Talking Policy Starts with Science

When Stephanie Carlson walks into the room to lead a discussion on federal policy she’s well equipped to protect more than 6,200 Iowa hog farmers representing $7.5 billion in annual economic activity.

Her ace in the hole? Science.

As producer outreach and federal policy director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Carlson monitors, researches and prioritizes federal policy issues. She recommends action to members, and builds strong relationships with policymakers, government agencies and staff.

Carlson (’13 animal science) says science and agricultural research are vital to her job.

“Agricultural research allows farmers to be competitive and protects the environment and human health,” she says. “We use science and technology to back up our policy for the best interest of people, pigs and the planet.”

The association is appreciative of partnerships with the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Carlson says, especially in their Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness Task Force. She leads the effort bringing together partners from across the industry to increase understanding of the State of Iowa Foot-and-Mouth Disease Response Plan and crisis management among pork producers.

“When we were dealing with PED (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus) and Avian Influenza struck poultry farmers, we realized the pork industry is at risk. It’s not the most fun conversation, but it’s important for producer success and the economic success of Iowa and the United States,” Carlson says.

The task force recommends the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service expand their Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank to provide adequate coverage for all strains.

She plans to continue these conversations as part of upcoming Farm Bill discussions.

“Exports are not part of the Farm Bill, but go hand-in-hand with the Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank. Should we get the disease, exports would be shut down imediately. With about 25 percent of total pork production exported, that’s a tremendous amount of product to be sitting on,” Carlson says. Exports of Iowa pork totaled $1.1 billion in 2015.

Carlson says she learned from the best at Iowa State, especially during her time working at the Swine Teaching Farm under the direction of Al Christian. Advised by professor Tom Baas, Carlson says those mentorships and relationships helped her find a career path and inspire her passion for the pork industry.

She contributes her time and service to the college and to the agricultural industry. She’s community relations chair for the Young Professionals in Agriculture networking group and a member of the Grow Iowa Agriculture advocacy organization.

Carlson was honored earlier this year with the 2017 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Emerging Iowa Leader Award.

“From sharing her expertise with classes and student organizations, to advocating and raising awareness for college priorities through the Curtiss League and the Grow Iowa Agriculture organization, Stephanie has positively impacted the college and our students in many ways,” says Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.