Steven L. Kopperud, former journalist and lobbyist who created a platform for livestock and poultry industries to resist “animal rights” and vegetarian critics, died October 19 in Minneapolis of “a sudden and highly unexpected arrhythmia,” said his wife Judith. He was 69. A longtime Washington resident, he was in Minneapolis for a family wedding.
As senior vice president and lead lobbyist for the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) in the 1980s, he founded the Animal Industry Foundation, now the Animal Agriculture Alliance, as a forum for producer and industry organizations to counter the rising public relations and legislative challenges of anti-meat activists. He described his career for Agri-Pulse in 2018 in a “Meet the Farm Hand” video interview.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota in journalism and political science, he was a reporter with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and San Diego Union-Tribune before joining Miller Publishing Company. He moved to its Washington bureau in 1980 to write for the Feedstuffs newspaper. He became its bureau chief after American Broadcasting Corporation’s publishing division bought Miller’s publications. Kopperud joined AFIA in 1985.
In 2000, he joined Policy Directions, a government affairs consulting firm representing AFIA and a range of other food and agriculture interests such as the National Renderers Association in legislation and public relations. Sixteen years later, he launched his own firm, SLK Strategies, with clients including Fortune 500 companies and national trade associations. A prolific blogger and writer, Kopperud also spread his defense of animal agriculture and food technology internationally, speaking in Europe, Canada, China, Australia and Latin America. On LinkedIn in July 2019, he called himself “semi-, sorta retired, but still a wise and learned strategy and communications advisor.”
He is survived by his spouse Judith (Komoroski), brother Dean (Susan), and sisters-in law Jill (Larson) Kopperud and Jean (Komorski Westerman) Bolin. During his semiretirement, he had been working to create a scholarship at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism, which was expected to become final by the end of the year. It will be the primary designated memorial. Any memorial gathering will be delayed until the end of pandemic restrictions. His ashes will be interred at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.
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