Kim Schoonmaker | Updated: 07/02/2012
Wrestling with animal welfare
Controversies in animal welfare
MVMA Animal Welfare Conference
'Multidisciplinary dialogue' on animal welfare
For those that think welfare certification programs will help slow PETA and their allies, think again. These programs will do little more than draw a large target on animal producers backs. Mercy for animals targets egg facilities that have been certified by United Egg producers for example (see Weaver Brothers Egg Farm at http://www.mercyforanimals.org/investigations.aspx). The emphasis on "standard operating procedures" by FARM also raises red flags. Would you rather have a farm with a SCC of 100,000 and no SOP, or a SCC of 400,000 with laminated SOPs posted in the parlor in multiple languages? The second scenario meets the FARM guidelines, not the first. That only makes sense if one is trying to create an appearance of good welfare. The dairy industry does not need this additional expense.
I agree Chad. It would also be nice to know how the questions were asked. Many polls and surveys have leading questions to get the desired response.
Programs such as the ones mentioned in this article are actually good for the dairy industry. They allow consumers to feel confident that the milk that they are drinking came from cows that were treated humanely and with respect. There is no slowing PETA and their allies, as they truly believe that animals should not be used for human gain, and they will never see eye-to-eye with those involved in animal agriculture.Rather than being defensive about these types of programs it is in our best interest to be proactive about animal handling and well-being. People want to know that the meat they are eating and the milk that they are drinking came from animals that were treated well, and I think it's fair that we are committed to ensuring that this happens. Programs such as the ones listed are just another way to show the consumer that we care about the animals in the dairy industry.
Ashley, I would feel more positive about the program if the processors, who are requiring the certifications, were demanding the same from ALL farmers including those who produce milk to be imported including dairy products such as MPC,