“This is a historic collaboration of farmers and ranchers around a common cause, promoting our work to a public that has grown more distant from the farm,” said NCGA President Bart Schott, a North Dakota corn farmer who serves as secretary of the USFRA executive committee. “We are proud to be involved in a leadership position in this effort and are looking forward to working with all interested parties who share our vision and values.”
USFRA believes the actions of groups opposing today’s agriculture have led a number of farm and ranch organizations to fund programs that bolster the image of agriculture and enhance public trust in our food supply. While these individual efforts have been helpful in answering some of the criticism, there is a growing need for all of agriculture to coordinate their messages and reach out even further to the consuming public through consumer influencers and thought leaders.
“We in production agriculture recognize the immediate need to build consumer trust in today’s U.S. food production system,” said newly elected USFRA Chairman Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We also recognize the need to maintain and enhance the freedom of American farmers and ranchers to operate in an economical, sustainable and responsible manner. The sun rises today on a new, collaborative and coordinated effort by many segments of production agriculture to tell our great story as never before.”
At a news conference introducing the USFRA founding affiliates and board participants, Stallman recalled a historic meeting that took place on Oct. 12 in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. Twenty farmer and rancher organizations in attendance agreed to form USFRA to develop and implement a well-funded, long-term, and coordinated public trust campaign for American agriculture.
Stallman said the alliance’s vision is to enhance consumer trust in today’s U.S. food production system, to maintain and enhance the freedom of U.S. farmers and ranchers to operate in a responsible manner, and to strengthen collaboration with the food production, processing and distribution systems.
USFRA will focus its initial efforts on the following measurable goals:
1. Increase consumer, consumer influencer and thought leader trust and confidence in today’s agriculture.
2. Serve as a resource to food companies on the benefits of today’s agricultural production.
3. Work with leading health, environmental and dietary organizations to demonstrate the benefits of today’s agricultural production.
4. Increase the role of U.S. farmers and ranchers as the voice of animal and crop agriculture on local, state and national food issues.
At this time, 23 different farmer- and rancher-led organizations – representing nearly all aspects of agriculture – have joined the alliance to pool resources.
In addition to NCGA, these founding affiliates are the American Egg Board, the American Farm Bureau Federation, American National CattleWomen, American Sheep Industry, American Soybean Association, American Sugar Alliance, Beef Checkoff, Federation of State Beef Councils, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Cotton Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, Southern Peanut Producers Federation, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, U.S. Grains Council, United Egg Producers, United Fresh Produce Association, United Soybean Board, U.S. Soybean Federation and Western Growers.
Stallman also indicated that participation in USFRA projects by federally authorized checkoff programs is pending USDA Agricultural Marketing Service approval.