Friday, May 03, 2013

Outlawing Animal Abuse Videos Could Lose Consumer Trust

AgFax.Com - Your Online Ag News Source


“Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.” With that adline, Subaru was able to leapfrog over 11 other car makers to increase their share of the US auto market over the last three years. The creators of that ad understand that consumer emotion and perception is critical to the success of a commercial product.

The importance of consumer perception was recently highlighted in a story that NPR did on the buying habits of middle class Chinese families. In that story on All Things Considered, Marianne McCune reported that some families in China were asking relatives in the West to purchase baby formula and ship it to them even though the transportation costs were high.

As McCune explains, “The reason goes back to 2008. Baby formula in Chinese stores was contaminated with a chemical thickener called melamine. Six babies reportedly died and several hundred thousand got sick.” Even though the same product made by the same company is available in China and “Western baby formula companies…say they hold their factories in China to the same standards as everywhere else…. there are enough people…who distrust anything even packaged inside China to cause” this phenomenon.

“What [are] people…buying when they turn to Hong Kong or the U.S. for a container of baby food? They’re buying a set of regulations and standards they trust. And this growing class of Chinese with a little extra money in their pockets, they’re not likely to stop until the Chinese government convinces them to trust it, too,” McCune concludes.

That leads us to ask what happens to the trust that US farmers have built up with consumers when state legislators around the country introduce bills that make it illegal for whistleblowers to make videos that document animal abuse or force the whistleblowers to turn such videos over to law enforcement before they can establish a pattern of abuse? Some legislative proposals go so far as to label the videographers as terrorists.

There is no doubt that some of the videos have cost some firms a lot of money and a number of individuals jail time. The horrific videos have ranged from downer cattle being put back on their feet with forklifts (the inability to stand and walk is one of the characteristics of BSE in cattle) to the burning of the ankles of horses in Tennessee (the injury causes the horses to lift their legs in a way similar to the gait of Tennessee Walking Horses) to the punching and kicking of piglets in Wyoming. It is clear that the public finds such abuse morally unacceptable.

The question is not whether instances of abuse take place—no matter how rare they might be—but how consumers perceive of the way abuse problems are handled. Local officials, left alone to deal with abuse, often do what it takes to stop it. But proponents of allowing videos claim that local officials may be unaware of abuse or in some instances be less than diligent in their enforcement of anti-abuse statutes. Ag-gag legislation runs the risk of being perceived as protecting the abusers and thereby endangering the trust and good will that society feels toward farmers.

An alternative to making videos illegal is the one adopted by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) with its Food Dialogues. As they write, “Farmers and ranchers are committed to the safest and most appropriate care for their animals. They care deeply about the health and safety of their animals and take pride in them. They also know that consumers are concerned about animal care.”

They acknowledge that “the system is not perfect. Unfortunately, there are on occasion a few incompetent or uncaring people such as those seen in occasional undercover videos who abuse animals. Anyone who abuses animals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law” and declare that the abusers’ “practices do not represent the vast majority of farmers and ranchers.”

USFRA says, “While opinions regarding management techniques for animal safety and health greatly differ, it’s important that all farmers and ranchers work together with consumers to get a clearer understanding of why specific management styles work for one type of farm/ranch compared to another.”

We believe that it is also important for farmers and ranchers to get a clearer understanding of the changing expectations that consumers have for the food they eat.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply

Name and Email Address are required fields. Your email will not be published or shared with third parties.

Sunbelt Ag News

    DTN Livestock Midday: Feeder Cattle Futures Push Higher11-28

    DTN Grain Midday: Wheat Jumps 10 to 14 Higher11-28

    DTN Cotton Open: Futures Begin Slightly Higher11-28

    Crop Tech: Corn Used to Produce Hepatitis Vaccine — DTN11-28

    Soybeans: Prices Likely to Return to Seasonal Patterns — DTN11-28

    U.S. Grain Transportation: Inspections Continue to Increase11-28

    DTN Livestock Open: Higher Start for Cattle Futures11-28

    Keith Good: Corn, Soybean Prices Up Slightly in November — USDA11-28

    AFB Grain-Soybean Close: Corn, Wheat Higher, Soybeans See Modest Losses11-26

    AFB Cotton Close: Prices Surge Higher11-26

    AFB Rice Close: Jan, March Chart Bullish Key Reversals11-26

    Energy: N. American Oil Companies See Improved Financial Results in 3rd Quarter11-26

    Residential Heating Oil Prices Lower11-26

    Propane Stocks Fall 2M Barrels11-26

    Gasoline Prices Drop 7 Cents11-26

    Diesel Prices Fall 3 Cents11-26

    Texas: Hopkins County Designated Natural Disaster Area11-26

    Kansas: 4 Counties Declared Natural Disaster Areas11-26

    Alabama: 4 Counties Designated as Primary Disaster Areas11-26

    Texas Pecans: Demand Good but Quality Variable11-26

    Louisiana Pecans: Light Deliveries, Good Buying Interest11-26

    Georgia Pecans: Prices Slightly Higher with Strong Trade11-26

    DTN Grain Midday: Soybeans Slip 5 to 10 Lower11-26

    Farmers Share What They’re Thankful For — DTN11-26

    GMO Crops Have Facts on Their Side, but Debate Goes on — DTN11-26

    Wheat: Make One Last Scouting Trip This Fall — DTN11-26

    Farm Income Down 21%; Expenses Up 5.7% – USDA Forecast11-26

    DTN Livestock Close: Feeder Futures Knocked Hard for 2nd Session11-25

    Livestock: 6 Tips to Fight PEDv This Fall11-25

    Doane Cotton Close: Outside Strength Helps Prices Rebound11-25

    AgFax Cotton Review: New Stink Bug App; India Exports Drop11-25

    DTN Cotton Close: Higher on Light Volume11-25

    Tax Breaks: Waiting for 2014 Equipment Deduction, Biofuel – DTN11-25

    DTN Grain Close: Bean Complex Rallies, Grains Follow11-25

    USDA: Weekly National Peanut Prices11-25

    Georgia: 10 Farm Bill Meetings Scheduled for Mid Dec.11-25

    AgFax Rice Review: Iraq Resumes U.S. Purchases; Cambodia Wins Best Rice Award11-25

    Winter Weather Creates More Problems for Railroads — DTN11-25

    Future of Cellulosic Biofuels in U.S. Questioned — DTN11-25

    AgFax Peanut Review: Growers Urged to Plant Earlier; Texoma Sells Drying Facility11-25

    Shurley on Cotton: New Round of Weakness Sets In11-25

    Welch on Wheat: Crop Condition Down Slightly11-24

    Welch on Grain: Snow Keeps 770M Bushels of Corn in Field11-24

    Farmland Partners Buys 7 South Carolina Farms for $28M11-24

    Livestock: Hog and Pork Prices Return to Reality11-24

    Corn: Breaking Down Stalks Takes Thought, Planning — DTN11-24

    DTN Fertilizer Outlook: Winter’s Arrival May Delay Some Buying11-24

    Brazil Soybeans: Dry Conditions Still Cause for Concern11-24

    Flint on Crops: Low Input Farming May be Necessary in 201511-24

    Midwest Corn And Soybean Yields – Our Readers’ Reports – AgFax11-22

    Grain Drying: 6 Questions About Effects Of Sudden Drop In Temps11-21

    Sunbelt Ag Events

     

    About Us

    AgFax.Com covers agricultural trends and production topics, with an emphasis on news about cotton, rice, peanuts, corn, soybeans, wheat and tree crops, including almonds, pecans, walnuts and pistachios.

      

    This site also serves as the on-line presence of electronic crop and pest reports published by AgFax Media LLC (formerly Looking South Communications).

        

    Click here to subscribe to our free reports.

      

    We provide early warnings and confirmations about pests, diseases and other factors that influence yield. Our goal is to quickly provide farmers and crop advisors with information needed to make better and more profitable decisions.

         

    Our free weekly crop and pest advisories include:

    • AgFax Midsouth Cotton, covering cotton production and news in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri.

    • AgFax Southeast Cotton, covering cotton production and news in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

    • AgFax Southwest Cotton (new for 2013!), covering cotton production and news in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico.

    • AgFax West (formerly MiteFax: SJV Cotton), covering California cotton, alfalfa, tomatoes and other non-permanent crops in California's Central Valley.

    • AgFax Rice covering rice production and news in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.

    • AgFax Peanuts, covering peanut production in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

    • AgFax Southern Grain: covering soybeans, corn, milo and small grains in Southern states.

    • AgFax Almonds, covering almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other tree crops in California's Central Valley.

    • AgCom 101, providing guidance to ag professionals involved in social media.

    Our newsletters are sponsored by the following companies: FMC Corporation Chemtura Dow AgroSciences.

          

    Mission statement:

    Make it as easy as possible for our community of readers to find and/or receive needed information.

              

    Contact Information:

    AgFax Media. LLC

    142 Westlake Drive Brandon, MS 39047

    601-992-9488 Office 601-992-3503 Fax

    Owen Taylor Debra L. Ferguson Laurie Courtney

          

    Circulation Questions?

    Contact Laurie Courtney