Robin Ganzert, CEO of the American Humane Association and Hans Hopster, Animal Welfare Theme Leader at Wageningen Universtiy & Research addressed the issue of animal welfare in the dairy industry.
Animal welfare has become increasingly complex, as modern intensive farming practices have grown. Animal welfare is therefore a process of continuous improvement and farmers are a vital part of the solution. According to Mrs. Ganzert, we need to champion positive action towards animal-centric standards, within a framework of realistic and attainable goals, using the ‘Five Freedoms of animal welfare’. Only this approach will enable long-term changes and a more transparent food supply with lasting cultural, environmental, moral, and economic advantages. “Consumers are asking for a third party audit, in order for them to trust the products.” Hans Hopster, Animal Welfare Theme Leader at Wageningen University & Research, gave a short reaction to this. He stressed that he sees the Five Freedoms as a starting point and introduced a top ten list of criteria. The results on how animal friendly a farm is should be based on reliable data. “Facts are fundamental for benchmarking.”
Reactions from the audience:
Robin Ganzert answers: “Humane agriculture applies to small and large farms alike. We need to feed the world and so we need large farms. As a matter of fact, I’m actually more concerned about how cows are treated on smaller farms.”
Ganzert’s answer: Yes, there are also certifications given to chickens and eggs. It is clearly visible on the product that it has been certified by us. Those products are available in every grocery store in the US.
Ganzert answers: “Often, when the industry is trying to make the story happen, it loses its authenticity. So we have to give farmers a platform to tell their story. As an industry you need to seek the aspirational goal of improving animal welfare on the farms.”
Hans Hopster: This is all about the trust. In Holland it won’t work, we want to base it on evidence and data.