Giving Thanks for the Agrilinks Livestock Community
USAID and Feed the Future would like to thank you all for being a part of Livestock Month on Agrilinks!
Throughout November, we have discussed the integral role of livestock in helping food systems around the world become more sustainable, resilient, and nourishing. Livestock production and animal-source food consumption are key components in achieving the U.S. Global Food Security Strategy objectives—which include sustainable agriculture-led economic growth, strengthened resilience among people and systems, and a well-nourished population.
We appreciate everyone who contributed blog posts on a variety of topics related to livestock and agricultural food systems. Though all of the content shared has been vital to the conversation, we’d suggest you have a look at these posts:
- Map Highlights Opportunities for Climate Adaptation through Livestock,
- Animal Traction-Based Conservation Agriculture Offers Multiple Benefits for Smallholder Farmers in Zambia, and
- Connecting the Dots: Appreciating the Links Between Animal and Human Health, Encouraging Healthier Families,
We also want to thank those of you who engaged with the Livestock Month content. By attending the webinar, reading blogs, and sharing posts on social media, all of you contributed to an outstanding month showcasing all that the livestock sector has to offer in meeting our development goals. We would also like to thank our webinar participants for an engaging and informative discussion on Livestock and Climate, Dr. Gbola Adesogan of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, Dr. Polly Ericksen of the International Livestock Research Institute, and Sofia Condes of the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return Initiative and all the participants generated an outstanding discussion on the impact of climate on livestock and livestock on climate. A total of 375 attendees joined us for the conversation. Some key takeaways from that event include the importance of taking into account nutrient density when evaluating emissions, that adaptation to a changing climate (and not just mitigation) is a major concern for livestock systems, and that with the right tools and information, the private sector can be a catalyst for change.
Dairy industry takes on climate change and food quality
Numerous events and engagements have further highlighted the crucial role of livestock systems to global development goals including COP26 and the United Nations Food Systems Summit. Through these engagements, USAID has had an opportunity to emphasize its commitment to supporting the development of sustainable and resilient livestock systems. USAID also continues to explore a public-private partnership with a dairy industry-led initiative entitled Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, which seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions while improving access to nutrient-dense foods in low-income countries. Thanks again to all of our partners for helping to amplify the messages around the benefits and risks within livestock systems through these forums, and particularly on Agrilinks this month!
We’d be remiss if we went the whole month of November highlighting livestock and didn’t mention the bird in the room--turkey. While USAID and Feed the Future work diligently every day overseas, November is a special time of year for those of us from the United States as we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving. Many countries around the world have a harvest festival and a few even call it Thanksgiving like we do. It’s a time when we celebrate the harvest and give thanks for all that we have. This Thursday, in many households, the turkey will take center stage. Not only do livestock play a critical role in food security, but they also have important cultural significance on tables and in celebrations, ceremonies, and events around the world.
The National Turkey Federation (NTF) estimates that 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving; 95 percent of Americans who responded to its survey said they eat turkey on Thanksgiving. The average size of a Thanksgiving turkey is 15 pounds, which adds up to a lot of bird! If you’d like to give the Thanksgiving bird a try, and share in our traditions, the NTF has a Thanksgiving 101 guide where you can try your hand at a whole bird or roasted cuts. You can also find recipes for side dishes or tips for using up leftovers.
The NTF plays a large role in one of Thanksgiving's most beloved traditions, the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey to the president of the United States. The event is more familiarly known as the Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon, an annual White House tradition. Each year, the NTF chooses a turkey farmer to raise a "Presidential Flock." The Presidential Flock is raised as are other turkeys in the United States, but Presidential Flock birds are also prepared from at an early age for the White House event. They are acclimated to the sounds of a crowd and bright camera lights. Two turkeys from the flock are taken to the White House a few days before the holiday and ceremoniously pardoned by the President. The turkeys then live out their days on a hobby farm or petting zoo. Now in the 74th year of NTF involvement, the turkey pardon this year will feature President Biden pardoning two turkeys from Indiana, one of the largest turkey-producing states in the United States.
Recognizing Native American contributions
In addition to the Thanksgiving holiday, November is a time when we pay tribute to Native Americans and their many contributions to this country. November 2021 was recently designated by President Biden as National Native American Heritage Month. The president stated: “During National Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate the countless contributions of Native peoples past and present, honor the influence they have had on the advancement of our Nation, and recommit ourselves to upholding trust and treaty responsibilities, strengthening Tribal sovereignty, and advancing Tribal self-determination.”
The historical origination of Thanksgiving can remind us to honor our history while looking forward to a better future for all, here at home and abroad. The modern Thanksgiving celebration is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, to pause, and to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for...and to eat turkey.
USAID and Feed the Future continue to be grateful for this community and the contributions each of you make to support the livestock sector, which we know is a crucial component to reduce poverty, hunger, and malnutrition and to improve the livelihoods, resilience, nutrition, and food security of smallholder farmers and to create opportunities for families and friends around the world to gather together and share a meal. Thank you for contributing to such a successful, engaging livestock month here with us on Agrilinks!