EDUCATION

Education:

Feed production is a significant contributor to animal agriculture’s carbon footprint, and retailer and consumer pressures place greater demands on suppliers to explain where their products come from and how they are produced. In the 2021 Food and Health Survey, 42% of consumers believed individual food and beverage choices have a moderate or significant impact on the environment and 53% said it would have a greater influence on decision-making if the impact was easier to understand. Whether the animal agriculture industry is ready or not, complete supply chain transparency, including animal food production, is on the horizon. 

Education and outreach are an important component of sustainability efforts. However, sustainability is driven by both science and emotion, and consumer and industry perspectives are not often aligned. As a key stakeholder in the food supply chain, we bear the responsibility of clearly and transparently communicating our role and solutions.  

Through research, outreach and cooperative partnerships, IFEEDER serves as an education and communication resource for the animal feed and pet food industry, allied industry organizations and other stakeholders. IFEEDER translates and communicates research outcomes into usable resources and reference points and collaborates with industry peers and stakeholders to enhance and advance information exchange. 

CURRENT PROJECTS

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

  • Protein PACT: This collaboration unites partners across the animal agriculture value chain in the first-ever joint effort to accelerate the entire sector’s progress toward global sustainable development goals for healthy people, animals, communities and environment. Protein PACT partners are establishing transparent baselines and benchmarks for our efforts, setting ambitious targets for continuous improvement, collecting data to verify and transparently report on progress and launching a comprehensive communications plan about animal protein’s unique place in sustainable, healthy diets. To learn more, visit TheProteinPACT.org. 
  • CLEAR Center: The Center for Clarity and Leadership in Environmental Assessment and Research (CLEAR Center) at the University of California-Davis collaborates with those in the food chain who are striving to reduce their environmental footprint. IFEEDER provides a philanthropic gift to U.C. Davis to support the broad work of the center, including its field work on ranches and dairies to find real solutions that reverberate throughout the industry. To achieve a food system that encourages human and planet health – policymakers, researchers, the agricultural sector and non-governmental organizations must work together.  

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.

  • 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.

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.

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.

IFEEDER is pleased to partner with the Milling4Life(M4L) charity to establish a scholarship fund in the name of Mark Cornwell.

Mark Cornwell was a friend and colleague of Milling and Grain magazine who passed away in August 2017. He worked for 23 years with World Grain magazine and more recently with Milling and Grain magazine, serving both the grain handling and processing industries in the food and feed sectors continuously for almost 30 years.

The fund will raise money to provide annual scholarships to students wishing to study either grain storage, handling and food processing and/or feed manufacturing in the United States.

IFEEDER is pleased to administer these funds on behalf of M4L. To make a gift, please click here to go to our online donation page.