Those who live and breathe animal agriculture understand the effort and dedication that goes into each cut of meat — but sometimes that story doesn’t translate to the consumers at the meat counter. Consumers have more questions than ever before about environmental stewardship, nutrition and animal welfare. While the topics are creating buzz with consumers, media and opinion leaders, sustainability is nothing new to farmers, ranchers and the meat industry as a whole.
Earlier this year, the EAT-Lancet Commission Report on Food, Planet, Health was published in the Lancet. The report claims it has found the answer on how to eat better for human and planet health and includes some radical recommendations to limit the amount of meat and poultry in global diets. Here are a few:
- Beef (or lamb): one quarter ounce per day (7g): about the weight of 7 peanuts
- Pork: one quarter ounce per day (7g): about the weight of 7 peanuts
- Chicken: one ounce per day (29g): about 1.5 chicken nuggets
This report isn’t the first of its kind — and it won’t be the last. Some reports have good intentions but simply miss the mark, while others clearly have a beef (pun intended) with modern animal agriculture production. The EAT-Lancet report advocates for a sustainable food system with a proposed solution that is far from flexible or sustainable. The nutritional benefits of meat along with the industry’s efforts in environmental stewardship were ignored.
Livestock production is responsible for only 4 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and each industry is doing their part to reduce its environmental impact and use of natural resources. Take the beef industry for example. Since 1977, the beef industry has decreased its water use by 12 percent, land use by 33 percent, feed input by 19 percent and its carbon footprint 16 percent. Today’s ranchers produce 20 percent of the world’s beef with just 6 percent of the world’s cattle.
The pork industry has reached similar achievements. Since 1960, the pork industry has reduced its water use by 25.1 percent, land use by 75.9 percent, energy use by 7 percent and its carbon footprint by 7.7 percent. Farms and ranches are also able to recycle manure into organic fertilizer for nearby crop fields and produce much more than just meat. Byproducts from animal agriculture are in everything from pet food, wine and chewing gum to fireworks, insulin and shampoo, ensuring nothing from the animal goes to waste.
Despite the industry’s expertise in sustainability, it is often left out of the conversation. A proposed solution to feeding people a healthy diet that is also healthy for the planet must include animal agriculture. Unfortunately, farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, packers, processors and food associations are rarely invited. To ensure our voice is heard and our industry has a bright future, we must insert ourselves into the conversation. Whether it’s reaching out to media, organizing a farm or plant tour, advocating on social media or all three, we each have a role in helping to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork.
The next time you see a report or study about food sustainability that doesn’t include stakeholders from animal agriculture or the meat industry, join the dialogue. If we don’t share our stories or challenge weak science, we are allowing misinformation to be accepted as fact which has gone on for far too long. NP
Packers, processors invited to the table
The Animal Agriculture Alliance’s annual Stakeholders Summit, themed “A Seat At The Table,” is set for May 8 and 9 in Kansas City. Discounted registration rates are available through April 1. Online registration for the event is available at www.animalagalliance.org/summit.
The table is where we come together to connect. To engage with each other. To hear from and be heard. The conversation surrounding animal agriculture has been going on for much too long without engagement between key stakeholders in restaurant, retail and foodservice companies, farms and ranches, government agencies, agribusinesses, and agriculture and food associations. Come take your seat at the table at the 2019 Summit to learn about key issues facing food and agriculture and gain the supportive network and tools you need for success in your business.
Tyne Morgan, host of U.S. Farm Report will moderate the event. The speaker lineup will tackle diverse topics, from understanding consumer perceptions to engaging influencers to protecting farms and other agricultural operations from activist threats. The first day will kick off with a consumer focus group exploring what questions shoppers have about meat and poultry as well as their beliefs about the animal agriculture industry.
The event will also feature panel sessions titled From Beef to Burger: Industry-Led Beef Supply Chain Animal Welfare and Sustainability Efforts, Bringing the Food Chain to the Table: Retailer/Restaurant/Foodservice Perspectives and Conversations Around the Table: Engaging Influencers.
The summit will conclude with a keynote by Andy Curliss, CEO at North Carolina Pork Council, titled Farmers Under Fire. Curliss will provide a deep and broad look, with several specific case studies including the recent nuisance lawsuit verdicts in North Carolina, at how significant coordinated advocacy is threatening animal agriculture. He will offer an unprecedented look at the ongoing attacks against the industry and provide attendees with insights on how to protect their livelihood.
No matter which part of the supply chain attendees represent, the 2019 Summit will offer out-of-the-box ideas they can immediately implement to help bridge the communication gap between farm and fork and help their business grow into the future.
Be sure to check the summit website at www.animalagalliance.org/summit for the most up-to-date information. You can also follow the hashtags #AAA19 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the summit, please contact email@example.com or call (703) 562-5160.