The animal rights vs. animal welfare debate continues as agriculture finally stands up to the bad guys and reclaims its legacy. As the mud continues to fly across the boards, I think it's important to remember a few key factors: staying positive and working to improve ourselves. While agriculture has had many successes in standing up against the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), sometimes I think it's all we focus on. I believe it's more critical to share the positive news about what farmers and ranchers do on a daily basis, and to keep working to improve our own operations when it comes to hot button issues such as animal care, waste management, environment and food safety.
When I hear folks discuss the terms 'animal rights' and 'animal welfare,' I think the two have become so warped through misuse that the term 'animal care' seems like the greatest alternative. It best describes what we do on our operations when working with our livestock, and it's a word that hasn't been slandered by the activists in political battles. Use the phrase animal care when talking with others, and I guarantee nobody will get confused about your true meaning.
Now, while it's important to stay positive and make personal improvements, I don't mean to say that we should all ignore the political mud slinging going on these days. I ran across an article written by Kristen Hinman in The Pitch titled, The Humane Society and Big Ag slug it out over animal rights, that I think you should read. It features Agriculture Advocates Troy and Stacie Hadrick against the Humane Society of the U.S. It's a very interesting article that will certainly make you sit down and think. Check it out and see what I mean. Here is an excerpt from the article:
On one side are corporation- and family-owned farms that raise 10 billion animals a year, producing an affordable food supply for hundreds of millions of people around the world. On the opposite side: the Humane Society, founded in 1954 as a protector of all animals, from dogs and cats to seals and whales to hens and cattle.
For a long time, the ag industry didn't seem to see a way to fight back. But within the past year, through social media, influence peddling and, most recently, pre-emptive political maneuvering, farmers big and small have begun to circle the wagons to protect their livelihoods. The continuing battle raises questions: Who should decide what we put on our plates? Politicians? The 2 million farmers and ranchers who produce the food? Or the 307 million Americans who buy it?
What are your thoughts on the debate? I would love to hear your ideas. Shoot me a note in the comments section. As always, this is an open forum for all viewpoints, so let's have a great discussion!