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Societal concern about the welfare of livestock has recently driven government and private sector policy regarding animal agriculture practices, with the focus being on changes in systems of production, particularly housing methods. Largely absent from this discussion is consideration of the role of, and the impact on, the people who have primary responsibility for the care of these animals - the agriculture worker. Complex issues that link Animal Welfare and Worker Health require a broad perspective, an inquisitive mind, and a commitment to collaboration.
On January 17, 2013, seventy-nine participants from 5 states representing different disciplines, sectors and interests gathered at the St Paul Humanities Center to explore the policy issues surrounding Animal Welfare and Worker Health. The dialogue was hosted by the Center for Integrative Leadership, the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, the Global Initiative for Food Systems Leadership, and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center.
Panelists representing animal production, human occupational health, and animal welfare started the conversation by providing three perspectives on the issues. The rest of the day was spent in facilitated small group conversations exploring opportunities for improving both the well-being of food animals and the health and safety of the workers who care for them.
The small group format provided the participants the opportunity to strengthen their appreciation and respect for differing perspectives. A few of the big ideas to emerge from the small group activities include:
A participant survey following the forum revealed that
Executive Director, Global Initiative for Food System Leadership
Executive Director, Center for Integrative Leadership
Bruce H. Alexander
Director, Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center
Jeff B. Bender
Co-Director, Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center
Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine
Pomeroy Endowed Chair in Avian Health