EDUCATION

Future education initiatives are focused on preserving consumer choice, and protecting the animal food industry’s image and license to operate. This requires investing time and resources to continuously provide consumers with fact-based information that promotes a positive image for the industry as a whole. The messages’ audience is policymakers, consumer influencers and key stakeholders.

Once our country’s largest industry, most consumers today are two to three generations removed from the farm and working in agriculture and are not knowledgeable about the facts of food production. It is imperative that negative activist agendas and misinformation do not prevail. Consumers need the opportunity and ability to make informed choices about their food purchases and diet.

It is our responsibility to proactively engage consumers through policymakers, consumer influencers and key stakeholders about the progressive industry of agriculture and our proactive contributions in providing high quality, safe and diverse food options. These options are available to consumers while also preserving our natural resources, the welfare of livestock and poultry, and protecting the environment.

Areas of Educational Support

IFEEDER education initiatives will focus on two areas:

  • Preserving consumer choice; and
  • Protecting the industry image and license to operate.

These forward-thinking initiatives align with IFEEDER’s mission to be a “champion for safe and sustainable feed and food production.”

CURRENT PROJECTS

IFEEDER has a number of important education projects in process including:

  • Nationwide Consumer Survey to Inform a Behavioral Economics Assessment on Cage-Free Egg and Broiler Meat Purchasing Decisions and Awareness: As retailers, restaurants and food companies seek to respond to consumer and activist organizations’ demands for alternative production practices, there is a need to better understand consumers knowledge and beliefs and their willingness-to-pay for these attributes. This study will focus on two poultry-related issues that entail tradeoffs between animal welfare and productivity: the transition to cage-free egg production and the potential for slow-growth broilers – however, the results will provide insight to all other species groups to consumers and their purchasing behaviors.The main objectives are to determine consumers’:
    • Knowledge about cage-free eggs and slow-growth broilers;
    • Beliefs about the adoption of cage-free eggs and slow-growth broilers on animal welfare, retail prices, producer profits, environmental impacts and the tradeoffs among these issues;
    • Willingness-to-pay for these production practices; and
    • Responsiveness to information, such as if their beliefs are changed upon learning about the “hidden costs” of such practices.

    IFEEDER is one of many funders, including the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Food Marketing Institute Foundation. We can use the findings to better inform public discussions, engage public health and government officials, and provide a proof point on the ability for retailers and producers to meet commitments related to emerging social concerns.

    Why is this research important beyond the egg and broiler industries? Based on activists’ campaigns, the pressure to commit to sourcing only cage-free eggs often extends to housing systems used in the pork and veal industries as well, and the slow-growing chicken issue could easily transcend to other livestock species.  It’s important for retailers to have evidence that the pressure for these unsound policy demands is from activists, not real consumers, and the retail industry is seeking our help.

  • Engage Training: IFEEDER provided a grant to AFIA to conduct a series of industry webinar trainings for AFIA members on how to have impactful conversations with family, friends and consumers. In addition, AFIA prepared educational materials for members on key topics such as the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, GMO ingredients in animal feed such as corn, sugar beets and soybeans, to poultry and livestock, as well as information on the true impact of animal agriculture on the environment. These tools will be available on the AFIA members’ only website.
  • Industry Collaboration: IFEEDER supports AFIA’s involvement in several like-minded organizations such as the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) and others. Working with other groups not only helps expands the reach of the feed industry’s messages through consumer influencers, but also allows us to amplify the messages of others.

COMPLETED PROJECTS

In line with its mission, IFEEDER has completed a number of important consumer education projects. Recently, Dr. Frank Mitloehner, University of California, Davis, released a study through the university debunking claims that animal agriculture is the key culprit of greenhouse gases, which are believed to cause climate change. The “Livestock’s Contribution to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction” states U.S. livestock and poultry production, although responsible for a small contribution, can only be attributed for 4.2 percent of GHG verse the transportation sector, which is linked to 27 percent. The white paper also says partaking in Meatless Mondays would only decrease GHG emissions by 0.6 percent on a national level.

AFIA has shared this white paper with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the White House when they were developing the 2016 dietary guidelines as well as various media outlets. As a result, the recommended inclusion of environmental factors and reduction of meat consumption were not included in the final guidelines.

SUBMIT PROJECT IDEA

As described in IFEEDER’s mission—the champion for safe and sustainable feed and food production through education and research—the Marketing and Education Committee seeks input for the most compelling areas of messaging to policymakers and consumers on how the animal food industry is doing the right thing for our food production, the environment and animal welfare. The IFEEDER Marketing and Education Committee also sends out limited requests for proposals (RFPs) once an area of focus has been identified.

For more information, contact IFEEDER at ifeeder@ifeeder.org.

SCHOLARSHIPS

IFEEDER and AFIA’s Equipment Manufacturers Committee work together to encourage students to consider careers in feed or grain sciences via the EMC Scholarship Fund. At the annual Equipment Manufacturers Conference, the attendees raise funds through a golf tournament and other donations for the EMC Scholarship Fund—a designated fund maintained by IFEEDER. Scholarships have been provided to Kansas State University, North Carolina State University, North Dakota State University and California Polytechnic State University students.