I was cruising my favorite blogs and came across this from the VIN News Service.
I am in direct opposition to H$U$ and think they are the Devil’s Spawn but at the same time, I have some pressing concerns about the Nation’s food supply.
Other blogs have addressed this better, addressing the discussion to pet food products with a caveat that the food supply in this country feeds us all. Human and animal alike. A Google search for pet food recall or contaminated food conjures up list after list, page after page, of food products that are additives or whole source foods for humans too.
Agri-business has much to atone for with the recent outbreaks of salmonella in the human food supply, from greens to nuts, including my absolute fave, pistachios.
Who can forget the huge expose’ on the pet food industry only a few years ago? Some news services considered the public outcry an “overreaction“. You know, like, it’s just pets and all… So a few people died. Who cares!!
My concern is that it is beginning to appear with a sinister regularity in our headlines. What people are simply failing to understand is that the affected foodstuff is impacting the consumer supply for every domestic animal and human in the nation.
So where does this alarming and remarkable article from VIN fit?
Lifted directly from the article:
“Veterinarians spend their lives promoting the well-being of animals. Yet at the same time, activists appear to be guiding America’s attitudes on animal welfare, experts say, working to erode veterinary medicine’s authority on the topic and divide the profession.”
With a correction to it’s authors; H$U$ and PeTA have no interest in ‘animal welfare’. It is all about animal rights.
An example of this from the article:
“While the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) carefully weighs scientific evidence to establish opinions on what’s in the best interest of animals, HSUS and its cohorts are preening their message, using emotion to drown out the more moderate voice of organized veterinary medicine.”
There is not a lot of consensus over this or any topic that has more than one set of “experts”. Large animal vets are accused of being deep in the pockets of agri-business while small animal vets endorse more humane practices for animals raised as food.
I am on two sides of this argument:
I could give a rat’s arse about agri-business; they have done more to destroy the fabric of the family owned and operated farms and homesteads (of which I am a product) in favor of mass producing a food supply whose very existence endorses dubious practices in husbandry and safety for the consumers of their products.
So. Does the H$U$ have a point? Sure it does. But should they be the ones dictating the practices of agri-farms and food producers?
H$U$ suggests that animals raised for food should be kept in a more ‘natural state’, enabling them to pasture in open areas, be able to move about freely without restraint. Opposition contends that “…such mandates merely trade one set of welfare concerns for another. Animals housed in open systems are more vulnerable to disease, parasite infestation and injury due to aggressive pen-mates. The system also makes it more difficult track an animal’s medical health and care, AVMA officials contend.”
So, who’s right?
The real fear is the ultimate agenda: “… those who liken HSUS to “PETA-light extremism” fear the organization’s fingerprints on agriculture housing bans are a precursor to the group’s ultimate agenda — to end animal ownership and remove meat from the diets of Americans.”
Jack Advent, OVMA executive director stated, “What we do know is that if there is no dialogue, HSUS has stated that they will simply collect the signatures they need to go to the ballot where the electorate will decide on the issues. We don’t want to close the door to something like legislation, which could be far more palatable than what might be on a ballot initiative.”
H$U$’s strategy has clearly demonstrated superiority in the devious department. They have successfully created strategies by targeting communities with a small agricultural footprint where opposition would not be significant, coupled with their appeals directly to the public instead of through introducing legislation which would have likely been opposed by lawmakers and/or lobbyists.
The article states “In 2002, voters in Florida — one of 24 states that allow for citizen referendum — became the nation’s first to enact a ban on swine gestation stalls after HSUS waged a two-year publicity campaign and gathered more than 600,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot. Five years later, Arizona voters outlawed gestation stalls by 2012. It reportedly cost Arizona’s agriculture groups roughly $1.6 million in a failed bid to combat the HSUS message. Both states have very little in terms of swine operations.”
California’s Prop 2 passed in November with over 63% of the vote, which analysts say will devastate “… the future of the state’s egg industry, and many hope that a bill currently playing out in the state Legislature will level the playing field for California’s producers by imposing free-range requirements on eggs imported from other states.”
Peter Weber, executive director of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association is relieved that similar legislation proposed in Illinois failed in February, stating that “It was abundantly clear that this bill plays to people’s emotions. There just isn’t the science to back the need for it.”
The veterinary community’s decidedly neutral stance is pretty ominous. Their inability to come up with a plan of their own allows for H$U$ to intervene where they truly have no business. That the system needs to be changed is not really the issue. It has been clear for years that it does.
The USDA’s inability to adequately police agri-business lends itself to reform. A more proactive role in the safety of our food supply is necessary to assure it “fit for consumption”.
Food is big business, for ourselves and our animals. The two are related. There is not a lot of oversight in the pet food market and precious little effective oversight in the human consumer markets.
Legislation is becoming increasingly restrictive in the production of low-cost food for consumers allowing the slow food and locavore movements to gain momentum. By providing attractive alternatives to agri-business and the food/animal controversy, a locally produced food source encourages consumers to take a more proactive role in policing their own food supply.
It has a far healthier impact on local economies as well and promotes a broader concern for the welfare and safety of our consumer goods.
Sometimes the old ways are best. Supporting the production of locally raised food products has been a cultural icon of the United States since the beginning of our country’s history. Only since the return of the soldiers from WWII has agri-business forced small family owned farms to surrender to a greater demand for goods and monopolized the production of food for the nation.
The government subsidizing of growing ‘more, faster’ has had a profound impact on our safety, our health and the sustainability of our food supply. With the depletion of the aquifers in the Midwest, we face a far greater danger as the agri-businesses loose their ability to maintain high volume production for a teeming nation of fast food consumers.
It is within our ability to make a statement about our concern for the food we feed not only our animals, but ourselves and our children. At the same time, the dictatorial practices of H$U$ is clearly not the way. In order to preserve our rights as consumers and suppliers we must take a more active role in the production of our food supply.
There has got to be a better way.