Ensuring the safety and well-being of livestock and poultry on farms is one of a farmer’s most important responsibilities. Part of that responsibility is ensuring that everyone who has access to your farm is there for the right reasons – to provide the highest quality care to your animals.

It’s an unfortunate reality that not everyone who tries to get hired on farms has those intentions. For years, animal rights activist groups have paid individuals to seek employment on farms with the sole purpose of capturing footage and photographs that can be used to harm the reputation of the farm and the industry in general.

Make no mistake: No one in the agriculture community condones the mistreatment of animals. But neither do we support lying to get access to a farm. Or putting a desire to run a shocking PR campaign over the need to appropriately care for an animal or immediately report any concerns about animal welfare so they can be remedied. If someone handling livestock has any motives other than upholding their commitment to animal care, they are putting the health and safety of animals at risk – and that is just not acceptable.

If you own or run a farm, or work with farmers, review these practical tips for ensuring farm security.

  • Be very cautious when hiring. Require a written application and always check references – this step is often skipped because of a need to fill positions quickly, but confirming someone’s identity and prior work history is critical. When contacting references, also check the contact’s identity – are you calling a number affiliated with a company or farm? Are the name and email address you’re using listed on any official company documents you can find online?
  • When someone contacts you about a job or just visiting your farm, don’t be afraid to ask questions about his or her background and intentions. If something seems off, explore the employee further. You can also find out a lot about someone by searching for them on social media – do they follow or “like” activist group accounts?
  • Post “no trespassing” signs on your property, and train all family members and employees how to handle unexpected visitors. Some individuals have gained access to farms by saying they are a new employee testing out their commute – when in fact, no new employees were scheduled to begin work. Have a process in place for handling incidents like this.

Vigilance is key in ensuring that our farms and animals are safe. For more security resources and advice, visit the Animal Agriculture Alliance online at www.animalagalliance.org