from E. coli and other enteric pathogens has potentially become the greatest
risk to those who support programs that bring humans and farm animals into close
proximity, including state and county fairs, animal expositions, petting zoos,
agri-tourism and agriculture in the classroom programs.
Recent litigation against fairs and fair operators has signaled an
increasing and disturbing new trend in liability.
Whether contamination comes from animal, food, human or water sources,
the liability remains high and the stakes critical for anybody involved in
bringing humans and animals together in efforts to educate children and provide
enhanced rural-to-urban interaction for stronger agricultural interest and
improvements in the ability to detect E. coli contamination, along with the
recent rash of E. coli litigation associated with fairs (Lane County Fair,
Oregon in 2002; North Carolina State Fair in 2004; Fort Bend County Fair, Texas
in 2004; Central Florida Fair in 2005; Florida Strawberry Festival in 2005;
Florida State Fair in 2005), has put the agriculture industry on the defensive,
with presumably critical stakes in the game.
By nature, farm animal and human contact areas at fairs, animal
expositions, petting zoos and in classrooms present a high potential for
contamination, resulting in potential litigation, financial loss and liability
if organizers fail to reduce risk and protect their visitors in a
International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) has designed and
launched a series of State and regional workshops for the purpose of enhancing
consumer protection at public events such as fairs, animal expositions, petting
zoos and “Ag in the Classroom” settings.
We encourage you to consider the following reasons for funding these
important and informative consumer protection workshop programs in your state:
Training Initiative ~ The IAFE Consumer Protection Workshops are designed
to appeal to a broad-base of leaders within the agriculture industry.
The two-day session will focus on core principles associated with
pathogen reduction, site planning, operational control, contamination control
and sanitation. Those in the
agricultural industry who bring farm animals into close contact with humans,
including but not limited to the areas of education, tourism, youth programs and
commerce will find benefits associated with the program.
Teachers, FFA & 4H Leaders, Fair Leadership and Ag Tourism Leaders
are all prime candidates for exposure to the workshop message and principles.
Image Enhancement ~
Media scrutiny and negative consumer perceptions of animal agriculture have
increased in the wake of continued outbreaks associated with petting zoos and
fair events. Animal agriculture
represents a considerable and significant source of revenue and jobs, and any
and all efforts to enhance the consumer perception of farm animals, farm
programs and animal agriculture will pay dividends.
In addition to the visible impact of prevention programs such as hand
washing stations, promoting proper hygiene and health at animal events is a
strong image enhancing opportunity for animal agriculture.
Protecting a “Slice of
Americana” ~ County
fairs, petting zoos and animal agriculture in the United States represents the
heart of the American Culture. Without
enhanced protection programs for those who visit these types of events and
interact with farm animals, we stand at risk to lose an important piece of our
history and culture. Strengthening
consumer protection programs will support a broad spectrum of industries that
rely on this image of “Americana” to lure guests to events that feature or
contain farm animals.
Supporting Youth Programs ~ County
fairs, state fairs and animal exhibitions serve as the stage for the youth of
America who participate in 4H and FFA programs, and provide the network for
promoting and teaching our future agricultural leadership about the core
principles of business and science. Without
animal exhibitions and farm animals at fairs, an entire generation of youth will
be without a mechanism to grow, learn and love the industry that supports them.
Protect Commercial Interests
expositions and petting zoos support many businesses and families.
Farm animals at these events are shown, sold and/or displayed for
commercial purposes, and the loss of this industry would represent a significant
potential loss in revenue and business opportunity for those companies and
families who rely on animal agriculture as a source of income.
Expanded Interest in
Agriculture ~ As
America becomes more urbanized the number of people who choose animal
agriculture as a vocation is declining. Agriculture
tourism, animal exhibits and teaching programs are effective and useful means to
create interest in animal agriculture, and help to create a new generation of
veterinarians, farmers and producers.
Insurance Coverage ~ Insurance
coverage is a critical component of any commercial business, and fairs,
expositions and petting zoos are no exception.
However, insurance carriers are feeling the pressure of recent claims and
litigation pertaining to outbreaks associated with petting zoos and fair events.
As a result, there is talk in the industry that insurance carriers may be
forced to place riders, exclusions or exemptions on pathogenic contamination or
drop coverage altogether. An event
of this magnitude would leave fair organizers, boards of directors and
management fully exposed to claims and litigation, and would result in a
significant loss in human resources from an important industry.
The insurance industry has lent its support to the IAFE programs and is
encouraging training and education efforts as a way to prevent any loss or
restriction in coverage.
Cost Effective Training ~ The
IAFE workshops are a cost effective way to reach a large group of people
associated with animal agriculture. Participants
in the workshops will in turn reach out to an even larger group of exhibitors,
vendors, youth leaders and consumers through effective education and information
Provides a “Starter Kit”
for Protection ~ The
IAFE workshops will assist participants in developing the necessary resources
and tools for enhancing consumer protection at fairs, animal expositions,
petting zoos and classroom events. These
tools, which include language for signs, procedures and protocols are designed
to be customized to each unique facility and will give participants a “running
start” at improving consumer protection programs.
10. Agri-Terrorism Initiative ~ The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for protecting American consumers at public gathering areas, such as fairs and expositions. Animals, animal agriculture and bio-hazards such as pathogens are realistic sources for agri-terrorism efforts or tampering. Food, air, water and animals associated with large meeting areas could be compromised by terrorist efforts, placing large numbers of consumers at risk. Currently, the IAFE workshops are being expanded to address this potential risk, and may be eligible for DHS funding through agri-terrorism prevention programs.
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