ARLINGTON—An increasing number of animal rights activists want to prevent Americans from eating meat, milk and eggs. Some acquire farm jobs and work undercover for animal rights groups.
Because of that, many farmers are requiring new hires to sign animal care agreements and undergo additional training and reporting in proper animal-handling techniques.
"They’re just formalizing practices that farmers have had in place for years," said Lindsay Reames, assistant director of governmental relations for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. "We think that formal agreements help reinforce the good care that farmers and their employees give to their animals."
The national Animal Agriculture Alliance group says farmers need to take steps to ensure their operations are safe from attacks by animal rights extremists. The alliance works to protect livestock farmers and ranchers by educating consumers on the role animal agriculture plays in providing a safe, abundant food supply.
Recent undercover videos taken by animal rights activists working on farms underscore the need for farmers to employ security measures in order to keep the nation’s food supply safe.
"Extremists are attempting to use emotional images and scare tactics to discourage Americans from eating meat, milk and eggs because they do not believe we have that right," said Kay Johnson Smith, executive vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. "Farm managers must be wary in order to protect their way of life."
The alliance recently suggested ways farmers can protect their operations and therefore protect the nation’s food supply.
Farmers should make employee safety their first priority, Smith said. And, when hiring, farmers are advised to check references closely and make sure an applicant’s previous experience is legitimate. During interviews, they should ask if the potential employee is collecting information for another company.
The alliance also advises farmers to specify that any employee who observes animal mistreatment must immediately notify a supervisor. In some cases, animal rights activists who worked undercover at livestock operations witnessed abuse and never reported it.
"We’ve been encouraging our producer members to do more screening and training to protect themselves and their animals," Reames said.
Contact Reames at 804-290-1019