Vicky Bond is a research officer for Compassion in World Farming, a charity that campaigns for sustainable farming around the world.
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What made you join the charity sector?
I had been aware of Compassion in World Farming since the days when I could be found at Shoreham docks protesting against the live export of animals. While working on farms during my veterinary degree, I saw many welfare issues that I couldn't shrug off as being ‘just part of the industry’.
The opportunity to work for Compassion as a researcher came up after I had finished a campaign role lobbying Parliament over pig meat labelling. I felt the position would give me the opportunity to work in a field that would help tackle those aspects of farming that I was concerned about. I believe the charity has exactly the right balance with regard to promoting welfare-friendly farming, while supporting the farming community.
At Compassion, campaigning for laws to improve farm animal welfare and making consumers aware of the issues surrounding factory farming run alongside a department that is committed to helping the industry implement changes.
How did you get where you are today?
I qualified from Liverpool in 2009, having intercalated with a Masters in Environment, Development and Policy. While at university, I did EMS in several developing countries, working for human and animal charities. One of these was Animal Care in Egypt, which I still work with today. I left university and worked part-time in small animal practice while pursuing work with other charities, which included writing research reports on food ethics, the cotton industry and additionally lobbying MPs at Westminster for labelling changes to pig meat.
What does your job involve?
I help inform others within the charity on current issues in farm animal welfare, and I work on creating information for campaigns that other departments can use. Any material that leaves the organisation must be passed by the research team to ensure factual accuracy. I am currently helping to project manage several reports written by leading academics on behalf of the charity.
I attend conferences around the world to network and to present Compassion's new campaigns and its message. We visit farms that are investing in new welfare measures to assess the benefits that are accruing for animals, farmers and the industry. I also ensure the charity is up to date with the latest research on animal welfare issues. I have been involved in government-led groups that look at the development of new farm animal welfare legislation. Compassion campaigns for sustainable farming around the world. I am working on projects surrounding this issue and collecting case studies for evidence to support the charity's position.
What do you like about your job?
I enjoy being part of an organisation that has helped to ensure that welfare laws (such as the ban on battery cages) are introduced, implemented and adhered to. My job varies a lot and some days everything is put on hold while we deal with a new issue made prominent through the press. I use my veterinary knowledge within a field that is working towards the change that I believe in – ensuring that farming is humane and sustainable.
I enjoy meeting farmers, vets and business consultants to discuss issues they're experiencing – and being up to date with the latest research – while learning from those who are solving welfare problems on-farm.
What do you not like?
Sometimes it is necessary to view footage that has been obtained to identify welfare issues; quite often it documents scenes of abuse and can be difficult to watch.
Why is your job important?
Compassion has been instrumental in many of the farm animal welfare policies that have been introduced over the past 30 years, including banning veal crates and sow stalls. The research department is essential to ensuring the charity bases its arguments on robust, researched facts, and by liaising with those in the field we are able to ensure that the messages we give are sound. The research we produce goes into all our campaigns and is used to lobby for improved welfare laws.
What advice would you give someone considering a similar career?
Intercalating during your veterinary medicine degree gives you a better perspective of areas outside the immediate veterinary sector. Volunteering at organisations that you are interested in can give a great insight into which area in the sector you might want to pursue.
What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Communication is the key to success.