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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Animal Care #4

Livestock production has changed significantly over time. No one has greater concern for the care and welfare of farm animals than the farmers who raise them. 

We urge members to respond knowledgeably to misleading information on animal care. We urge members to understand the difference between organizations supporting sound science and animal care versus those promoting animal rights and attempting to eliminate or greatly restrict livestock production. Members should continue to tell the success story of modern animal agriculture wherever the opportunity is available. Numerous laws exist to safeguard the proper care of livestock and, if properly enforced, provide the protection livestock requires. 

Michigan’s livestock and dairy industry is integral to our agricultural economy and needs access to private property rights and privacy laws. Laws appearing to limit free speech or give the perception that agriculture has something to hide may not be the appropriate way to address certain issues impacting the industry. We strongly support transparency by all involved. 

People who witness animal care practices not in compliance with the Care of Farm Animals Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs), should report those findings in a timely manner to the appropriate authorities so proper action may be taken. People who hold and release videos in a manner for personal benefit or to promote a group and their cause should be swiftly prosecuted and appropriately fined and sentenced. 

We support: 

  • An animal health and care board to be convened to coordinate activities to enhance and protect the state's livestock industry. The board should be comprised of farmers and industry representatives as voting members; who are nominated by officially recognized livestock and agriculture industry commodity groups; and then appointed by the Governor. Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and Michigan State University (MSU) officials should serve in an advisory capacity. The establishment of this board should include a state budget appropriation. This new board process should be concluded by December 31, 2025. 

  • Strong penalties for those persons criminally convicted of animal cruelty or abuse. 

  • The rights of individual commodity groups to develop their own production standards. 

  • The involvement of livestock industry in the development of animal care guidelines if required by food industry officials to market products. 

  • Participation by livestock and dairy producers in industry-developed, species-specific animal welfare programs. 

  • Coordination with animal industry and related groups on animal care and housing related issues. 

  • Farmers educating and having guidelines for employees on proper animal care and monitoring their employees. 

  • Legislation or rules protecting the rights of farmers/owners to allow the continued utilization of modern livestock production practices, including current euthanization methods. 

  • 4-H and youth livestock exhibitor education. 

  • Michigan Farm Bureau working with MSU and MDARD to provide proper education to law enforcement, county officials and animal control officers about laws to regulate animal care and livestock production practices in Michigan. 

  • MFB and county Farm Bureaus being proactive in educating and training the state and local animal control authorities, local humane societies, local law enforcement, and news media about current animal care and production practices, to build a partnership between Farm Bureau and local animal care organizations. 

  • County Farm Bureaus consider cancelling the membership of an individual criminally convicted of animal cruelty or abuse. 

  • Land grant colleges and USDA continuing to research and develop programs which will realistically and economically enable farmers to continue to enhance the care and management of livestock. 

  • Legislation making it a felony to destroy or release animals lawfully confined for science, research and production, and strong punishment and required restitution for losses or damages.

  • MDARD taking the lead role in the development of Michigan Animal Health Emergency Management guidelines. 

  • Amendments to the Dog Law to more clearly define a “farm dog.” The utilization of dogs on farm operations is a normal part of an agricultural enterprise. 

  • A sensible approach to the substantiation of animal cruelty or abuse accusations including: 

    • Requiring animal control officers receive training on appropriate animal care and normal agricultural practices as it relates to livestock and farm animals. 

    • The Animal Industry Division (AID) of MDARD (specifically the State Veterinarian) as the authority relating to farm animals, livestock, and relative care, not local animal control.

    • Governing municipalities be held financially and civilly liable for inaccurate and unjustified actions of those officers and departments. 

    • Requiring reported abuse cases to follow uniform administrative procedures to confirm cruelty or abuse before any legal action is taken. 

    • Contacting the local law enforcement agency or animal control authority. 

    • Local law enforcement agencies obtaining the opinion of two unbiased local livestock professionals and a large animal veterinarian. 

    • Costs associated with the resulting investigation be paid for by the accuser if no abuse is found. 

    • Cruelty or abuse cases of farm livestock be handled through MDARD. 

We oppose: 

  • The concept of animal rights and the expenditure of public funds to promote the concept of animal rights. 

  • Any attempt to grant legal standing to any animals. 

  • Regulatory and legislative actions restricting the farmer's/owner’s ability to produce at an economically feasible level. 

  • The utilization of ballot initiatives to control modern livestock production and management practices.

We support Michigan Care of Farm Animals GAAMPs through the following:

  • Utilization of the Michigan Care of Farm Animals GAAMPs as the standard for animal welfare. 

  • Producer representation on the Michigan Care of Farm Animals GAAMPs Committee. 

  • Proper animal care and encourage livestock farmers to be in compliance with the Right to Farm Act and GAAMPs. 

  • Mandatory education for convicted cruelty offenders to help them understand proper animal care including the Care of Farm Animals GAAMPs.

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