The 2nd Annual American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology (AFACT) Summit lived up to the theme of "Working Together to Create Solutions” in Minneapolis this week.
The summit started off with Ryan Armstrong and Ray Prock, Jr., Californian egg and dairy farmers respectively, talking about the impact of Proposition 2 on agriculture and struggle with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). To implement Proposition 2 in the California egg industry, one billion dollars would be needed to comply with the new standards according to Armstrong.
Alex Avery, Director of Research and Education at the Hudson Institute, followed with a fact-filled dialogue on the sustainability of agriculture. This issue is very important with the predicted population peak of around nine billion people in 2050. The swine and crop industry's voices were heard from Gary Thome, Minnesota swine farmer and Len Corzine, Illinois crop farmer. Finally, Michele Payn-Knoper gave a crash course on social media, facebook, and twitter, and illustrated the importance of these tools in agricultural communication of producers and industry.
A diverse consumer and retailer panel jump started the morning the second day of the summit. Panelists were Vonda Johnson, mother and consumer from Minnesota; Andrea, consumer and employee at Taher Food Management Services which is also responsible for the Minnesota School Lunch program; and Mitch Davis, retailer and general manager of Davis Family Dairies. Thoughtful discussion and learning took place on both sides of the table. One interesting fact shared was that the average consumer is not aware that dairy producers are only being paid half of what they received a year ago for milk. After this, small groups were used to discuss the array of information from the summit, and decide which steps should be taken to work towards the vision of AFACT.
Opportunities identified for AFACT to pursue were the continued education of consumers, retailers and producers through face-to face meetings and by incorporating online dialogues. Recruitment of more members and advocates in all areas of agriculture was also recognized as a vital step to inform the masses that technology has a necessary role in modern agriculture production. Also, using social media tools like facebook and twitter were deemed important in telling agriculture's story in a virtual world.
For more information on AFACT, please visit our website at www.itisafact.org, find us on facebook by searching for AFACT, or follow us on twitter under itisAFACT.
AFACT is a team-driven organization by producer volunteers across the Unites States. As the organization's name implies, AFACT is dedicated to conserving existing safe management practices and supporting the advancement of new technologies utilized in agriculture. AFACT strives to provide the consumer safe and wholesome food at a good value, as well as distributing factual information regarding advances in modern agriculture.