ANIMAL WELFARE: A Priority for Farmers, Ranchers and the American Food Supply

By: Randy Krotz, CEO of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance

“Animal welfare is fundamental to the work we do as farmers and ranchers. It’s an ethical responsibility – for the animal and the safety of our food supply.”

Without question, the videos, images and first-hand accounts of the mistreatment of animals being raised for food are incredibly painful to watch, and they are extremely infuriating. I’ve worked with animals all my life on our family farm, and like so many farmers and ranchers, I experience a range of emotions when I see this type of abuse — anger, sadness and frustration. While these pictures and videos are the rare exception and not the norm, put simply: the bad actors who do not follow the standards of care set by experts in animal science don’t belong in agriculture. We have zero-tolerance for this behavior.

As CEO of an alliance representing more than 90 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, I can tell you this perspective is shared by farmers and ranchers nationwide.

I work with people who have dedicated their lives to the care and well-being of animals, so nothing is more upsetting than seeing them mistreated. For farmers and ranchers, taking care of animals being raised for food is personal because we are responsible for their care 24/7, 365 days a year.

My interactions with farmers, ranchers and consumers reinforce the fact that there is a lot of emotion tied to the care and well-being of animals being raised for food — as there should be. But, we cannot let our emotions get in the way of dialogue and understanding.

A real conversation about animal welfare must include consumers, NGOs, food retailers, veterinarians, and farmers and ranchers. When it comes to how animals are raised for food, we must work together and ask questions, instead of casting judgment.

We all have distinct points of view on these topics and yet, we have one shared interest — making sure animals raised for food receive proper care.

Randy Krotz is the fourth generation on his family’s farm and is the CEO of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance®.

*This article appeared in USA Today on March 23 in a special hard-copy insert focused on animal welfare, distributed to the New York; DC/Baltimore; Houston; Boston; and Los Angeles markets.