By: Kiley Stinson, Intern
I recently had the opportunity to take in some of the most fascinating and historical landmarks of our country when visiting our Nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C. It was truly a remarkable experience, and puts our American History in a whole different perspective once you’ve been. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to go.
After braving the heat for several hours, in an attempt to cool off we checked out the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Coincidentally, across the street sits the United States Department of Agriculture building. While trying to weave in-and-out of a cluster of people, I noticed the young woman walking in front of me stopped and picked up a pretty colorful magazine. To my surprise in bold lettering the heading read “Go Vegetarian, Go Vegan.” So who were the culprits with their logo clearly printed on the front cover? PETA. All it took was one flip of a page to see the lies and misinterpretation of information attacking animal agriculture. Animal rights activist groups such as PETA and also the HSUS quite frequently use facts and information out of context in order to frame farm animal production in a negative manner. These groups effectively get the attention of young hearts by using emotion through words, photos and videos that show animals being abused and neglected and often include so called “testimonies” by celebrities and professional athletes.
So what did the articles have to say this time? In highlighted text, phrases such as “many pigs go insane from extremely crowded conditions in factory farms, and compulsively chew on the bars of their pens.” A lot of folks might not realize this, but pigs chew on everything! Especially young pigs, I know this from raising pigs on my farm. It’s not uncommon to see a pig chewing on a panel, your shoes, a stick or even a marshmallow! This just goes to show that just because a picture shows a pig chewing on the panel of a pen, doesn’t mean that animal is in danger. You can’t believe everything you see. It’s common practice by farmers and livestock producers to keep their animals in a pen to protect them harmful predators. Whether that potential predator is a coyote, a cat, or actions taken as a preventative biosecurity measure to ensure that their farm stays clean and free of disease. It’s all done to provide a safe and healthy food supply for consumers. If animal rights activists are so appalled to the idea of young animals being kept in a pen, were they not one of the millions of kids whose parents used playpens when they were growing up? Play pens protect children from wandering off away from their parents, and provides a safe place to nap, play or snack.. Hmm… sounds similar to how farmers keep their animals safe and happy.
The challenge? Many will believe almost anything on television or in a magazine, even if the message isn’t even close to being accurate. Many families are no where near as self sufficient as their ancestors once were. Many men and women don’t know how that corn, lettuce or hamburger got to their table. This isn’t just an issue in urban cities either. It’s happening in your community. Families are several generations removed from their family farm.
How can you help? Talk. It doesn’t matter if you’re a farmer, livestock producer or the consumer. Tell your story, talk about how much you care, how far you go out of your way to see that what you are producing or eating is safe and wholesome. Write a letter to the editor. Let your neighbors and coworkers know about how good those sirloin steaks and corn on the cob was last night for supper. Talk to your child’s school board about the importance of ag education. Join a social network. Call a farmer or rancher and ask if you can have a tour. I almost guarantee they would be just as excited as you, if not more to talk to you about their livelihood, and the lifestyle that they are oh, so proud of!
Temple Grandin addresses animal welfare
Factory Farms EXPOSED
Don’t be misled
Assault on Agriculture
Become an Advocate for Agriculture
The Animal Rights Agenda
What is the Humane Society of the United States?