Producer-Customer Connection Important to Retain Trust

CANADA - A professor of agriculture with Newcastle University is encouraging the Canadian pork industry to maintain frank and open dialogue with consumers to avoid the type of mistrust of agriculture that's developed in Europe, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 16 February 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

Although both farmers and consumers fundamentally want good animal welfare not everyone agrees on what good animal welfare means.

Dr Sandra Edwards, a professor of agriculture with Newcastle University, says the public has always been interested in animal welfare but what's changed is that these days fewer and fewer of the public have a close connection with farming.

Dr Sandra Edwards-Newcastle University:

That means that their perception of animal welfare is perhaps less well informed than it may have been previously.

We now have a situation where high profile examples of poor practice are out there in the public domain and the public don't necessarily have the balancing view on how common or unusual that poor practice is.

That means that they can get a very poor perception of the industry which is not necessarily a very balanced one and that is something we as an industry have to guard against.

In Canada we do still have a situation where there is a great deal of trust between the general public and the agriculture industry.

That's something which perhaps in Europe we neglected and we lost.

I hope in Canada that mistake won't be made.

I think by engaging in dialogue and by showing good faith the industry should be able to retain that trust and that's good for all concerned.

Dr Edwards notes scientists have summarized good animal welfare into four categories, good feeding, good housing, good health and appropriate behavior.

She suggests if scientists can demonstrate, from the pig's point of view, what good animal welfare is, it will be possible for people on both sides of the debate to reach a consensus.

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