Thursday, August 19, 2010

Say What? Ok, That Ain't Right.

So in these conversations with the animal welfare crowd, how do we go about getting our story out? One of the things I’ve been trying to do is to get to know the people who perceive that they are on the other side of Ag. PETA supporters and the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), both have a fairly popular following, and all involved have different ideas about their agendas. Some will argue that HSUS doesn’t have a vegan agenda, while someone else will point out that their leadership is vegetarian. These groups as I’ve pointed out before, are pretty good at getting their meatless message out, and do have Ag as an industry in a bit of a defensive position. They are trying to tell our story for us, and sometimes they are using information that’s just wrong.

An example of that played itself out recently for me. An anti- “factory”- farm poster listed off all of the hidden horrors of a modern factory dairy. Only problem is, they got them wrong. Not just a little bit wrong, WOW wrong. One of the details shared was the claim that rBST chemically induced cows give 10X the amount of milk that they would naturally. Now I got to admit 10x would be something to see. I can’t believe it would be in any way sustainable, but think of it, 800 lbs a day……………..

I try to stay on the edge of the fray.  I’m only a member of this site by invite, as one of two token farm folks. I try to mind my words and lay kind of low, but at some point it gets hard to keep your mouth shut. So I opened my big mouth and challenged the information. I gave the right info, but for lack of time, didn’t list sources. Someone asked for them, and the original poster gave,”the secret lives of cows”.

I try to stay pretty level headed in these spots, but I sort of lost it. My response went a bit like this.

“You gotta be kidding, I’ve got to refute that as a source? Wow. Fine, I’ll get to it, it’s really busy around here right now, it could take a day or two”.

And an interesting thing happened. About a half a dozen additional posts showed up, one even from the original poster, which refuted enough of the original claims that they lost their credibility. One post actually credited Monsanto’s site mentioning a 10% increase in production, which was my stance. But after I did a little digging, I found the same discredited facts on at least two other sites. So how do they come up with their numbers?  I’m not sure, but I’ll throw this out. A stock cow is as close to a natural cow as anyone in animal welfare will admit to, and she gives about 10-15 lbs of milk per day. A dairy cow that is cruising along can give anywhere from 100- 150 lbs/ day. So obviously the rBST enabled this cow to give 10X her “natural” amount of milk, right?

Kind of brings to mind the old adage, “Figures do not lie, but liars figure.”

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