American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology (AFACT) was a grassroots advocacy front group created by the agricultural marketing company Osborne & Barr Communications with support from the chemical maker Monsanto, the manufacturer of Posilac, also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin, rBST or rBGH, a synthetic growth hormone injected into dairy cows to make them produce more milk. Monty G. Miller, a Colorado consultant, was also hired to help organize the group. AFACT was shuttered in 2011.
Osborne & Barr created AFACT to defend dairy farmers' use of rBST, and assist Monsanto in fighting the growing number of consumers seeking to purchase more natural products, including milk that comes from cows that have not been treated with rBST.
AFACT believed that labels stating the absence of rBST in milk mislead consumers by implying that milk from cows treated with hormones is inferior. AFACT advocated the passage of laws that ban or restrict labels that indicate milk comes from untreated cows.
The co-chairman of AFACT was Carrol Campbell, a Kansas dairy farmer who says he became involved with the rBST labeling issue after his dairy cooperative requested that he stop using Posilac. Rather than drop use of the chemical, Campbell joined a different cooperative.
Monsanto hired Osborn & Barr to handle the Posilac brand in 2006. In 2007, Monsanto and several dairy organizations met by phone to plan the formation of a grass-roots organization, and AFACT was created in the fall of 2007. Monty G. Miller, a Colorado consultant, was hired to help organize the group.
While AFACT's website says that AFACT was created by "farmers" and "producer volunteers"  the founders of Osborne & Barr are, in fact, former Monsanto employees. Monsanto was the founding client of Osborne & Barr.
"Consumer demand for more natural products has conflicted with some dairy farmers' desire to use the artificial hormone to bolster production and bottom lines, and it has certainly interfered with Monsanto's business plan for Posilac ... [AFACT] also believes it will be hard for food retailers to 'move away from the rBST-free stance without legislation and government policy,' according to an AFACT presentation to dairy farmers in January. In the presentation, AFACT also listed 'integrity,' 'honesty' and 'transparent' as 'words we wish to embody.' They could start by being more straightforward about who is behind AFACT". 
The only contact information listed on AFACT's website is a fax number that is listed as belonging to "Outer Office," a business that provides operational support (scheduling, newsletters, and message-taking, etc.) to small consulting businesses.
Osborne & Barr offically launched AFACT at the World Agricultural Expo in Tulare, California on February 12, 2008.
Web site: http://www.itisafact.org/Default.aspx Fax number given on Web site: (720) 367-5047
Contact information listed on media alert: Jason Gerke gerkejATosborn-barr.com (replace the word "AT" with an "@" sign), phone (816) 206-8179
Articles and Resources
- AFACT, AFACT, organizational website, accessed May 2012
- Andrew Martin, "Fighting on a Battlefield the Size of a Milk Label", New York Times, Business section. March 9, 2008.
- St. Louis-based marketing agency Osborn & Barr Communications is set to tackle a distinct set of agrimarketing issues ... this time, north of the border Agrimarketing.com Northern Exposure, March 2004.
- "Join AFACT today", American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, accessed April 2008.
- "AFACT to be launched at the 2008 World Ag Expo", Media Alert. February 6, 2008. Contact Jason Gerke at email@example.com, (816) 206-8179.