Ohio that would create a board to develop statewide standards for livestock care. But even if it passes, Issue 2 is not enough to guarantee that Ohio farmers will always have a say in how their own animals are cared for. The proposal’s out-of-state opponents like the DC-based Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) could easily propose another ballot initiative in 2010 that would supersede anything that Issue 2 decides, expanding regulations to force livestock farmers out of business as one way to push more people toward vegetarianism.
Just an update on Cass Sunstein the next head of the OIRA. Mr. Sunstein definitely has a background when it comes to Animals Rights or Factory Farming. Please read the following update.
One Step Closer to a PETA White House
Yesterday, the Senate voted 63-35 to invoke cloture on the nomination of animal rights activist Cass Sunstein to be the nation’s new “regulatory czar,” which means the Senate can proceed with a vote to confirm him. The vote will likely occur before the end of the night. Obviously troubling is Sunstein’s apparent devotion to Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation (and the philosopher whom radical PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk calls her life’s inspiration). Singer is infamous for his belief that it’s permissible to kill newborn children since they’re supposedly no more special than a dog.
When we reposted articles about Cass Sunstein. People I am sure wondered "Why"? Issues about animals rights have become so relevant to Indiana residents with Ohio and Michigan having to deal with it now, Indiana can not be far behind. I am reposting an article from Consumer Freedom that everyone here should read.
The number of animals and plants protected by the federal Endangered Species Act is about to increase dramatically. For Cass Sunstein, radical animal-rights activist and nominee for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator job, that means he will be better positioned than ever to make livestock farming a thing of the past. How are the two things connected? Our director of research appeared on the Fox News Channel yesterday to explain to Glenn Beck’s audience how much influence Sunstein may soon have over what we eat:
Cattlemen in this country own and manage most of the lands that are covered by the Endangered Species Act, that are subject to control. So you ask: Why is Cass Sunstein’s hatred and animus toward meat eating such a big deal? It’s because he’ll be in a position to be able to use the Endangered Species Act to put cattlemen out of business. And then the price of your steak goes up. And then the price of your cheeseburger goes up. It’s not only cattlemen who could be at the business end of Sunstein’s ridiculous anti-meat philosophy.Environmental activists groups sued over the Endangered Species Act in 2006 to divert water to a habitat for a three-inch bait fish in California; taking the water away from drought-stricken farmers and costing the state.
Should we wonder if Indiana Dog Breeders are being treated like Arkansas kennel owners. I am republishing an article from The Endangered Owner. With so many raids and confiscations going on, the common citizen doesn’t know what to think or believe. I wonder how many times a Vet’s perspective was taken into account. the following article brings up many things for us to think about. When do human rights take equal precedent with animals rights.
The following was written by a Veterinarian following the HSUS raid on an Arkansas dog kennel. There are always two sides to every story.
********************************************* The Vet’s Views
Paris Veterinary Clinic
Could You Be Raided?
By James E. Shearer
Recently a kennel owner in our area was "raided" by the Humane Society of the United States and the Arkansas Chapter of the organization according to the Paris Express. The Northwest Arkansas – Arkansas Democrat Gazette ran at least 4 days of articles. One was from an interview with the owners. There are many things that are disturbing about this.
First there are some that have a biased opinion of breeding dogs. Animal husbandry has been practiced for centuries. This includes selective breeding to develop better animals for intended uses. We have developed rescue dogs, sentry dogs, retrievers, bird dogs, stock dogs and different natures pets to name a few. The activist buzz name is "puppy mill". How do people describe your hobbies, habits or business if they personally despise it? Animal husbandry, as well as agricultural practices, in this nation have been able to provide for our needs and much of the world’s. Animal neglect and cruelty is not profitable or productive. If the few radical people had their way we would be in desperate circumstances.
Second, our nation was founded on personal initiative and personal property with property rights. We are a civilized nation and respect the rule of law. Your freedom ends where other’s freedom begins. We have democratically set laws for the protection of all systems to execute these laws we have deemed necessary. While the system isn’t perfect it has exceeded all others. We do seem to be having problems with eccentric groups that exploit the system to their desires that are far from the "spirit" of our laws – that is – our wholesome intentions. There are times private property is used to do evil things and we, by necessity, deal with these cases. However, under the same rules invasion of private property can be affected by activists that have the time and means to use against anyone of normal or less resources doing their best to be a productive member of our society. Somehow reason and public opinion will overcome. A free-unbiased press with! reporters for integrity and a reasonably informed public is necessary for a free society to operate.
Third, standards of acceptable facilities and care of animals have been established and are applicable under specified conditions. A USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) kennel license is required to sell puppies to wholesale brokers. Other licenses are involved for transportation, exhibition, research and many other defined activities. The Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare regulations are the legal basis for the licensing. No license is required if it isn’t included or is exempted in the regulations. It is difficult to insure personal freedoms and yet regulate requirements. That is why we go through debate in our law making. There are always some that are not satisfied.
Forth, the public perception of an incident is greatly influenced by the publicity. Many things are dealt with involving only those affected. Those possess more complete knowledge close to the situation and farther broadcast is of no other benefit. The curious and nosey are forever wanting to know and crusaders with their cause are postured to capitalize on these events.
Fifth, accurate newspaper and T.V. reporting has its hurdles. The most difficulty that I perceive is the source and reliability of facts. The only ones that want to be quoted are the ignorant or the ones with a cause. The victim has more pressing concerns. The officials are also tediously tending to business. Most situations are far more involved than can accurately be represented. Tedious research is really needed to be fair. In fairness to the media, it would be nearly impossible to be fully informed in every case, which they are called upon to report. Guilty is often the verdict in the news at the time but the actual conclusion in the end is the opposite. I don’t know if we excuse them as readily as we do the forecasters. However, an experienced reporter should be able to see a spoon fed set up.
Sixth, the law enforcement is only an instrument that is responsible to act on "credible" information with a due process that is designed to apprehend the guilty with the evidence. A judge as a safe guard against persecution issues warrants, and yes gives a means to proceed. By the time a warrant is executed all bases should be covered. However there are people that exploit this process.
In the case of the raid on the Krupczinski’s kennel and farm there is a lot more to the story. There were problems and opinions as to the progress on the problems. For several years outside activists have repeatedly assumed their business did need action from outside. There was a herd of miniature horses on the farm that were basically semi-wild but seen to and well fed. An unnamed onlooker invoked the state Coggins law by reporting them to the state. Fifty three horses were caught and tested and sold because of the situation and difficulty of annual testing. The cost was over $20.00 each. They certainly weren’t the only horses in Arkansas that didn’t have their annual test. Harassing visits were made to the USDA licensed kennel by activists. The sheriff was involved because of the adversarial nature of the acquisitive people wanting to inspect for themselves. The Krupczinski’s had difficulty with the USDA inspectors and after a time dropped their license according to them but was recorded by the USDA as suspended (or revoked). The license required that a veterinarian be listed that provided a health care plan for vaccinations, parasite control and emergency care. A minimum of annual visits is required. I was the veterinarian that served them. Beside the annual inspections we have a record of 80 animals that were brought to the clinic for various medical attention. I’m aware of other cases taken to other veterinarians in the area. As a practicing veterinarian I never liked to be placed in the position of being the solution of the USDA’s responsibility and yet being paid by the client. I view myself as serving the needs of our community. I do what I love, but also what is necessary. I was miss-reported by the Arkansas Democratic Gazette as one of the complaints at the Humane Society received July ’07. I did visit the kennel for a USDA inspection (requested by the Krupczinski’s and required by the USDA inspector) in January 2007. I recommended that they needed to reduce the number of dogs considering their health and the lack of available help. We did euthanize three dogs that day. I never complained to the Humane Society. Their inspection was past due, but I view the appointment to be the responsibility of the kennel owner. After all, they may choose to use a different veterinarian. Most of the kennels I serve use other veterinarians besides me on occasions for various reasons. I make it a point not to inspect their house – that isn’t part of the licensed kennel and none of my business. The picture in the Paris Express with a Humane Society worker wearing a hazmat suit holding a little puppy was designed to express horrid conditions. The Humane Society provided this picture to the paper. One picture is worth 1000 words. Unfortunately the Humane Society was the source of the information to the news. In the Arkansas Democratic Gazette 28 mini horses (on inventory list) and one larger horse was reported as 36. Many were said to be pregnant as if that was a fault. However, they were reported to being rescued by a miniature horse breeder in North Dakota. I suspect that the medical attention the horses needed was coggins testing and vaccinations.
Medical attention sounds worse. The Arkansas Democratic Gazette did give an interview with the Krupczinski’s and cut them some slack for their age and health. They also reported 130 dogs being placed by and through the Sebastian County Humane Society in the last 6 months. 309 were taken. They reported none of the animals were euthanized. Not true, I had to euthanize a cat that had it’s jaw broken during its capture. I performed this service for the Humane Society by the request of Desiree Bender. They haven’t picked up the extra large carrier they brought it in.
According to the sheriff’s inventory there were 309 dogs, 8 cats, 5 birds, 29 horses and 10 turtles taken. 71 dogs were reported as taken from the house. That leaves 238 dogs to be elsewhere. The kennels had 2 sundowner kennel buildings with a total of 64 indoor-outdoor units. There was a well-constructed building with 16 indoor-outdoor units. A second building had 8 units of indoor-outdoor for larger dogs. Besides these were 14 outdoor units with doghouses. Besides these grouped units there were 4-6 other outdoor units with houses – 2 very large. With only 2 dogs per unit there is ample room for 216 dogs. USDA standards will allow 3 to 4 dogs per unit depending on the size of the dogs.
Leonard Krupczinski is a retired decorated Marine of the Korean and Viet nam wars and Caterpillar repair mechanic. You will never meet a more capable or creative individual. Until his health gave way his age didn’t stop him from out-working 3-4 young men. I am saddened to see this couple have their property taken and be humiliated in public. I am especially upset that a national "charitable" organization can inflict suffering in the name of Humanity. Surely we can work things out better than this.
I get accused of trying to scare people about different things going on with animals rights. It might happen again. I am reprinting an article from the Kalamazoo Gazette. I want you to read what is going on in Michigan about factory farming. The same thing is happening in Ohio as we speak. Is Indiana next? please read the following article and let us know what you think.
Agribusiness, animal-rights groups negotiate on farm-animal legislation
by Freddy Hunt | Kalamazoo Gazette
Friday August 28, 2009, 9:08 AM
LANSING — Michigan agribusiness leaders are discussing compromises to pending state legislation dealing with standards for farm animals in an effort to avoid a ballot initiative from animal-rights advocates.
Michigan swine and poultry industry leaders met with the Humane Society of the United States Thursday to discuss changes to Michigan House bills 5127 and 5128, which were introduced to the house last month.
The two bills, which would codify current farm animal industry standards, are being opposed by the animal-activist group because they fail to address animal-confinement issues.
The ballot initiative being pursued by the Humane Society of the United states would be identical to one passed in California last year, providing caged animals with more space to stand up, lie down, turn around freely and fully extend their limbs.
Farmers and agribusiness leaders say that such provisions would drive up production costs and result in a loss of business for Michigan producers.
"Our industry is such that it is very capital-intensive and any drastic change may not seem like much to the public or to the Humane Society," said Tim Vande Bunte, president of Martin-based Konos Inc., the third largest egg producer in the state.
Vande Bunte said Thursday’s meeting continued a dialogue between a handful of agribusiness leaders and their representatives and Peter Ruddell, a lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States.
The methods of farming being targeted by the possible ballot initiative include the use of sow gestation crates, veal crates and hen battery cages.
Vande Bunte said making a switch to cage-free chicken farming would be costly, but so would a ballot initiative for the Humane Society of the United States.
"I think we’re all going to consider what the best option would be to go," he said in regard to making compromises.
Ruddell declined to comment.
The price of moving from a battery cage system to a cage-free system would increase production costs for egg farmers between 12 and 27 percent, based on a California study prepared for the Humane Society of United States. The cost to consumers was estimated to increase by 1 cent per egg.
"Theoretically speaking, someone could come in from Indiana and say, ‘Hey, I will sell you eggs for 12 cents a dozen less,’" Vande Bunte said. "The question is, would they buy from that guy or would they buy from us?"
Jill Fritz, the Michigan state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said allowing the industry to set its own standards for animal welfare is not a good idea.
According to the proposed legislation, the state Department of Agriculture and the Commission of Agriculture would be in charge of enforcing and setting the animal-welfare standards at the recommendation of a 12-member animal care advisory council. Three of the seats would be filled by representatives from the food processing, restaurant and retail food industries.
"We were hard-pressed to figure out what authority those (three) individuals may have in determining animal welfare," Fritz said.
Vande Bunte said farmers have the best intentions for their animals.
Some of the crates, although they may seem cruel, have their purposes, he said. Keeping hens in cages prevents the spread of disease, cuts back on wasted feed and keeps the hens from attacking each other.
We thought about this article a long time after we read it. What could we do to help a Puppy Mill Rescue? Are all the animals raised here going to shelters? We promise in the next few weeks to start supplying you with some numbers that should make you think long and hard about the donations that you do or don’t receive. Please take the time to read the following article reprinted with permission from Jim Hughes of The Kennel Spotlight. Please comment on what you think should be done to actually help local shelters.
HUMANE SOCIETIESGOOD OR BAD?
By Jim Hughes
If you had it in your power to destroy the entire Humane Movement in the United States, wouldyou do it? If you received a Presidential appointment as the Humane Movement Czar of thecountry, what would you do to help the animals that you’ve been appointed to oversee? Wouldyou allow the existing non-compliant, below standard, unscrupulous breeders to continue to existand produce puppies, or pigs, or chickens? Can we live in our own little world, oblivious toanimal suffering? How should we differentiate between essential suffering and non- essential suffering? As Czar, would you put a stop to cosmetic companies using animals to test their products on? Would you put a stop to medical research? How about horse racing, or rodeos, or factory farming? What would you do to bring some sense into this picture?
Well, be careful when you read this. Sit down, put down that hot coffee, open your mind and letout the evil thoughts that you have formulated over years of abuse from the current crop of selfappointed,righteously opinionated, know-nothing, money grubbing idiots that are now leading these misguided do-gooders. These misguided do-gooders have been subjected to many years of brainwashing from those who have come to realize that being at the forefront of these humane organizations is a very profitable position to be in. Well, I am going to say it!! In fact, I am going to put it in print!!!
THE LOCAL HUMANE SOCIETIES AIN’T ALL BAD!!!!
These people who operate and work in these local shelters have a big heart. They cry real tearswhen they feel they have rescued an abused animal. The problem is their take on abuse. Whatdefines abuse? When does common sense tell us that some abuse, even our definition of abuse, isnecessary for the good of all mankind? We need medical experiments to help cure the diseases that ravage mankind. But do we need to blind 100 rabbits to make sure our wives’ mascara is safe? We need factory farming to keep our food prices affordable, but do we need to subject our chickens and pigs to living spaces that allow just inches of room to move about in for all of their lives? The Animal Rights people need to realize that the Timber Wolf came from the same ancestors as little Fluffy, your Toy Poodle.
We have domesticated the canine until we have overridden his natural, bred in, abilities and desires. Today, your poodle wants to lick you todeath while the wolf will be delighted to chew you to death. CANINES ARE NATURALPREDATORS!! They eat other animals. Every time your pet gets the opportunity to run in a packwith the neighborhood dogs, he will go to enjoy the company of his own kind. And many times these playful romps end up with the death of an unlucky cat, chicken, other dog or maybe a child.The natural primeval instinct of the canine is not to sit on your lap, he is not at all unhappy to not be petted and played with all day. If he is still a Timber Wolf, you will probably lose that petting hand.
We need local shelters to take in abused animals of all kinds. Go to any shelter in the country andyou will see that 99 percent of the animals they care for are dogs and cats. Could any employer in the country get away with this kind of prejudice?
I will acknowledge that we have people who are either too stupid or too mean to be allowed to care for any living thing that can feel pain andsuffering. We need Animal Control to pick up unwanted animals from our city streets. We needlocal shelters to care for injured, sick or abused animals, but we need these people educated properly to rightly define what actually constitutes abuse. In reality, what we have is a bunch of bleeding hearts, being brain-washed from highly paid professional mind twisters at PETA andH$U$, who are in turn, spreading these vicious attitudes to their shelter volunteers.We are our own worst enemies. We have allowed this miscarriage of false information to bespread into our newsrooms and our legislative bodies for over forty years. We have never been willing to spend the money on public relations to combat these false impressions. We look for loopholes to avoid being licensed.
We are angry with the thought of being inspected. Our registries need to inspect our kennels, not the government. If we had self-policed ourselves backin the late 60’s, the federal government would not have felt the need to license us later. Now thestates feel the need to license us because there are many breeders selling through the internet thatwant to avoid being inspected. Almost every call I get from a breeder informing me that theyhave been raided has come from an unlicensed breeder. If I get the opportunity to see some of these kennels when I am asked, “What should I do to get ready to get a license?”, I reply, “Do you know a good bulldozer operator?” Before internet, most puppies were sold through brokers,which necessitated the need for a license and therefore inspections, and we did not have all thispressure from the H$U$. We will not collectively clean up our industry, so it is going to be forcedupon us. We are winning some of our battles, but this war is being waged by a group of fanaticswho aren’t going to go away. We must learn to compromise with them, re-educate their false assumptions, and willingly accept government oversight in order to survive.
We must accept our responsibilities to properly care for our animal wards.Do our animals care if we paint the kennels? No, but your legislators do. Do our animals really care if they get 24 hour attention from us as long as their basic needs of food, water, shelter, andveterinary care are met? No, unless we brainwash them into thinking that they need our ‘roundthe clock’ attention. Does a 15-20 pound Raccoon that has been injured, lying along side the roadneed our help? You bet! Are you going to give it to him? Not me, you think I’m crazy? That’s when I call the Humane Society! I let professional people with professional equipment care for that Raccoon. And if we are a breeder, that because of illness or other personal tragedy, we need help for our animals, we should be able to call the H.S. for help without the fear of losing ouranimals.
There are good people that work on a volunteer basis in our local animal shelters and all theywant to do is help the unfortunate. If their minds had not been so poisoned by the professional impression twisters against anyone who even thinks about breeding a dog, we could all work together to make a better world for all animals. The 150 million dollars that goes to the H$U$ and the 27 million dollars that goes to PETA could be given to the local shelters. The money wehave to spend to defend ourselves against these Humaniac minds and their kooky ideas could goto help local shelters. We could work together.
Well here we go again. I suppose we might be accused of trying to scare you or intimidate you but that is not at all what we are doing. We at ICAW just want you to sit down and take a deep breath and consider if even for just a moment what is going on in our country and speciffically Indiana. I am republishing an article from The Kennel Spotlight that points out the Economic Impact of The Pet Industry. No matter who you are take a look at the figures. If you want to dispute them please do so. But don’t kid yourself it will always be about the money somewhere. Yet no one wants to sit down and have an honest and open discussion about all of the issues confronting us over ANIMALS.
We all try to put a label on everyone. If you are a Indiana Puppy Breeder you must be linked to Indiana Puppy Mills. If you work with a rescue you must be be part of the Animals Rights movement. We all have to get over the mentality of "Me" vs "You" or "Us" vs "Them". If we all truly want to fix the issue(s) let’s sit down and talk about it. We at ICAW are willing to sit down and have a fair and open minded conversation about all of it. Just let us know "Where" and "When". Is everyone else willing to do so?
With all of that being said please read the following article.
THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE PET INDUSTRY
By Jim Hughes
Let us take a look at the enormous impact the pet industry can and does make on the American economy and the financial loss that can be expected on the communities that pass adverse legislation designed to eradicate the production of pets from these communities. The Humane Society of the United States has stated publicly that they intend to abolish the production of animals in this country. They are starting this campaign by attacking the dog breeding industry in over 40 states with some sort of anti-dog breeding legislation. The Breed Specific legislation was the first as they targeted all the Pit Bulls and Rottweilers because of dog attacks on children. This was then expanded to include Dobermans and German Shepherds and eventually went on to include 75 breeds, which we included this list in a back issue of The Kennel Spotlight. Unless you were a breeder of one of these breeds, no one seemed inclined to defend your rights to raise these dogs. The city of Denver, Colorado banned these breeds in their city and killed over 800 of them. The only way to save your dog was to leave the city. Who would defend “child killers”?
Next, came the dog fighting bills that were introduced into the state legislatures all over the country. You all should remember the Michael Vick case. As animal lovers and breeders , we certainly were not going to give the appearance that we would condone “Dog Fighting”. Then the “Spay and Neuter” legislation hit. Its avowed purpose was to prevent unwanted dogs from being produced to roam our city streets. Our legislatures were sold a ‘bill of goods’ about the unrealistic cost of housing these strays and how this problem could be solved if we just forced ALL dog owners to neuter their dogs. Now we are being faced with big government regulating our constitutional rights by telling us how many dogs we are allowed to keep on our own property, irregardless of whether that property is a back yard within the city limits, or a few acres outside the city or even the Texas King Ranch, with its million acres.
Eventually, if the Humaniacs have their way, they will put the dog breeders out of business, ALL DOG BREEDERS, sporting hounds, seeing eye dogs, drug enforcement dogs, police dogs, cattle and sheep ranching dogs, rescue dogs and the Hobby Show Dogs. Next will come cats, then horses, then pet shop type livestock, [parakeets, hamsters, reptiles, parrots, cockatoos, etc.].Only after all of this is accomplished will they start on the Hog farmer, the Cattle farmer and the Sheep farmer, but eventually they intend to get everyone of us. They are Vegetarians and they want all of us to eat that way. Unfortunately, most legislatures refuse to see this. It has now become our first priority to convince these lawmakers of this long range goal of the H$U$.
People will listen if you talk about money and what it is going to cost them. When an insurance man is sitting in your living room, sure you want to know what the policy will do, but first, how much will it cost? Well, the destruction of the pet industry will cost the United States economy 45.4 Billion dollars in 2009. That’s $45,400,000,000.00. That was big money before Obama. That’s 9 billion, eighty million dollars per state, give or take a few million. Now bringing that figure down into your own back yard, there are 36,757 city, county and township voting entities in this country that will lose $2,470,000 each. Can they afford it? And remember, this is just pets. I do not know and cannot even think of how many zeros that will accompany these figures when we figure the farm animals in. Of course, these figures will change due to the population of that state. But the states with the most to lose are the ones that are leading the way. The H$U$ and the countries’ lawmakers are oblivious of the fact that America’s pet industry has grown from 17 billion dollars in 1994 to 45.4 billion dollars today, making it the fourth largest industry in the country today.
There are 71.4 million homes in the United States that have pets which means that well over two thirds of our citizens love and want pets, but 99.8 percent have not the slightest inkling of what the end result will be if the H$U$ is allowed to win this war. WHEN WILL THE PET INDUSTRY WAKE UP? We have a story to tell and we better get started telling it. We are falling further behind every day. There are 412 million pets residing in American homes today. If we can convince the American public to donate just one dollar per pet to save their right to own and keep pets, we can put the Animal Rights people on the moon. WE MUST ACT NOW, or forever hold our peace. Do we say goodbye to a way of life that we all love, or do we fight? You, the readers, hold our future in your hands. What say you??
I think maybe I have found the best article about farming practices in todays world that I have ever found. As I have told you before the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare will always stay at the forefront of todays news. Whether it be Factory Farming, Indiana Puppy Breeders or Puppy Mill Rescue. Please read the following article and give us your feedback.
The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals
Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is. This is something the critics of industrial farming never seem to understand.
I’m dozing, as I often do on airplanes, but the guy behind me has been broadcasting nonstop for nearly three hours. I finally admit defeat and start some serious eavesdropping. He’s talking about food, damning farming, particularly livestock farming, compensating for his lack of knowledge with volume.
I’m so tired of people who wouldn’t visit a doctor who used a stethoscope instead of an MRI demanding that farmers like me use 1930s technology to raise food. Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is.
But now we have to listen to self-appointed experts on airplanes frightening their seatmates about the profession I have practiced for more than 30 years. I’d had enough. I turned around and politely told the lecturer that he ought not believe everything he reads. He quieted and asked me what kind of farming I do. I told him, and when he asked if I used organic farming, I said no, and left it at that. I didn’t answer with the first thought that came to mind, which is simply this: I deal in the real world, not superstitions, and unless the consumer absolutely forces my hand, I am about as likely to adopt organic methods as the Wall Street Journal is to publish their next edition by setting the type by hand.
Young turkeys aren’t smart enough to come in out of the rain, and will stand outside in a downpour, with beaks open and eyes skyward, until they drown.
He was a businessman, and I’m sure spends his days with spreadsheets, projections, and marketing studies. He hasn’t used a slide rule in his career and wouldn’t make projections with tea leaves or soothsayers. He does not blame witchcraft for a bad quarter, or expect the factory that makes his product to use steam power instead of electricity, or horses and wagons to deliver his products instead of trucks and trains. But he expects me to farm like my grandfather, and not incidentally, I suppose, to live like him as well. He thinks farmers are too stupid to farm sustainably, too cruel to treat their animals well, and too careless to worry about their communities, their health, and their families. I would not presume to criticize his car, or the size of his house, or the way he runs his business. But he is an expert about me, on the strength of one book, and is sharing that expertise with captive audiences every time he gets the chance. Enough, enough, enough.
Industrial Farming and Its Critics
Critics of “industrial farming” spend most of their time concerned with the processes by which food is raised. This is because the results of organic production are so, well, troublesome. With the subtraction of every “unnatural” additive, molds, fungus, and bugs increase. Since it is difficult to sell a religion with so many readily quantifiable bad results, the trusty family farmer has to be thrown into the breach, saving the whole organic movement by his saintly presence, chewing on his straw, plodding along, at one with his environment, his community, his neighborhood. Except that some of the largest farms in the country are organic—and are giant organizations dependent upon lots of hired stoop labor doing the most backbreaking of tasks in order to save the sensitive conscience of my fellow passenger the merest whiff of pesticide contamination. They do not spend much time talking about that at the Whole Foods store.
The most delicious irony is this: the parts of farming that are the most “industrial” are the most likely to be owned by the kind of family farmers that elicit such a positive response from the consumer. Corn farms are almost all owned and managed by small family farmers. But corn farmers salivate at the thought of one more biotech breakthrough, use vast amounts of energy to increase production, and raise large quantities of an indistinguishable commodity to sell to huge corporations that turn that corn into thousands of industrial products.
The biggest environmental harm I’ve done as a farmer is the topsoil (and nutrients) I used to send down the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico before we began to practice no-till farming, made possible only by the use of herbicides.
Most livestock is produced by family farms, and even the poultry industry, with its contracts and vertical integration, relies on family farms to contract for the production of the birds. Despite the obvious change in scale over time, family farms, like ours, still meet around the kitchen table, send their kids to the same small schools, sit in the same church pew, and belong to the same civic organizations our parents and grandparents did. We may be industrial by some definition, but not our own. Reality is messier than it appears in the book my tormentor was reading, and farming more complicated than a simple morality play.
On the desk in front of me are a dozen books, all hugely critical of present-day farming. Farmers are often given a pass in these books, painted as either naïve tools of corporate greed, or economic nullities forced into their present circumstances by the unrelenting forces of the twin grindstones of corporate greed and unfeeling markets. To the farmer on the ground, though, a farmer blessed with free choice and hard won experience, the moral choices aren’t quite so easy. Biotech crops actually cut the use of chemicals, and increase food safety. Are people who refuse to use them my moral superiors? Herbicides cut the need for tillage, which decreases soil erosion by millions of tons. The biggest environmental harm I have done as a farmer is the topsoil (and nutrients) I used to send down the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico before we began to practice no-till farming, made possible only by the use of herbicides. The combination of herbicides and genetically modified seed has made my farm more sustainable, not less, and actually reduces the pollution I send down the river.
Finally, consumers benefit from cheap food. If you think they don’t, just remember the headlines after food prices began increasing in 2007 and 2008, including the study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations announcing that 50 million additional people are now hungry because of increasing food prices. Only “industrial farming” can possibly meet the demands of an increasing population and increased demand for food as a result of growing incomes.
The distance between the farmer and what he grows has certainly increased, but, believe me, if we weren’t closely connected, we wouldn’t still be farming.
So the stakes in this argument are even higher. Farmers can raise food in different ways if that is what the market wants. It is important, though, that even people riding in airplanes know that there are environmental and food safety costs to whatever kind of farming we choose.
Pigs in a Pen
In his book Dominion, author Mathew Scully calls “factory farming” an “obvious moral evil so sickening and horrendous it would leave us ashen.” Scully, a speechwriter for the second President Bush, can hardly be called a man of the left. Just to make sure the point is not lost, he quotes the conservative historian Paul Johnson a page later:
The rise of factory farming, whereby food producers cannot remain competitive except by subjecting animals to unspeakable deprivation, has hastened this process. The human spirit revolts at what we have been doing.
Arizona and Florida have outlawed pig gestation crates, and California recently passed, overwhelmingly, a ballot initiative doing the same. There is no doubt that Scully and Johnson have the wind at their backs, and confinement raising of livestock may well be outlawed everywhere. And only a person so callous as to have a spirit that cannot be revolted, or so hardened to any kind of morality that he could countenance an obvious moral evil, could say a word in defense of caging animals during their production. In the quote above, Paul Johnson is forecasting a move toward vegetarianism. But if we assume, at least for the present, that most of us will continue to eat meat, let me dive in where most fear to tread.
Lynn Niemann was a neighbor of my family’s, a farmer with a vision. He began raising turkeys on a field near his house around 1956. They were, I suppose, what we would now call “free range” turkeys. Turkeys raised in a natural manner, with no roof over their heads, just gamboling around in the pasture, as God surely intended. Free to eat grasshoppers, and grass, and scratch for grubs and worms. And also free to serve as prey for weasels, who kill turkeys by slitting their necks and practicing exsanguination. Weasels were a problem, but not as much a threat as one of our typically violent early summer thunderstorms. It seems that turkeys, at least young ones, are not smart enough to come in out of the rain, and will stand outside in a downpour, with beaks open and eyes skyward, until they drown. One night Niemann lost 4,000 turkeys to drowning, along with his dream, and his farm.
Food production will have a claim on fossil fuels long after we’ve learned how to use renewables and nuclear power to handle many of our other energy needs.
Now, turkeys are raised in large open sheds. Chickens and turkeys raised for meat are not grown in cages. As the critics of "industrial farming" like to point out, the sheds get quite crowded by the time Thanksgiving rolls around and the turkeys are fully grown. And yes, the birds are bedded in sawdust, so the turkeys do walk around in their own waste. Although the turkeys don’t seem to mind, this quite clearly disgusts the various authors I’ve read whom have actually visited a turkey farm. But none of those authors, whose descriptions of the horrors of modern poultry production have a certain sameness, were there when Neimann picked up those 4,000 dead turkeys. Sheds are expensive, and it was easier to raise turkeys in open, inexpensive pastures. But that type of production really was hard on the turkeys. Protected from the weather and predators, today’s turkeys may not be aware that they are a part of a morally reprehensible system.
Like most young people in my part of the world, I was a 4-H member. Raising cattle and hogs, showing them at the county fair, and then sending to slaughter those animals that we had spent the summer feeding, washing, and training. We would then tour the packing house, where our friend was hung on a rail, with his loin eye measured and his carcass evaluated. We farm kids got an early start on dulling our moral sensibilities. I’m still proud of my win in the Atchison County Carcass competition of 1969, as it is the only trophy I have ever received. We raised the hogs in a shed, or farrowing (birthing) house. On one side were eight crates of the kind that the good citizens of California have outlawed. On the other were the kind of wooden pens that our critics would have us use, where the sow could turn around, lie down, and presumably act in a natural way. Which included lying down on my 4-H project, killing several piglets, and forcing me to clean up the mess when I did my chores before school. The crates protect the piglets from their mothers. Farmers do not cage their hogs because of sadism, but because dead pigs are a drag on the profit margin, and because being crushed by your mother really is an awful way to go. As is being eaten by your mother, which I’ve seen sows do to newborn pigs as well.
I warned you that farming is still dirty and bloody, and I wasn’t kidding. So let’s talk about manure. It is an article of faith amongst the agri-intellectuals that we no longer use manure as fertilizer. To quote Dr. Michael Fox in his book Eating with a Conscience, "The animal waste is not going back to the land from which he animal feed originated." Or Bill McKibben, in his book Deep Economy, writing about modern livestock production: "But this concentrates the waste in one place, where instead of being useful fertilizer to spread on crop fields it becomes a toxic threat."
In my inbox is an email from our farm’s neighbor, who raises thousands of hogs in close proximity to our farm, and several of my family member’s houses as well. The email outlines the amount and chemical analysis of the manure that will be spread on our fields this fall, manure that will replace dozens of tons of commercial fertilizer. The manure is captured underneath the hog houses in cement pits, and is knifed into the soil after the crops are harvested. At no time is it exposed to erosion, and it is an extremely valuable resource, one which farmers use to its fullest extent, just as they have since agriculture began.
Pollan thinks farmers use commercial fertilizer because it’s easier, and because it’s cheap. Pollan is right. But those are perfectly defensible reasons.
In the southern part of Missouri, there is an extensive poultry industry in areas of the state where the soil is poor. The farmers there spread the poultry litter on pasture, and the advent of poultry barns made cattle production possible in areas that used to be waste ground. The "industrial" poultry houses are owned by family farmers, who have then used the byproducts to produce beef in areas where cattle couldn’t survive before. McKibben is certain that the contracts these farmers sign with companies like Tyson are unfair, and the farmers might agree. But they like those cows, so there is a waiting list for new chicken barns. In some areas, there is indeed more manure than available cropland. But the trend in the industry, thankfully, is toward a dispersion of animals and manure, as the value of the manure increases, and the cost of transporting the manure becomes prohibitive.
We Can’t Change Nature
The largest producer of pigs in the United States has promised to gradually end the use of hog crates. The Humane Society promises to take their initiative drive to outlaw farrowing crates and poultry cages to more states. Many of the counties in my own state of Missouri have chosen to outlaw the the building of confinement facilities. Barack Obama has been harshly critical of animal agriculture. We are clearly in the process of deciding that we will not continue to raise animals the way we do now. Because other countries may not share our sensibilities, we’ll have to withdraw or amend free trade agreements to keep any semblance of a livestock industry.
We can do that, and we may be a better society for it, but we can’t change nature. Pigs will be allowed to "return to their mire," as Kipling had it, but they’ll also be crushed and eaten by their mothers. Chickens will provide lunch to any number of predators, and some number of chickens will die as flocks establish their pecking order.
In recent years, the cost of producing pork dropped as farmers increased feed efficiency (the amount of feed needed to produce a pound of pork) by 20 percent. Free-range chickens and pigs will increase the price of food, using more energy and water to produce the extra grain required for the same amount of meat, and some people will go hungry. It is also instructive that the first company to move away from farrowing crates is the largest producer of pigs. Changing the way we raise animals will not necessarily change the scale of the companies involved in the industry. If we are about to require more expensive ways of producing food, the largest and most well-capitalized farms will have the least trouble adapting.
The Omnivores’ Delusions
Michael Pollan, in an 8,000-word essay in the New York Times Magazine, took the expected swipes at animal agriculture. But his truly radical prescriptions had to do with raising of crops. Pollan, who seemed to be aware of the nitrogen problem in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, left nuance behind, as well as the laws of chemistry, in his recommendations. The nitrogen problem is this: without nitrogen, we do not have life. Until we learned to produce nitrogen from natural gas early in the last century, the only way to get nitrogen was through nitrogen produced by plants called legumes, or from small amounts of nitrogen that are produced by lightning strikes. The amount of life the earth could support was limited by the amount of nitrogen available for crop production.
In his book, Pollan quotes geographer Vaclav Smil to the effect that 40 percent of the people alive today would not be alive without the ability to artificially synthesize nitrogen. But in his directive on food policy, Pollan damns agriculture’s dependence on fossil fuels, and urges the president to encourage agriculture to move away from expensive and declining supplies of natural gas toward the unlimited sunshine that supported life, and agriculture, as recently as the 1940s. Now, why didn’t I think of that?
Well, I did. I’ve raised clover and alfalfa for the nitrogen they produce, and half the time my land is planted to soybeans, another nitrogen producing legume. Pollan writes as if all of his ideas are new, but my father tells of agriculture extension meetings in the late 1950s entitled "Clover and Corn, the Road to Profitability." Farmers know that organic farming was the default position of agriculture for thousands of years, years when hunger was just around the corner for even advanced societies. I use all the animal manure available to me, and do everything I can to reduce the amount of commercial fertilizers I use. When corn genetically modified to use nitrogen more efficiently enters the market, as it soon will, I will use it as well. But none of those things will completely replace commercial fertilizer.
Norman Borlaug, founder of the green revolution, estimates that the amount of nitrogen available naturally would only support a worldwide population of 4 billion souls or so. He further remarks that we would need another 5 billion cows to produce enough manure to fertilize our present crops with "natural" fertilizer. That would play havoc with global warming. And cows do not produce nitrogen from the air, but only from the forages they eat, so to produce more manure we will have to plant more forages. Most of the critics of industrial farming maintain the contradictory positions that we should increase the use of manure as a fertilizer, and decrease our consumption of meat. Pollan would solve the problem with cover crops, planted after the corn crop is harvested, and with mandatory composting. Pollan should talk to some actual farmers before he presumes to advise a president.
Pollan tells of flying over the upper Midwest in the winter, and seeing the black, fallow soil. I suppose one sees what one wants to see, but we have not had the kind of tillage implement on our farm that would produce black soil in nearly 20 years. Pollan would provide our nitrogen by planting those black fields to nitrogen-producing cover crops after the cash crops are harvested. This is a fine plan, one that farmers have known about for generations. And sometimes it would even work. But not last year, as we finished harvest in November in a freezing rain. It is hard to think of a legume that would have done its thing between then and corn planting time. Plants do not grow very well in freezing weather, a fact that would evidently surprise Pollan.
And even if we could have gotten a legume established last fall, it would not have fixed any nitrogen before planting time. We used to plant corn in late May, plowing down our green manure and killing the first flush of weeds. But that meant the corn would enter its crucial growing period during the hottest, driest parts of the summer, and that soil erosion would be increased because the land was bare during drenching spring rains. Now we plant in early April, best utilizing our spring rains, and ensuring that pollination occurs before the dog days of August.
A few other problems come to mind. The last time I planted a cover crop, the clover provided a perfect habitat in early spring for bugs, bugs that I had to kill with an insecticide. We do not normally apply insecticides, but we did that year. Of course, you can provide nitrogen with legumes by using a longer crop rotation, growing clover one year and corn the next. But that uses twice as much water to produce a corn crop, and takes twice as much land to produce the same number of bushels. We are producing twice the food we did in 1960 on less land, and commercial nitrogen is one of the main reasons why. It may be that we decide we would rather spend land and water than energy, but Pollan never mentions that we are faced with that choice.
His other grand idea is mandatory household composting, with the compost delivered to farmers free of charge. Why not? Compost is a valuable soil amendment, and if somebody else is paying to deliver it to my farm, then bring it on. But it will not do much to solve the nitrogen problem. Household compost has somewhere between 1 and 5 percent nitrogen, and not all that nitrogen is available to crops the first year. Presently, we are applying about 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre to corn, and crediting about 40 pounds per acre from the preceding years soybean crop. Let’s assume a 5 percent nitrogen rate, or about 100 pounds of nitrogen per ton of compost. That would require 3,000 pounds of compost per acre. Or about 150,000 tons for the corn raised in our county. The average truck carries about 20 tons. Picture 7,500 trucks traveling from New York City to our small county here in the Midwest, delivering compost. Five million truckloads to fertilize the country’s corn crop. Now, that would be a carbon footprint!
Pollan thinks farmers use commercial fertilizer because it is easier, and because it is cheap. Pollan is right. But those are perfectly defensible reasons. Nitrogen quadrupled in price over the last several years, and farmers are still using it, albeit more cautiously. We are using GPS monitors on all of our equipment to ensure that we do not use too much, and our production of corn per pound of nitrogen is rapidly increasing. On our farm, we have increased yields about 50 percent during my career, while applying about the same amount of nitrogen we did when I began farming. That fortunate trend will increase even faster with the advent of new GMO hybrids. But as much as Pollan might desire it, even President Obama cannot reshuffle the chemical deck that nature has dealt. Energy may well get much more expensive, and peak oil production may have been reached. But food production will have a claim on fossil fuels long after we have learned how to use renewables and nuclear power to handle many of our other energy needs.
Farming and Connectedness
Much of farming is more "industrial," more technical, and more complex than it used to be. Farmers farm more acres, and are less close to the ground and their animals than they were in the past. Almost all critics of industrial agriculture bemoan this loss of closeness, this "connectedness," to use author Rod Dreher’s term. It is a given in most of the writing about agriculture that the knowledge and experience of the organic farmer is what makes him so unique and so important. The "industrial farmer," on the other hand, is a mere pawn of Cargill, backed into his ignorant way of life by forces too large, too far from the farm, and too powerful to resist. Concern about this alienation, both between farmers and the land, and between consumers and their food supply, is what drives much of the literature about agriculture.
The distance between the farmer and what he grows h
Those of us here at the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare will do our best to keep the citizens of Indiana informed about the latest news about animals. Agriculture is truly under attack across the United States. We are going to keep you informed about the latest news about Factory Farming, Agri Business so that you can make an informed decision about what you and your family can do or should do.
AVMA report to congress disputes Pew Commission study By Drovers news source (8/17/2009)
The nation’s largest veterinary association released to Congress a scientific response that disputes several of the findings and recommendations made in a report released last year by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.
In a letter sent with the AVMA’s response to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Dr. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), expressed concerns about the Pew Commission’s report and urged members to vote against H.R. 1549 and S. 619, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) as they are written. The Pew Commission’s findings and recommendations are being used to advocate for PAMTA.
According to the letter to Congress, “The AVMA is the recognized national voice for the veterinary profession. Our more than 78,000 members represent approximately 86% of U.S. veterinarians, all of whom are involved in a myriad of areas of veterinary medical practice including private, corporate, academic, industrial, governmental, military, and public health services. It is with this authority that we question the methods and outcomes of the Pew Commission’s report on Industrial Farm Animal Production.”
The AVMA’s response raises issue with the scientific validity of several critical areas of the Pew Commission’s report. Key findings from the AVMA’s response include:
• The Pew Commission’s process for gaining technical expertise in the Pew technical reports was biased and did not incorporate the findings and suggestions of a significant number of participating academicians.
• Points in the Pew report that address antimicrobial resistance, the environment and animal welfare were determined to be the most pertinent to veterinary medicine. In these areas, the AVMA asserts that many of the Pew Commission’s sub-points have significant shortfalls and lack information as to how the Commission would execute a new plan or program.
• The Pew Commission’s recommendations for highly restrictive bans on antibiotic use, which are also being used to advocate for PAMTA, have not been proven beneficial to public health. When Denmark and the Netherlands made an attempt to implement less restrictive bans on antibiotics than those recommended by Pew, they found that even a small decrease in antibiotic use severely diminished animal health and welfare without significantly improving human health.
So much is going on around the country about the topic of Factory Farming, we here at the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare are taking an active role in paying attention to what is going on in the midwest and other parts of the country. Our neighbors to the east of us in Ohio have an interesting approach to the coming Tsunami that is about to hit them in the fall. We reprint an article by the Colorado Farm Bureau here. Whatever thoughts you may have about it please leave us a comment about Factory Farming.
COLUMBUS, OH – The effort to create a Livestock Care and Standards Board which would establish a framework for making livestock care decisions in Ohio, has been called “disingenuous” by the HSUS.
Much like the referendum process in Colorado, if approved, joint resolutions in the Ohio state House and Senate would place the measure on the November 3, 2009 Ohio general election ballot.
The board will comprise a broad base of experts in livestock and poultry care, including three family farmers, two veterinarians (one of whom is the state veterinarian), a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, two members from statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and two members representing Ohio consumers. The purpose of the group will be to promulgate standards of care and wellbeing of livestock animals in the state.
The move has riled the Humane Society of the United States President, Wayne Pacelle, who calls the measure a “special interest power grab” in an official statement and demands Ohio leaders “insist that the Ohio Farm Bureau and other agribusiness groups” work cooperatively with his organization. The organization has also threatened to launch a statewide ballot initiative for November 3, 2010 if their demands were not met. The potential initiative would be very similar to Proposition 2, the HSUS led measure which passed last year in California.
This is not the first time HSUS has made threats to file an initiative if industry leaders did not sufficiently cooperate with HSUS demands. Last February HSUS officials sat down with Ohio Farm Bureau and other Ohiocommodity groupsand disclosed their intention to reform animal welfare in the state. The Ohio Farm Bureau has not agreed to work with the animal rights organization.
Farmers and Ranchers Speak Out
On Wednesday, both the Ohio House and Senate Ag committees heard testimony on the resolution. Farmers and ranchers from across the state gave testimony supporting the measure. In addition to Farm Bureau leaders, representatives from the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, the Ohio Poultry Producers, the Ohio Soy Council, the Ohio Pork Council, the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, the Ohio Corn Growers and the Ohio Department of Agriculture were on hand to deliver expert testimony to lawmakers.
“Animal care is a top priority for Ohio farmers – it’s the right thing to do and it keeps our animals safe, healthy and disease-free,” said Bob Peterson, a FayetteCounty farmer and an Ohio Farm Bureau state trustee, during Senate testimony.
Staff from the Ohio Farm Bureau was on hand to report on the proceedings, recording audio clips and using the social networking site Twitter, to keep those who were not present up to date.
Dean Vickers, a representative of HSUS was on hand to testify against the resolution in House Ag, and committed a slight Freudian slip, saying that the “Ohio Farm Bureau has disingenuous intent while driving this issue” (emphasis added). Later in Senate Ag, Mr. Vickers told lawmakers that the measure was a “power grab” by “big Ag”, and that his organization wants a “serious look” at “factory farming.”
By far one of the most cogent comments of the day came from Ohio Rep. Jeff Wagner, who in response to HSUS testimony, asked, “I started out with 200 pigs and worked my way up to 2000. At what point did I stop caring for my animals?”
HSUS Claims Fall on Deaf Ears
In the prepared statement on the joint resolution from HSUS president Wayne Pacelle tried to accuse the organizers and supporters of the Livestock Care and Standards Board to be only interested in maintaining the status-quo.
“This proposed council is a blatant attempt to stall efforts to halt inhumane confinement practices for veal calves, pigs and other animals on factory farms,” said Pacelle.
The claim seems to not resonate well with producers and lawmakers at the hearing. They say that the measure is a good-faith solution to ensuring that all Ohio livestock is humanely raised.
“Ohio’s livestock and poultry farmers recognize that we must do more than what is expected of us and that our consumers deserve to be reassured that their food is produced responsibly and animals are well cared for,” said Bob Peterson, OFBF State Trustee.
One producer noted in testimony that it is not often that an industry submits to and proposes additional regulation on itself. HSUS also tried to insinuate that the state of Ohio lacked the funds to pay for the creation of the board. Pacelle leveled that argument in his statement saying that,
“…given the state’s enormous budgetary problems, paying for a constitutionally-authorized commission regarding the treatment of farm animals seems like a poor use of taxpayer funds.”
This issue was addressed in the hearings when Adam Ward of the Ohio Department of Agriculture testified to lawmakers that the cost of the board and enforcement of its findings would cost little if any money because the ODA already had inspectors on Ohio livestock and poultry farms.
The measure must now be voted on and passed by both houses of the Ohio legislature if it is to be listed on the November 2009 statewide ballot.
Later in the day on Wednesday, June 24th the Ohio House of Representatives voted 84-13 in favor of the Livestock Care and Standards Board. The Ohio Senate voted to approve an amended measure the next day with a unanimous vote. The final version of the resolution, once approved, will put the measure on the November ballot.