(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Animal Agriculture Alliance bridges communication between farmers and food communities

October 28, 2022 | Joseph Hopper

First founded in 1987, the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) is a 501(c)(3) comprised of members from across the broad spectrum of agriculture. The Alliance is led by an executive board comprised from all sectors of the animal agriculture community, which includes representation from the Iowa Soybean Association. Emily Solis, AAA communications and content manager, answered our questions to introduce AAA and how the organization is an important ally of the American farmer.

What is AAA?

We work to safeguard the future of animal agriculture and its value to society by bridging the communication gap between the farm and food communities.

Our motto is connect, engage, protect. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them to better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation.

We are small but mighty team made up of five dedicated full-time team members.

How does AAA support farmers?

The Alliance is proud to work on behalf of farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, animal feed companies, animal health companies, processors, allied associations and others involved in getting food from the farm to our forks.

We understand that farmers and ranchers, specifically, have so many things going on at all times in their lives and it can be hard to stay on top of it all. We monitor animal rights activism so you don’t have to. This includes alerting farms and facilities of potential activist threats to you, your family, and your livelihood. Each year we also send representatives to various animal rights conferences and events to gain insight on upcoming tactics and campaigns to be aware of.

Externally, we’re positioning ourselves as the go-to resource on issues affecting animal agriculture. We’ve built relationships with restaurant, retail and foodservice brands; registered dietitians; and media outlets to ensure they’re hearing our side of the story – and not just what animal rights activists want them to hear.

We continue to grow the list of advocates for agriculture who are sharing their stories and spreading positive messages through our College Aggies Online and Animal Ag Allies programs. The goal of both programs is to help these advocates become effective and confident communicators.

What important issues is AAA focused on today?

Our key issues include animal welfare, sustainability, nutrition and antibiotic use. Traditionally, animal welfare has been one of the Alliance’s main focus areas, but more recently sustainability has risen to the top of the list. As climate concerns grow, animal rights groups continue to press that removing meat, milk, poultry and eggs from our diet is necessary to save the planet. Increasingly, these groups are no longer just looking at the “sustainability” of raising the animals, they are also looking at the “sustainability” of animal feeds. We were actively engaged in the United Nations Food Systems Summit last year and have been closely following the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this year to ensure animal agriculture maintains its role in a sustainable food system.

In addition to our key issues, we’re continuously monitoring legislation that impacts animal agriculture. We have a map on our website that lists these various pieces of legislation in each state and at the federal level, as well as current issues and trends we’re seeing take shape across the country.

How is ISA supporting AAA?

ISA has been an AAA partner for nearly a decade. The Alliance is dedicated to growing and protecting domestic livestock and poultry production. These efforts directly benefit Iowa and U.S. soybean farmers by generating demand for soy.

According to the latest edition of Soy Stats published by the American Soybean Association, soy comprises 61% of feed rations for poultry, 18% for pork, 13.4% for dairy and 5% for cattle.

ISA’s investment enables the alliance to champion the U.S. poultry and livestock industry, draw attention to the positive impact of soy as a feed ingredient, and create opportunities for the industry’s growth.

Meet the CEO

The Animal Agriculture Alliance “welcomed” Hannah Thompson-Weeman as its newest president and CEO earlier this year – although she’s not a new face on the team. Hannah joined the Alliance in 2014 as director of communications and since that time has been promoted to vice president of communications before leading strategic engagement. Hannah’s expertise and passion has made her a sought-after columnist for various publications and speaker for national and even international events, helping to build the Alliance brand. She holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication with a minor in agricultural business and a master’s degree in agricultural and extension education, both from The Ohio State University.