Stakeholders Summit Reveals Developments in Laying Hen Welfare
Also Emphasizes Dairy Cow Welfare and Raises Concerns About On-Farm Welfare Audits
March 23, 2005 - On March 22, the Animal Agriculture Alliance opened the sessions of its Fourth Annual Stakeholders Summit at the Marriott Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Over 125 high level representatives of American animal agriculture met to share ideas and learn from the program themed, ''Animal Welfare Initiatives, Needs, Regulation and Communication: Building on the Past, Preparing for the Future.''
Gene Gregory, Senior Vice President for the United Egg Producers, started the meeting with a bang, revealing his belief that within the next few months the association's Animal Care Certified program will require non-feed withdrawal molts for laying hens. ''This recommendation, like all others, will be made because science supports it,'' Gregory stated. Gregory further revealed that this conclusion was possible only because the UEP funded multiple research trials and that an independent Scientific Advisory Committee, headed by Jeff Armstrong, PhD, Dean of Agriculture at Michigan State University, thoroughly reviewed the research results.
That same morning, Karen Jordan, DVM, owner of Karen Jordan Large Animal Veterinary Services, emphasized that research on animal movements is improving animal welfare at dairies. She outlined the Caring for Dairy Animals Evaluation Guide developed by the National Milk Producers Federation and stressed the important role that ventilation systems, barn design, stall surfaces, well-designed diet programs, vaccination programs and health screenings play in the program.
Later that first day, the Director of Tyson Foods' Office of Animal Well-Being, Kellye Pfalzgraf, DVM, addressed packers' concerns about proposed on-farm animal welfare audits. He noted that livestock farmers are independent producers and any attempt by packers to force welfare audits on them could have impacts ranging from causing the farmer financial distress to creating a monopolistic situation to interruption of the food supply. He voiced concern over issues like auditor training, proper and equitable enforcement, financial impacts and the increased need for product segregation and tracking throughout the food chain.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, is a broad-based coalition of individual producers, producer organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, private industry and retailers. The Alliance's mission is to communicate the important role of animal agriculture to our nation's economy, productivity, vitality, security and that animal well-being is central to producing safe, high-quality, affordable food and other products essential to our daily lives.
Note to all press: For more information on, photos of, or proceedings from the Stakeholders Summit, please contact Philip Lobo at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (703) 562-5160.