The vice president of animal well-being for Tyson Foods, Dean Danilson, says farm animal welfare issues will continue to be “a driver for change” in the industry.
“More consumers are becoming aware of animal welfare issues, which are increasingly becoming factors in their purchasing decisions,” Danilson says, “and consumers want to know more about how food is produced—but they aren’t sure where to go for accurate information.”
But Danilson says, at the same time, studies have shown that consumers aren’t interested in hearing science-based arguments.
“Consumers are overwhelmed with studies and facts—they don’t know what to believe,” he says. “In our industry, we use scientific- and experience-based language, (but) it doesn’t resonate with consumers—with the moms in New York City.
“The food industry says ‘here’s the reality of pig farming’—the consumer hears ‘you’re speaking down to me and ignoring my very real concerns’.”
So, Danilson says, the industry must continually ask itself, “Is there a better way to do things?”
“Is what we do today the best and the right thing for sustained animal agriculture—and for the welfare of the animal? Is what was good yesterday mean that it is good for today or good for tomorrow? And we must always ask ourselves, individually and professionally–is there a better way?”
Danilson spoke at the Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit in Ames.