False factory farming

Nov 302009

I am writing regarding to Robyn Scherer’s column from Friday titled, “The real, not so ugly truth behind factory farms.” In her article, Scherer responds to an author who gives some “untrue” facts about factory farming, in Scherer’s opinion.

Although I am not familiar with the specific claims that this author made about factory farming, I find Scherer’s article concerning because it addresses some of the negative aspects of factory farming very shallowly. Scherer said that she doesn’t agree with “standard commercial hog practices,” but she “can understand why they are raised the way they are.”

Scherer, I think most people can “understand” why animals like hogs are raised in confinement — it takes up less land, less maintenance and less money. Instead, people are concerned about the ethics of the animals’ well-being and environmental issues involved in raising animals in close confinement. Scherer says that “Hogs require shelter and would struggle to live out on open pasture.” I’m pretty sure that open pasture isn’t the only alternative to keeping hogs in crates in a warehouse-type building for either most or their entire lives. She says the same thing about chickens and that keeping them inside “helps to keep them healthier.” It is pretty well-known that keeping any animal in close confinement with hundreds or thousands of others contributes to a serious increase in disease. To counter this, you have to feed much higher amounts of antibiotics to the animals.

In this article, and others she has written this year, Scherer has often admitted that the agricultural industry is flawed, but she then proceeds to support its actions. We need more than an apathetic view of the agricultural industry as it is today.

The agriculture industry is very powerful in this country, and there are many more ethical, healthy and environmentally safer improvements that could be made if enough political support could be raised for them.

Joanna Harter
Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism major

 Posted by at 8:07 am

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