Q: It seems like every time we turn around someone is harping on us about quality or time management or saving money. I bet we’ve got more checklists than the guys who launch the space shuttle. It’s not like we’re trying to put a satellite in orbit; we’re just raising pigs. Why won’t they simply let us do our jobs?

A: From your vantage point, it probably doesn’t seem like the processes involved in getting things done should be worth so much time and attention. It may seem as though “it’s just pigs,” but let’s consider a few other points.

Feeding the wrong ration or doing a poor job of adjusting feeders can cost thousands of dollars each week in wasted feed. Failing to follow personal-safety procedures could result in serious injury, possibly resulting in lost time and wages, investigations and harm to the company’s reputation. Having a manure spill will get immediate, negative media attention, possible fines and even the prospect of shutting down the operation.

The processor that you deliver animals to has a premium formula that could include yield, fat, muscle, meat quality factors and other standards that affect the animal’s price. Those premiums could be the only difference between breaking even and losing money. What you do every day affects those quality standards.

What’s more, you are ultimately producing a food, and product quality problems can cause major disruptions in the domestic or export market. Not all of the processes that impact product quality link to the farm level, but some do.

To you, these process expectations seem unnecessary, but they make a big difference to the safety and well-being of your co-workers, the company’s reputation and financial performance, the quality of the end product and, above all else, the welfare of the animals in your care. It is essential to your job, the entire company and even the industry to take them seriously.