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  • The more atheists tell me that pigs have more value than human babies (born or unborn), the more pigs I'm going to eat. Bring on the crates!! We've ...


  • The "hot air" is the paper by McGee, not in organic farming. Please see the response of IFOAM - Organics International at www.foam.bio.


  • I just ate a pork chop. Yummy. And i grew up on a farm and we put pigs in crates. Of course they can lie down in there. But lose sows often lie on their ...


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  • Translating Food Technology: Why do farmers hire busloads of kids to walk their corn fields?

    Why are Nebraska kids walking through cornfields?

    In an average year, according to a Lincoln personnel recruiting firm that specializes in the practice, around 100,000 high-school and college kids spend about a month every June and July participating in a Midwestern rite of passage: "detasseling corn."

    The annual practice is as old as the invention of hybrid seed corn, the most common form of corn seed used by commercial farmers today. Seed-corn companies produce that hybrid seed by forcing two strains or breeds of corn plant to mate with one another, producing an offspring seed that then carries the best traits of both parents. Detasseling, the practice you're witnessing when you watch teams of teens walk the rows of cornfields or ride above the plants on elevated platforms, is the final step in ensuring the quality of that seed.

    To produce that improved hybrid corn on a commercial scale, corn plants, which normally pollinate themselves, are instead cross-pollinated. Seed-corn companies accomplish this cross-polination by first planting a field with alternating blocks of plants from the two different parent strains. In one set of rows, workers then remove the "tassel" or top part of the maturing stalk that bears the pollen. That detasseling leaves only rows containing the second strain's plants capable of pollinating the now detasseled plants, which will then go on to bear the hybrid seed.

    Some recent attempts at mechanization notwithstanding, says Varsity Detasseling, the helping hand of the detasseler is still needed to produce a pure and superior seed. When the time is right and the weather cooperates, they must work quickly, typically beginning in late June to late July, beating the summer heat by starting at sunrise and working until mid-afternoon. Detasselers, usually working in two or three passes through each field, must remove 99.5 percent of all female-plant tassels in order to completely "clean" a field.

    Watch this explanation of how and why detasseling works to produce pure seed corn.

  • Navigating the New Food Movement: Will you pay the consequences for helping sell fairy-tale farming?

    Are you complicit in selling fairy-tale farming?

    Mercy For Animals, the nonprofit animal-rights group behind several recent undercover animal-cruelty videos, which Farmer Goes to Market has reported on, has officially called the match: Cage-free eggs are now inevitable.

    In a blog post written nearly a year ago, the group"...dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies," quoted the United Egg Producers president as conceding the U.S. egg industry now has no options but to go cage-free.

    How did Mercy for Animals take UEP, over the course of less than a decade, from spending $10 million to fight California legislation requiring cage-free to agreeing to back a system nationally that it not only predicts will increase egg farmers' housing costs by two to three times, but also stands a good chance of actually making chickens less healthy, less productive and more stressed?

    It did so by a strategically executed public-relations campaign characterized by the group's latest cinematic drama from late June. The footage, shot this spring by a hired MFA plant pretending to be a farm worker at Washington's Briarwood Farms, a supplier for egg distributor Eggland’s Best, edited together footage of people engaging in questionably cruel behavior with somber and brooding images of caged chickens, artfully gloomy background music and poetically suggestive narration. It all combines to further the group's constant narrative: The system of caged-hen production is unacceptable.

    But had it simply stopped there, MFA may have convinced a hardcore fringe the food-animal system is unredeemable, but it wouldn't have turned it into a movement. Instead MFA leveraged a well-targeted and increasingly belligerent directed e-mail campaign against key members of the chain, including Nebraska grocers large and small, with the megaphone social media now provides and the willing support of the old-line press. It effectively named and shamed suppliers to large companies, who could then be pressured to announce changes, all in the name of giving consumers what they're asking for. Those announcements could then, in turn, be used to coerce smaller, less powerful retailers and food producers into submitting.

    "Following pressure from caring consumers," the video narrator of the latest MFA video says, for instance, "many of the biggest companies in the world, including McDonalds, Kroger, Walmart and many others, committed to stop cramming hens in cages."

    It worked.

    In only a year's time, virtually the entire food chain has acquiesed. Publix, the fifth largest grocery store chain in the country, announced in mid July it plans to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2026. Hy-Vee and Price Chopper pledged similar progress in May by 2022 and 2025, respectively. The Independent Grocers Alliance, which represents over 1,000 retailers nationwide, joined the growing list , announcing, "It is our goal to source 100 percent cage-free eggs for IGA by 2025 based on available supply. IGA, its retailers and its wholesalers do not tolerate animal abuse of any kind, and we expect our suppliers to adhere to accepted industry standards."

    Josh Balk, senior food policy director for the Humane Society of the United States, told TriplePundit that it has “fortunately become very difficult for major food companies to appear on the side of animal abuse, in this case, the cruel confinement of hens in tiny cages.” Among the benefits he cites: “It’s also good business sense to align policies with customer sentiment regarding animal welfare.”

    Fortune's most recent, overly glowing profile of McDonalds' agonizing over going cage-free likewise places the ultimate driver at the feet of consumer demand: "...the movement in the U.S. is taking on a pace that many had never expected. 'It stunned me two years ago how we leaped over enriched to cage-free,' says Craig Morris, deputy administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s livestock, poultry, and seed program. 'It all goes back to consumer expectations of how food is produced.'"

    But are consumers really behind it? Are grocers agreeing to an unrealistic make-believe farming system because they're being told by the media, old and new, that consumer pressure is driving the trend?

    It is dangerous, accourding to Texas Tech ag economist Darren Hudson, to infer that supply-side manipulation says anything meaningful about what consumers are really willing to pay for. Hudson cites studies noting that when consumers who say they favor animal-welfare standards are asked if they still favor them when they actually cost them more, either in form of food price and taxes, their support significantly wanes. He considers the scientific literature supporting true economic impact of animal welfare to be "scant."

    Despite what Mercy for Animals claims, the fact is economics research generally agrees that willingness-to-pay estimates are inflated. Often respondents tell surveyors they do want traits like cage-free based on their own hypothetical assumptions and their unwillingness to give the politically incorrect answer. Consumers may in fact be willing to put money on the counter for animal welfare, says Danish ag economics professor Laura Mørch Andersen, but so far it's only to a small degree. Her research supports the conclusion that stated willingness to pay "to a large extent is just cheap talk." Her work cautions retailers to consider the market for higher welfare products to be only a niche market, capable of attracting only certain consumer segments.

    But perhaps the most compelling evidence that consumers say they want voluntary production constraints like Walmart's but won't pay for them comes from the biggest real-world experiment in such practices so far, says University of California at Davis economist Tina Saitone: organics. Study after study shows consumers routinely tell surveyors they will buy more organic foods at a price premium. Yet the market share for organic in the United States has remained stalled over the last decade at only about 3 percent of food sales. Saitone calls the difference between experimental studies and the real marketplace a "vast chasm."

    Similarly, " most consumers want farm animals to be treated well," writes Oklahoma State ag economist Jayson Lusk. "But judging by shopping habits, they’re only willing to pay so much for hens’ amenities. The market share for affordable, cage-produced eggs (about 90 percent) dominates the more expensive, cage-free eggs (less than 10 percent)."

    "There are many studies on consumer willingness-to-pay for non-GM, cage-free and more," Lusk tells Farmer Goes to Market. "And most of these surveys and experiments show most consumers are willing to pay something for such attributes.  The trouble is that these WTP values don’t often materialize in the marketplace.  When you look at grocery scanner data, for example, market shares for these sorts of products are typically very low. ...most consumers are not willing to pay the price premiums for non-GM, cage-free, organic, when they have to put their money where their mouth is." 

    In further evidence, Lusk's monthly consumer-panel surveying in July asked 1,000 shoppers to choose from six different characteristics in random order that might influence their egg purchases. On average, price was most important when shopping for eggs, with 26 out of 100 points allocated to this issue on average across participants. Caged vs. cage-free fell almost 50 percent below price.

    Do shoppers really want cage-free when they have to pay for it?

    So consumers will have their cage-free eggs, whether they really demand them or not. But where will these top-down restrictions, and costly, demands on food production end?

    Mercy for Animals' same blog post claiming victory in the egg battle points to the next frong: "While the egg industry may see the writing on the wall, the pork industry continues to oppose reform. National Pork Producers Council spokesman Dave Warner pledged that the group will fight [housing mandates]. Although more than 85 percent of U.S. pigs are currently kept in gestation crates, NPPC president-elect, John Weber, admitted that the status quo will change. 'In another 10 years that percentage is probably going to change significantly,' Weber said. 'I would predict longer term ... we'll be housing sows differently.'"

    MFA's June video followed the same model of MFA's past works targeting not only poultry, but also pigs, milk cows, turkeys, veal calves, and even ducks. They all skillfully use isolated depictions of animal cruelty (some real, some implied or staged) by individuals to cinematically indict the wider system of intensive animal production or individual practices like caging hens, keeping pregnant pigs in individual stalls, beak-trimming to prevent cannibalism, or confined housing. Grocers can expect those targets to be next on their list.

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  • Foresight on Food Politics: Three facts about the ethanol fuel standard

    Facts about ethanol fuel standard

    Atop news that consolidation was occurring in the ethanol-refining business, as two Nebraska ethanol plants went on the block as part of bankruptcy proceedings against Abengoa Bioenergy, Investor's Business Daily marked the 11th anniversary of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard with an editorial from the oil industry demanding its end. Signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels into new options for consumers at the pump. Despite sparking billions of dollars in U.S. investments and helping reduce dependence on foreign oil, the RFS remains an obviously complex and contentious issue, as the IBD editorial testifies. Clarity around RFS is important to retailers not only because of the implications for grocer's food costs, but also because of questions of whether ethanol mandates increase or decrease the cost of the gasoline most grocers now rely upon for sales or rewards programs.

    The National Corn Growers Association would caution grocers a lot of over-simplifications have been tossed about by media and critics of biofuel production. For example:

    • It's not true ethanol is robbing livestock producers of feed. Yes, roughly 40 percent of U.S. corn is processed for ethanol, as the IBD editorial notes. But fully one-third of that total then comes back into livestock feed as ethanol byproducts. If you take those feedstocks out of the equation, only 30 percent of the crop went into ethanol last year; meanwhile, 47 percent of the crop goes to livestock feed in the United States. And when you count the corn that the United States exports, of which about 80 percent is used by livestock, in reality about 57 percent of the total yearly corn supply ends up eaten by livestock.
    • Relatively high corn price did not cause massive food price increases."Because half the nation's corn production is now being refined into ethanol," IBD's Texas-based oil institute author argues, "consumers are paying higher prices for beef, milk, poultry and pork." But in November 2015 testimony to Congress, the Congressional Budget Office argued food prices would be unchanged whether the RFS was continued or repealed. CBO estimates the 2017 increase in demand for corn under the RFS statute may raise the average price of corn by about 3 percent. However, because corn and food made with corn account for only a small fraction of total U.S. spending on food, that total spending would increase by only about 0.1 percent. When it comes to food manufacturers who use corn directly in their products, even a doubling in corn price from $4 per bushel to $8 per bushel would only add about 6 cents to the price of a box of corn-based breakfast cereal.
    • Ethanol-based demand has actually helped grow, not shrink, the corn supply. And it has done so without pulling more acreage into production. The corn growers association argues that without the demand boost provided by the EPA standard, farmers would have potentially chosen a different crop than corn for an estimated 11 million acres last year. But because they did plant that corn, the additional corn that's been grown benefits all corn buyers, including the food and livestock industries. Meanwhile, according to a study in the Biomass and Bioenergy Journal, increasing ethanol demand was met not by bringing idle land into corn production, but instead by U.S. crop intensification. In other words, using technology and management, farmers got more corn out of the same amount of land, contradicting the oft-repeated theory that any acre of farmland used to produce biofuels in the United States results in "sodbusting" unfarmed land and forests in other areas of the world.

    Says Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association, "Thanks to innovation in U.S. agriculture, we are growing more crops on less land than we cultivated when the RFS was first enacted.”

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  • Competitive Commodity Insights: Have all the rules about meat demand changed?

    Why aren't meat prices behaving as expected?

    "Why is beef demand growing as per-capita income shrinks?" BEEF magazine editor Wes Ishmael pondered in a Jan. 2014 column written to cattle ranchers. The gap between rich and poor has widened, income growth at the bottom is stalled, and beef prices are leading nagging food inflation. "None of that should be positive news for commodity products with a high price compared to substitutes;" he noted, "beef vs. chicken and pork in this case." Yet Ishmael is surprised to point out that annual retail demand for beef has continued to defy expectations and to rise during those developments. "There’s no simple explanation for this paradox between dwindling domestic per-capita wealth overall in tandem with growing demand for pricier beef."

    Now, a study scheduled for publication in the journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy by Oklahoma State ag economist Jayson Lusk and Kansas State ag economist Glynn Tonsor has attempted to explain and quantify that paradox. Why haven't expenditures for beef and pork fallen as much as some people expected given their high prices? Lusk and Tonsor's modeling, based on monthly consumer surveys conducted by Lusk's department which Farmer Goes to Market has reported on in the past, implies that the rules of meat demand may have changed. For one, although relative price swings have favored chicken over beef and pork, consumers don't seem to have switched to chicken to a high degree. Second, they suggest the elasticity of demand for meat, particularly beef, may not follow a straight line as traditionally predicted.

    Here's a little Economics 101: Price elasticity is the measure of how much demand changes when price goes up or down. Inelastic products tend to be those goods and services that are necessities and used only in fixed amounts despite price swings, like utilities. If the price comes down, people don't necessarily increase consumption. In contrast, luxury goods consumption responds to price. Demand for those goods is known as elastic.

    Lusk and Tonsor note in their study that past research has questioned the value of traditional demand models to accurately explain the elasticity of consumer demand for many commodities. Now, their work reveals non-linear demands for meat products, with demand being more inelastic at higher prices.

    As their graphs for the competing meats point out, the demand plot for each product and income class is curved, not straight, implying that demand becomes more inelastic as prices rise. Price changes at the upper end don't change the quantity demanded as much as price changes in the lower end of the distribution. This phenomenon helps explain the surprise expressed by some analysts at the continued strength of beef and pork expenditures despite higher prices. In addition, elasticity of demand also varies by income level of the consumers. For some products, like pork chops, the demand curves for low-, middle-, and high-income consumers aren't markedly different, except at high price levels. But for other products like steak, income changes result in large shifts in demand. In all cases, but perhaps most easily seen for ground beef, the demand curves for high-income consumers are more inelastic than that for low-income consumers.

    Demand curves for meat behave unexpectedly

    The ag economists point out several implications of their work. Although it's common to use estimated elasticities of demand not only for market research, but also to set policy and to forecast long-term prices, net farm income, government expenditures and other statistics, most may be over-reliant on traditional straight-line demand elasticities. In many applications, analysts assume constant elasticities over all price ranges, and as a result may over- or under-estimate economic impacts if elasticities actually behave as their modeling suggests. Even setting retail beef prices may need rethinking based on the work: The old assumption that holding retail prices high hurts demand across the board for beef may not be as cut-and-dry as assumed in the past.

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  • Meet your Farmers: Rowdy Moon, Nebraska bull fighter

    A champion team roper and national-caliber bareback bronc rider himself, 19-year-old Sargent native Rowdy Moon spends summer weekend nights under the lights in county rodeo arenas running towards the business end of 1,600 pounds of mean beef. “I’ve always wondered why he wants to step out in front of one when he could be up there on top where it’s safer,” his brother Cody once marveled.

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  • On the Lighter Side: A Labor Day salute to some real organized labor

    Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Travel back in time 30 years with us, to the small Nebraska town of Bruno, where Herman Ostry and his family needed a barn moved but couldn't afford to have it done the conventional way. So they demonstrated the real power of organized labor, caught here by the local TV news station.



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Translating Food Technology: Why Would Pig Farmers Insist on Using 'Gestation Crates?'

Why do pig farmers use gestation crates?The last 45 days have seen a line of announcements by food retailers and quick-service restaurant chains that they would soon begin to deman their pork suppliers phase out the use of "gestation crates," individual stalls in which pregnant and newly delivered sows are housed. Spurred by criticism from animal rights groups that the practice is cruel, Smithfield Foods, the country's largest pork farm, first announced in 2007 it would gradually abandon the practice over a 10-year period. Animal-rights groups have lobbied heavily against the practice, often successfully. Ballot initiatives banning sow stalls have passed in many states, and threat of action has led to voluntary agreements to cease their use in other states and Canada. Although Smithfield had earlier backed off on its promise because it was facing financial hardship, Smithfield President and CEO Larry Pope said the company’s hog operations had converted housing for 30 percent of its sow herd and was now back on track to meet the 2017 goal.

Since March, Wendy's, Burger King, Safeway, Sonic, Denny's, McDonalds, Cracker Barrel and Kroger have all released statements in conjunction with the Washington-based animal-rights group Humane Society of the United States announcing they plan to pressure pork suppliers to abandon the practice.

“Kroger believes that a gestation crate-free environment is more humane and that the pork industry should work toward gestation crate-free housing,” said that company in a press release co-authored in early June with HSUS.

“Kroger’s has taken a very important step for animal welfare in declaring that the pork industry must find an exit strategy for its use of gestation crates,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of  HSUS.

Faced with the continual barrage of negative media fanned by HSUS and other animal-rights advocates, grocers and their customers may rightly ask, if so many people believe the practice of crating pigs is inhumane, why do most farmers still use them?

1. It makes indoor housing practical. First, many critics are correct when they say sow stalls are a result of the indoor housing pig farmers evolved toward in the 1970s and 1980s. However, their criticism doesn’t necessarily mean indoor housing is a bad thing—most farmers moved their pigs indoors because they believed it benefited the animals, as well as the caretakers. Indoor housing made sense because it protected both animals and farmers from weather, predators, parasites, and also because it made animal performance both better and more predictable (Pigs left outdoors typically use about a quarter of the feed they eat just to keep warm in winter, for example.)

Once farmers moved pregnant sows indoors, though, they found the traditional group housing for pregnant sows that sufficed in mud barnyards didn’t work well indoors. So they turned to individual housing as the practical solution.

2. It protects individuals from the animal's natural aggression. Why didn't that group housing work for sows housed indoors? Like people who push and crowd to get on a bus where only a few seats are empty, yet will be relaxed and courteous when they know seats are available, sows will fight, wound, and even kill one another when they think their access to feed is at risk. When farmers move 350- to 550-pound bred sows--which are only normally fed a set amount of feed once daily to control their weight--into indoor group pens, sows begin to anticipate the feed delivery, understand there will only be a set amount to go around, and begin to fight for the lion’s share of it. As a result, weaker sows will be injured, as well as be starved of their allotted feed portion. At the same time, the "boss" sows will eat too much, making them overly fat, which will eventually harm their ability to give birth to and feed a healthy set of baby pigs.

By instead training sows to eat in individual stalls before putting them into groups, farmers are in effect training them that fighting doesn’t earn them any additional feed. Each individual is ensured the correct amount of feed and the ability to eat it in peace and safety.

3. It improves the farmer's ability to manage individual animals. It would be disingenuous not to recognize that individually confining animals does also improve the farmer’s ability to manage them, by making it easier and quicker to give them medications, check their condition, and perform other tasks. However, the additional expense of crating sows (it is more expensive to build individual crates than group-housing pens) likely couldn’t justify those management concerns; the predominant reason is to prevent group fighting. Stalling is a trade-off between full mobility and reassurance of feed.

It works, but is it right?

So the question becomes, is it right or wrong to force these trade-offs on an animal? The late Dr. Stan Curtis, who spent his career at University of Illinois studying questions of how animals think and the effect of modern envorinments on them, believed it was. Before his death last year, Curtis was vocally critical of today’s animal behaviorists who conclude that assessing an animal’s well-being based on the animal’s “feelings” was a valid method of assessing the cruelty of practices like gestation crates.

“As long as we can’t yet measure how a pig feels, let alone measure the depth of any such feeling—which everyone agrees we can’t do—we can only speculate, surmise, analogize and anthropomorphize,” Curtis said. In other words, according to Curtis, what humans feel when they see a sow in a crate speaks only to how that human would feel were that human confined in a crate. It says nothing about how the sow feels. Farming decisions can’t be based on those human feelings. “What we cannot do is know, set thresholds, define limits or draw lines. How then is it reasonable to expect producers to manage pigs on that basis?”

To Curtis and those who follow his thinking, the only accurate measure we have of whether the animal is suffering in a crate is what he called the “Performance Axiom:” The best single set of measurable—and manageable—indicators of an animal’s state of being will be how well it produces and reproduces compared to its predicted potential. “When bodily resources become limited because a pig is in a situation requiring extraordinary adaptation, productive processes will be the first to decrease. We can measure that. Reproductive functions will be next. We can measure that. Maintenance processes, which ensure survival, last. These observed reductions in measurable performance traits are the earliest, most sensitive indicators that a pig’s well-being has been disturbed—much more sensitive than behavioral patterns that may indirectly signify some emotional reaction,” he said.

And the research shows that although both group housing and individual crating have advantages and disadvantages, sows peform as well or better in crates than they do in stalls, as long as both systems are managed well. Paul Sundberg, a veterinarian and vice-president of science and research for the National Pork Board, summed it up well in a Washington Post article. “The key to sow welfare isn't whether they are kept in individual crates or group housing,” he said, “but whether the system used is well managed. "[S]cience tells us that [a sow] doesn't even seem to know that she can't turn ... She wants to eat and feel safe, and she can do that very well in individual stalls."

What do you think about the issue? Leave a comment and get some discussion started with your fellow grocers.


-8 #23 Harry 2015-12-05 17:46
The more atheists tell me that pigs have more value than human babies (born or unborn), the more pigs I'm going to eat. Bring on the crates!! We've become a sick German 1939esque culture when we value hotdogs over human babies.
-4 #22 I. M. Carnivore 2015-07-26 02:53
I just ate a pork chop. Yummy. And i grew up on a farm and we put pigs in crates. Of course they can lie down in there. But lose sows often lie on their piglets, crushing or sufficating them. A nasty way to die. The sow is only in there unti the piglets are weaned. We used to raise em in fields. They would be sick and eat other sows babies and fight and injure each other and in a bad winter freeze to death once in a while. So we felt like we were treating them much better when we got em inside. We liked our pigs and treated em well. But one thing we couldnt abide was to watch someone cut a head of lettuce of at the neck, chop it up and eat it raw. Now that is cruel!
+8 #21 Max 2015-04-01 23:08
No, dismissing animal feelings because we "do not know" is unjust. But just for the record, surmounting evidence illustrates that animals have feelings. Our instincts allow us to feel sorry for animals when we see that pain is inflicted upon them. Precautions must be made if we are unsure.

Aggression can be easily managed in small group housing. Isolation is cruel. Extreme confinement is cruel. You cannot justify forcing an animal into a space in which he/she is unable to turn around or walk forward or backward.

That is agony for any animal that is even slightly sentient. And pigs are very intelligent.

"Farming decisions can’t be based on those human feelings. “What we cannot do is know... or draw lines. How then is it reasonable to expect producers to manage pigs on that basis?” It is quite reasonable to expect producers to manage pigs as beings with feelings.
-7 #20 Justin 2015-03-10 05:21
>>The fact that the sows bite the crates shows they are in deep distress

You are correct. The fact that they are biting the crates does show distress. However, it is not mental distress, it is dietary distress. Biting metal bars is a common habit among pigs who are deficient in key nutrients. In their mind, they think they can make up for that deficiency by getting minerals, such as iron which they can taste, out of the metal. Any knowledgeable farmer knows that that habit is a sign of a nutritional deficiency. So by properly managing the diet of the sows, the action of biting the crates can be eliminated.
-8 #19 Larry Elias 2015-01-23 16:37
Thanks for your insightful and educational articles. Farmers and producers who make a career out of working with animals have a much better understanding of the animals than those who think of animals as "morally significant individuals with rights."
-1 #18 Jessica Howe 2015-01-21 00:00
The fact that the sows bite the crates shows they are in deep distress
+3 #17 Nancy Poznak 2015-01-13 18:10
The problem starts with making an animal a commodity; it's worth is reduced to its' financial worth. The entire system of animal agriculture is based upon making animals into commodities. The moment and animal becomes a commodity it loses its freedom and is ultimately put into harm's way. Methods of raising pigs which allow them some freedom of movement do exist, and can be cost-effective. However, atrocities are still committed against pigs (an all commercial animals): castration, tail docking, ear punctures - all with no pain relief. Piglets not performing well are brutally killed. How do you get a pig out of the gestation crate when sending to slaughter? Do you tickle her belly? Do you gently find ways to hoist her up because she cannot walk after being imprisoned for months, or years? For those who consider it "normal and acceptable' to kill animals for food, would YOU be able to slit the animal's throat, watch the blood and life leave their body, look into its eyes and still feel this process 'normal and acceptable'?
+1 #16 Jean 2015-01-08 18:09
my parents in law fed pigs in their village many years ago. It's not a big room, but definitely they can turn and walk for a few steps. Look at the environment now, to make more money, what did people do to pig, chickens,cows. A lot of people talked about food safety, but the root of all the the problem is human's moral standard dropped so quickly in this few decades, it's not only the problems of the farmer. That is the issue of the whole world I believe. eve rybody need to improve yourself from the inner, that the way to change the world.
+9 #15 M. Graham 2014-12-25 13:28
Gestation crates are unbelievably inhumane. Imagine yourself living in a crate so small that you cannot even turn around, and being continually impregnated. Pigs are incredibly smart and sensitive animals. These are LIVING BEINGS we are talking about here. This is about nothing but profit. Period. Factory "farm" pig "farmers" can spin all the narratives they want to try to excuse this abomination against creation, but the bottom line is that this treatment of God's creatures is nothing but evil. And for those of you who support this abomination against innocent creatures, and believe in God, you're really kidding yourselves if you think you are not going to pay for this. If Americans had even the smallest bit of a conscience, they would simply boycott the entire industry. But we are a nation of people so bereft of any moral compass, and so sold to the god of profit, that we will lie ourselves into the inferno rather than face the truth of our own complicity in this inconceivable violence against living beings, whose cries in the vacuum of our collective deafness go unheard.
+8 #14 Nancy S Poznak 2014-12-03 03:04
The intelligence of pigs is well-documented by scientists who study them. They are now known to be among the top four most intelligent nonhuman species. Read this article: http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/pigheaded-smart-swine/ - not that you need to as you are most likely aware of how smart they are. I have seen many pictures and videos of sows in gestation crates. They obviously suffer. One does not have to be a veterinarian or farmer to see this. Only an idiot would deny the fact they suffer. The reason sows' aggression becomes a problem is because they have been placed into a completely unnatural environment. Pig farming must change and become far more kind to the pigs if it wants to stay in business.

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