Letter: Farmers know how to treat their animals, tooIn Mr. Goldman’s Feb. 19 Daily Globe article, he presumes the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the only one that cares about the treatment of their animals. Has he had the chance to sit down with a farmer lately?
By: Emily Erickson, Animal Well-Being and Quality Assurance Manager, New Fashion Pork, Jackson, Worthington Daily Globe
In Mr. Goldman’s Feb. 19 Daily Globe article, he presumes the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the only one that cares about the treatment of their animals. Has he had the chance to sit down with a farmer lately?
The dynamics of any industry constantly change, and that can bring fear, or uncertainty, to everyone involved in the process — producers and consumers. When the pork industry moved away from raising pigs outdoors and chose instead to raise them in a temperature-controlled environment, the public was shut out from seeing how the farmer was raising their pigs. As farmers, we knew that holding to strict biosecurity standards (management practices that help minimize the spread of disease) would benefit our herds. What we didn’t realize was that by closing the door to the public to benefit our herds, they would begin to question what we were doing.
And now, we are in a position where we need to educate our customers. We need to educate them that, as farmers, we are still applying the same, if not better standards of care for our animals, regardless of our farm size. We also need to educate our customers that pork is a wonderful, affordable protein source for their families. And finally, we must educate them that organizations, like the HSUS, will push that affordable product out the door by lobbying (with money raised through deceptive advertising) for legislation that regulates the production practices we use on our farms.
What Mr. Goldman forgets is that a large percentage of those that have chosen to utilize the technology and safe production practices that are available in pork industry are the “real deal” themselves. They are individuals that have changed their business structure to mold with the market. The “future” Mr. Goldman speaks of is not one that brings us forward. It sets us back many steps, to an era that would not allow today’s farmers to use any of the technologies that have been proven, through research, to be safe and humane.
Just because one individual feels that stepping back into history and raising animals outdoors is the right thing to do doesn’t leave them exempt from the challenges that face farmers every day. You can ask HSUS attorney Joe Maxell that, too. According to a survey completed in 2010 by the Animal Welfare Institute, Joe’s farm, Heritage Acres, was responsible for two animal welfare violations at their harvest facility (http://www.awionline.org/content/humane-slaughter-violations, click on Humane Slaughter Suspension List). These violations resulted in at least a four-day suspension from selling animals to that facility. If you remember, HSUS lawyer Joe Maxwell chooses to raise their hogs outdoors on pasture. Yet, according to Mr. Goldman and the HSUS, this is a more safe and humane way to raise animals?
Today’s farmers are individuals who have known how to do the right thing for years, regardless if they work on a large or small farm. They know their animals, probably better than HSUS lawyer Joe Maxwell does, and they are learning to use their voice. And they will use it to educate their customers in a more respectable and less deceptive way than the HSUS chooses, too — because that is the true American way.