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Please Don’t Join the Crowd!

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There is a nationwide assault on people who love animals in this country, and who’s behind it?  People who love animals. Already this year America has seen the end of Ringling Bros Circus, and recently the end of dolphin shows at the SeaWorld’s around the nation.  While I may disagree with some of what has been done in the name of “animal entertainment,” for some people, these were the only opportunities for people to see species not native to their own areas.

Now that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has won its fight against the circus, and SeaWorld, it is taking aim at small farms and educational programs throughout the country? They are focusing on Massachusetts as a trial zone because we have so few farmers in this state. We also have no agricultural lobby, and a severe disconnect between citizens and food source.  Massachusetts is fertile ground to begin building their precedence.

Last fall they successfully got Massachusetts to ban the confinement of poultry in cages where they could only stand up and turn around.  They also successfully outlaws the use of farrowing crates, though they called them “pens,” in the raising of pigs.  These are common practices in commercial agribusiness, but animal agriculture in the Bay State is not big enough to be of concern to agribusiness. Getting things banned in Massachusetts is easy because citizens don’t know any better. But the success here paves the way for more urban populations in rural areas.

So what’s wrong with banning farrowing crates?  Nothing, if you like dead piglets.  Most small farms raise heritage breeds, or smaller amounts of more commercial breeds.  These animals usually have the run of a penned area, and very few are kept in confinement, because they do so much better outside with a little shelter.  However, industrial pig operations DO keep thousands of pigs in confinement, and those sows (female pigs) are bred year round, and do not get outside to root for food, or get exercise. They just lay around, have babies, and get fatter and bigger.  The faster they grow, the sooner they can be sent to market, so mothering instinct is disappearing in these breeds, while small farms value those traits of guarding their babies, teaching piglets how to root for food, and knowing where their babies are.  It is a real problem in commercial farms, and can be a problem on small farms too, that the sows are so fat that they don’t know where they end and the babies begin. Pigs have terrible vision.  You only need to look at their faces to see that their eyes are quite small compared to the rest of the head. Farrowing crates allow piglets to run out from under their mother, so they don’t get crushed.  The ones that I have seen allow the sows to stand up, walk around carrying it, and turn around, again with in on their backs. It is not attached to the ground at all, and it is only used for a few days.  The distinction between these crates and commercial pens are lost on those who’ve never seen a commercial piggery, and HSUS counted on that.

Now there is a bill in the Massachusetts Senate which would restrict and in some cases, ban, the owning of “exotic animals,” which according to the language of the bill, would include llamas and alpacas. Both of these are considered livestock, and are described as such in other legislation and regulations.  The author of the bill says he meant to address circuses, but the language needs tightening.

One way that animal lovers can make money to keep their animals is through educational programs. Efforts such as Animal Adventures, an educational service that deals with reptiles, wild cats, as well as farm animals, is one way that youngsters can learn about animals they would never see in person. This fosters a sense of connection to the environment, which often lasts a lifetime.

The legislation would require expensive certification from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.  These are standards that are meant for full-fledged zoos, rescues and sanctuaries, not small scale individual operations.  There are other approaches that are being taken by animal rights groups to put farms out of business.  Think I’m exaggerating?  This came from the people who drafted the Farm Animal Cruelty Act in 2016, in response to someone who was expressing their concern about HSUS overreach.  “Thank you for contacting The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HSUS’s farm animal efforts are two-pronged: reduce the number of animals being raised/killed, and reduce the suffering of animals who are being raised/killed. To reduce the number of animals being raised/killed, we have a number of resources, including the HSUS Guide to Meat-Free Meals, our Meatless Monday video, our free vegan recipe of the week, our vegan recipe library, and more. You can see our recipes here: https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/SPageServer… As well, all of the food served at HSUS conferences is vegan. We also work with the largest hospitals, companies, and school systems in the United States to help them transition to more meatless meals, or programs like Meatless Monday, or Lean and Green day. This work has transitioned hundreds of thousands of meals a day from animal-product based meals, to meatless meals. It is through our multi-approach system, making things better for farm animals, and reducing the amount of animals consumed, that we can reach billions of farmed animals a year. Thanks again for writing. I’m glad you’re so concerned about farm animals and wish more people shared your passion to protect them.”

This person was writing to ask them to withdraw their bill, not ask to be converted.  When you hear calls to stop farmers, regulate farmers, control farmers, please ask for more information. Ask some farmers what they think, or ask me?  I’ll do some research and find out some facts for people to work with. That’s what this blog is about. Solving the “ Mystery of What Farmers’ Do.”

More stories to come. Demystifying farming gives the farmers a LOT more support. Thanks,

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