“Undercover” Videos Are Not Going Away: Hire Carefully

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By Hannah Thompson-Weeman

Farmers (and really all companies in animal agriculture) that hire outside employees depend on those individuals to focus on providing high quality care to their livestock. Unfortunately, animal rights activist groups are constantly trying to get hired on farms with completely different intentions. Agritourism giant Fair Oaks Farms was targeted by “undercover” activists earlier this year, which should serve as a reminder to everyone to review your hiring process and make sure you are being very selective about who is able to come onto your farm and handle your livestock. 

A few activist groups in particular are well-known for trying to get hired on farms, including Mercy for Animals and Animal Recovery Mission. Mercy for Animals is constantly recruiting for “undercover investigators” on public hiring sites like Indeed.com. Right now, they have a position posted in Arizona, but they post jobs in different cities every few weeks. Animal Recovery Mission, an “investigative animal welfare organization,” is based in Florida but has been active nationwide attempting to spread misinformation about animal care on farms.

To avoid being the next activist target, the Alliance offers the following tips:

•    It is vital to thoroughly screen applicants, verify information and check all references.
•    Be cautious of individuals who try to use a college ID, have out-of-state license plates or are looking for short-term work.

•    During the interview, look for answers that seem overly rehearsed or include incorrect use of farm terminology.

•    Search for all applicants online to see if they have public social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) or websites/blogs. Look for any questionable content or connections to activist organizations. 

•    Require all employees to sign your animal care policy. Provide proper animal handling training and updates. Require employees to report any mishandling to management immediately. 

•    Coming to work unusually early or staying late and going into areas of the farm not required for their job are red flags to watch out for. 

•    Be vigilant! If something does not seem right, explore it further. 

•    As always, it is important to work with local legal counsel to ensure compliance with federal and state laws for your hiring process.

In several instances, major activist campaigns have been conducted by individuals who use their real names to get hired and are publicly connected to the animal rights movement. Doing your homework on every job applicant may be time-consuming, but it can ultimately save your business’ reputation. More farm security resources and background information on animal rights activist organizations are available at www.AnimalAgAlliance.org. 

More from Farm Journal’s PORK:
Animal Rights Activists: Watch for the Signs

Federal Court Declares Iowa’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Unconstitutional