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NMPF Launches Animal Care Initiative to Empower Farm Workers

10:40AM Mar 27, 2013

‘See It? Stop It!’ initiative to be a component of National Dairy FARM Program.

Source: NMPF news release

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today joined the Center for Food Integrity and the U.S. pork sector to jointly launch "See It? Stop It!SM Animal care starts with you," a proactive demonstration of agriculture’s commitment to farm animal care. The initiative empowers, and in fact, demands that if signs of animal abuse, neglect, mishandling or harm are witnessed, anyone working on a farm or in a farm setting has an obligation to report it immediately.

Though it is uncommon, when animal abuse, neglect, harm or mistreatment takes place, it is essential to give animal care providers resources to swiftly report what they witness. The
"See It? Stop It!" initiative provides several options to enable employees to speak up to stop animal abuse. Ultimately, empowering animal caretakers and giving them responsibility to report animal abuse immediately will help assure the best care for animals.

Betsy Flores, NMPF’s Senior Director of Animal Health and Welfare, stated, "Care of animals could not be more important to farmers. Having a system in place to contact any of several authorities is imperative, and ‘See it? Stop it!’ provides that resource. This initiative combines well with the dairy industry’s National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible ManagementTM to ensure the well-being of animals in our care." 

The initiative demonstrates to the public that farmers are committed to good animal care and calls on anyone who witnesses abuse to stop it immediately. This includes those who are on farms to videotape animal production activities. Stopping and reporting abuse quickly is the right thing to do for animals, and it demonstrates that those involved in livestock production understand their obligation to provide sound animal care. Demonstrating this commitment is important to maintaining public trust in today’s animal agriculture.

"As the nation’s oldest animal protection organization, the American Humane Association (AHA) has a long history of involvement with programs that help assure proper animal care," said Kathi Brock, National Director of the Farm Animal Program for AHA. "It is critical for farm management to set clear expectations for animal care and to have zero tolerance for animal mistreatment. We believe ‘See It? Stop It!’ provides the tools to help set those expectations and a mechanism for reporting abuse which supports the proper care of America’s farm animals."

"Those in agriculture are understandably frustrated by undercover videos. The actions of a few captured on video can taint public perception of the entire livestock community. Taking action to stop abuse demonstrates a genuine commitment to do what’s right for the animals on farms," said Roxi Beck of the Center for Food Integrity, which is a not-for-profit corporation established to build consumer trust and confidence in the today’s food system. CFI’s members, who represent every segment of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and addressing important issues among all food system stakeholders.

It is the duty of farm leaders to convey the level of commitment they have to responsible animal care, while empowering employees who work with or around animals to immediately report any signs of animal abuse, neglect, harm or mistreatment.

"We depend on more than 11,000 independent livestock and poultry farmers to supply us and we believe they share our commitment to proper animal treatment," said Dean Danilson, Vice President of Animal Well-Being Programs for Tyson Foods. "Initiatives like ‘See it? Stop it!’ and our own FarmCheck™ on-farm audit program are additional ways we can assure our customers and consumers we’re producing food responsibly. In fact, reporting animal mistreatment is one of the key elements of FarmCheck™."

Both the U.S. pork and dairy industries have provided funding for the initiative and feel it is a great way to expand upon their already strong animal care programs.

"The Pork Quality Assurance® (PQA Plus®) program outlines best practices for proper animal care," said Sherrie Niekamp, director of animal welfare for the National Pork Board. "The ‘See it? Stop It!’ initiative meshes well with the core principles of PQA Plus that pork producers have followed for more than 20 years."

"This initiative confirms the commitment of every farm owner and manager to do what’s right for animals," said Dallas Hockman, vice president of governmental regulations for the National Pork Producers Council. "‘See it? Stop it!’ expands upon the industry’s ‘We Care’ program, which is grounded by ethical principles and well-being practices. ‘We Care’ helps further establish a culture that ensures proper animal care."

Additional information about the program, including an employer checklist, guidance for integrating the program into existing animal well-being programs, posters for use in barns and guidance on employee training is available by clicking here.