fighting the Assault on Science in America.

"We need ethical reflection, not extremism," Otto said, encouraging the agriculture community to adopt his tips to confront and debunk misinformation about food production.

Tom Steever, a reporter with Brownfield and President of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, served as the event moderator. He echoed the call for transparency and encouraged attendees to proudly spotlight the important work that they do. Animal agriculture is critical part of our nation's economy; contributing $289 billion in economic activity in 2010.

Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith and Chairman Chris Ashworth later led an awards presentation during a special 25th Anniversary reception honoring the organization's founding and long-term supporters. Representatives from Wyoming's Casper College Ag Club, the top-scoring collegiate club in the Alliance's 2012 College Aggies Online competition, also received a scholarship award.

"As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we are thankful for the ongoing support of our members," President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith said. "Today, farmers and ranchers need a strong advocate to protect their ability to produce safe, nutritious food for the world. The Alliance provides that unified voice."

Podcasts and video from the conference will be mailed to all attendees and will be posted on the Alliance's website. also provided extensive coverage of the Summit. More than 200 people participated in the conference on Twitter, collectively sending 1,200 tweets with the #AAA12 conference hash tag.

Event sponsors included U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, Farm Credit, Vance Publishing Corporation, Murphy-Brown, LLC.,Elanco Animal Health, Provimi North America, Inc., Pfizer Animal Health, Merck Animal Health, Hy-Line, American Feed Industry Association, National Pork Producers Council, United Soybean Board, Alltech, Inc., Diamond V Mills, Inc., Aviagen Group, Potash Corp., Genus Americas, American Veal Association, Bayer Animal Health, Cactus Feeders, Inc., National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Board , Brakke Consulting, Kemin Industries, United Egg Producers, Watt Agribusiness Media, AgriBeef Co., Tractor Supply Co., The Poultry Federation, Marcho Farms, and National Association of Farm Broadcasting.

To learn more about the Stakeholders Summit, or to join the 2013 planning committee, please email