In the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changin.'” But I wonder if farms, ranches and agri-businesses are keeping up with the changing times. I recently read Don Tyler’s article in this month’s issue of the Feedlot magazine titled “Are Activists Courting Your Employees?”
Let’s face reality — livestock operations should be concerned of the possibility that animal activist groups will send undercover workers or prey upon cash-strapped workers to gather electronic evidence that may be used to harm the farm, ranch or feedlot. Tyler recommends having an updated employee handbook implementing policies regarding social media, smartphones, reporting acts of animal abuse and discipline for silence, discipline for animal abuse, and tampering with business assets (e.g., seeds, feed, chemicals, farm equipment).
Not only do I recommend implementing policies for these issues, but I also recommend enumerating proper animal handling techniques in the employee handbook and periodically training employees on these techniques. And for my readers that do not have an employee handbook: “Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200,” and go directly to an attorney’s office (who is licensed in your jurisdiction) to discuss whether it is appropriate for you to have an employee handbook. For my beloved readers that do have an employee handbook, please take some time this week to consider whether it needs a “makeover” (or perhaps just a few tweaks) to address concerns.