By Sara Brown
No one likes to be evaluated on their work—it makes them nervous that they have done something wrong. I would imagine farmers would think the same of auditors coming to the farm. But how do you prove something is done right, instead only hearing how things are done wrong?
Just today, a new video by Mercy for Animals was released showing employees committing acts of animal cruelty at an Ohio dairy farm. While the video is circumspect in quality and source (see other AgWeb coverage
), in no way were these animals treated in accordance with industry production standards. Consumers are demanding clairvoyance in our food system, and this video is what they are seeing.
Last week, as I attended the 2nd annual International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare, there was real concern about the animal well-being state of our cattle industry. The formation of the North American Food Animal Well-being Commission (NAFAWC) is proof that even our top industry researchers see a disconnect between science-based research, consumer demands and practical application. But like Temple Grandin said in her presentation, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. And, while we can take time to talk about these animal rights groups and their “inside investigations”, the fact remains that in this instance, these cattle were not treated correctly, and that’s not OK.
The days of animal well-being compliance are coming. The NAFAWC has already started framing together ideas for these standards, and will continue to add science-based research to their agenda. Many niche marketers are already completing annual audits of their operations for environmental and operational compliances. Don’t be surprised when animal well-being is included.
The Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University has increased their education measures for cattle handling—use these resources
to educate yourself and your employees. Look for more of these to come, as NAFAWC continues to collect industry data and ideas.
Also last week, I visited a feedlot operation and a commercial cow-calf operation. Both of these operations were stellar in their handling of animals. To both of them, thank you for caring about your, and my, animals. Now, let’s prove our industry cares about animals to the rest of the world.
Learn about the North American Food Animal Well-being Commission