The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Gene Hugoson, reported last week that the state will form an animal husbandry working group. The objectives will involve reviewing existing standards of animal care, as well as identifying shortfalls and recommending new standards.

Hugoson says the working group will compile a report to be submitted by Jan. 15, 2008. At that time, the expectations are for the group to present specific standards for animal care, along with training and qualifications for persons how work within the animal industries. He cited examples animal chiropractic procedures and artificial insemination as areas that will be addressed. The point is for the working group to have a dual emphasis on consumer protection and animal welfare.

"In the past, farmers performed most of these tasks on their own," Hugoson says. But today, those who raise livestock often pay for animal-husbandry services. "They have a right to expect high standards of training and professionalism, and this group will help the state develop fair and uniform standards," he notes.