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Yesterday, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) convened a panel of experts from multiple disciplines, including farmers, media, industry and academia, to answer some of the toughest questions surrounding animal welfare and conventional versus organic agriculture. This discussion was moderated by Wake up Columbia's Tom Bradley at The Food Dialogues: Columbia, which took place at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. During the panel, "Animal Welfare: Beyond the Hype," panelists addressed what more can be done to give consumers access to important information about the treatment and care given to animals in agriculture today. Panelists discussed how conventional and organic agriculture can work together in "High-tech or Low-tech: Beyond the Hype".

"The Food Dialogues is a signature event series that was designed by USFRA to answer the tough questions about agriculture," said Bob Stallman, USFRA chairman and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Panel discussions, which streamed live online, were moderated by Tom Bradley.

Animal Welfare panelists included:

  • Mark Mahnken ● Grass-fed Cattle Farmer and Owner, Missouri Legacy Beef

  • Chris Heins ● Dairy Farmer, Heins Dairy

  • Alan Wessler, DVM ●Vice President, Feed Operations and Animal Health of MFA Incorporated

  • Chris Chinn ● Hog Farmer and USFRA Faces of Farming and Ranching Winner

  • Don Spiers, Ph.D. ● Professor of Environmental Physiology and sponsor of the University of Missouri Animal Welfare Club University of Missouri

  • Travis Tucker ● Owner, Bleu Restaurant

High-tech or Low-tech panelists included:

  • Blake Hurst ● Farmer and President of Missouri Farm Bureau

  • Jim Thomas ● Vegetable Farmer and Chairman, and Past President, Missouri Organic Association

  • Fanson Kidwaro, Ph.D., ● Department Chair of Agriculture, University of Central Missouri

  • Jennifer Polniak ● Clinical Dietitian and Diabetes Educator at Boone Hospital Center

  • Dan Shaul ● State Director, Missouri Grocer's Association

  • Dr. Kevin Wells ● Assistant Professor of Genetics, University of Missouri

To watch a full replay of today's panel discussion visit or If you are looking for more information on animal agriculture or answers to other agricultural questions, please visit Follow USFRA on Twitter @USFRA and Missouri Farmers Care at @MOFarmersCare using #FoodD. Find their Facebook pages at and


About The Food Dialogues

The Food Dialogues signature events are designed to bring together farmers, ranchers, industry experts, pundits, media and consumers for dynamic panel discussions on some of today's most pressing topics related to food and food production. Since its launch in 2011, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance has hosted five major events, including 13 panels across the country that streamed live online.

About U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of nearly 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture working to engage in dialogues with consumers who have questions about how today's food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers efforts to increase confidence and trust in today's agriculture.

About Missouri Farmers Care

Missouri Farmers Care promotes the continued growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities through coordinated communication, education and advocacy. Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri's farming and agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our community depends.


Lisa Cassady, USFRA, or 314.749.5408

Dan Kleinsorge, Missouri Farmers Care, or 573.821.2040

This press release was wholly or partially funded by one or more Checkoff programs.

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