Iowa coalition to check out animal welfare complaints

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have formed a group to check out complaints of animal cruelty. The Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition will field complaints from the public about animal care. Coalition Executive Director Denny Harding says that if he gets a call concerning a problem, he’ll contact the producer in question.

“If everything’s fine, no problem, but if he’d be open to having a visit by an expert team from Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine and help him make some decisions on what he needs to do to help with his livestock production,” Harding told Brownfield Ag News Thursday.

The experts, which make up the On-Farm Evaluation Team, can, with permission of the farmer, perform on-site evaluations to ensure that the animal care is appropriate, said Harding.

“It is a voluntary program,” Harding pointed out. “If the farmer says, ‘I really don’t want anybody coming here to see what I’m doing,’ then that’s the end of it right there.”

Animal welfare activist organization the Humane Society of the United States has successfully pushed for phasing out sow gestation crates, which it considers to be inhumane housing. But Harding says the Iowa Animal Care Coalition doesn’t make a judgment call on what it still considers to be a standard animal practice. The coalition will make a determination based on the condition of the animals.

“If there’s an issue on a farm and it’s a big enough of a concern regarding marginal care or whatever, if the individual has gestation stalls or if he doesn’t have gestation stalls, they’re looking at how are the animals doing,” said Harding. “What’s the reason for the call to begin with?”

More information is at iowafarmanimalcare.org.  Animal care complaints can be called in to (800) 252-6577.

AUDIO: Denny Harding (8 min. MP3)

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