Tyson foods is in the process of developing an audit system for its beef suppliers this year, with a plan to launch the beef version of its “FarmCheck” program in 2014. The program will involve audits of beef operations along the supply chain, focusing largely on animal welfare.

Tyson expanding FarmCheck program to beefDuring last week’s Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit, Charles Penry, Tyson’s VP for government relations said the program improves supply chain accountability with goals of alleviating consumer  concerns and rewarding producers for doing things right.

The company launched the Farm Check program with its pork suppliers in 2012 after studying perceptions, priorities, concerns and expectations of retailers, consumers and producers. Interestingly, Tyson’s survey work indicated its retail customers are more concerned about animal welfare issues than consumers, and that producers are more concerned about proper treatment of animals than either group. However, about 75 percent of consumers are at least somewhat concerned about how meat is produced, including use of antibiotics and hormones, animal welfare and sustainability.

Penry said the Farm Check program operates under four guiding principles:

  1. Care enough to check on farms in person.
  2. Be humble enough to seek expert advice.
  3. Be curious enough to find better ways.
  4. Be committed enough to give it our full attention.

Tyson also is assembling an external, Animal Well-Being Advisory Committee and plans to announce the committee’s members soon. The committee will include people with expertise in farm animal behavior, health, production and ethics, and will help the company determine research priorities and ways to improve the FarmCheck Program.