Farmers || Future

Our family raises animals. Our family eats animals. Our family believes our faith is an important part of our life. Can those three go hand-in-hand?

Not according to recent accusations by animal rights activists. After all, how can you possibly eat an animal if you love animals? Wouldn’t that make you a hypocrite, according to messaging by groups such as the Humane Society of the United States?

These messages would have fallen on deaf ears when the majority of our country was involved in food production. However, today 98.5% of the population is not on a farm or ranch – which means people are not exposed to the birth, care and death of animals that provide their food. They don’t see how modern day technology helps animals, such as keeping hogs cool in the intense heat – nor do people see the families involved with caring for those animals.

That doesn’t make it right or wrong – it’s just reality. Generations removed from the farm means we no longer have conversation that animals die for us to eat. Somehow, we need to get back to understanding that farmers raise animals for food – animals that are very different than Fido or Fluffy. Those farm animals take things we can’t eat or drink and convert them to life sustenance.Those of us in agriculture need to learn to better communicate that we are grateful for the sacrifice that farm animals pay so that we can eat. Not just to feed people in cities, but our families, too.

Frankly, most people probably don’t think about it until they’re given a guilt trip or shown shocking videos about farms and ranches. Most probably don’t consider the national security provided by our food supply. And, they probably just want to eat and enjoy their food – the same as our family, who, by the way, is mourning the loss of one our cats “Cutie” – mostly likely due to a coyote. I’m not happy about it, but I accept it as reality. And I don’t believe that makes me any less of a Christian.

It’s called the circle of life. I’m O.K. with drawing a line between our cat and the pork barbecue we had for dinner last night; different species serve different purposes. Farmers and ranchers have deep respect for the animals they care for. And – even more importantly – we take the sacred trust consumers have in us to deliver a safe food supply very seriously.

Last week, Dr. Wes Jamison of West Palm Beach University helped me remember the importance of empowering consumers to feel good about food choices. Eating as you choose – not as food bigots direct you to – is not a sin. As Jamison says “Your dog is not a cow.” He encourages people to say-“I love meat.” If you do, please help people understand that it’s just fine to enjoy meat and have a dog curled up at your feet.

Views: 38

Tags: Agriculture, animal, faith, farm, food, religion, rights, sin


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Comment by Rebecca Schaubach on September 30, 2010 at 9:58pm
Thanks for your input Tony. I just want you to know that I am NOT against animal agriculture, I actually support it (when it's done the right way). I'll be the first to admit that I don't know everything about it. I've always been stuck in the middle on the meat issue. I've spent a few years on a dairy farm and I have a lot of friends that farm. I've seen a lot of people doing it right and I've personally seen others who shouldn't be in the business at all. I'm not trying to cut anyone down, I just think consumers need to physically go see, in person, the source of the meat before they choose to eat, or not eat meat, whichever way it swings them.
Comment by Tony Eickman on September 28, 2010 at 8:24pm
Rebecca, we sell to Tyson, who has a rigorous inspection of every animal that comes off our trailer. We get docked if we have too light of a hog and they will not take any downers whether it happened in the trailer or in their facility. If it doesn't walk it doesn't make it to the floor and you won't get paid for it either. I probably didn't sway you at all but it is something to consider.
Comment by Rebecca Schaubach on September 27, 2010 at 8:15am
I myself, often choose not to eat meat. The reason is not because eating animals is wrong. I love eating meat, But since I am not fortunate enough at this moment to be able to raise my own animals for meat, I don't think it's OK to go the grocery store and blindly buy meat products that you have no idea where or how they were raised and slaughtered. A lot of farmers raise animals in a healthy way, but there are other "farmers" who are NOT doing it the right way, and I don't want to support those people. I wish consumers were better able to go out to farms and buy meat products directly from the farm instead of a commercialized system. If consumers could see how animals lived their lives before slaughter, I think they would be better informed to make the decision on their own of whether or not to eat meat, instead of listening to propaganda from either side of the debate. This way, farmers who do things right will gain the profits, while the bad animal "growers" will lose out.
Comment by Chuck Thompson on September 13, 2010 at 7:15pm
Raising hogs outside is not the same thing as organic, neither of which is a fad by the way. Consumers are getting smarter about farming practices and are choosing meat that hasn't had daily antibiotics and GMO feeds. They realize that there is a difference in taste and quality.
When pigs fight and hurt each other it is usually because they are under stress do to over crowding and poor management. That is problem we don't have on our farm of pasture raised, organic fed hogs.
Comment by Tony Eickman on September 10, 2010 at 8:33pm
Personally, I wish the organic fad would go away, especially on the animal side. Raising hogs all of my life, I was part of the "organic experience" growing up in the eighties. Then outside hogs were common as was part of our gestating. I would like to show people what it was like to drag a sow out of a mud hole with a broken back; or watch as sows would gang up on one and just beat her senseless. My dad's personal favorite is when just a week before farrowing the sow has a hormone surge and will bite and fight eachother cutting teats off or even the vulva the latter ended badly most of the time. The mortality rate and economics made us change in the early nineties and it made a lot of other famers get a job in town.
Comment by Steve Link on September 10, 2010 at 9:31am
Good words. Thank you. I work with a very diverse cultural group of people. I am not offended that many of them do not eat meat or consider a cow a sacred animal. I do take offense when they are offended by my beliefs and try to force me to conform.

If they chose not to eat meat for whatever reason, I'm OK with that. But, we need more people like you to make sure people get both sides of the story, and not just the jaded "animal farmers are cruel and evil" viewpoint.


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