Dairy, a lot of words, and the absence of meaning
Category : Uncategorized
The recent Time article about industrial agriculture has some large-scale “farmers” up in arms about some of the claims. I came across this response today, and was surprised at how little information it really contains. There really aren’t any actual facts in it at all, except that the author considers himself a farmer and that he has a cell-phone. It would have been interesting to see a response that dealt with the claims made in the Time article with some evidence to back it all up.
I would invite you to check out the original Time article and then read through this post. For now, I’ll just take issue with a few points.
Modern technology enhances individual animal care; for example, I can access whole-health history for each cow from my cell phone. Modern freestall housing keeps our animals comfortable and healthy – protecting them from weather extremes, predators and disease. Also, a veterinarian frequently checks on our herd.
Suggesting that keeping cows indoors for their entire lives, never letting them experience any sort of natural life, is “animal care” is a bit like saying that prisons are a paradigm of individual human health care.
Being able to access health records also is really no indicator of concern for welfare. It only makes sense to maintain accurate and up-to-date records for any piece of equipment, and to dairy farmers cows are really just milk-producing machines, not living beings with any life or meaning of their own.
As a keeper of many animals throughout the years, I’ve had mixed experiences with veterinarians. The American Veterinary Medical Association hasn’t really shown themselves to be concerned with animals in and of themselves, but rather in assisting people who use animals to maximize their profits.
The AVMA has historically been reluctant to adopt a position that conflicts with current practice. Some notable controversial practices that the AVMA has not come out in opposition to are forced molting and gestation crates. They have also approved of such practices as tail docking and ear notching of pigs, and they also approve of battery cages for egg-laying chickens [pdf]. They have consistently positioned themselves on the side of industry, rather than on the side of animals. More information about the AVMA’s positions on animal welfare issues can be found on their website, avma.org.
I’m also struck by the absence of photos or video to back up these claims. What this really indicates to me is an effort to spin words to present a happy picture of content cows happily giving their milk – all the while hiding the calves taken from them right after birth, their milk taken from them by machines, sent off to slaughter when their milk production drops off and they are no longer profitable. Let’s look at the whole picture and let’s really ask the farmers who are producing our food to open up and show us the truth. Let’s stop accepting this sort of hazy misinformation as any sort of answer.
The truth – that’s all we ask.