Millennials Expect Higher Animal Welfare Standards

John DavisAg Group, Agribusiness, Animal Welfare, Dairy

usfra-dairy-forum1More than ever before, millennials have higher expectations of animal welfare practices being carried out by today’s producers. This news release from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance says the group hosted a recent Food Dialogues panel, with this one focusing on on dairy operations, and the group attending in-person and online was told by Bruce Feinberg, global animal health and welfare officer with McDonald’s, that social media has allowed consumers to reach out and self-educate around agricultural issues, and companies must understand the relevance to consumers.

Elisabeth Leamy, 13-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, author and Dr. Oz consumer investigative correspondent moderated the panel, “Animal Care and Consumers’ Emerging Expectations,” which was the 26th installment of USFRA’s signature panel series.

A portion of the discussion focused on the responsibility that everyone across the food chain has when it comes to animal care. As Dr. Marcia Endres, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor of dairy science at the University of Minnesota explained, “When humans domesticated animals, they entered into a contract to provide food, water, shelter and protection – to provide them a good life.”

Robin R. Ganzert, Ph.D., president and CEO of the American Humane Association expanded on what a “good life” means and explained that humans’ contract with animals provides five essential freedoms: freedom from pain and suffering; freedom from fear; freedom from discomfort; freedom from hunger and thirst; and the ability for animals to express their natural behaviors.

“Now consumers simply demand that our contracts with animals must include humanely-raised,” said Dr. Ganzert. “It’s a core value so many of us share and now what I love to see is consumers moving together and actually becoming that voice for the animal. And what they are also looking for in humanely-raised is to make sure the humanely-raised definition of better treatment of animals is transparent.”

The group also addressed the issue of transparency and the use of undercover videos. Panelists stressed the importance of condemning the very small minority of producers who are depicted abusing their animals, and the time to communicate with the public comes well before something like that surfaces.

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) hosted the event during the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Dairy Forum 2015.