Animal welfare standards provide problems for dairies in California

Fresno County dairy operator Jamie Bledsoe says he's proud of how he cares for his animals. But his word may no longer be enough to satisfy the buyers of his milk.

Bledsoe, like many livestock farmers, operates in a new environment where animal rights groups, consumers and retailers are increasingly demanding assurances that farmers treat their animals humanely.

"As much as we may dislike this, this is the world that we live in today," said Bledsoe, a Riverdale dairy operator. "And it isn’t going to change."

The brighter spotlight has forced livestock operators across the country to adopt new procedures, reach out to the public and fight back with their own legislation.

Bledsoe heads a California dairy-industry task force that is working to create uniform animal-welfare standards for its members. A similar effort is being organized nationwide.

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