Category : Uncategorized
I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to write a post about this message I got on twitter the other day. But, since it was sent to me publicly, I guess it’s ok to write about it and make it more public.
For some time I’ve been conversing on twitter with a pig and soy farmer from Iowa, who goes by the name foodprovider, about animal rights and animal agriculture. We’re quite obviously on opposite sides of the issue. He is a large-scale farmer of pigs, and supports the use of confinement systems, etc.
Anyway, after this tweet:
If they don’t have anything to hide then why?: Farm Bureaus Warn About Undercover Investigations http://ow.ly/awOQ
Family farmers R not hiding wht they R doing. R protecting R animals. We dont wnt 2 exploit R animals. U shld understand that.
Now, normally I kind of chuckle when people say things like this, but for some reason this got under my skin a little bit. I mean, what do the words he is saying mean?
First off, note that he considers his farm a “family farm”. We need to be careful and not fall into the trap of “family farms vs. factory farms”. Many intensive confinement operations are owned by a single family and run by a handful of people. With intensive farming, this is very possible. I don’t know if he is part of a larger farm co-operative or if he has contracts to only sell his pigs to a larger company. But, do keep in mind that family farm does not mean anything more than that it is owned by a family.
Then he says that they are not hiding anything. This could be relatively true. He does have a picture of a pig in a sow stall as his twitter avatar. [[note: since posting this, Foodprovider has changed his avatar photo]] But he would not point me to any other photos of his farm, and I’d bet he doesn’t have video footage available of the artificial insemination process, castration, tooth trimming, or even of the rows of confined pigs. It’s incredibly difficult to get footage of the insides of these farms.
If they really aren’t hiding anything, then why aren’t they showing everything?
Next he claims they are protecting their animals. I guess he must mean that they are protecting them from outside diseases and infections (from uninvited guests sneaking in to take pictures). Which I guess makes sense since he needs to protect his “investment”. Protecting the animals from potential infection by confining them on concrete and never letting them see the sun or root around in the dirt seems pretty extreme to me. It would be like putting your children in bubbles so they won’t get sick.
But now it gets really weird. He says that they don’t want to exploit their animals. I’m not sure I even understand what he means by this. When we raise an animal to kill them we are exploiting them. We are taking advantage of them in a hugely unequal relationship. The pigs get nothing out of this except for 6 months of living in one single spot, getting castrated without anesthesia, having their tails cut off, then being packed into trucks and slaughtered. How is that not exploiting them?
I can only guess that he’s not aware of what the word “exploit” means.Dictionary.com defines it so:
1. to utilize, esp. for profit; turn to practical account: to exploit a business opportunity.
2. to use selfishly for one’s own ends: employers who exploit their workers.
Any kind of animal agriculture exploits animals. It’s what animal agriculture is.
And no, I don’t understand it at all.