Iowa is a powerhouse when it comes to agriculture contributing more than $112 billion to Iowa’s economy and employing 1 out of 5 Iowans. Yet a majority of Iowans are two to three generations removed from the farm, so they have many questions about how their food is grown or raised. This is especially true when it comes to the way farmers take care of their animals.
That’s understandable. Consumers expect farmers to treat their animals well and follow appropriate standards of care that ensure animal well-being. But, what are those standards of care?
The Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition (IFAC) was started by farmers for farmers and other Iowans who have questions about farm animal care. It provides Iowans access to animal care experts who know what they are talking about when it comes to farm animal care and can even help farmers find additional information on the latest in farm animal care resources.
IFAC is the first-of-its-kind network in Iowa, bringing together experienced animal science experts and veterinarians from Iowa State University’s Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Iowa State Veterinarian office at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and farmers. These trained experts serve as members of the IFAC On-Farm Evaluation Team. A trained Executive Director is available to respond to questions regarding farm animal care or offer additional resources or referrals when necessary.
That every farm animal in Iowa receives responsible, humane animal care.
What will Iowa Farm Animal Care (IFAC) accomplish?
- Promote responsible, humane farm animal care.
- Engage Iowans in discussions about farm animal care.
- Provide voluntary, independent and professional on-farm evaluations of farm animal care practices.
- Increase awareness of how Iowa farmers care for their animals.
- Provide farmers with additional information and resources about the latest in farm animal care.
Why is IFAC needed?
IFAC was started because farmers felt it was important to offer a centralized resource where Iowans could get information or ask questions about appropriate standards of care that responsible Iowa livestock farmers follow. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about how farmers take care of their animals, so IFAC is designed to help clear up any confusion. Farmers understand that consumers have questions about farm animal care and they want to help provide answers. These farmers also want to be a part of the solution and if there is a problem with animal care, they want to help if they can.
Who created IFAC?
IFAC is a collaborative effort of farmers from the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Pork Producers in cooperation with Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. It’s modeled after the 17-year old Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) system designed to provide information and improved animal care in Alberta. More information on that program is available at www.afac.ab.ca.
Tim Kaldenberg, rancher from Albia, Iowa says, “It’s very important to me to have a quality product. I know the beef I raise is something my family is going to eat, my friends are going to eat, and consumers are going to eat.”
Matt and Minde Schuiteman, Sioux Center livestock farm family, makes sure proper care of their animals is a priority, not just for them, but for their children. "It's just as important to keep the hogs comfortable; a happy hog is a healthy hog and a healthy hog is one that’s in a comfortable environment. We believe in achieving success through business diversity and proper stewardship of the resources that have been entrusted to us."
|"IFAC demonstrates the farming community’s commitment to animal care by providing a communication portal for addressing concerns about animal care. In some cases, IFAC has the opportunity to educate and inform a member about customary farm animal husbandry practices. In others, IFAC can assist a farmer with improvements in husbandry when deficiencies in animal care occur,” said Dr. Suzanne Millman, PhD, Professor of Animal Welfare, Iowa State University and IFAC ON-Farm Evaluation Team member.
| “The Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition is a great resource for anyone with questions or concerns about what they see on a livestock farm. The coalition can share information about what is proper animal care and then send out a member of the on-farm evaluation team to investigate and learn more about the situation on a specific farm. We all want to make sure our livestock are being cared for in the right way and this is another great resource to help us achieve that goal,” said Dr. David Schmitt, State Veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Farm Animal Care Advisory Committee Member.
|“IFAC is a positive step forward, to reach out to consumers and farmers alike and provide needed education, support and a safety net to help where and when that is needed. We’re proud to be a part of a proactive solution that helps the animals and the farmers of Iowa,” said Tom Colvin, Executive Director, Animal Rescue League of Iowa and IFAC Advisory Committee member.