Response to FarmOn Foundation’s open letter to activists

This is a response to the following post (you can find the full text at the end of this article): https://www.facebook.com/farmonfan/posts/10153305918259874:0

Dear Farmers,

Farmers are very important as they provide plant-based food options for consumers and even activists. Activists don’t hate farmers – we don’t hate anyone – but animal agriculture is detrimental to the planet, inefficient at feeding people and kills 56 billion animals per year, not out of necessity, but for culinary pleasure. Humans don’t require animal products to live healthy lives thus animal farming is unnecessary.

Farmers have demonstrated over and over again in many one on one chats I have had with them on Twitter that they are afraid of answering simple questions about controversial topics like, dehorning, castration, tail docking, teeth clipping, ear notching, branding, debeaking, shredding of male chicks, separating calves from their mothers, gestation crates, artificial insemination (AI), unnatural feed (corn, barley, soy etc.), overuse of antibiotics, water/air pollution through manure lagoons, BSE, repeated animal abuse on various farms, human rights issues, global warming, deforestation, overgrazing, soil degradation, slaughter etc.

Instead of answering these questions honestly, the vast majority of farmers try to omit the truth by answering only partially or lie about the common business practices because they know that consumers wouldn’t condone them if they knew what was going on. Farmers on Twitter try to hide the fact that farming is a business and animals are commodities in order to make a profit, instead they try to portray themselves as heroes who bring life to this world and care for animals. Farmers want consumers to believe that they truly love animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Farmers only “care” for animals as long as they are profitable, as soon as this isn’t true anymore, the animal in question will be slaughtered or discarded.

Thanks to the brave minorities that have stood up against injustice, oppression and exploitation throughout history, societies were able to shed the shackles of human slavery, achieve equal rights for women and civil rights, etc. Now, an equally dedicated and growing minority stands up against the exploitation and killing of animals, because  systems of oppression and exploitation are always wrong. No matter if humans or non-humans are involved. As a society we already agree that animals matter morally or we wouldn’t have laws in place to protect them. Everybody agrees that unnecessary harm to any animal is wrong and this should include killing them and not just abuse. What most people don’t understand yet is that killing animals for food is completely unnecessary because we don’t need animal products to live. In fact we could feed more people more efficiently on an all plant-based diet. Therefore killing animals for pleasure and not out of necessity goes against our ethical and core beliefs.

The oppressive animal agriculture leaders today would have you believe that the few animal rights activists you may encounter on Twitter or elsewhere are fanatical extremists. The oppressive leaders are the big meat packing companies like Cargill, Foster Farms, Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, Imperial, William Davies Company, Maple Leaf Foods, JBS, Al-Shaheer Corp., just to name a few, that kill and ship billions of animals per year. These are multi billion dollar companies that lobby to get laws in place to protect their interests. The few animal rights groups are like David and Goliath in comparison. The truth is our stone, acceptance our slingshot. The meat, dairy and egg industry spends billions on advertising a year to get consumers to buy more of their products. Recently however regular farmers with small operations try to connect to consumers on social media in order to influence and tell them where food comes from. It’s a dishonest attempt to sway consumers emotions towards animal agriculture, despite the atrocities that are committed regularly in meat, dairy and egg production. Here is where activists come in to provide a glimpse of what is going on out of sight of the public and to confront farmers with the mentioned questions above.

Sharing farm stories is fine but to pretend to love animals that you send to their premature deaths is very disturbing and dishonest. To pretend that farm animals are like your pets is a lie because no pet owner sends their pets to get slaughtered. It is a superficial attempt to make consumers feel at ease with an unethical choice to eat animal corpses and drink their secretions.

There is a lot of power in listening and activists have listened. Most activists used to consume animal products and became aware of animal exploitation and oppression later in life because they opened their minds and hearts and after thorough research into ethics, animal science, social justice matters, environmental studies, nutrition and health. They had to question their way of life and change their habits because they actually listened. Animal farmers however are defending an industry that has no place anymore in a modern society. Animal farmers defend unnecessary exploitation and killing of animals. There is an abundance of plant-based foods available to feed everybody instead of the current inefficiency, pollution and waste from animal production that sees millions die from starvation every year. 

The reason why there are less and less family farms is not because of a small group of activists, it’s because of big corporations that can produce cheaper and faster than small scale family farms. It’s a systemic problem that takes place in all industries on the globe. Driven by greed and profit manipulated consumerism. However it makes the situation worse if animal farmers lie about what they do, omit facts and avoid the truth.

Activists share their pictures, videos and knowledge to make everyone aware of a cruel and greed driven system that only benefits a few, exploits animals and can never be just or sustainable.

Everyone has a duty not to harm others. Do you respect rapists, child molesters or murderers? I don’t think so. People that harm (kill) animals for profit fall in a similar category. Animal farmers wont get respect as long as they are complicit in defending the exploitation and killing of animals. Again activists don’t hate farmers but animal agriculture. There are farmers that abandoned animal agriculture because they came to the conclusion that it’s wrong. Read the stories of Bob Comis, Harold Brown, Craig Watts and Howard Lyman.

Ultimately farmers have to understand that activists don’t strive for better animal welfare but demand true transparency of all aspects of industrial and small scale animal agriculture including standard business practices and slaughter to allow consumers to make a choice according to their ethics and the truth and not based on whitewashing from farmers and the meat, dairy and egg industry.

proxyanimal-food-production

Dear Activists;

Your message is clear. You don’t like livestock production, and you don’t much like the farmer/producer either. 

You think we don’t care, we hide the truth and have no interest in caring for the earth with sustainable practices. You use words that are much more direct and even vulgar but essentially, you are committed to ‘outing’ us for our insensitive, ‘produce at all costs’ ways.

Throughout history, we have witnessed some amazing activism, from the civil rights movement to the suffragette movement and many more. The leaders of these movements understood that rallying people together as one, through steadfast commitment to benefitting the lives of their fellow man and through inspiring others is how change came about. Activism that employs moral aggression to strike out harshly and repeatedly to hurt those who don’t share your views is unlikely to achieve what you are looking for. The tactic of using public shaming, harassment and intimidation to try and dominate those who oppose your view accomplishes little. In history, we have seen oppressing leaders who have used these very tactics to carry out some of the most atrocious acts in human history. It is not the kind of culture that benefits humanity in any way.

We understand passion. Passion is that strong and barely controllable emotion that is put into action with as much heart, mind, body and soul as is possible. We get it.

We are passionate, too. We believe that sharing our stories and encouraging dialogue creates an opportunity to learn more about other’s perspectives and passions. It is when points of view become confused with ‘absolute truth’ that communications break down. 

Yesterday – Earth Day – was a day we had chosen for all farmers to share their stories with the hash tag ‪#‎FarmVoices‬, so others could learn more about their perspectives and passions. It was their turn. We know that one of the most sincere forms of respect is to listen – there is as much wisdom in listening as there is in speaking. 

Each year we lose more and more family farms. It has become harder to farm. Harder because there are fewer farmers to support each other, harder because so many have off farm jobs, harder to make economic sense of the business of farming and harder to find time to explore new technologies and information they need. Often the only way to connect with each other is online.

We have no doubt that there have been instances where animals could have been cared for in a better way. However, best practices come as a result of people sharing and demonstrating better outcomes, which happens when they connect with each other.

We assume you eat to sustain your bodies, and must be aware that farmers grow your food, too. You believe that all living beings deserve to be treated with respect. We believe that farmers deserve that respect as well.

We hope you take the time to listen and watch some of the stories, to seek to understand and to allow space for dialogue. In turn, we promise to use our time and our passion to connect, promote best practices and support ALL of agriculture in whatever way we can. 

FarmOn Team

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One comment

  1. Samita Sarkar · May 12, 2015

    Dear farmers,

    Activists are not attempting to “shame” you, but expose the practices we know are a reality on factory farms. Shaming and revealing are two different things. No one else can make you feel shame. If you are shamed, it’s because you feel guilt.

    Like

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