Social media channels offer positive opportunities for the industry, but the channels can also be used to spread damaging videos by animal rights organizations and others. As a veterinarian whose priority is animal health, Dr. Swift says she can understand the reaction those outside the industry have when witnessing a provocative video.

“I’ve had these conversations with people, and if you see one person, I could see why you’d think everyone would do that,” Dr. Swift says. “If you’ve never been on a farm, I could see why they would think all animals are treated like that.”

She notes veterinarians and others involved in animal agriculture know the truth and can make a difference in explaining it to others. In addition, the speed of social media can highlight any bad apples in the business more quickly.

“In today’s world, you can’t abuse animals and think you’re going to stay in business,” Dr. Swift says. “Good, bad or otherwise, information can spread on Facebook and Twitter so quickly these days.”

In addition to weeding out bad actors, Dr. Seng agrees the increasing emphasis on animal welfare has not been all bad for agriculture. In fact, sometimes it may even benefit a producer’s bottom line.

“For example, studies now show that there can be less disease, and animals may even do better when we provide some pain medication,” Dr. Seng says. “If you give $2 worth of pain medication and receive $10 of benefit—there are some win-wins on this issue. Farmers shouldn’t be completely against re-assessing some of the traditional practices if there is a better way.”