Thompson-Weeman: Refresh Your Hiring Procedures for the New Year

Animal care is a high priority for farmers - make sure you hire people who share your values.

The end of 2017 saw an uptick in the release of “undercover videos” from activist groups who paid individuals to gain employment on farms. These highly edited images are distributed to the media or posted online to influence public opinion and fundraise. In most cases, the activist videographer has left employment weeks or months before the videos are released, without having notified the farm owners or managers of any animal care concerns. These videos do not accurately reflect the animal care practices of today's farms.

Protecting the safety of our livestock and the reputation of our industry are top priorities in animal agriculture, and making sure we are hiring the right people is critical.

As you plan for the rest of 2018, review your hiring procedures to ensure you are being vigilant. Keep the following tips from the Animal Agriculture Alliance in mind.

  • Always check references. Farm work is frequently seasonal and hiring needs to move quickly, but do not skip or rush this critical step. Call references to verify both an employee’s identity and their previous experience. Make sure the person you are calling is who they say they are – ask for an official company email address if possible, and call a main phone number and ask to be transferred vs. calling a cell phone.
  • Make sure they pass the Google test. Try to find your candidate on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) and make sure you don’t find anything troubling (posting animal rights content, following activist organizations). Search for their name online along with phrases like “animal rights” and “factory farms.”
  • Keep an eye out for red flags. Do their answers during the interview seem overly rehearsed? Do they use odd or overly formal terminology? Is their level of education a big mismatch for the position they want? If anything seems off, ask more questions about it.

Editor’s Note: Hannah Thompson-Weeman is Communications Director at the Animal Agriculture Alliance. The opinions in this commentary are expressly those of the author. For more insights into activist activity and farm security, visit or contact us at [email protected]. For additional hiring and farm security resources, contact [email protected] or visit