The livestock industry has a new organization; one that's designed to make some sense out of and provide guidance involving animal-welfare auditing programs.

Joining forces to create the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) are the Federation of Animal Science Societies, American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

According to the PAACO mission statement, the organization's purpose is "to promote the humane treatment of animals through education and certification of animal auditors and to promote the profession of animal auditors." 

Unique to this new organization is the fact that it combines two professions, animal scientists and veterinarians, for the single purpose of promoting the humane animal treatment. "Such a unified group is well qualified to form the first professional organization for animal auditing that is based on science," said a PAACO statement.

"The formation of PAACO is a great example of animal scientists and veterinarians working together to address an issue looming before animal agriculture. The increasing potential for auditing animal-production units requires training and educating qualified animal auditors," says John Waddell, AASV president. "One of PAACO's strengths will be the solid base of professional experience required of auditors before training even takes place. Farmers and producers will appreciate the fact that they will be working with auditors with practical production experience.

The issue of on-farm audits is controversial, but if audits are going to be done then they should be done by properly trained professionals."

"ARPAS members are committed to the continued well-being of animals and animal agriculture. ARPAS, as an organization of professional animal scientists, is please to join with other like-minded animal organizations to ensure that domestic animals are humanely treated," says Ken Cummings, ARPAS president. "We want PAACO to provide animal scientists and veterinarians with educational programs and training for certification as animal auditors."  

Dave Schingoethe, FASS president, points out: "The three professional food animal societies that FASS represents, American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Animal Science, and Poultry Science Association, are pleased to join other animal-related organizations to ensure that domestic animals are humanely treated. PAACO will provide to animal scientists and veterinarians educational and training programs without undue duplication by individual groups working separately."

PAACO will be an independent body, which will certify farm-animal-welfare auditors.  Members of the founding organizations will be eligible to take training specific to each farm-animal system, and to take qualifying examinations. Qualified individuals will then be free to provide welfare audits independently or for animal-welfare auditing firms.

The farm-animal community will be assured by an independent body that the people doing the on-farm audits are experienced and qualified. 

Highlighting the importance of certifications, Jim Jarrett, AABP executive director, states: "It's important to have fair and honest animal-welfare-audit systems for farms and to verify that individuals providing those audits have the proper credentials."

The first PAACO Board of Directors meeting will take place on Saturday, July 24, 2004 in St. Louis, Mo. Twelve appointees representing the founding organizations will serve as the initial board.  

Federation of Animal Science Societies