Monday, July 26, 2010

Agribusiness Blasphemy

I've been a proud farmer all my adult life. To the bottom of my being, I believe in what I do and in what I stand for. First and foremost, I primarily try to act as a husbandman in all that I do. It's my job to tend after my piece of God's good earth and the creatures that roam on it and to do both in a manner that is respectful toward the part of creation which I have been entrusted.

My neighbours and my friends, representing small and large farms, both conventional and organic, mostly believe like I do, and they bring every bit as much passion as I do to the table each and every day.

I read a series of articles in a mainline agricultural publication earlier today that made mock of everything I and most of the farmers that inhabit my world stand for. The gist of the articles, and indeed, the underlying gist of most of the publication is that farm animals are nothing but protoplasm designed to be manipulated, caged and disposed of as we see fit with little or no regard paid to their needs, wants and desires. Indeed, one of the articles in the cluster of nonsense I read had the werewithal to suggest that animals are happier in artificial environments (think factory type caged laying hens and sows in gestation stalls) than they are living more naturally, and, unbelieveably to me, the article cited peer reviewed research to back their "facts" up. Even more unbelievably, there was yet MORE peer reviewed research in another article that suggested the environment benefitted in a number of ways by ALL factory agriculture choices, from monoculture corn and beans in the midwest to locating huge feedlots and dairies on brittle western land. By this point, I was shaking my head so hard I thought it was going to start spinning all the way around.

I'm left to wonder whether or not these people actually believe the nonsense they are spewing ? I'm also left to wonder, yet again, who'se agenda they are supposed to be protecting when they spew this stuff. I don't have to wonder whether or not farmers like me need better representation than we're getting from the folks doing this nonsense research or writing these garbage articles. I KNOW that.

In a burst of irony, this same publication had several articles in this very issue wondering why consumers are turning in droves toward local production, bypassing corporate agriculture with their food dollars. Well, duh.


Sylvia said...

Thank you for this recent post. I don't understand big ag. It saddens me that small farms are being pushed out for these larger, less humane, farms. (the recent video of the (Ohio or Pennsylvania?) dairy farm abuse was especially heartbreaking). I do find myself being *much more* aware of where I purchase our food. It makes me thankful we're back home, where buying local is much easier.

Jason said...


It's the mindset of this group of people that bothers me most. It permeates the entire industry, from top to bottom and it can be found on both large and small farms. Even organic isn't exempt (Horizon Organic Dairy is a hell of a mess, in my opinion). The recent dairy abuse out of Ohio is another case in point; Conklin's was not a large dairy by today's standard.

This group of people are so out of touch, it's scary. They've taken everything that's good and decent about what I do for a living and they've turned it on it's ear.

I believe there are good people everywhere and that includes big ag, but I don't like what they stand for and I'm going to continue speaking out about it when I see it and when I can.

Hope things are good in VT today !

Brew said...

I don't want to look like a big ag backer cause I'm not. Nor do I support animal abuse but I think there is more to the story in the Conklin's dairy video. It is very hard to find on the web but the truth is out there. As usual the truth lies some where in the middle. Greed will never allow for the big ag industry to change.

Jason said...

Brew you may well be correct. I don't know Coughlin Dairy at all.

Maybe someone was trying to ruin a good farmers' reputation. Or maybe it was a bad employee or two. It sure wouldn't be the first time that has happened.

All I know is that I watched the video and it about made me throw up my breakfast imagining somebody doing that to any critter in my care. I'm no extremist, but what I saw was grossly unacceptable, and I'm being very kind in using that terminology.

Country Girl said...

I am a farmers daughter and granddaughter. I have animals and a strong belief in agriculture. And I was horrified by a documentary I recently watched showing how some agricultural animals are treated.

I really believe that as consumers get better educated then they will become more interested in eating products such as free range pork or chicken. Growing up on a farm I always knew where my food came from.

Now I wish everyone else had that luxury.