As society is getting further and further removed from an agricultural life, it is getting harder and harder to find good labor to work on farms. This is no secret to hog producers across the country, as many production systems are being forced to hire employees with no hog production experience, and some may have no agriculture background.
That isn’t always bad as the new employee will not come in with preconceived ideas of what should be done and how it should be done. Ignorance, though frustrating at times, can be bliss as you can mold a new employee into the worker that you want them to be and do things the way that you want things done on your farm.
But, just how do you find good employees for your farm? Word of mouth works great, as do job fairs at technical colleges or universities, but still, it can be a real crapshoot to find someone who is a good fit.
Employee turnover will happen, and when that occurs, you want to get a replacement employee in as soon as possible, hopefully being able to have the departing employee train the newcomer. In haste, your HR department (if you have the luxury of having an HR department) may not be able to properly vet each applicant.
Finding good workers is hard, finding workers without a hidden background and less-than-ideal motives can make the search for legitimate employees even more difficult. It’s not new that animal rights groups attempt to infiltrate the swine industry workforce with the intent of capturing video of the perceived “horrible” conditions in today’s hog barns.
What is new, to me at least, is the blatant way they are going about their recruitment for infiltrators. A post on Facebook is alerting hog producers of a job listing found on Indeed.com, which claims to be the world’s No. 1 job site.
Right there with job listings for preschool teachers, homemaker services specialists and train crew, is a posting by Mercy for Animals looking for a “Farm Animal Abuse Investigator (Undercover)”. The listed objective is “To obtain employment at factory farms and slaughterhouses in order to document conditions. Investigators must be prepared to witness unimaginable cruelty and engage in intense manual labor while maintaining their composure and cover to gather information necessary to expose and stop farmed animal abuse.”
They have a number of such job listings on the Indeed website for the Milwaukee, Boston, Seattle, Albuquerque, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Los Angeles areas.
Mercy for Animals is a national non-profit organization that (in their words) is dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies, founded in October 1999. To the livestock world, their mission is to put animal agriculture out of business.
U.S. hog producers should have nothing to hide as they should all be practicing the We Care principles, but we all have seen how these such groups can splice together a video of everyday occurrences in hog facilities and present them as a horrible montage to the uneducated eye.
They use undercover video, and even though a lot of production systems have banned cell phones and other electronic devices from entering barns, these people are deceitful enough to find ways around your farm’s regulations. They claim we are hiding things, but a lot of these measures are solely for biosecurity.
If we cannot adequately vet potential employees, maybe barns will need to implement a frisking or scanning process to keep out the undesirables.
Raising hogs is hard enough, and finding good people to work in your barns is equally hard without having to worry about hiring someone looking to put you out of business. I guess we cannot let our guard down.