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17 May, 2008 - Critics Want A Meatless World?

The subject of this week’s Samuelson Sez was prompted by an e-mail from a farmer who asked me this question: “Why are people in the United States so angry with those of us in farming and ranching? They are blaming us for everything; for taking feed and food and putting it in our gas tanks. They are blaming us for using technology. They are blaming us for mistreating animals. We seem to get blamed for all the ills of the world, and frankly, I wonder if these people understand that if my neighbors and I weren’t out here using the technology and doing what we do, there would be no food on the table, or if it was there, it would cost a lot more. There would be no clothes on their back, no roof over their head and yes, no energy in the tank.”

Well, I hear you my friend and I share your frustration. But the criticism is there and it seems to be building. I was looking at the website of The Indianapolis Star newspaper last week and in the Letters to the Editor column, I found this letter written by Ike Gallego of Indianapolis, a reader who obviously would like to put all livestock producers out of business.

This is what he wrote...“The prestigious Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently concluded that factory farming takes a big toll on human health and the environment, undermines rural economic stability and fails to provide humane treatment of livestock. Capping a two year study, the report calls for a national phase-out of all intensive confinement of farm animals”.

The letter writer goes on to say “The report is long overdue. For the past 60 years animal agriculture has been devastating our country’s vital natural resources, including soil, water and wildlife habitats. It has been generating more greenhouse gases than transportation. It has been elevating the risk of chronic diseases that account for 130-million deaths annually. It has been abusing billions of innocent animals.” And here is the final line; “The only long-term solution to this tragedy is to gradually reduce the consumption of animal products to zero.” In other words, no more meat on anyone’s dinner plate; we should all become vegetarians for the good of the planet.

Of course, it is distorted, untrue and unfair, but it is out there and we in agriculture need to deal with it. Perhaps one of the reasons it’s out there is because farmers and ranchers do their job so well. We don’t have food shortages in this country and, despite the recent food price increase, U.S. consumers still spend less money for food than consumers in any other country. It is more important than ever that agriculture responds with a unified voice to help people understand that without agriculture, there would be nothing.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.

 

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