Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Jessica Ziehm
Executive Director, New York Animal Agriculture Coalition

Buskirk, New York
Farm Credit Affiliation
Farm Credit East
Jessica's Perspective

Jessica Ziehm is the Executive Director of the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition (NYAAC), a farmer-led organization that supports the New York dairy industry.

In the position for three years, one of her first projects is still one of her most notable achievements: the coordination of the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the New York State Fair, developed in cooperation with the Cornell Veterinary School. The exhibit debuted three years ago and showcased 36 calf births during the fair. Roughly 250,000 people visit the exhibit each year, witnessing the miracle of life and learning about the dairy industry directly from more than 300 dairy farmers and industry representatives who volunteer their time at the exhibit.

As the wife, daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of farmers, as well as being fairly certain she’s raising two future farmers, Jessica's ties to agriculture are strong. While she knew early on she wasn’t cut out to solely farm herself, she has a passion for the industry and has made it her life’s mission to help others understand farmers and the work they do to produce a safe and wholesome product.

A lifelong advocate for agriculture, Jessica is a proponent of open dialogue to build relationships with consumers and enhance their understanding of and appreciation for animal agriculture and modern farm practices. She works with farmers to share their stories with non-farm neighbors via conversation, social media and on-farm events to create real life experiences.

“By encouraging conversations to take place, my hope is that we can bridge the gap between farmer and consumer, gaining not only an understanding of one another, but establishing a sense of trust and respect for on-farm production techniques, including animal well-being, environmental stewardship, food safety and nutrition,” Jessica says. “As farmers, we can become more transparent with our ideals, making us ultimately more accessible and accountable to consumers so that they can receive information about their food straight from the source.”

Jessica has also served many years on the Regional Food Bank of Northeast New York Board of Directors where she interacts extensively with the non-farm community to meet the needs of underserved populations.

Looking to the future, Jessica says, “I foresee agriculture continuing to thrive by adopting more technology and enhancing efficiencies, which in turn should hopefully improve farm profitability, animal care and natural resource conservation. However, I also believe non-farm neighbors and community members will significantly influence the way we farm, regardless of the science and technology that supports us, which is why relationships and communication will be even more important to ensure the long-term success of our farms in the future.”

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