The issue of industrial agriculture is too serious to be confused with our acceptance of immigrants. Who owns the farm down the road or the national origin of that farmer is of little concern to most of us.
On the other hand, we have every right to question the farming practices of that farmer, the impact of that operation on our environment, the economic impact of that farming operation on the rural community and the respect or disrespect that a farming operation has for those who live nearby.
No one should experience a decline in the quality of life because corporate agriculture and a government agency choose to build a factory in his community.
Imagine what would happen if a manufacturer decided to build a factory in an affluent suburb? They would not get to first base.
Why, then, can rural folks not have the same clout, the same voice in determining what kinds of businesses are built in their back yards?
To imply that a mega-farm, a factory farm, a CAFO will be regulated is disingenuous to rural people. Nearly everyone in Ohio knows the story of Buckeye Egg Farm. Once a factory farm is established, regulation is nearly impossible.
To suggest that we all come to the table and negotiate or meet in the middle as Farm and Dairy’s editor suggests is nearly laughable. What concessions would those on the side of industrial agriculture be willing to make?
Thus far, they have made none. They are, for the most part, unstoppable.
We know that confinement animals and grass-raised animals produce food that has a different chemical and nutritional composition. We who consume the food products will be nourished in different ways, according to which system we choose – if, of course, we are given a choice.
The person consuming grass-based milk, beef or eggs will ingest higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and lower levels of omega 6 fatty acids. Any medical person will tell us that this is a healthy choice.
We can look to Joe Robinson, author of Why Grass Fed is Best, for a bit of logic: “If it is in their feed, it is in your food.”
How we farm is an issue of faith.
Eating is a moral act. If the protein on the end of the fork or the milk in the glass was produced in a factory farm, the eater is sending a message to the world.
He is telling us, “I believe it is acceptable to use illegal aliens in chicken processing plants; I believe that my government should subsidize corn production; I don’t care how animals are treated; I don’t care about chemical residues; I don’t care if factory farms destroy small family farms; I don’t care if people in western Ohio may have unsafe well water because of a confinement dairy.
“As long as my food is cheap, convenient, easy to prepare, and I can eat it in front of my big screen TV, I just don’t care.”
No, the issue of large confinement dairies is not about immigration. It is about our future. And our future begins at the dinner table.