Negative images about animal care practices are a bane of the contemporary livestock industry. Undercover videos, out-of-context images, and outright manipulation of visuals are tools of anti-animal agriculture activists worldwide.
That makes it all the more important that farmers respond with their own accurate, positive images that depict the high-quality care their animals receive. Thanks to social media platforms as well as the many publications offered by cooperatives and within the dairy community, there are no shortages of places where positive images of the industry can be shown.
The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program has a lot of experience dealing with issues that arise when negative images are what’s portrayed to the world. Here are a few tips on how positive portrayals can be conveyed.
FARM Animal Care Standards are a great place for anyone looking for what messages to share about dairy. FARM not only provides farmers with a science-based framework to support them in providing their cows with the best care, but it gives people telling dairy’s story some good things to highlight and take into consideration:
• Body condition score: Cows in photos should have a good body condition (a score of 2 or above on the FARM body condition score).
• Tails: Check the cow’s tails before choosing a picture. They should always have one, and it should be unbroken.
• Clean cows: Proper facility cleanliness keeps animals dry, clean, and provides them with a comfortable environment. It also provides plenty of choices when picking clean cows for pictures.
• Facilities: Well-maintained facilities that allow workers to effectively care for animals show the attention to detail and high standards that put the industry in its best light.
The reality of dairy farming versus the caricature shown by its opponents couldn’t be more different – and discussions of our industry could definitely use realistic portrayals. If you have any great photos of dairies, cows, or farmers that you’re willing to have used in marketing materials, please feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org to help build our library.