Thursday, August 19, 2010

So Why Would Anyone In Their Right Mind Do This?

Anyone who knows me can answer that question for you pretty easily. I’m just not quite right in the head. And you have to be a little bit different, to put up with a lot of the junk that is out there concerning animal welfare. If there’s a differing option out there, my guess is it will get fired at you at lightning speed.

But back to the question of the day. Why put yourself out there as a focal point for the crazies and nut cases?

Because it is really important to our industry. Less than 1% of our population is involved in feeding our nation.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics list farm jobs at just over eight hundred thousand. Double that number to cover the people involved in support businesses (like us), and let’s call the number 1.5 million.

1,500,000 feeding 300,000,000 people.

This puts way too many people too far away from the source of their food. Too many people who have no idea what goes into feeding them, no idea about what is involved in caring for their food, and no idea that those of us in the Ag industry really care about the food that gets produced for them.

Some education needs to happen and we need to decide whether or not we in Ag will be involved in the discussion. Have you even noticed that it is a lot easier to point a finger at a nameless mass, but when you know an individual, and he gets to call you on things you get wrong, it gets harder to embellish the story?  Megan and I’ve talked about a lot of things farm and she’s learned a few things and so have I concerning vegetarians. I’ll think twice about lumping them all into the nut case category.

Hopefully that is the effect that these conversations have on some of this group. Maybe they will question seeing a cow in a barn as not abusive, a calf getting dehorned, or piglet getting its eye teeth clipped as being an okay procedure. Or at least they will ask the question.

But can it make a difference? Yes, it can. Recently I got a message from a new friend, who after watching a video on animal abuse, commented that because of conversations had recently with a group of farmers, understood the differences in what constituted abuse.

I don’t expect this topic to go away anytime soon, and people with cameras will continue to show up. But let’s give as many people as we can an opportunity to know a farmer and see a farm. They don’t have to agree with every practice, but if they know the people involved, it would give them a place to start asking the questions.

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