So a few weeks ago, in light of the events that took place at Conklin Dairy in Ohio, my wife Alyssa replied to a post on Michigan Farm Bureau's facebook wall regarding animal abuse. Most of the comments were our traditional talking points-one rotten apple, bad actor, I take care of my animals; except for Alyssa's. She threw caution into the wind and openly challenged everyone else to start opening their eyes to what is happening around them. She knew it may not be a popular view, but I don't think either of us expected the reaction it has received.
Two nights ago, I attended a Farm Bureau function in Lansing, where I had the chance to mingle and visit with probably no less than a dozen staff members, and they all said virtually the same thing to me: Alyssa said what needed to be said. It isn't popular, but it's true.
So this has had me thinking more and more about this issue the last 36 hours; what is our responsibility as members of the ag community when we know about animal abuse, or pollution, or the misuse of pesticides? Do we, as agronomists, vets, feed truck drivers, hell, just as neighbors, need to start policing ourselves? I think so. We see what goes on around the farm "when no one is watching", and often have the means and ability to intervene. I guess this is what bothers me so much about Conklin Farms-there wasn't a vet, a feed truck driver, an agronomist who saw or at least HEARD about what was going on? If they did, and said nothing, then they are just as guilty as the guy who did the deed.
It's time to be accountable folks, to ourselves, to others, and to our industry. If you have knowledge, you need to report it. Now. That includes folks that watch, laugh about it, or use a "undercover camera". Call the sheriff, and do the right thing, otherwise, the blood is on your hands also.