There are a lot of voices communicating about animal agriculture – and that is a wonderful thing! We need everyone – groups like the Animal Agriculture Alliance, checkoff organizations, trade associations and most importantly, farmers and ranchers – to speak out and share true stories about our industry.

For the Alliance, this year is all about taking action to secure the future of animal agriculture (if that idea intrigues you, check out our Stakeholders Summit coming up in May). One way the Alliance does just that is by serving as a united voice for animal agriculture and bringing the industry together. We can all make a difference individually, but our efforts are most powerful when we all speak together.

The value of unity was clearly demonstrated in late March, when groups like the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were featured in an advertorial insert in USA Today about "animal welfare" – or their version of it.

The Alliance first heard about the insert in late January, and after talking with our members, we thought this could be a real opportunity to take advantage of the potential increase in interest in animal care to showcase our own commitment. In addition to getting the word out among our membership, we also had conversations with several different organizations about what we each could do to work in harmony.

The result of those discussions was really amazing, and should be a reminder of how important it is for everyone in animal agriculture to work together. Even if we don’t farm the same way or our products compete against one another in the grocery store, we all have the same vested interest in the future of animal agriculture, and it’s our responsibility to take action to secure it.

Anyone searching for information on animal care online on March 23 (the day the insert was published), had more resources than they could have imagined at their fingertips. Companies, individuals and organizations published more than 350 posts on Twitter and Facebook using the #animalcare tag, a huge increase over a typical day. The Alliance earned more than 20,000 impressions on Twitter using the tag, and it was just one of many accounts that stepped up to share information. The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and Smithfield Foods advertised in the print insert and online edition, making sure modern animal agriculture’s voice was heard.

Our combined efforts ensured that the animal care conversation remained positive, with the insert generating little interest outside of the activists’ echo chambers. While we were successful in diffusing the potential impact of this piece, the biggest takeaway for me wasn’t the amount of likes, shares or retweets – it was seeing the true value of everyone sharing their unique stories while speaking with a united voice.  

I’d like to challenge us all to “amp up the volume” in the animal care conversation, and do it together. What could we achieve if we all dedicated the amount of time and energy to sharing our passion for animal care every day the way we did on March 23 – and made sure we were doing it collaboratively?