Letter: Farmers should have the right to chooseAnimal welfare is an essential part of rural America and the key to profitability. Yet, those in the livestock industry receive pressure to compromise on practices counterintuitive to the health of the animals being raised.
By: G.F. Kennedy D.V.M., Pipestone, Worthington Daily Globe
Animal welfare is an essential part of rural America and the key to profitability. Yet, those in the livestock industry receive pressure to compromise on practices counterintuitive to the health of the animals being raised. It becomes even more difficult when the lines between producer and consumer blur.
One such example is Hormel. After a long history of supporting farmers, Hormel stepped into the supply side and now owns sows in Arizona, California and Wyoming. Due to pressure from animal rights activists, management was instrumental in supporting sows to be penned, not crated. This negatively impacts swine health and welfare, as well as the safety of swine workers. Other corporations such as Cargill and Smithfield followed suit, compromising on issues that hurt more than they help.
Recently, McDonald’s became a major decision maker regarding swine practices, although they only consume 1 percent of the supply. Pork is comparable in price to chicken and less expensive than beef, yet McDonald’s utilizes very little of this resource. However, this does not stop them from exerting control over producers without understanding the full implications of the animal rights laws they demand.
Organic, drug free, free range and other gimmicks can actually decrease the health of swine. In one instance, a swine producer refused to treat his ailing pigs with antibiotics. The mortality rate was 40 percent. Notwithstanding the suffering of the surviving pigs or the financial toll to the farmer, we simply cannot feed the growing world population with inefficient production practices like this.
As long as corporations continue these compromises, the American farmer will have a problem. We need to protect producer’s rights to raise livestock the way we do today. Animal welfare is an essential part of rural America. Bad practices are not.