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Ag Students Invited to Tell Story of Animal Agriculture

by 5m Editor
7 October 2008, at 11:35a.m.

US - Alpharma Inc. Animal Health is embarking on a programme that will begin to educate consumers about how their food is produced, enlisting the help of college agriculture students along the way.

Recent food recalls and quality concerns have driven consumers to become more interested in the on-farm management practices used to produce food. This is especially true in animal agriculture, where perceived consumer preferences threaten the use of modern management technologies. Alpharma Inc., Animal Health is embarking on an exciting program that will begin to educate consumers about how their food is produced, enlisting the help of college agriculture students along the way.

Research conducted by Alpharma in partnership with GfK Roper indicated that consumers came to support the use of antibiotics in food animal production once educated about their use to prevent or treat disease. This indicates that opportunities are available to help consumers understand the importance of antibiotics — and other on-farm technology — to support animal welfare, food safety and agricultural sustainability.

"We know that, in order to feed a growing world population, certain technologies will need to be at the disposal of American farmers in order to support modern agricultural practices," says Jeff Mellinger, Global Leader, Sales & Marketing for Alpharma, Inc., Animal Health. "As consumers continue to have a greater impact on retailers' decisions, and as those decisions trickle down to impact how animals are raised on the farm, we need to make sure that consumers are aware of the importance of some of the technologies — including the use of antibiotics — to ensure healthy animals and a safe, abundant food supply."

In an innovative step toward consumer education, agriculture students from the East Coast to California are invited to participate in a three-phase contest, the first of which is an open call for farm-related video clips. A variety of clip suggestions are listed on the contest web site, ranging from cows being milked to combines harvesting crops in the heartland. Students can submit their choice of any number of video segments, whether recorded on a digital camera or high-power video recorder.

As the contest sponsor, Alpharma will award participants a $25 gift card for each usable clip submitted, up to 10 per person. These video segments will be available online for the next phase of the contest where participants will be able to compile their own video using segments chosen from the site. This will provide students with an opportunity to create their own version of the story of food production.

Completed videos will then be posted on the contest web site, allowing those who view them to vote for their favourite in support of the friends, club or school who produced them. The contest culminates with the top video producers winning a $5,000 cash prize, courtesy of Alpharma.

"This is an exciting opportunity for students involved with and passionate about agriculture to educate consumers in an innovative way," says Mr Mellinger. "We look forward to seeing what students can come up with, and we enjoy supporting the student's creativity and expression."

The contest began on 8 September and will run through the middle of December, with the winning video announced on 22 December 2008.

For further information, click here for the contest web site.