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“I read it on social media …” Nowadays, this is an all-too-common statement used to turn personal views into facts. In an era where social media is king and fake news is rife, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. As a result, misconceptions regarding the animal production industry are widespread, and facts are frequently reported out of context.

Furthermore, the animal production industry is constantly under scrutiny as more and more consumers with limited farming knowledge become concerned about the quality of their food and how it is produced. They are also concerned about the welfare of animals and the environment.

Consumers generally project their own human feelings onto animals. Thus, practices such as dehorning cattle and placing sows in farrowing crates – practices implemented for the safety of the animals – are often seen as cruel. In addition, peer-reviewed academic articles that clearly explain and demonstrate the benefits of animal production practices, rarely reach the public.

It is now more important than ever that everyone involved in animal production stand united to communicate the facts to consumers. This is exactly what will be addressed at the next South African Society for Animal Science (SASAS) congress with the theme “Animal science communication: Is it reliable? Is it relevant? Is it responsible?”

Next SASAS Congress to make history

The SASAS Northern Branch is proud to host the 52nd SASAS Congress from 10 to 12 August 2021. For the first time in SASAS history, this congress will be a fully virtual event. The entire congress will be streamed live online, meaning that anyone can attend from anywhere in the world.

This congress is tailored to pique the interest of all stakeholders in animal production – from academia (students and researchers) and industry to farmers. The congress is also aimed at consumers keen to know how their food is produced. This year’s congress will host many renowned and highly respected speakers, including nine national and international keynote speakers and local experts as main speakers for the parallel sessions.

Some of the keynote speakers to look forward to are the president of the World Farmers’ Organisation, Dr Theo de Jager, and livestock sustainability consultant and 2017 Dairy Industry Woman of the Year, Dr Jude Capper. The topics presented will include communication and sustainable livestock production. Other topics such as the importance of animal protein in human diets, what the future may look like and how we as animal scientists need to adapt will also be covered.

Format of the SASAS Congress

Multiple parallel sessions will be presented, allowing students and researchers to showcase their latest research results. SASAS has received many abstracts and is excited to share the research with participants. A digital book of research posters will be published and will be available on the website.

The student quiz

One of the crowd favourites, the SASAS student quiz sponsored by Plaas Media, is also set to take place this year, but with a twist. A preliminary online round is scheduled for July, after which the best three teams will compete at the congress.

Knowledge is power and to ensure the sustainability of the animal production industry, it is vital to play an active part in communicating reliable, relevant, responsible facts about the industry to the world.

For more information on the keynote speakers, registration fees, the programme and to register, visit www.sasascongress.co.za or send an email to sasasnorthernbranch@gmail.com. You can also follow @SASAS Northern Branch on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Hope to see you all there! – SASAS Northern Branch