Ag group advises caution with employee hiring, animal rights groups

Jonathan Knutson
Forum News Service

An animal agriculture group wants livestock producers to better protect themselves about questionable employees and animal rights activist organizations.

The warning follows a viral video released by an animal rights activist group about Fair Oaks farms that showed employees abusing animals. Some reports say the undercover activist encouraged the abuse before filming, and all four employees in the video have been fired.

“While the first step to take is always ensuring that your animal care practices are beyond reproach, the Animal Agriculture Alliance also advises farmers and ranchers to be very vigilant in their hiring processes to ensure that everyone hired is there for the right reason,” the organization says.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance describes itself as “an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork.” The group also says it monitors animal rights activists and offers these tips regarding hiring:

• Thoroughly screen applicants, verify information and check all references. Be wary of individuals with a college ID, using out-of-state license plates or looking for short-term work.

• During the interview, look for answers that seem overly rehearsed or include incorrect use of farm terminology.

• Check out applicants online.

• Require all employees to sign your animal care policy. Provide training and updates on proper animal handling training. Also require employees to report any mishandling to management immediately.

• Watch out for red flags, such as coming to work unusually early or staying late and going into areas of the farm not required for their job.

The organization says ag producers can find farm security resources and background information on animal rights activist organizations at or contact the Alliance at or 703-562-5160.

A cow belonging to Ross Genoch, of rural Menahga, Minn., crosses a shallow stream.