The Washington Post recently noted that the USDA’s reporting of activity and enforcement from its animal welfare division has changed dramatically. Whereas the agency initiated 239 animal welfare malpractice cases in 2016 and 205 cases in 2017, it has only opened 15 so far in 2018. Likewise, warnings about mistreatment concerns issued by the agency dropped from 157 in 2017 to a mere 39 this year. The official answer for the alarming decrease in reported action is that it is “…the result of a suspension of hearings due to litigation, as well as a revamped enforcement process that emphasizes working more closely with alleged violators rather than a protracted investigative process that numerous internal audits have faulted for ineffectiveness,” according to the Washington Post.
What does this mean for animal welfare, for businesses and for the consumers watching them?
It means that:
1. Action taken to enforce animal welfare is now more difficult to discern, potentially leading to blurred lines for consumers between companies practicing various degrees of animal welfare – or lack thereof.
2. Clarity and transparency in both stance and practice are more important than ever for your animal-loving business.
If your business takes an honorable stance against the mistreatment of animals, whether it’s poor living conditions, experimentation or a bevvy of other abuses, it’s time to make that message transparent, specific and get it in front of the right audience. Your business should also demand that same level of care and clarity from your vendors. Ultimately, the consumer interacts with you, so you’re the one they will “put on the stand” if they discover concerning practices in your supply chain. Set an example and urge them to phase out any harmful practices that could be detrimental to animal life and sully your brand. If they won’t, it may be time to sever ties and improve your sources.
A specialized, animal welfare public relations agency, like Orange Orchard, may be able to help. Through official announcements regarding your efforts and achievements, update reports on your animal welfare track record and a branding push that positions you as a purveyor of animal welfare on social media and in your target media outlets, partnering with the right public relations agency can make your company truly stand out from the herd.
To find out more about how your animal welfare efforts can be clearly recognized by partnering with a specialized public relations agency, please contact Orange Orchard today.