How do you document a perception?

On the heels of the Nov. 4. Proposition 2 vote in California to end the practice of confining certain animals raised for food comes a Kansas-produced television documentary that showcases the care, empathy and human compassion involved in raising farm animals.

Kansas Farm Bureau Federation has produced "The Care & Feeding of Farm Animals," a television documentary featuring men, women and families who raise farm animals for food. The film delves into the heritage of livestock production in Kansas and examines the economic impact associated with a growing negative perception related to the welfare of farm animals.

"As people shift away from the farm, geographically and culturally, there's a void — and perceptions are filling it," says Mike Matson, who wrote, produced and directed the documentary. "The ways consumers think about and react to their food and the animals it comes from impact everything associated with it, starting with the farmer who raises the animal."

"The Care & Feeding of Farm Animals," illustrates how Kansas livestock producers are pushing back against the perception by getting off the farm and out of their comfort zone to share their passion for raising healthy food animals. "Consumers want to know more about the people who produce their food," says Matson. "No one tells this story more effectively than those who live it 24/7." It's the story of a traditional Kansas culture of care and compassion that has not been widely told, he adds.

The documentary will debut to a statewide television audience on Kansas public TV stations (KPTS, Wichita; KTWU, Topeka and the Smoky Hills public television stations in western Kansas) on Monday, Nov. 17 at 9:30 p.m. (CDT). The stations will re-air the documentary periodically throughout the fall. The documentary film features original music from True North, an alternative country/roots rock band featuring a half-dozen musicians who grew up on Kansas farms, ranches and in rural communities.

This is an interesting and positive action on the part of KFBF and Kansas producers. What's more, it is something that's worth replicating in other states, as local messages are more relatable, personal and heartwarming, which means they're also more effective in reaching consumers than national ones. Another point not to be lost in all if this is the fact that public television viewers are a good target audience in the animal welfare debate.

To preview "The Care & Feeding of Farm Animals," click here.