The following are four responses to a blog post by Wendell Schumm (https://wendellschumm.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/if-you-care-about-food-we-need-to-talk/). You can find a copy of his text after all responses.
What makes you think that because someone disagrees with you taking an animals life and says so on a public forum, that they are a radical extremist?
Since when did not killing become an extreme point of view?
I am a vegan, that means I live happily and healthily consuming no animal products whatsoever.
Animal ag constantly tells me on TV in shops, in magazines and with targeted advertising that I need to consume their product… I don’t and neither does anyone else.
It’s a choice, simple as that.
Kill animals or don’t kill animals.
Does #farm365 explain to the consumer that by drinking milk or eating butter and cheese, they are inadvertently supporting the veal industry. Or that by eating eggs they are sending millions of male chicks to being ground up alive?
The consumer has a right to know and I intend to shine a light on the processes animal ag would rather stay hidden so that the consumer can make an informed decision.
It may suit you to believe that I and others like me have it in for you. I don’t and I couldn’t give a toss whether or not you continue to eat meat. But please stop saying that it’s necessary or good for you as its neither.
I’m sorry if a handful of people on a social media site have made you write such a biased and sensationalised post. If you and the rest of animal ag actually told the truth about your ‘product’ then we wouldn’t have to.
For the 259,200,000.00 animals that were slaughtered today and every day I am truly sorry that Wendell and others like him will not at least consider a cruelty free lifestyle. Let’s hope that some reading this are not so close minded.
I work, pay taxes and a mortgage for my own house, have raised a family and am a normal functioning member of society. I once ate meat, I don’t now and haven’t done so for 20 years. If I can do it anyone can.
“I am one of the “extremist ARAs” you refer to above. I’m in my mid-40s, with a University degree, Executive Director for Non-AR organization – a job that allows me to feed my daughter and myself very well. I am active in the local community, too, to improve the lives of the people around me. And I do AR activism.
Like many vegans, I am sorry I didn’t know about the ugly side of animal agriculture earlier. When I found out, I felt lied to.
A four-year vegan, I try to help people see in the hope that they will be grateful – not right away, but maybe later. I get quite a bit of positive feedback from people that I’ve inspired to move towards veganism so I feel I’m on the right track.
In no way am I on #farm365 to “pick a fight” as you suggest with farmers. Just like farmers, we are there to educate. And learn.
In real life, I have never before been called a “most extreme, militant” spokesperson – in fact, the thought amuses me. I’m not sure why you are doing that now, unless it is to distract from the issue we are raising. I’ve seen abusive comments by vegans and farmers alike on #farm365. A lot more name-calling on the farmer side though, up to outright harassment and impersonation to intimidate activists. It does neither side justice to compare the best of one group with the worst of the other. I wish we would all stop doing that.”
I feel very flattered by this blog post. You see, I am one of the ‘vegan extremists’ you describe. The fact that such a few people can spur you into writing a post like this on your blog is very inspiring. It means we are being noticed on social media and people are seeing both sides of animal agriculture. The pretty and the not so pretty.
We are here on #farm365 to show the public the full story of animal agriculture. Most of us have been brought up to eat meat from an early age, our parents brainwashed along the way by what is supposedly ‘normal’. Each one of us Vegans have at some point in our lives thought, what the hell am I doing? I love animals! Each one of us consumed animals believing the biggest lie of all times, that farm animals are killed humanely. Humane? What is that word? It certainly does not describe any farm animals demise at a slaughterhouse or should we call it by its proper name..an abbatoir.
Consumers of animal products could almost be convinced their meat walked to the slaughter line voluntarily, if the spin is to be believed, the animal agriculture industry puts out! Of course this is not true! Every animal wants to live, just like us humans. I find it very sad that the animal agricultural farmers can turn a blind eye to the suffering that the animals they rear endure. Even to go as far as to say ‘we love our animals’. I love my dog and my cats but I would never eat them.
I fail to understand why farmers won’t show the full truth of what the animals suffer on #farm365 Could it be that if the meat eating public saw the true picture they might not want to carry on being omnivores?
I don’t put the blame entirely on farmers as, like alot of people, they are also victims of corporates.
Rescuing ex battery hens turned me into a vegetarian. Six years later the UK badger cull opened my eyes to the dairy industry and the barbarity of the disposable lives of male calves. Not to mention the sheer barbarity of being a female and made to repeat the same cycle as her mother..a slave for milk. This is when I turned vegan.
If this explanation makes me a Vegan Extremist because I oppose the slavery and abuse of all animals then I thank you for the compliment.
I care quite a bit about food. I’ve been vegan for over 13 years and really love the abundance of healthy food, some of which I never knew existed. I also care about animals, people and the environment.
I go on farm365 primarily to encourage people to have compassion for animals, and certainly don’t refer to animals as “food”. I see ARA (Animal Rights Activist) being misunderstood as being about Animal Welfare, i.e. the treatment of animals, quite a lot. ARAs believe animals have rights which, for me, includes the right not to be used and killed unnecessarily. So, it’s not about how they are being treated and killed (which, of course, is important too) but that they are used and killed at all. The bottom line is we don’t need to kill animals for food.
Also the word “abuse” seems to be misunderstood. Wikipedia states: “Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuse or animal neglect, is the human infliction of suffering or harm upon non-human animals, for purposes other than self-defense or survival.”
We do not need to eat meat, dairy, eggs or wear leather, wool or otherwise harm and kill animals for food or clothing. It’s not self-defence and it’s not for survival. That is why I see the farming and slaughtering of animals as abuse. So, even the best farmer who cares, certainly an improvement on the industrial farming, still engages in abuse. I realise that’s quite a shift to make and is not meant in any way as an insult to farmers or people who consume animals.
I used to consume animals and say I cared about them. I did care, as I believe you when you say farmers care, but only now do I realise that I was misguided. How can one care about someone and then eat them? It makes no sense. We are taught not to think about it but to look only at the pictures of happy cows and separate them from that product we call meat/dairy etc. I wish I’d been shown the reality sooner. I grew up in one of the largest dairy regions of rural Australia, a part of the country that also had plenty of cattle farms. I have friends with huge cattle stations. I took agriculture as a subject in school. The school had its own farm and we also did work experience on farms as part of the course. So it’s not ignorance of farming or “where food comes from” that explains my lack of knowledge about what I refer to as “the reality”. It’s more a paradigm shift and aligning my values (caring for animals) with my actions (not killing them) that I think is real and authentic, which I wasn’t being before.
That’s what I’m on farm365 to do, not to “pick a fight” but to inform those people who see pretty pictures of lambs on straw and wide eyed cows to look a bit deeper into it. To connect those individual lives to their untimely deaths and ask themselves if it’s worth it. I’m trying to give those animals a voice that is being denied them. Farmers start using terms like crops, harvesting and processing. Why? To disguise even further the fact that a group of individuals will be rounded up and slaughtered. And for what? We don’t need it!
I certainly don’t attack anyone and your analogy between farmers and fire fighters is way off. To use your analogy, which doesn’t fit, we are not attacking the fire fighters, we are informing people that the fire fighters are the ones lighting the fires.
If you see my attempts at reducing violence and increasing compassion as “extremist” and “militant” so be it. This is not about me.
I have been and will continue to be a vocal supporter of livestock farmers and have been disturbed by the confrontation and criticism that they have been subjected to by animal rights activists (ARA) on social media. On the other hand I have tried to keep an open mind and at least consider where the ARA points of view are coming from. Using #farm365 as an example, we have, in my opinion a battle between the very best representatives of the farming community and the most extreme, militant spokespeople from the ARA side. That being said, the one thing these radicals have in common with farmers – they care about their cause and want to share it with others.
In the extremely unlikely event (and I mean, winning the lottery, pigs fly unlikely) that the militant ARA’s on social media ask for my advice, here’s where I would start: You are picking the wrong fight! If you are genuinely interested in improving the lives and welfare of animals, this is not the group you should be alienating. The #farm365 Tweeters and other farmers who are trying to engage the public take their responsibilities as stewards seriously and- get ready for it -really do CARE about the well being of the animals on their farms. Attacking this group is, literally, like picketing a volunteer fire station because you have a moral objection to to burning tires. The farmers who are taking the time to share their experiences and pictures are not doing it for money, glory or fame. It takes time and effort to do what they do. They are putting their private lives on display to help people connect with where their food comes from and to understand what’s involved in feeding a growing population. Invariably, these farmers are opening themselves up to criticism and ridicule, not because they think it would be a fun way to spend a Friday night, but because they CARE enough to take that risk.
Now for the tough part – farmers aren’t perfect. The harsh reality is that there are farms that need some work- just like there are pet owners who neglect their pets and there are vegans who vandalize farms and cops that abuse their authority and bad bankers and bad priests and bad teachers and…. I think you get the point. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of farmers provide an excellent level of care to the point where domestic animals are better cared for than any point in history and, arguably, better off than their wild counterparts. The problem is that even if 99.99% of farmers are doing an excellent job, we, as an industry have to answer for the 0.01% that leave us open to criticism. Anytime it appears that we are hiding facts or covering up abuse, our credibility takes a hit.
In my line of work I often review feeding trials to evaluate performance and health benefits of different feed ingredients or additives. Some of the things I look for are the “negative” trial results. If the ingredient being tested wins every single trial, I question the validity of the testing methods. It’s this thinking that makes me wonder if the same is true of how our industry is viewed by the ARAs? If we claim that ALL farmers are in the right ALL of the time will they automatically assume that we are all in willing collusion to cover up abuse? The difficulty is – can we really expect a logical response or reasonable dialogue at this point?
All of the livestock groups have certification programs in place focusing on both food safety and animal welfare, which is intended to assure the public that we are raising the bar and ensuring best practices. A couple of examples are ProAction Initiative from Dairy Farmers of Canada and CPC CQA program. As with any audited program, the expectations must be clearly outlined and measurable. Equally important, the consequences for failing to meet expectations must be understood and the program needs some teeth, with specific penalties for producers who fail to meet a minimum standard. Often, these programs will offer a financial incentive to achieve a high standard and If the audit process is transparent, legitimate and clearly tied to the price paid by the customer, results in consistent the flip side, a program can be designed with standards so low that virtually all producers meet them. The result is a program that has virtually no value and does not last. In a logical, business setting, transparent measurables give credibility to the program and demonstrate to the customer realistic objectives and improvements.
In theory, my argument makes sense. In reality, I have less confidence that ARA’s are interested in logical, fact based explanations for how we are improving animal welfare. I suspect that there are many ARA’s that really are interested in productive dialogue, but I worry about the small percentage who are willing to go to extremes like spreading mis-information and harassing honest, hard working farmers. Animal welfare is important. So is the business of feeding the world. We are lucky that 99.99% of farmers CARE about both.