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January 2011

Joining Together to Spread Trust

Bob Stallman
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

The agriculture industry recently came together to do something unprecedented: work together on a unified, long-term and coordinated trust campaign for American agriculture. Called the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, this diverse group of organizations represents nearly every commodity and facet of American agriculture.

Stronger Together

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance has been a long time coming. For years, various groups, including Farm Bureau, have worked on individual efforts to garner consumer trust. While these efforts were all good in their own right, they lacked a unified voice. Many were fragmented tactics by farm organizations and other supportive groups which were full of good intentions, but limited in funding, research and coordination.

But, agriculture is now at a crossroads. Because we face many state and local animal welfare ballot initiatives, state and federal environmental regulations and skeptical consumer attitudes about today’s American agriculture, it is time for farmers and ranchers to stand together. I am reminded of a quote by Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Moving the Needle

Unfortunately, today’s consumer attitudes largely result from fear and insecurity fueled by news and pop culture. And somewhere along the way, Americans have stopped trusting the agriculture industry. It is the alliance’s goal to boost consumer trust in U.S. food production, letting them know that farmers and ranchers continue to share their values and are committed to producing safe and nutritious food in a way that protects and enhances the environment, responsibly cares for animals and contributes to our larger community.

The alliance will also work to maintain and enhance the freedom of U.S. farmers and ranchers to operate in a responsible manner. In particular, the campaign will promote the ability of farmers and ranchers to use modern, efficient production technologies and practices to meet the global demand for food.

We will also strive to strengthen collaboration within the food production, processing and distribution systems to address emerging food industry issues and concerns. The entire food chain needs to stand together.

I am excited about this new opportunity for agriculture and the many possibilities in store for farmers and ranchers.