Cattlemen question Tyson’s FarmCheck program

Dean DonilsonMembers of the Freedom to Operate Committee learned some specifics about the FarmCheck Program developed by Tyson at their first meeting on Thursday. The FarmCheck program randomly audits operations that sell beef, chicken, or pork to Tyson.

“It is more than just sow crates and pigs,” Dean Donilson, Vice President of Tyson’s Office of Animal Well Being, said. “Animal welfare is very important to Tyson.”

FarmCheck has four components-animal well being, animal well being farm audits, animal well-being research, and an animal well-being advisory panel. Donilson said they would not be telling producers what type of barns to build but are primarily concerned with their animal handling process.

“Whatever the system is, are the animals being handled properly,” Donilson said.
There are too many facilities selling product directly to Tyson for all of them to be audited. Audits will be done a random basis.

“Our customers are telling us that we need to be out on the ground looking at how these animals are handled,” Donilson said. “We care enough to check.”

During the question and answer session Donilson was grilled about who would be on the Advisory Board for FarmCheck. When he said this board would include NGO experts, which Donilson described as animal welfare folks, it caught the attention of every producer in the room.

“We feel as a company that we need a diverse group to give us an eyes wide open view of the situation,” Donilson said. “It won’t be a bunch of beef and pork guys on the panel.”

The mission statement of the new Freedom to Operate Committee states that they are to protect and enhance beef producers freedom to operated in coordination with the Long Range Plan. Their mission statement was put to the test in the very first meeting of this committee.


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Categories: Featured News, Uncategorized


Senior Field Editor, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal.


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