In its first of operation, the statewide network of farmers, animal well-being experts, veterinarians and industry leaders known as the Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition (IFAC) responded to a wide-ranging series of farmer and consumer questions about farm animal care in Iowa through its (800) 252-0577 help line or at www.iowafarmanimalcare.org in its first year of operation.

IFAC was formed in 2013 to answer Iowans’ questions about farm animal care and assist farmers with resources to help ensure all Iowa farm animals benefit from the latest science-based standards.

“In the inaugural year of IFAC, we received 15 calls ranging from farmers seeking advice to neighbors or people just driving by a farm wanting to know more about animals being raised outdoors in inclement weather,” says IFAC Executive Director Denny Harding. “We have had farmers, sheriffs and veterinarians all weighing in on these questions and providing excellent follow-up and assistance as needed.”

IFAC was modeled after Canada’s 20-year-old Alberta Farm Animal Care program, which has grown in scope to handle hundreds of calls a year.

“Consumers have a lot of questions about where their food comes from, so it’s nice to have this resource available to them,” Harding says. “But it’s good to know they’re finding us, because until IFAC, there wasn’t a centralized place where Iowans could go to find out about how farm animals respond to extremes in climate like the cold temperatures we’re seeing now, or how diverse Iowa’s livestock farms really are. Now, they can call if they see something they don’t understand or just to learn more about how responsible livestock farmers care for their animals.”

In addition to providing information on farm animal care to consumers and referrals to farmers, IFAC also provides access to animal care experts who specialize in many aspects of animal care, including animal science experts and veterinarians from Iowa State University’s Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Iowa State Veterinarian office at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). This independent team of experts makes up the On-Farm Evaluation Team and specializes in performing voluntary on-site evaluations to ensure appropriate farm animal care is being given.

IFAC has a four-person Advisory Committee including Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Animal Rescue League of Iowa Executive Director Tom Colvin, State of Iowa Veterinarian David Schmitt, and Iowa State Sheriff and Deputy Association President Jerry Dunbar.

IFAC is a collaborative effort including farmers from the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

For more information about IFAC or farm animal care in Iowa, visit www.iowafarmanimalcare.org or call (800) 252-0577.