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Campaign Against Animal Production Intensifies

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A recent press release from the US Animal Agriculture Alliance, a pro-industry group, reported on the Animals and Society Institute "Strength of Many" Conference which encompassed organizations opposed to intensive animal agriculture.  By Simon Shane

A recent press release from the US Animal Agriculture Alliance, a pro-industry group, reported on the Animals and Society Institute "Strength of Many" Conference which encompassed organizations opposed to intensive animal agriculture.
Miyun Park, Vice President of Farm Animal Welfare for the Humane Society of the United States declared that the objective of the Organization was to eliminate intensive animal production. Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing, a vegan advocacy group reported on attempts to petition government agencies to enforce labeling of conventional eggs as being "produced by caged hens".
72% of Arizonians expected to endorse ban on gestation crates
The strength of the US Humane Society is exemplified by Proposition 204 which will be voted on by the citizens of Arizona in early November. The constitution of many states allows citizens to vote on propositions which on passage become law. Proposition 204 entitled "The Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act" will ban gestation crates for sows.
Advocates of the proposition include the Humane Society of the USA through state organizations including Arizonians for Humane Farms, have spent in excess of $1 million on campaign advertisements to sway voter sentiment.
In 2002, a similar proposition in Florida was passed resulting in withdrawing from the State by the two largest pig producers. Despite opposition to the proposal, recent polls show 72% of voters will endorse the ban, despite the lack of scientific support, including a report by a task force of experts commissioned by the prestigious American Veterinary Medical Association.
Opponents to intensive animal farming play emotional card
Attacks on intensive animal agriculture by determined and politically experienced opponents appeals to the emotional responses of citizens. The demographics of Florida and Arizona presume a high proportion of voters in urban areas. These citizens have little knowledge of farming and take for granted a constant and inexpensive supply eggs, poultry meat, pork and beef to their supermarkets.
Unjustified attacks on acceptable practices
While some farming practices are undesirable from an ethical or moral standpoint, unjustified attacks on acceptable practices may radically affect the structure and financial viability of farming systems in industrialized nations.
Generally intensive animal production has responded positively to environmental regulations which are usually based on quantifiable parameters. In the case of animal welfare, much of the opposition is represented by "pseudo-science" and has strong emotional or anthropomorphic content.
It is wrong for vegetarians to force their lifestyles and philosophy on consumers. Organizations such as the Animal Agriculture Alliance play an important role in communicating the contribution of animal agriculture to a supply of nutritious and affordable food products, countering the publicity and half-truths generated by animal rights activists.
Producers of poultry and eggs must eliminate obviously unacceptable practices such as inducing molt by starvation, ultra-high stocking density, handling practices which induce injury and slaughter methods which are inhumane. Proactive communication of valid information to consumers and legislators, supported by scientific opinion and data based on physiologic measurements is essential to protect the industry.


By: Simon Shane

One comment

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    Dr. Michael Morris

    I disagree that opposition to factory farming is based on emotion. Like all ethical arguments it is based on a combination of factual and value statements. The factual statment is that hens are sentient creatures and suffer in battery cages. This is not anthropomorphism, but is based on physiological and behavioural observations by top animal welfare scientists like Ian Duncan, Marian Dawkins and Michael Appleby.

    The ethical statement is that it is unethical to cause suffering to sentient creatures. This can neither be proved or disproved, you just believe it or not, just as you simply believe or not, that it is unethical to hurt another human being.

    The ethical statement that it is unethical for a vegetarian to force their views on others is true only if their views are simply tastes. I hate bananas, but it would be unethical for me to force everyone else to stop eating bananas for example.

    But the views of vegetarians are ethical beliefs, not opinions. So they do not come under the same category. It is not necessarily unethical for example for abolitionists to insist that noboby owns slaves. Of course you may disagree with the ethics. I personally have no problem with homosexuality. But those who genuinely believe it is immoral are behaving quite consistently in insisting that others do not engage in homosexuality.

    You may argue that vegetarians, ablitionists or those opposed to homosexuality are mistaken in their ethical beliefs, but the belief that morals are simply a matter of opinion and it is wrong to force others to comply with them is self-contradictory. Because if morals are a matter of opinion, then your moral stance that one should not force them on others is also just a matter of opinion.

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