Saturday 14 July 2012
Farmers and society
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, devastating diseases hit livestock and poultry farms in the Netherlands, and the Dutch people watched on the television news -- night after night after night -- the destruction of millions of animals as government and industry worked to get the diseases under control.
People were repulsed, and the relationship between consumers and farm production was changed forever, as Feedstuffs learned during a study trip across Holland last week.
People started to insist on knowing what was going on inside the barns, and animal welfare and sustainability became a "high and rising issue," said J.A. Hans de Haan, a senior staff member of ZLTO, the country's largest agricultural organization, during a presentation in Wageningen.
For years, farmers had resisted such openness, "but society suddenly changed, and farmers had to change with it," said Peter van Kemenade, director of the North American, Mexican and Italian business for TOPIGS, the second-largest swine genetics company in the world.
Farmers' kids were being confronted by their friends at school, and farmers themselves were being confronted by their neighbors and other people in town, Kemenade said in remarks at the company's offices in Helvoirt.
Consumers wanted to know "not what was being produced in the barns but how it was being produced," added Dr. Hanneke Feitsma, the company's research manager. "We were in a new society, and consumers decided that they had a right to ask those questions," she said...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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