Last week an animal welfare meeting was held by the California State Board of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento.
Dave Daley, PhD, professor at Chico State University and California Cattlemen’s Association member spoke at the meeting that included reps from animal industry groups as well as animal welfare groups. Daley says that the food-animal industries of California made an impressive showing at this meeting.
“It was critical that we were there for the State Board to recognize the scope and importance of animal agriculture,” says Daley. “Our state veterinarian (Dr. Annette Whiteford) did a great job showing how large animal agriculture is in this state. We are the #1 dairy state, #6 in beef cattle, #2 in sheep and top-10 in poultry. Agriculture in California is so diverse and large that people tend to forget the size of animal agriculture because they get so focused on crops like avocadoes, almonds, walnuts, etc.”
Daley notes that there are roughly 50 commodities California supplies to the nation and worldwide, but “…sometimes people forget about animals in the #1 agricultural state with over $33 billion in sales.”
Daley believes the meeting might have been better if there had more representation from animal activists groups. “I only say that because to a certain extent, we were preaching to the choir telling each other what a good job we do. We need to create a more open dialogue with those who disagree. We at least need to engage them in discussion. With that said, I was very proud of animal agriculture for their being willing to show up en force.”
Originally, the program for this meeting seemed to favor the animal activist groups, so the food-animal groups took the initiative to talk to the organizers to make sure the agenda represented all sides. Daley e-mailed the meeting chairmen to express concerns, and as a result of several contacts, the agenda was modified to more accurately include current practices by each commodity group.
“Be there and be prepared,” Daley says. “If it is a public meeting, at very least there is usually a public comment period at the end where everyone gets a fair shot. At our meeting, each member of the public was given three minutes. If you weren’t on the agenda and have a point to make, use that time wisely. Be prepared, articulate and make sure you aren’t saying the same thing that five other speakers have offered.”