2023 Annual Conference: Climate-Smart Animal Agriculture Recap

Last week the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) welcomed members and guests to Kansas City for the 2023 Annual Conference: Climate-Smart Animal AgricultureMore than 140 guests joined the conference and receptions to connect with fellow animal agriculture leaders to explore, discuss, and develop solutions that encourage continuous improvement in animal agriculture.

NIAA’s Annual Conference featured dynamic speakers that discussed the current state of climate-smart initiatives and collaboration across the agriculture industry.

The speaker and panelist list included:

  • Joe Leathers – 6666 Ranch
  • Anne-Marie Roerink – 210 Analytics
  • Amy Skoczlas Cole – Farm Journal’s Trust in Food
  • Hansel New – Dairy Farmers of America
  • Kirsten Nickles – Certified Angus Beef
  • Billy Gascoigne –Ducks Unlimited
  • Burke Griggs – Washburn University, School of Law
  • Paul Hishmeh – Field to Market

“We’ve received great feedback from attendees saying there wasn’t a session where they didn’t learn something worth taking back to the workplace,” said J.J. Jones, Executive Director of NIAA. “We’re already in the planning stage for next year and look forward to seeing our members and guests at the 13th Annual Antibiotics Symposium in Atlanta, GA in November.”

Animal agriculture benefits from those who consistently go above and beyond for the industry and each year at Annual Conference, NIAA recognizes those outstanding professionals. The Chairman’s and President’s Awards recognize animal agriculture leaders who have been especially supportive, inspiring, and trusted by leaders within NIAA and have contributed significantly to its success. For more than a decade, NIAA has honored leaders in animal agriculture who engage with all angles of the value chain, from gate to plate. These Animal Agriculture Advocates use their voice and platforms to push animal agriculture forward. The longest standing award – first presented in 1965, is the Meritorious Service Award. This award is presented to animal agriculture leaders who have invested their career to advancing our sector.

The 2023 honorees include:
Chairman’s Award:
Dr. Megin Nichols; Deputy Division Director for the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

President’s Award:
Jared Wareham; North American NuEra Business Development Manager at ABS Global

Advocates for Animal Agriculture Award:
Ryan Goodman; Director of Communications and Community Engagement at Certified Angus Beef
Dr. Tera Barnhardt; Consulting Veterinarian and Owner of Animal Welfare Consulting & Research

Meritorious Service Award:
Dr. Lanny Pace; Mississippi Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Laboratory at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine

2023 honorees

During Annual Conference, NIAA recognized outgoing leadership and confirmed new board members during the annual membership meeting. NIAA thanks the retiring board members for their service:

  • Dr. Leonard Bull – retired professor at NC State University
  • Dr. Lucas Pantaleon – Ogena Solutions/Pantaleon PLLC
  • Dr. Lanny Pace – Mississippi Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Laboratory at Mississippi State University School of Veterinary Medicine

Retiring Board Members

NIAA welcomes the following new board members:

  • Adam Brock – Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
  • Dr. Kaitlyn Briggs – Dairy Management Inc.
  • Dr. Megin Nichols – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • Dr. Tera Barnhardt – Animal Welfare Consulting & ResearchNew board members

To learn more about the award honoreesboard members, or to access media passes to the 13th Annual Antibiotics Symposium in November, please visit www.AnimalAgriculture.org or contact Morgan Young, Director of Communications and Outreach for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture at morgan.young@animalagriculture.org.

NIAA’s Animal Agriculture Leaders Kick Off Cohort 2

The second cohort of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s (NIAA) Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders completed their first in-person leadership training session in Kansas City, Missouri.

In January, NIAA announced the second cohort of the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders. This leadership training course is sponsored by the United Soybean Board and was created by NIAA to empower animal agriculture professionals to strengthen previous leadership development experiences and collaborate with peers across the industry.

During their time in Kansas City, Cohort participants met with Kansas City-based leaders in multiple sessions:

Innovation & Investment in Animal Agriculture


Federal Courthouse Tour
This visit outlined the role of the Courts and insights into food and agriculture from a legal perspective.

Building on our Traditions
Celebrating agriculture’s history as a foundation for our future.

  • Kerryann Kocher, CEO of Vytelle
  • Eric Moore, Director of Technical Services – North America at Noorbrook, Inc. and NIAA Chairman of the board
  • Jared Wareham, North America NuEra Business Development Manager at Genus ABS

The second day of the training focused on strengths-based leadership development.

“Our first training session was extremely valuable. The time we spent collaborating and learning from our peers, understanding our personal strengths, and learning more about the rich agricultural history Kansas City boasts, gave us all excitement and anticipation for what’s still to come over the next 16 months.” said Kayla Rink, Senior Manager, Dairy Science and Farm Practices at Dairy Farmers of America and cohort member.

The second cohort of the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders represents a range of agricultural sectors to advance animal agriculture’s role in today’s food system. Participants include Tressa Lacy, TransOva Genetics; Jared Bramer, Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health – North America; Amanda Butterfield, North American Meat Institute; TJ Flax, Dexer; Trisha Klement, Datamars Livestock; Phillip Lancaster, Kansas State University; Miriam Martin, North American Meat Institute; Chandler Mulvaney, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Jake Renner, American Gelbvieh Association; Jennette Rietcheck, Norbrook; Kayla Rink, Dairy Farmers of America; Grant Sardella, ABS Global; Jennifer Schmitt, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota; Austin Snook, Merck Animal Health; Sarah Thomas, The Ohio State University; Brandon Treichler, Treichler Consulting Services; Stephanie Ward, NC State University; Jonathan White, United Producers NC; Tim Bardole, United Soybean Board; and Shannon Ellis, United Soybean Board.

Learn more about the leadership program, its sponsors, and see pictures of Cohort 2’s visit to Kansas City, visit https://www.animalagriculture.org/leadership-program/.

National Institute for Animal Agriculture to Host Equine Industry Leaders

Equine leaders will discuss the importance and sustainability of the working ranch horse at NIAA’s Annual Conference in April.


The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) will welcome an in-depth discussion during the council meeting for the reestablished Equine Working Group regarding the sustainability of the working ranch horse and the significant investment required to have these animals on the ranch.

Supply chain bottlenecks and downed manufacturing plants during the early days of Covid-19 have led to significant price increases for on-farm machinery and the investment costs for the working ranch horse has steadily followed the machinery trends.

“Anyone who has worked on a large ranch or feedlot knows the importance of having a well-trained horse to move and work the cattle,” said Jared Wareham, NuEra Business Development Manager for Genus/ABS Global who also serves as NIAA board member and on the annual conference planning committee. “Various factors are leading to the increased cost of investment, and it is starting to price the animal out of reach for smaller farms and ranches.”

Tyson Johnson, Sooner Cattle Company will moderate the Council panel on April 20. Panelists include Jed Roark, O RO Ranch; Turner Armitage, A Bar Ranch and AQHA Ranching Committee Chair; and Shawn Tiffany, Tiffany Cattle Co. Additionally, Joe Leathers, general manager of the 6666 Ranch of Yellowstone fame will serve as the opening keynote on the second day of Annual Conference. Leathers has been with the Guthrie, Texas ranch for more than two decades. His keynote will discuss the significance of the ranch horse and how important they are to the success of each ranch.

Join our equine and fellow animal agriculture leaders at NIAA’s Annual Conference to learn more about Climate-Smart Animal Agriculture. Receive the extended early bird registration rate by using the code HORSE23 at checkout. For more information about the 2023 Annual Conference, visit AnimalAgriculture.org. For registration questions or to receive a media pass, please contact Morgan Young, Director of Communications and Outreach for NIAA at morgan.young@animalagriculture.org


Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders in Cohort 2 take over Kansas City at first session

The second Cohort of the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders met in Kansas City for their first session, January 24-25, 2023.

Matt Musselman with Dairy Farmers of America shares about the DFA’s CoLab Accelerator while the Cohort explores innovation and investment in animal agriculture.


During the Cohort’s time in the KC Animal Health Corridor offices, Cohort leaders also engaged with Kimberly Young and Emily McVeyKC Animal Health Corridor, Duane CantrellFulcrum Global Capital, and Kevin HeikesIntent Ag.


Cohort Leaders also engaged in conversations on regulatory and legal issues affecting animal agriculture. The Cohort was hosted by the Honorable Stephen R. Bough – District Judge for the Western District of Missouri. In addition to hearing from Judge Bough, Cohort leaders learned from attorneys Robert Thompson – Partner at Bryan Cave, and David Erickson – Partner at Shook Hardy Bacon.

The day wrapped up with dinner at the Golden Ox in the historic Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building with KC-area NIAA board members and guest speaker, Kerryann Kocher – CEO of Vytelle. Kerryann inspired Cohort Leaders to Compare & Contrast as they lead animal agriculture into its next 100 years to ensure meat and milk are viable, competitive food choices for future generations.

Cohort 2 and Kerryann pose in front of the original pricing boards in the Kansas City Livestock Exchange.

The second day worked on learning more about their leadership strengths and building a community within the cohort.


The evening was spent at a collaborative cooking experience with Chef Raven Naramore at Olive Tree. The cohort shared in camaraderie while making their meal and discussed with the chef factors that influence her choices in incorporating animal protein in menus.




Paradigm: What to Expect for Animal Agriculture in a Biden Administration

Each month NIAA sends a members-only newsletter, Paradigm, that focuses on current events and topics important to animal agriculture. Our guest writers are informed leaders in the animal agriculture industry that provide expert information and opinions important to our industry. With the transition to the new administration, NIAA would like to share this member-only benefit with you and we hope you find value in the information below. 

While the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) does not lobby Congress or the Administration, our organization is highly engaged in issues affected by both of these bodies. As we convene the depth and breadth of animal agriculture over the next few years, we believe it is important to take a deeper dive into what those dedicated to animal agriculture can expect from a new Congress and Administration. While much has been written broadly over the last few months about agriculture in general, we asked Livestock Marketing Association’s Chelsea Good and John Dillard with OFW Law to give us a preview of what animal agriculture should expect in a Biden administration.   

Thank you for your continued leadership in animal agriculture and NIAA. Please enjoy this edition of Paradigm as Chelsea and John share their insights and expertise.  


From the Barn to the Beltway:
What to Expect for Animal Agriculture in a Biden Administration 

Vice President Joe Biden will drop the “Vice” on January 20th as he becomes the 46th President of the United States. Handling the COVID-19 pandemic and climate are two priorities that are certain to shape animal agriculture policy going forward. However, there are many other topics, ranging from trade to competition issues, where animal agriculture could see potential action.

STAFFING – President-elect Biden has announced he will nominate Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture. Most expect  Secretary Vilsack will easily be confirmed by the Senate, landing him in a familiar role as Vilsack led the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for eight years as President Obama’s agriculture secretary. Vilsack is currently chief executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and was Governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.

There will also be significant turnover in other political appointees at USDA. President-elect Biden will nominate Virginia Ag Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh to be the next deputy secretary of agriculture, the second highest position at USDA. If confirmed, Bronaugh would be the first woman of color to hold this position. Of particular interest for animal agriculture, USDA will have a new Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP), a position currently held by Undersecretary Greg Ibach. However, it is not yet known who will fill these shoes. The MRP mission area includes the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) agency and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency. Following Secretary Perdue’s realignment of numerous USDA offices in September 2017, Grain Inspection, the Packers and Stockyards Administration (formerly combined as GIPSA), and several programs from the Farm Service Agency are now housed under AMS as well.

COVID-19 RESPONSE – As we look at the policy priorities of the new administration, the first order of business will be addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For agriculture, this includes making sure people are safe while supply chains are operational. The next phase of COVID-19 response also involves vaccines becoming available to food and agriculture workers. Workers in high-density environments, such as slaughter and processing operations, are expected to be prioritized. However, many vaccine priority decisions will be made on the state level.

ENVIRONMENT – The Biden Administration has been clear the climate is a top priority. The head of President-elect Biden’s USDA transition team, Robert Bonnie, is a Duke University executive in residence specializing in issues related to climate change and natural resource conservation, with a focus on rural America. Bonnie has called for leveraging Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds into a “carbon bank” that would pay farmers for practices that limit greenhouse emissions. Additionally, Bonnie was a project expert for the Climate 21 Project, which resulted in actionable advice for a government-wide climate response coordinated by the White House and accountable to the President.

TRADE – The President-elect has made improving the trade climate one of his his administration’s priorities. Although President-elect Biden has not delved in into many specific policy plans, he has indicated that he will focus on working with our allies to develop trading rules that provide a counter to China’s efforts to set rules on labor and environmental protections. We expect this will be a sharp departure from President Trump’s “go it alone” approach, but China will continue to loom over trade decisions. Notably, President-elect Biden has indicated that he will not immediately end the phase one trade agreement with China or withdraw the punitive tariffs that are in place.

One of the decisions that will confront the Biden Administration is whether to attempt to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to provide a democracy-friendly alternative to the China-driven Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The President-elect has nominated Katherine Tai to serve as U.S. Trade Representative.

COMPETITION – Consolidation in agriculture is a major topic of the times, especially in the meatpacking sector. Interest in packer concentration has heightened, tied to COVID-19 related supply chain bottle necks and a record spread between boxed beef prices and the prices packers paid for live cattle. In the last year, we have seen USDA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate the beef packers for potential anticompetitive activity and DOJ cases against poultry processors. Additionally, some chicken and pork companies have also entered into settlement agreements to resolve class-action antitrust cases.

In December, USDA finalized a rule establishing criteria for the Secretary of Agriculture to determine when an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has been given by a packer or poultry processor in violation of section 202(b) of the Packers or Stockyards Act. This is the third version of a rulemaking, first undertaken under Sec. Vilsack’s USDA in 2010. At that time, the GIPSA competition rule received significant pushback from some segments of production agriculture. This topic, which affects contracted poultry and swine producers in addition to livestock owners, will be one to watch moving forward.

ANIMAL HEALTH – Traditionally, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the U.S., currently Dr. Burke Healey, has been a career position that does not change with a new administration. One area to watch will be if the Biden-Harris administration advances or changes direction on recent attempts to require electronic identification under the current Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. Transitioning to electronic identification was a priority for Undersecretary Ibach. However, advancing technology in ADT, and especially moving away from paper records, is a longstanding agency effort.

FOOD PROGRAMS – USDA is a broad agency, and there have been calls for additional focus to be placed on the nutrition assistance components of the department.

LABOR – Employee safety and worker protections will likely see increased significance under the Biden administration. Additionally, animal agriculture needs a stable, year-round, legal workforce. Changes to labor laws to help meet this need would likely need to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform package. This seems more likely under a Biden administration than in recent years, but would be a significant undertaking.

RURAL VITALITY – President-elect Biden has repeatedly said he will be the president for everyone, including those who did not vote for him. “We have got to rebuild the middle class,” said President-elect Biden, “especially in rural America.” Health care and infrastructure, including access to broadband, are fundamental to vibrant rural communities. “We should be spending $20 billion to put broadband across the board,” Biden said.

SCIENCE – President-elect Biden has said science will be a priority for his administration, and just last week he announced his White House Science Team. A science focus will affect programs within USDA, such as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Economic Research Center (ERS), and APHIS. Science also plays a large role in other agencies with which animal agriculture interacts, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Currently, we are seeing disagreement about the regulation of genetically modified animals between FDA and USDA. We’ll also have an eye out for how this science-based approach affects issues such as one health and antibiotic resistance.

CONGRESS – As we consider policy priorities moving forward, we’d be remiss to not also discuss the makeup of Congress. The 117th Congress will be one of narrow margins. Democrats will hold a small majority in the House. The Senate will be evenly divided with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.

The Constitution designates the vice president as the president of the Senate, so Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will hold the tie-breaking vote. This ensures simple majority party line votes in the Senate will break for the Democrats. Incoming Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and outgoing Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have to agree on an organizing resolution, which governs how the Senate works and committee makeup. Generally, bills require 60 votes to pass the Senate. However, the budget reconciliation process may be employed by the Democrats to advance some items and would only require a simple majority. The 117th Congress will not have a presidential election over its shoulder, possibly allowing for bi-partisan cooperation on major infrastructure and agricultural packages.

The agriculture community lost several staunch Congressional allies recently. Notably, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Mike Conaway (R-TX) both retired from Congress in 2020. In addition, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson (D-MN) lost his 2020 reelection bid. Between these three leaders, there was 86 years of Congressional experience, much of which was focused on agriculture.

Turning toward future legislative work and particularly the Farm Bill, which is scheduled for 2023, new Chairpersons will be Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. David Scott (D-GA). Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Rep. Glen Thompson (R-PA) will become the ranking republicans of the Agriculture Committees in their respective chambers. Sen. Stabenow (D-MI), who has been serving as the Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chaired the committee from 2011–2015, has already been in contact with Sen. Boozman about her committee priorities, including a focus on trade, stability, climate, and gearing up for the 2023 Farm Bill. Sen. Boozman has historically been engaged in livestock issues, however, Arkansas is an incredibly diverse agricultural state, so expect commodities like rice, cotton, and poultry to garner significant attention. Rep. Scott has indicated racial equality, nutrition programs, and climate will be priorities under his gavel.

Chelsea Good is the Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs and Legal at Livestock Marketing AssociationLMA is the Kansas City based trade organization representing livestock auctions and other livestock marketing businesses across the United States. Chelsea advocates for the interests of LMA members in federal, state, and industry policy. 

John Dillard is a USDA attorney at OFW Law in Washington, D.C. He primarily represents clients with matters before FSIS and AMS, including the Packers and Stockyards Division. He also advises and represents feed and pet food clients on FDA legal matters. 



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The Gossip Behind the Gobble

It is that special time of year that American’s love: a reflective holiday focused on food. Farm Bureau reports an average cost of a Thanksgiving feast for 10 has decreased a couple dollars from last year to $46.90.  Now that we know the price tag, what do we know about the hard work and inputs it takes to set the Thanksgiving table? 

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