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  • Thanks for your insightful and educational articles. Farmers and producers who make a career out of working with animals have a much better understanding ...

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  • The fact that the sows bite the crates shows they are in deep distress

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  • 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 ...

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Most recent stories

  • Translating Food Technology: Why are consumers so eager to fear their food?

    Why consumers are primed to fear food technology

    Over the long history of food technological improvements, writes Oklahoma State ag economist Jayson Lusk in a recent issue of the journal Annual Reviews in Resource Economics, consumers and citizens have tended to celebrate, not denigrate, the results. From the discovery of vitamins in 1905 to improvements in rail and truck that moved food better from farm to table, from canning to refrigeration, all those industrial improvements were met with enthusiasm by upper- and middle-class consumers who could be better fed at relatively lower prices as a result.

    Today, those same consumers seem to have turned on the technological hand that feeds them, Lusk notes, even to the point of forgoing obvious benefits that are the fruits of that technology. What's happened to change society's attitude? Lusk and his fellow researchers review the scientific literature to make a few educated generalizations:

    Risk/benefit analysis has become subjective. Or perhaps it always was, and we've only come to fully recognize that reality. But Lusk notes the old economic model in which consumers and society coldly weighed the benefits of new technology against its risks seems to have broken down in the case of food. People may still weigh the risks, but they do so often blinded to scientific reality by intuition, guesswork and buzz-words.

    Complexity necessitates shortcuts. Today's food and farming technology has become so complex, the consumer-behavior research argues, that the average consumer is incapable of either understanding it or of investing the time and effort necessary to think about it rationally. As a result, they substitute emotion, belief and guesswork, often provided by third parties like activists and media and colored by the culture through which they view it.

    Consumers apply risk assessments inconsistently. Even in applying those shortcuts to understand relative risks and benefits of technology, current psychological research shows people are wildly scattershot in how they apply that process. Key trigger aspects, like risks that naturally invoke dread because they are uncontrollable, involuntary and potentially catastrophic, can lead them to apply fuzzy math when calculating risk, until a technology that seems completely benign in the cool light of science becomes unacceptably frightening in their hearts (think the very real hazards of organic cigarettes vs. the imagined ones of GMO soy milk, for instance).

    Symbolism matters. Even if a new food technology is harmless or low-risk, it often today becomes suspect because it stands for something bigger and scarier. Like a nuclear accident that results in little or no death or sickness but still frightens the public into a harsh anti-technology response, technology like GMO farming can serve as symbol reminding consumers they have little to no control over their food, a similiarly frightening vision.

    Any of the research's theories about why consumers distrust food tech could be applied equally well to any new technology, Lusk writes. But they are aimed particularly at food technology today, he believes, because humans have been "hard-wired" through evolutionary development to be skeptical of new foods. "When one is living in an environment where eating an unusual berry or mushroom can kill, nature rewards caution," he writes. For future researchers--and those who apply that research to produce and sell high-tech food--it will be important to better study people's beliefs and how they evolve, how to better communicate risk and benefit within those beliefs and cultural lenses, how sensory input impacts beliefs-based food decisions, and how stated aversion to food technology really translates into buying decisions.

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  • Navigating the New Food Movement: Why alternative food systems are unsustainable

    Alternative food systems are not sustainable

    To save California from its current devastating drought, writes Los Angeles Public Radio commentator Sonali Kolhatkar, "we must change the nation's food system." She echoes the sentiment of others like global hunger activist Marc Van Ameringen, who wrote in an earlier Huffington Post, "In the face of climate change, our basic food systems have to be reimagined...."

    Winston Churchill famously once said, "There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction."

    When it comes to dreaming up a new food system, known in academia as "alternative food networks," are the visionaries like Kolhatkar and Van Ameringen moving food production and delivery in the right direction, or simply in the direction of change? A new study in the March issue of the journal Agriculture and Human Values, took an exhaustive look first at the general claims across such alternatives as farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture, farm shops, consumer food co-operatives, specialty food retailers, organic agriculture, fair trade, and foods with a geographic origin, and then, second, the demonstrable accomplishments of such alternative systems. Much as they appear to favor the alternative network over the traditional supermarket-centered one, researchers Sini Forssell and Leena Lonkoski nevertheless posed some gaurded warnings about the true "sustainability" of such systems.

    "While there is some empirical evidence supporting the potential sustainability impacts...," they write, "there are also a great number of studies, empirical and theoretical, suggesting that the impacts may not be so straightforward."

    The alternative food network falls short in three broad areas, they say:

    First, the promised results haven't materialized. Several studies Forssell and Lonkoski uncovered in their review show the expected impact attributed to alternative networks have either simply not materialized or have been insufficient. In some cases, that failure comes from confusing one charactaristic with another. Case in point: "Local." Automatic association beyond food produced at a local scale and sustainable production often occurs unjustifiably. One is not automatically the other. Other examples of this blurring of sustainability promise vs. performance include a demonstrable failure of fair trade to increase farmer prices beyond a token boost toward anything resembling living wages, and the very real possibility that consumers approach Community Supported Agriculture programs as a one-off proposition. That is, they may be willing to share risk with an individual farmer for a single season, but they willingly abandon him after the first year. In the long term, that does nothing to reduce the farmer's risk, which is the most significant "sustainability" selling point of a CSA. In fact, several studies they cite show the increased value promised by local food networks don't get to the farmer on the production end, and other studies show it does nothing to provide more affordable food to the consumer on her end. Even when measured by the more spongy goals of "increasing the democratization" of the food chain, alternative systems have been shown to underperform, they warn: Fair trade, for instance, has been criticized as a top-down governing system imposed on farmers, and CSAs, which in theory are inclusive and participatory, in fact often struggle with lack of consumer participation.

    Second, unintended consequences abound. Any sustainability impact alternative food systems may promise are often accompanied by possible counter-effects, the researchers found. They cite the now-classic example: Organic production. Although organic promises a reduction at the individual farm level of adverse environmental impacts in terms of soil health, biodiversity, water and air contamination, and animal welfare, it results in such smaller yields by that individual farm that more farms are needed to maintain the same level of production. As a result, the sustainibility impact per product doesn't change and, in fact according to some research, may actually increase when compared to the conventional food system.


    ...direct selling requires farmers to assume the retailer's burden of resources, time and energy for distribution and merchandising, all of which reduce his net value.


    In other examples, they caution that local's claim to fame of reducing food miles may not bring net environmental benefits because the environmental impacts of food production differ in different locations with different growing conditions, and because small-scale local food distribution may actually be more wasteful in its inefficiency. Plus, while some case study evidence supports the prominent argument that a shorter food chain may result in producers capturing a greater share of the value, that net benefit at the end of the day has been questioned by studies that suggest direct selling requires farmers to assume the retailer's burden of resources, time and energy for distribution and merchandising, all of which reduce his net value. "Profitability in the end may not live up to the theory," Forssell and Lonkoski note.

    Any time a consumer chooses to "support a local farmer," they note, the consumer is choosing not to support a farmer somewhere else, meaning alternative networks that seek to protect and promote hand-picked farmers may simply lead to a system where producers of specialty foods simply end up "competing against each other for finite niche markets." And even alternative networks' more abstract goals of preserving food cultures may fail if labeling and protecting "local food" requires standardization and homogenization in order to qualify for labeling--the precise opposite of diversity.

    And finally, they note that all such "value added’’ products may benefit the producer but be out of the reach of lower income consumers. "Indeed," Forssell and Lonkoski characteristically understate, "there seem to be tensions between the goals of producer livelihoods and access to affordable food."

    Third, is any of it relevant? Finally, the researchers note that certain sustainability impacts linked to alternative networks have also been criticized in the literature on grounds that much of it simply may not matter. When it comes to reducing transport-related pollution, for example, simply cutting the number of miles a food travels may not be as significant as how that food travels. Transportation also generally contributes only a small part of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of food. Even the cherished notion that shortening the physical distance food travels makes that food fresher and more nutritious as it reaches the consumer has been challenged, once you weigh other factors like transport time and availability of refrigeration equipment. "The claim about natural, unprocessed foods being healthier could be considered simplistic," they write, "as the healthiness of a diet can only be considered as a whole."

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  • Foresight on Food Politics: A dose of antibiotic confusion?

     

     

    The contradiction in Walmart's antibiotics statement

    Walmart announced in late May it would now require the farms supplying its animal products to stop using antibiotic medications simply to make animals grow faster and more efficiently. The company said it now believes antibiotics should only be used for medical purposes--specifically, treatment, control and prevention of diseases--and not for "growth promotion."

    "We recognize that antibiotics are one of many critical tools used to keep animals healthy and that they should be used responsibly to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine," the retail giant said in a press release.

    This latest move by the retailer who reportedly now controls one-fourth of the world's grocery food sales mirrored a March announcement from the White House announcing a new five-point plan aimed at containing and preventing diseases caused by bacteria that have become able to resist the use of antibiotics to kill them. The final outcome of an order signed by the president in September last year, the plan sets an "ambitious" (in the words of Reuters) goal to both fight emerging diseases and to develop new antibiotic treatments.

    As expected, the report charged the U.S. Food & Drug Administration with efforts to "further curtail" the use of antibiotics that are used in human medicine for use in helping livestock and poultry grow better and faster.

    What's news here?

    But as one farm-industry insider noted, FDA has already been doing just what the White House has now ordered it to do and what Walmart so grandiosely demanded of its suppliers. It's been doing it for several years.


    The federal plan has already been in operation for three years... In practicality, there is already no longer any such thing as antibiotic 'growth promotion' use.


    One of the Obama plan's stated objectives is to "eliminate the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion...and bring other agricultural uses of antibiotics...under veterinary oversight." That plan has already been in operation for three years, under an FDA effort to work with manufacturers of animal antibiotics to voluntarily stop selling antibiotics for that purpose. Every drug company that had an approval on file with FDA has agreed to do so. So antibiotics are already limited to use in U.S. farm animals for preventing and treating diseases only--in practicality, there is no longer any such thing as "growth promotion" use.

    Meanwhile, FDA is moving forward with a regulatory structure known as the "veterinary feed directive"--itself now nearly two decades old--to accomplish the second part of that goal. It will require a veterinarian to oversee all use of those in-feed antibiotics important to human medicine, regardless of where the farmer purchases that feed, much as a doctor writes a prescription for a child's medicine which the consumer is then free to fill at your pharmacy.

    It should come as no surprise critics of any use of farm antibiotics complained the White House plan didn't go far enough. "President Obama gets an A for tackling this problem from multiple angles. But in terms of addressing the biggest problem, the troubling overuse and misuse of antibiotics on large factory farms, the administration gets an incomplete," a representative of a coalition of public-interest research groups told Reuters.

    But the strident language of those critics masks the kid-glove handling given the misuse of human antibiotics by humans, considering its role in the problem. For the three most urgent threats the White House plan identifies--one, a drug-resistant venerial disease and the other two spread among hospital patients by contaminated equipment and unwashed hands--none are related to food or animal use of antibiotics. Yet among the report's soft language about "prevention programs" and "fostering stewardship" by those hospitals and public-health agencies there's no similar language about "eliminating" the use of antibiotics in humans, nor for imposing tighter controls on companies like Walmart who use them as loss leaders.

    That stricter regulation is reserved only for farm antibiotics, despite research that continues to demonstrate more than half the antibiotic prescriptions doctors write for childhood ailments are entirely useless against the organism causing the ailment. That means doctors write more than 11 million useless antibiotic prescriptions a year for children alone. The Obama plan is silent on any restrictions to force elimination of those potentially harmful prescriptions.

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  • Competitive Commodity Insights: What will be on the grill for summer?

    What's on the grill for summer?

    Now that Memorial Day has officially kicked off the start of summer grilling season, what price trends will dictate which meats consumers choose? Here's the latest figures.

    Beef

    USDA reports the relentlessly upward trajectory in wholesale beef prices had begun to at least slow down, as the market transitioned into the spring quarter. The choice cutout declined a little over $3 per hundred pounds, topping $2.59 per pound in late April. USDA believes domestic demand has weakened modestly in the near term, although it remains strong by historical standards. For the week ending May 8, the choice cutout valuewas still 24 percent higher than its 3-year average.

    Beef price trends

    Pork

    USDA adjusted its second-quarter commercial hog crop predictions by 100 million pounds over previous estimates--nearly 6 percent higher than a year ago when experts feared the new disease Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea was going to cut heavily into pig supplies. As a result of that unexpected increase in supplies, the price of live hogs are expected to average 42 percent below the same period last year. High beef prices combined with ample pork supplies makes it a natural feature for grilling season, USDA anticipates. The agency expects about 1 percent more pork production in 2016, for an average per-pound retail price of $3.70--17 cents lower than the expected 2015 average.

    Pork price trends

    Chicken

    A current pattern of moderate increases in the number of broilers slaughtered and higher liveweights is expected to continue throughout most of 2015, according to USDA. The supply increases are expected to push forecast broiler meat production in 2015 to 40.2 billion pounds, about 4 percent higher than in 2014. The national wholesale price for whole birds averaged $1.05 per pound in April, up from the first-quarter average of $0.97 per pound but still down 4.8 percent compared with a year earlier. In the parts market, dark meat prices continued to decline due to lower exports. The April average price for leg quarters in the northeastern market totaled $0.33, the lowest monthly price since 2009. Breast meat prices in the northeastern market averaged $1.53 per pound in April, a 13-cent increase from March but still 10.6 percent lower than in April 2014.

    Poultry price trends

    Lamb

    With its first inventory increase in nearly a decade reported at the beginning of this yar, the U.S. sheep industry is expected to experience tighter supplies as farmers hold back animals from market to use as breeding stock. Even with a larger lamb crop in 2014, USDA expects little change in market supply for this year, with a total forecast production of 152 million pounds. Live animal prices and resulting wholesale markets are expected to remain strong in 2015, averaging $1.53 to $1.62 per pound. Continued tight supplies will likely maintain those prices.

    Lamb price trends

    Turkey

    Despite reductions by USDA in its turkey production estimates for the second and third quarters of this year based on some 6 million birds lost to an outbreak of avian flu, continued strong production growth in the first three months of this year, along with continued signs of expansion in turkey eggs set for hatching and the number of young birds placed for growout leads the agency to expect total 2015 production to top last year by nearly 4 percent. Wholesale prices were reflecting the supply expectations, with prices for whole hen turkeys averaging $1.04 per pound in April, just 0.5 percent above the previous year. Prices for whole birds and turkey parts are expected to experience some downward pressure for the remainder of 2015. Prices for whole frozen hens are forecast below year-earlier levels throughout 2015. The average national price for frozen whole hens in second-quarter 2015 is forecast at $1.03-$1.07 per pound, about 5 cents below a year earlier, with the yearly price forecast at $1.04-$1.08 per pound, likely to be down from 2014’s $1.08 per pound.

    Turkey price trends

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  • Meet your farmers: A farmer's thank you for our support

    This year, the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association is helping support the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. Where does that money go? Listen as Paul and Deb Segner offer a message of thanks after receiving a check from the foundation's disaster-relief fund.

  • On the lighter side: "GMO?" I think that stands for "Googled My Opinion"

    Critics of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, claim they pose health risks to the public. Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel is always interested in people who have strong opinions, so he sent a crew to one of the local farmers markets to ask people why they avoid GMOs and, more specifically, what the letters GMO stand for.

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.

Comments   

 
-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."
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+3 #18 Jessica Howe 2015-01-21 00:00
The fact that the sows bite the crates shows they are in deep distress
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+2 #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'?
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0 #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.
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0 #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.
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+1 #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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+2 #13 Lemony Crickets 2014-11-21 00:00
Ah yes, how can any of us fools know better than a farmer about how to raise his animals for breeding or slaughter. We should have no say whatsoever and farmers should be able to do whatever they want with their livestock. I notice that there are no pictures or videos of pigs in these crates. I have seen video of these things and my common sense tells me that they are inhumane. The pig cannot lay down or turn around, and it cannot tell you just how bad it is. This goes on for most of the gestation period. All you need to do is look at video of pigs in these things and unless you have no sense of decency it becomes clear just how awful it is.
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+5 #12 HS 2014-11-20 00:00
Don't the dividers just need to be larger to allow the pigs to move and stretch and turn? Or perhaps separate the pigs into small manageable groups of 3 or 8 or whatever. Regardless, jamming them in a small box is just horrible.
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-1 #11 BobC 2014-11-12 05:02
This is a very informative article with interesting comments. My reactions are: 1) Pigs, especially pregnant and nursing sows, are aggressive and potentially dangerous animals; dangerous to their handlers as well as to other pigs, including their piglets; 2) Pigs may be sentient but how much and in what ways is not known and has not been measured to date, so the assumption of sentience is largely faith not science; 3) Sows kept in crates meeting accepted standards show no objective adverse effects; confinment in gestation crates is primarily to protect the sow; benefits to farmers and consumers is secondary; 4) those advocating interdiction of gestation crate confinement need to present reproducible scientific data to support their position; I'm not aware of any such data, and emotional appeals won't do.
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+6 #10 Sabrina 2014-11-06 00:14
Every argument basically explains how crates benefit the farmers.... If pigs are better off on this confinement (which anyone with any sense, knows is untrue) then why can't these farmers simply allow the sows enough room to turn around?!? Carnivores and vegetarians alike believe this is a cruel and inhumane practice. I applaud everyone who sees the truth of the situation and is lending their voice to this issue!!!
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