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Conference: Distrust of animal ag, how to address?

Closing the gap on three issues driving consumer distrust in animal agriculture ­ animal housing, emerging genetic advancements and antibiotics use ­ will be the focus of The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) 2016 North American Strategy Conference on Animal Agriculture, May 18-19, at McDonald¹s Hamburger University in Chicago.

CFI¹s latest consumer trust research reveals that a near-record 60 percent strongly agree with the following statement: ³If animals are treated decently and humanely I have no problem eating meat, milk and eggs.² Yet, a much smaller percentage of consumers, 25 percent, strongly agree that U.S. meat comes from humanely treated animals.

³Leaders in animal agriculture must effectively address this disconnect between consumer support for consuming meat, milk and eggs and growing doubt that farm animals are treated humanely,² said Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI. ³Our conference, ŒHow Do We Close the Animal Ag Gap?¹, will explore why the divide exists and what those in animal agriculture can do to close it, focusing specifically on three topics we believe are drivers for consumer distrust.²

Expert speakers and panelists will present and participate in moderated discussion on each topic.

From gestation stalls to cage-free eggs, animal housing has received considerable attention as consumers express interest in the issue, asking restaurants and retailers to meet their expectations. Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection, The Humane Society of the United States, will join Janeen Salak-Johnson, Ph.D, associate professor, stress physiology and animal well-being, University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences, on the first panel, addressing topics related to animal housing.

In the second panel session, Alison Van Eennenaam, Ph.D, Cooperative Extension Service specialist, animal genomics and biotechnology, University of California, Davis, will be joined by Bill Christianson, DVM, Ph.D, chief operating officer of PIC, and Mark Walton, Ph.D, chief marketing officer of Recombinetics, to discuss emerging genetic advancements being used in animals. PIC recently announced the development of the first PRRS-resistant pigs. Recombinetics is developing technology to inhibit horn growth in dairy cows.

The third session will examine antibiotic use in agriculture as it relates to animal well-being and human health. Leah Dorman, DVM, director of food integrity and consumer engagement, Phibro Animal Health, will join Maryn McKenna, journalist, author and contributor at National Geographic, on the panel.

The Strategy Conference will close with a panel of consumers offering their insights and perspectives on various issues related to animal agriculture.

The annual CFI North American Strategy Conference on Animal Agriculture, sponsored by the United Soybean Board, hosts leaders from local, state, national and international producer organizations and livestock coalitions, along with allied industry, branded food companies and government organizations. Free to attend, the Strategy Conference begins Wednesday, May 18, at 1 p.m., and adjourns Thursday, May 19, at noon. Learn more and register to attend at http://www.FoodIntegrity.org.

–Center for Food Integrity


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