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The Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition was officially launched January 10 as a two-pronged resource for Iowans to learn more about animal care practices and to report concerns about animal care.
The coalition, also called IFAC, is a joint effort of the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the office of the State Veterinarian, and the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association.
IFAC has a public interface both online at www.iowafarmanimalcare.org and over the phone at 1-800-252-0577. The phone number is also a place for Iowans to voice concerns over animal practices they have seen.
Denny Harding, IFAC Executive Director, is also the first point of contact for a complaint. Based on its nature Harding might direct a caller to the website for more information, or relay the concern to IFAC’s On-Farm Evaluation Team, which is made up of animal science experts and veterinarians from ISU and IDALS. That team then performs a voluntary on-site evaluation to determine if the concern is warranted.
Dr. Suzanne Millman, associate professor of animal welfare at Iowa State University and a key figure in IFAC’s conception, says ensuring confidentiality was paramount in crafting IFAC.
As an attempt to bring consumers and people without an agricultural background closer to modern production practices, the coalition is also addressing the concerns of animal welfare groups such as the Humane Society of the United States. But do such groups think IFAC is even worth it?
Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States Paul Shapiro says he thinks it’s a good thing.
Dr. Millman also highlights the fact that animal care emergencies are best left to legal authorities. She points out that the IFAC help line is geared to preventing cruelty or neglect, rather than it is to reporting it. For that, she encourages callers to direct their concerns to their county sheriff’s office.