If you want to read a horror story, check out Rolling Stone’s recent article, “In The Belly Of The Beast,” by Paul Solotaroff.
The article is a harsh and incredibly biased piece of trash journalism that follows, “a small band of animal rights activists  who have infiltrated factory farms where animals are turned into meat under the most horrific circumstances. Now the agribusiness giants are trying to crush them.”
Dramatic? Yes. Setting the stage for the words to follow? Absolutely. Truth or fiction? It’s obviously an opinion piece more than factual reporting, but I can guarantee you some readers of Rolling Stone will believe Solotaroff’s word as gospel.
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He takes a stab at all animal  agriculture sectors -- from veal, to dairy cattle, to hogs, to chickens, and he finds evil in every corner of every facility he chronicles. The article jumps around so much, from misinforming readers on inhumane handling practices of barn workers, to antibiotics, to sacrificing animal care for cheap food, that it’s hard to know where to start a rebuttal. You can see the article here. 
Wanda Patsche, a hog farmer and blogger for Minnesota Farm Living, responded to the article with a blog entitled, “Animal  Cruelty Is Not The Price We Pay For Cheap Meat.”
Patsche writes, “I was astonished there were no family farmers  interviewed for this article. It’s astonishing to me because 96% of hog farms are family farms. But the article only refers to Big Meat, which I am assuming are non-family corporations. And I believe this was intentional because for this article to have its greatest impact, Rolling Stone needed to appeal to peoples’ emotions. Emotions where people think corporations don’t give a damn about animal cruelty.
“Animal cruelty  is not the price we pay for cheap meat. In fact, if we really did have animal cruelty, our meat would not be cheap at all because animals do not thrive if they are treated with cruelty. Affordable meat is the result of farmers’ efficiencies, technologies and old-fashioned hard work . If Mr. Solotaroff talked to a family farmer he would have known that.”
Stories of this ilk aren’t going to go away anytime soon, and I think it’s imperative that we voice our opinions in the comments section of these articles, as well as find ways to get positive press of our own. It’s the only way to change the rhetoric, but let’s face it, drama and controversy sell. The bright and accurate story about family farmers , well, just doesn’t have the same scandalous appeal.
What are your thoughts about this ongoing assault on our industry  and family farmers? Have you ever responded or taken proactive steps via a letter to the editor, an online article comment, or a post on social media to defend your livelihood and set the record straight? Let us know in the comments section.
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