01 Jul Allyson Jones-Brimmer
Representing Animal Agriculture
Imagine getting to work at the forefront of strategy in combating the groups set against the animal agriculture industry – utilizing marketing, communications, speaking engagements, political legislation, industry specific groups and more to ensure that those on farms and ranches can continue raising their animals. Welcome to the world of Allyson Jones-Brimmer – an FFA alumni whose love of animals has led her to her position as the Director of Industry Relations for the Animal Agriculture Alliance! There she works tirelessly for a job and industry that is passionate about, continuously networking and growing their membership database and keeping tabs on animal agriculture’s adversaries from the front line!
What is the Animal Agriculture Alliance
An industry wide nonprofit organization, the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s overall mission is to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork.They help people better understand modern animal agriculture and what goes into environmental stability and animal production. Through Allyson’s role, she brings on new members and prospects, while also marketing the organization.
Who are the members?
Any individual, business or industry that wants to keep tabs on the opponents of animal ag production is the ideal candidate for being a member, who also has a passion for animal agriculture and a desire to protect it for the future. The biggest membership numbers lie in industry associations, but also include other producer groups, check off groups, and membership-based organizations covering a wide spectrum of animal agriculture.
There are even some livestock groups that serve in animal health, feed, and genetics, producers from small family farmers to corporate farms, and individuals who want to be well informed.
Biggest Reason Members Join
Formed just over 30 years ago, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, was a direct result of animal rights activists turning their attention toward animal agriculture.
“We’ve been monitoring them since the inception and have a good background knowledge and idea for what their tactics are and what they are doing that could injure animal agriculture,” explains Allyson.
Industries need that information to know who is opposed to them and what the “other side” is using for tactics. This in turns allows these industries to think proactively, creating a strategic plan on how they can protect themselves.
Animal Agriculture Alliance Provides:
- Farm Security Strategies
- How to hire property workers
- Handling an unexpected arrival of an individual who opposes animal agriculture to your farm/business
Animal Agriculture Alliance Team Culture
“We have a really good team and everyone is well connected,” says Allyson. “We have a lot of trust in each other to get the job done. We can rely on each other and our strengths because we know what those are.”
At the Animal Agriculture Alliance, members can take projects and “run with them,” because the team has faith in each other that they are going to be completed and finished at a high level. Kay Johnson Smith, the president, has been with the organization for 25 years and is in tune not only to the members needs, but also her employees. She allows flexibility and the tools needed to enable her employees the most success for their members.
Annual Stakeholder Summit
An annual conference brings both members and non members of the Animal Agriculture Alliance together to reflect on the diversity of their membership. Representatives from all sectors of agriculture such as associations, veterinarians, animal health & feed companies, producers, and more, provide a unique experience not seen at any other industry related convention. Attendees get to network and communicate with individuals from other industries that they normally wouldn’t get the chance to work with.
Conference Break Down
There is a half-day devoted to the three branches of the Animal Agriculture Alliance mission statement:
- Connect: A consumer focus group that pulls together individuals to find what the general view of animal agriculture is and what these consumers are looking for when they are purchasing animal protein.
- Engage: What potential opportunities do we have to engage?
- Protect: More in depth on animal rights activism and what the future of the industry looks like.
Director of Industry Relations
Hardest Part About This Career
“The most challenging aspect is just prioritizing what is going to be the best for our members, as well as best for the organization as a whole and finding that balance,” says Allyson. Fielding multiple requests that are outside of the scope of what they do makes for many challenging decisions on who they can help as a part of their mission while also maintaining boundaries and making sure that they don’t spend time on projects that don’t move them forward.
With a five-member office staff, it’s vital to remain on task and efficient.
College Aggies Online
In their 11th year, the College Aggies Online program is a scholarship opportunity created by the Animal Agriculture Alliance through education and competition. Applicants can compete as an individual or as a club through a 9-week competition where they are given weekly trainings and resources to be used in weekly challenges.
“A lot is using social media and online avenues to advocate for animal agriculture,” explains Allyson about the program. It can include blog writing, Instagramming, interviewing people about their food choices, and listening to what needs to happen moving forward as well as handling negativity online. Students with the most points at the end of the competition earn the scholarship.
At the Heart of Controversy
Despite working at the heart of controversy with animal rights activists and animal agriculture production, Allyson says that she doesn’t worry too much about safety or having a target on her back. While you have to be mindful about safety and security, the staff and members as a whole are mindful and take in stride the negative messages they will randomly receive. Keeping the balance of loving what they do and fighting for a great cause, they continue to move forward with a positive attitude.
If you are interested in connecting with Allyson, you can find her on LinkedIn or Twitter at either the business or her personal. Make sure to subscribe to the AgGrad YouTube Channel to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture and follow along on the special “30 Under 30 in Agriculture” series!
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