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24 February 1999 Issue

Factory Farming

In point of fact, I am the very opposite of an anthropomorphizer. I don't hold
animals superior or even equal to humans. The whole case for behaving
decently to animals rests on the fact that we are the superior species. We
are the species uniquely capable of imagination, rationality, and moral
choice - and that is precisely why we are under the obligation to recognize
and respect the rights of animals.

-- Brigid Brophy, Don't Never Forget

Factory farming is a high-tech, high volume way of farming. It is an easier,
faster and cheaper way to slaughter animals. On the other hand, it's inhumane
to the animals, its dirtier and the meat is less-healthy to consume.

Farms all over the world are switching to factory farming because it is a way
to turn up high volumes of product at minimal cost, yet they are not considering
the plight of the animals involved. That's why animal movement groups like
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are protesting this form of
farming. The argument against the animal-rights activists is that it's easier to get
work done (with the aid of hi-tech machines), its faster (less worries about
animal conditions etc. Machines help get the job done) and cheaper (living
quarters are reduced and less money is spent on care for the animals. Also,
there is less equipment needed, in favor of a few technologically advanced
machines).

Home-grown farms which treat the animals like individuals instead of an
assembly line are best for the welfare of the animals and humans, however,
choosing to start this type of farm usually turns out to be economically
disastrous.

If we do not eat meat, we will have to eat vegetables. Just about every vege-
table bought over the counter has been contaminated with some kind of
insecticide and bioengineering. Plants and vegetables grow - they also have
life, even though they do not have blood, and therefore cannot feel pain. Your
tomatoes have been engineered to ripen within a certain number of days, and
then rot, the squash has been bioengineered to grow 10 times larger than it's
supposed to, the bread bought does not grow stale if left for days on the shelf,
or in the cupboard. No apple if grown naturally without any interference by
chemicals, are all so red in the vegetable store. What we do not see, we do not
care about.

THE CONSUMER WANTS CHEAP FOOD WITH LOTS OF VARIETY,
AND THAT IS HOW WE PRODUCE IT.

It is the environment vs economics - this is a money world.

Consumers buying habits have changed the way farming is done in this
country. How willing are shoppers to return to an ‘unreliable and inconsistent
or smaller variety of availability? The consumer demands, not only beef, but
different varieties - (which may be of marginal quality) 52 times a year. Meat
is flown in from all parts of the world. Canada is a cold country during the long
winter months, with less than five months of sun. To illustrate the point in
question - May 5, 1996 The Toronto Star had an article about an adult burger
which they will market soon because now, McDonalds is a kids' restaurant, and
adults do not like the food. (They did a survey). No tomatoes, no talk of
decrease in fat or any mention of animal life - just taste, taste, and taste.
It did however, mention that the McLean disappeared because it wasn't
economically profitable. Consumers are getting what they want.

Factory farming is also a serious political subject, and this method of farming
is very important for any government which wishes to remain effective. Home-
grown animals who are treated with their well-being in mind are not producing
enough food for the increasing populace. Factory farming also lowers costs
considerably, allowing for cheaper exports and imports which both saves and
makes money. This "cheaper" way also beats the competition in exports.

On individual basis, farmers have one of the lowest paying jobs in the country,
and in order to increase their net profit, they have to produce more products,
and factory farming helps their cause drastically. Because of this increased
output with farmers, banks have been very willing to lend money for fertilizers,
machinery and additional land. Also, it is far easier to work with machinery
than with hands. The companies which profit from the purchases of these
products are only too happy to support this method of farming. There are
many more benefits like reduced overheads per animal, bulk discounts on
products like feed, and the ability to meet the demands of large purchases by
powerful companies. Battery egg production is also much cheaper for the
farmers and the consumers. These farms are usually regarded as "the
generous providers of food to a hungry nation" but the cons are usually not
taken under consideration.

The milk farmer, and the animal farmer argue that by producing more milk,
and more beef, they keep the prices down. In this way, more food reaches the
poor and the hungry (or so we are supposed to think). Maintaining safety,
cleanliness, and labor relations, make it impossible to carry a drug free system
for livestock. The game is more meat, more money. Farmers do this because
a large percentage of their stock may be lost through pests and diseases.

Farmers do realize that the public wants food to be produced with fewer and
fewer toxic chemicals. At the same time the farmer must contend with several
challenges: to produce milk or meat as reliably as possible, and as efficiently
as possible, for the most profit from the least effort. The hidden costs of farming
the way we like to see it done, are five times the cost of the hormones,
fertilizers, antibiotics, anesthesia and pesticides. He would argue that if the
farmer did not have to pay large amount of money to the vet for every sick cow
or hen, that if he found the animals resistant to diseases, and more importantly,
have more space - natural environment which is being gobbled up by buildings,
ravaged by weather conditions, it would be easier. He would also say that it is
easy for us to criticize from our sanitized homes - try to clean live stock
excrement day after day without the new equipment.

Some even argue that the factory farm is better than the traditional one since
animals always get food, their health can be checked and they don't have to
worry about predators.

The main con is animal welfare. These unfortunate animals are subjected to
the cruelest conditions and pushed to their maximum capacity...and beyond.
The "normal" factory farm is a place of mutilations, cramped incarceration,
lack of sun and light, lack of exercise, chaining and caging, drugging, force-
feeding and in the case of calves, deliberate malnutrition, forced insemination
(as soon as a baby is born, they do it again, which is very tiring and unhealthy
to animals), loss of individuality, general deprivation, frustration of natural
instincts and the denial of freedom to behave like they were meant to.

Governments make sure most of the information you've just read above does
not reach the public due to some potentially damaging ramifications. They want
to keep the public thinking farm life is like that in the song "Old MacDonald's
Farm", totally ignoring the real life scenario, the total disregard for rights and
the unimaginable pain that animals are subjected to. Imagine 5 chickens
squashed in to a cage no larger than a folded newspaper and expected to stay
there for more than a year, or at least until they wither away and their deformed
feet and their stressed heart give up.

However, animal activists usually ignore the other side of the story and its
impact on society. Although, they've helped to bring to the public the harsh
conditions on factory farms, most of it is simply too sick and vast for me to
cover, so I've tried to bring up specific points.

- untrained castration, branding and mutilation

- very poor conditions environmentally

- many harmful chemicals can be subjected to humans through the ingestion
of factory-farm produce

- total disregard for animal welfare etc., etc.

So what's more important, the lives of animals or money? To me the answer
is obvious...

I would like to bring up a passage that I wrote earlier in this document:

Some even argue that the factory farm is better than the traditional one since
animals always get food, their health can be checked and they don't have to
worry about predators.

These are some questions you should ask about this statement:

Some even argue that the factory farm is better than the traditional one since
animals always get food but what kind of food? Their health can be checked
but what do they do about it? And they don't have to worry about predators
but who's the predator?

Animals always get food but what kind of food? The food they get is concen-
trated hormones that keep them alive and going while they walk through the
meat-cutters, the hormones that keep them alive through all the pain and
suffering in the farm and during travel, and the hormones that make the meat
look good and taste better.

Their health can be checked but what do they do about it? When they find a
sick cow they just bulldoze it into a pile of other sick cows and wait for it to die.

They don't have to worry about predators but who's the predator? Who's the
predator when its us doing the killing?

This may sound just bad to you, but you nor I have smelled the stench or
overcrowding and filth, heard the sounds of factory-farm violence and fear,
or walked by the agony and despair of animals driven crazy by confinement
and stress.

IT'S A SICK FACT THAT PEOPLE ARE PUTTING MONEY AHEAD OF LIFE

Go on to Canine Concoction: Recipe for Dog Treats
Return to 24 February 1999 Issue
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