Yes, farming is ‘cool,’ but practices aren’t



In “Kasich to Ohio Farm Bureau: We need common sense government (Dec. 6, 2010),” I agree with the governor-elect’s contention that agriculture needs to be “cool” to attract new talent to the industry. In fact, young people at our nation’s coolest and most prestigious universities are getting into agriculture, but not the factory farming model. They are interested in healthy, organic, community-oriented farming, and so are consumers.

We are in the midst of a burgeoning organic farming and food movement that is picking up momentum every year. It’s not cool to pack animals into warehouses where they can’t even turn around or stretch their limbs, and no amount of rationalizing will change that.

The vast majority of citizens oppose the intensive confinement of animals, and so does a new breed of farmers.

Gene Baur
Watkins Glen, N.Y.
(The author is president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary.)


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  1. It is an all-out LIE that modern farmers FORCE their animal products on people-ALL modern farmers know that there are different consumer preferences and NONE have attacked “nich-type” farms that offer “organic” or other “specialty” animal products. It is TRUELY pathetic that SOME of these “farmers” have and are attacking modern farmers and their animal husbandry practices. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, animal products are a market-based business-and the OVERWHELMING majority of people will choose the CHEAPEST products available. I have actually witnessed people claiming to be concerned about animal husbandry practices skip over pricier “cage-free” eggs and purchase the CHEAPEST caged eggs available-we farmers know that ALOT of this hippocrasy is occuring.

    It is an outright abomination that ANYONE criticises modern farm practices-these pratices are scientifically PROVEN BEST for the animals-they live longer than “free roaming” animals, are FAR more productive, hands-down are less prone to parasites and disease (including disease passed-on to consumers-such as trichinosis-, are PROTECTED from being attacked and cannabalised by other animals (including their fellow herdmates), and are actually MORE comfortable than MOST other husbandry methods. It is an OUTRIGHT DESPICABLE DECEPTION that animal-rights groups portray modern as cruel-PERIOD!!! The truth is that they prey upon people who have NEVER raised animals and put human characteristics into animals-purposely keeping the truth about TRUE animal behavior from them-essentially brainwashing people into their propaganda. ALL animals that are in modern facilities ARE COMFORTABLE and less stressed, and much more pampered than those in a “natural” setting-CONTRARY to what the AR groups push on people. Also omitted is the fact that the world population is counted in the BILLIONS-and is expected to grow rapidly over the next few decades-backyard “farmers” CANNOT produce enough food to cover feeding the increasing population.

    That said, as a 4H leader who enjoys working with young people interested in agriculture, I ENCOURAGE them to explore ALL aspects and types of animal husbandry-then decide for themselves what is best for them-NOT what someone else deems best. What I DO NOT encourage is the pathetic, nasty attitude to attack others who have differing beliefs, as the author of this letter is doing. The idea that anyone has the right to FORCE their opinion onto others is inexcusable-and is the major reason there is so many problems in this world. There is room for ALL types of farmers-and it is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for one group to attack another!!!

  2. For those not familiar with “Farm Sanctuary”-of which the author of this letter co-founded: they are an animal RIGHTs group who push for a VEGAN agenda-meaning NO animal products-they ARE NOT a pro-farm group-even “organic” and “small nich” type farms-their ultimate goal is to ELIMINATE ALL animal farming-they are first attacking large, modern farms because of them being an “easier” target-then will move onto smaller farms. Sadly, like several other animal rights groups, they are, under very false pretenses, “befriending” smaller and/or organic farms, duping them into joining them to attack modern farmers. They IN NO WAY want ANY animal agriculture-their ultimate goal is the ELIMINATION of ALL animal-based agriculture, and forcing veganism onto people.

  3. Mr. Baur,

    Thank you for your excellent letter. Today, more than ever, the general public is becoming aware of the cruelties inherent in the factory farming operations because today, with the advent of cell phone cameras and other audio/video recording devices, the atrocities of the factory farms can be documented and has made its way to the public–and most people do not like what they see. Even if they continue eating meat and consuming dairy and eggs, they oppose the broad range of abuse and torture found in the modern factory farms.

    There is no denying the movement toward a better system, a fact born out by the anger and animosity seen in so many farmers like “Fed-Up.”
    No one is attacking the farmer, but many people are becoming aware of and subsequently condemning a system of brutality and abuse.

    Thank you again for your excellent, well-stated points, Mr. Baur

    • Excellent point Rachel. Also many people would like to buy organic but because money is so tight they buy what is cheapest. Maybe if the government wasn’t subsidizing these cruel farming practices these ‘products’ wouldn’t be cheaper. I recently heard that over 30% of people in this country buy organic regularly yet about %3 of subsidy money goes to organic farms.

  4. Rachel and Josh,

    For your information, the few videos that are made are not the normal routine for farmers. First, can you provide a definition of what you mean when you say “factory farm”? Second, will you acknowledge that small farmers may also be abusive?

    I have been in dairy farming my whole life. I love working with the animals and there is no way I would do anything to harm them. We did have a large number of animals and you would have probably called it a factory. I can tell you those cows were pampered like they are princesses. They slept on beds of sand, drank fresh, running water, ate as much as they wanted and received our very best alfalfa hay and silage. We were in the barns multiple times during the night to assure they were doing okay, especially the new moms. They were friendly cows who produced milk. The better their needs are met, then the more milk they produce. There is no reason to abuse them.

    The few examples you have seen get replayed so you think it happens all the time. The videos are doctored to make things look different than they are.

    Our modern farming uses hundreds of years of scientific research to help us provide for all of the animals needs. Can you tell me what your credentials and experience are?

    Please read carefully about how modern practices meet the animals needs. Read what the scientists and professors have to say. Visit some real farms and meet the families. Only a few percent of our American farms are managed by corporations. Please do not do such a disservice to the thousands of family farmers who put food on the table while working in all kinds of weather.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share.

  5. Everything tastes better with cheese; I love a hard boiled egg cut up on my salad and I eat a lot of meat. I am not anti-farming; in fact, I live in a farming region. I’m not even opposed to large scale CAFOs as long as animals are well-tended and not dosed with growth hormones or prophelactically dosed with antibiotics. However, I have a nice local family a few miles away who raise a decent-sized herd of angus. Their meat costs more, but I know it’s not full of drugs and hormones and the steers are hay and grass fed. I don’t mind paying more because 1 – I feel it’s healthier meat for me and 2 – the money is going directly to the farmer and not a grocery store or middle man.

    I understand CAFOs and other large farms are necessary to provide cheap food to the masses. However, these ARE factories whether they are corporate owned or family owned. And as factories, they need to be managed by “factory” rules – meaning strict OSHA regulations and air and waste water environmental regulations. Like any factory, these regulations protect both the workers and the community outside the factory.

    I prefer small, family farms for my food and am willing to pay a premium to support that family. I’m not opposing large-scale farming, just saying “factory” farms shouldn’t complain if they start being regulated like a factory because they have the inherent environmental and worker health and safety issues any other factory does.


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