The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) recommends that farms and allied businesses that handle live aquatic animals re-examine or adopt hiring, farm visitation, and farm security policies specific to insuring animal care. To explore any of the following topics further, contact your aquaculture extension specialist, aquatic animal veterinarian or aquatic animal health profession, or contact the NAA Office for additional information and the template documents identified below.
- Hiring Practices: Screen potential employees carefully. Keep an eye out for any indication of an individual seeking employment in order to advance the agenda of an animal rights group. Contact the NAA for Guidance to Avoid Hiring an Animal Activist and Draft Employee Acknowledgement Form.
- Aquatic Animal Welfare Policy: Develop or review a farm/company animal welfare policy to share with the public. Contact the NAA for Guidance for a Fish Welfare Policy or Guidance for a Shellfish Welfare Policy.
- Farm Visitation: Develop or review a policy for welcoming and managing visitors. Sharing the work that you do to nurture, grow and market healthy and wholesome farm-raised aquatic animals is a valuable means to educate your community and public decision-makers. Manage that visit for a positive outcome. Contact the NAA for Guidance for Managing Public Visitation.
- Biosecurity Plan: Implement or review a farm biosecurity plan. A biosecurity plan is typically focused on reducing risk of introducing disease or food safety hazards to the farm and farm products. However, clearly described and posted notices restricting visitor and employee access can prevent unauthorized or unsupervised entry. For assistance in developing a biosecurity plan, review the What You Need to Know About Biosecurity and How to Design Your Biosecurity Plan webinars on the NAA website at http://thenaa.net/webinars and talk to your veterinarian or aquatic animal health professional.
- Re-examine farming practices: Walk through the farm, possibly in the company of a trusted family member or friend who has not spent much time on farms, to re-examine and change practices that might appear harmful to someone unfamiliar with farming.
- Review your farm or association web site to make sure there is nothing (text or images) that might be construed as being harmful to animals. Meet with employees or contractors responsible for your website and electronic communication to advise them of a potential cyber-attack by anti-farming groups. Ask them if your website and email communications are sufficiently protected.
- Meet with employees to explain potential threats, review farm access and animal care policies, and provide instructions on who to contact, how to report suspicious, inappropriate activities and animal abuse and how to avoid an angry confrontation with activists focused upon creating negative images or comments. Discuss how social media can be used negatively. Contact the NAA for Guidance to Creating an Employee Animal Care Agreement.
- Prepare for protests: Animal rights activists protest at farms, businesses, wholesalers, retailers, meetings and conferences and will interfere with vehicular traffic that is transporting animals or animal products. Their goal is to trigger angry responses that do not reflect the moral or ethical standards of the farming community. Contact the NAA for the Animal Agriculture Alliance publications entitled, Vigilance is Key: Simple Steps to Strengthen Farm and Plant Security or meeting or conference suggestions contained in Preparing for Activist Protests.
- Speaking to the media and public: Presenting your farm and your dedication to farming and animal husbandry is an important activity. How you and your farm are presented visually to the public may be more important in this age of instant images than what you say or write. Contact the NAA for Guidance for Media and Public Interaction.
Please keep in mind this information is provided for informational purposes only. Seek individualized, professional legal advice prior to implementing hiring practices to ensure compliance with legal standards and contact local law enforcement if you anticipate protests. Learn your rights and protections under local, state or federal law.
The NAA has partnered with the Animal Agriculture Alliance (http://www.animalagalliance.