Farming and ranch families represent only 2% of the total U.S. population, which means that the other 98% of Americans are not involved in agriculture. Yet, some consumer groups increasingly call for changes that dictate how food is produced in the country. This often leads to policies that purport to improve animal welfare, even when the science is not yet settled, and increased food costs, which restricts the country’s most food insecure from accessing nutritious animal protein.
This disconnect between the public’s view of agriculture and the realities facing today’s farmers and ranchers is one of the driving forces behind some of the American Feed Industry Association’s sustainability work. AFIA developed a sustainability pillar that focuses specifically on enabling choice in the marketplace by promoting an understanding and appreciation of U.S. food production with consumers.
AFIA, through its public charity the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), works with its members and a number of partners throughout the agricultural community on conducting research and developing information that educates general consumers, sustainability managers, food and restaurant retailers, policymakers and more about U.S. food production. Below are a few recent examples of this work.
The Unified Voice Protocol released the results of a two-part study that sought to gauge consumers’ beliefs and knowledge on two poultry production practices (cage-free egg and slow-growth broiler production) and weighed that with their willingness to pay more for these attributes at the grocery store. Overall, the study found that the jury may still be out, as consumers are undecided on the benefits of these production practices and are unwilling to pay a hefty premium for products baring these qualities, in comparison to products with “organic” and “GMO-free” labels.
The IFEEDER contributed to this project through the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which partnered with the Food Marketing Institute and its foundation, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, to conduct this study. The project sponsors will use the research to hold more meaningful conversations with food retailers about the realities behind animal welfare and sustainability.
A companion project to the sustainability road map is IFEEDER’s support of the industrywide Protein PACT lead by the North American Meat Institute. This multi-stakeholder effort seeks to embrace continuous improvement to align with consumers’ values and trust in animal protein. The name of the Protein PACT signifies a common commitment to do the work, answer the tough questions and provide comprehensive solutions, and the AFIA will help fulfill the Protein PACT and earn greater consumer confidence to choose meat and poultry.
Learn more about the Protein PACT in this guest blog.