Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CAFO Quotes & Simple Rants

"The problem isn't a lack of food, it is poor distribution."

"We don't need CAFOs, we need better farmers."

"CAFO farmers are nothing more than pig Nazis."

"Pasture pigs taste better and are better for you."

"All CAFO farmers are the worst kind of big business farming. They put small farmers out of business and are not real farmers, just investors."

Do you feel this way? Do you agree with any of these statements? Do you find it hard to believe that anyone would think this way? Or, that any one wouldn't?

I have heard them all and then some. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind, just speak of that which I know. I know that we have an abundance of food and there is an inadequate distribution system. However, I also know that as long as we have greed, welfare dependence, obesity, foreign dictators, incompetent government officials, and ignorance we will always have a hunger issue. Yes, farmers do feed the world. Yes, we need better distribution of our food resources. However, unless you have a way of fixing all those other problems then pointing fingers at CAFO owners and distributors really starts looking asinine when you get right down to it.

Now, the claim that better farming techniques are the way to go I have to say I agree. By utilizing new technology, innovative medical know-how, and better understanding of animal husbandry….wait, we’re already doing that. Well, I’ll be dogged. The problem is misunderstanding. Most people love the idea of 1940’s and 50’s farming. It’s a great image but reality doesn’t live in great imagery. To put this in perspective, one farmer in 1940 produced enough to feed 19 people. Today, one farmer can feed 155 people. 155! That is a huge difference and we didn’t accomplish this by sitting idly by and hoping for change. We did it through technological advances and sheer determination. Let us not forget the many technological advances that were waved away by a skeptical society that now serve as a lifeline that we could not live without. Some inventions that come to mind are cars, planes, and tractors.

As far as pasture pigs tasting better and being better for you; well, the first is entirely opinion based and the latter…well, I’d like to see documentation proving that pork is healthier than pork.

As for CAFO owners being nothing more than investors and this image of big business and fat, suit clad men smoking cigars and pocketing thousands of dollars while paying minimum wage to foreign workers is the falsest claim I have ever heard. I say this with first hand experience. I am not just saying, “I heard from…” or “Well, this commercial said…” I live here and I know because we own it, live it, work it, and we are not rich. I wish the latter was otherwise but the facts are that we are owner operators. Sure, we are investors but what business owner isn’t an investor? I'd also like to know if we aren't "real" farmers than what the hell have we been doing for the past several generations?

I’d like to take this time to mention that while I feel the Nazi reference doesn’t deserve to be dignified by a comment, I have to say the ignorance shines through in any such reference. First, to compare anything to the Holocaust is disrespectful to those that suffered through it. Furthermore, to compare farming pigs—an animal—to the mass murders of thousands of innocent people seems too boorish to even put into words. Furthermore, it shows an utter lack of perspective. That is all I will say about that.

I rant for this reason:

·         98% of Americans are several generations removed from farming yet those are the ones that feel they need to tell us how to do it.

·         In an Operation Main Street 2.0 seminar in Kansas State University, out of 100-plus veterinary students only two or three had any experience in swine production.

·         HSUS claims to be all about animal welfare however they only give $0.19 cents of that famous $19 they ask for in their ads--less than 1% of donated funds. While farmers spend tens of thousands of dollars on their animals to make sure they have a safe environment, food, shelter, water, and all their veterinary needs are met. 
·        We have the We Care program, Operation Main Street, PQA Plus, and many other programs, seminars, and mandatory training to ensure proper animal care and handling. How are we not advocates of animal welfare?

·         Finally, how else do we do it? If you know a better, more economical, more efficient means of raising these animals and feeding the world then why don’t you share it with the thousands of vets, engineers, scientists, nutritionists, farmers, etc. that are waiting to hear from you.

  I suppose the ultimate point is that of knowledge. Before you take the word of some commercial you saw or some conversation you overheard why don’t you get the facts for yourself. Ask a farmer. Talk to a vet. Question a butcher. Take a tour of a farm. Just don’t judge before you have all the facts and never jump to conclusions.