Independent On-Farm Assessments Key to Maintaining Consumer Trust in Agricultural Practices

by 5m Editor
13 February 2007, at 11:42am

CANADA - The CEO of Validus is convinced independent third party assessments of on farm production practices are the most effective method for reassuring consumers that agricultural practices are socially responsible, writes Bruce Cochrane.


Several studies have shown that, while the majority of consumers readily admit they know very little about agriculture, they want assurances that the food they purchase has been produced in a socially responsible manner.

Earl Dotson, the CEO of Validus, a Des Moines based company that offers on farm assessments and audits for the production, processing and retail industries, notes consumers want proof that their food is produced in a manner that's safe, that the animals are well treated and that the environment is properly cared for.

Earl Dotson-Validus

From my company's perspective we think the way that this is done is through an assessment and audit process on the farm that's done third party.

I think the retailer could set those standards but I think the retailer would much prefer that associations that represent those producers or the growers, what ever it happens to be sets the standards with a scientific committee that'll back those standards up.

Then once those standards are set the retailer will then hire auditors like our company or assessors to audit or assess to those standards.

It's been proven that consumers trust this type of situation.

They've said they trust this situation in a number of studies.

Then I think for producers, they've got to look at how we continually improve and an assessment and audit process will allow them to do that.

This is not to put producers out of business.

This is to make producers better, to show them how to improve.

So you go in, you do an assessment, you work with them on these are the things they need to improve and then you come back and audit against that assessment.

Dotson predicts an increased focus over the next two to three years on how producers operate their farms and a demand for more information on how they care for their animals, their land and their workers while producing a safe product.

He expects third party certification to be called upon to verify and certify the products produced on these farms.

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5m Editor