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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 ...


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


  • 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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  • Translating Food Technology: Can organic really save the world from energy-intensive farming?

    Is organic really more energy efficient?

    In her 2010 Diet for a Hot Planet, food-sustainability eco-promoter Anne Lappé predicts a coming "climate crisis" caused by the food system, unless the developed world adopts her seven principles for a climate-friendly diet, including a reversion to old-style farming that replaces petrolium-based energy for more organic forms.

    "Implementing climate-friendly solutions--including agroecological and organic methods," promises Lappe, "creates even more beneficial ripples: preserving biodiversity, improving food security and people's health, strenghtening communities, and reducing reliance on diminishing oil reserves."

    Then again, maybe not so much, according to a new review scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

    The review of about 50 published scientific journal articles showed organic leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to rescuing modern agriculture from oil use:

    • Granted, organic agriculture does consistently show lower energy use than conventional agriculture, writes the study's lead author, British green-food professor Adrian Williams. More than eight out of 10 of the studies he reviewed showed lower energy use associated with organic production. However, that stark difference only appears when you do the math based on the amount of energy used per unit of land. That's all well and good when you're measuring non-market products of agriculture, like biodiversity. But if you're comparing farming systems based on production of goods for market, like food, fiber and fuel, a more meaningful measure is one that compares energy used based on units of production.

    • What happens when you do compare organic vs. conventional farming based on energy consumed per unit of production? The results become "more variable," in Williams' words. "This is to be expected," he writes, "due to the lower intensity of production on most organic holdings, resulting in fewer inputs, and a reduced yield." In other words, organic trades lower energy use for lower yield. Only when researchers create an elaborate accounting system that, in essence, measures the amount of stored solar energy in an entire farm's output, both harvested and standing, does organic begin to approach the energy efficiency ratio of conventional on a pound-per-pound basis. Otherwise, conventional production was found to have the highest levels of net energy production. It's this false organics economy of trading lower use of fertilizer and pesticide for lower food production that has led critics to argue organic cannot sustainably feed the world by meeting current and future demands, Williams grudgingly concedes.

    Energy demands of livestock productionEnergy use of organic vs. conventional produce and cropping

    Despite remaining an apparent organic advocate because of its promised overall environmental benefits and his conclusion that global petrolium supplies are running out, Williams nevertheless concludes, "...in their current form, organic systems do not offer a radical alternative to the fossil-fuel reliance of modern agricultural systems. The reduced use of energy in organic production and increased energy efficiency compared to conventional production is often marginal. These systems often still depend on the same sources of (fossil) fuel for tractors, machinery and buildings, etc. While organic production can make a contribution to a more resource-efficient agriculture, in its present form it does not provide a complete solution."

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  • Navigating the New Food Movement: A dose of reality meets perception on farmers markets

    New study proves all is not as it seems with farmers markets

    Local foods: Go figure.

    Driven by a renewed interest in food grown close to home, support for local farmers, cutting the number of "food miles," protecting the environment, concerns for food safety and the hunt for high-quality foods, the number of farmers markets grew 180 percent between 2007 and 2014, USDA says, to a total 8,268 farmers markets in the United States last year. The new, and controversial, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report cautiously endorses them, citing two studies and noting, "Despite...variability, a consistent relationship was identified between farmers’ markets/produce stands and dietary intake."

    With market momentum like that, backed by regional branding campaigns and local food-policy lobbying, it's little wonder consumers express the glowing endorsement for farmers markets identified by a Canadian study scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

    Consumers give local and farmers markets glowing reviews. Are they earned?

    Farmers markets are thus "almost universally regarded and promoted as mechanisms to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to areas lacking access," writes Bronx Montefiore Medical Center's Sean Lucan, lead author of another study scheduled for publication in the journal Appetite. Even the editorial board of the McCook Gazette, arguing in favor of permitting Nebraska farmers markets to offer prepared foods in their wares, editorialized, "Government shouldn't get in the way of people who want to create a closer connection between consumers and those who provide the food they consume."

    But what if promoting farmers markets actually does that very thing?

    Lucan's research set out to actually overcome the "surprisingly little research," he says, on how accessible farmers markets really are to their customers, as well as what they really sell and, most importantly, how they compare to neighboring stores in terms of variety, quality and price.

    The study's investigators conducted a detailed cross-sectional assessment of every open-air, local farmers market in the Bronx, comparing them against nearby traditional stores. Results of the 26 farmers markets and 44 food stores studied showed some surprises:

    • Every farmers market was located little more than one-third of a mile from a traditional food store that sold fresh produce, with the average being only 0.15 miles away--well within the half-mile walking distance community food-security advocates typically recommend as the minimum distance shoppers should have to travel to access healthy food.
    • In stark contrast to all 44 of the grocery stores which were open year-round and seven days a week, offering fresh produce on average 98.5 hours per week, three-quarters of the farmers markets were closed eight months out of the year, were typically open just one day a week and generally operated fewer than eight hours on any day they were open--some as few as four hours. Just three of the farmers markets stayed open on any weekday past the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. window, and only five opened on weekends.
    • Of the 430 distinct produce items Lucan's team identified after eliminating duplicates, the average farmers market offered 26.4 fewer fresh produce items on average than neighboring grocers. Only 96 fresh produce items could be found exclusively at a farmers market, compared to 224 fresh produce items at stores. A total of 110 could be had at either outlet.
    • Farmers markets did beat food stores in how frequently they offered local and organic food, although their produce as a result often  tended toward less-common, more exotic and heirloom varieties.
    • On average, any given produce item offered at both a farmers market and a neighboring store was 24 cents more expensive at the farmers market, a statistically significant difference even for the more expensive of two groceries located nearby. When comparing items generally within broader categories, the supermarkets were an even better bargain, under-pricing farmers markets by an average 43 cents. Considering that the higher presence of organic produce--which typically carries a higher pricetag--might skew the results against farmers markets pricing, Lucan re-ran the analysis excluding organics. When he did, farmers markets remained just as expensive in their other offerings, while grocery store pricing actually fell.
    • And finally, Lucan's study found that nearly one-third of what farmers markets offered was not fresh produce at all but instead refined or processed products like jams, pies, cakes, cookies, donuts and juice drinks. Workers at 10 of the 26 farmers markets acknowledged that at least some of those not-so-healthful products were among their best sellers, and at seven of the farmers markets vendors were openly promoting those non-produce items.

    All-in-all, Lucan acknowledges, "Although farmers markets might increase access to organic produce, and produce that is fresher, their lower accessibility, restricted variety and higher cost might provide little net benefit to food environments in urban communities, especially when so much of their inventory is refined and processed non-produce fare."

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  • Foresight on Food Politics: Vegetarianism is the least of your worries about new federal dietary guidelines

    Distracted by the furor over its recommendations to avoid meat, the traditional food system has missed the deeper underlying threat posed by the anti-freedom tone of the new Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendations.

    The Washington Post calls for unified food policy. Dietary Guidelines recommendations delivers."Because of unhealthy diets, 100 years of progress in improving public health and extending lifespan has been reversed," wrote a quartet of high-profile food-system activists in a Nov. 7, 2014,Washington Post editorial, titled "How a national food policy could save millions of American lives." New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, Omnivore's Dilemma author Michael Pollan, Union of Concerned Scientists senior scientist Ricardo Salvador and former U.N. human-rights lead Olivier De Schutter wrote in the Post:

    "...our fossil-fuel-dependent food and agriculture system is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector of the economy but energy. And the exploitative labor practices of the farming and fast-food industries are responsible for much of the rise in income inequality in America.

    "...we have no food policy — no plan or agreed-upon principles — for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole.

    "That must change."

    The four Post editorialists advocate President Obama no longer wait on an obstructionist Congress insistent on treating food issues as "discrete rather than systemic problems," urging he instead move boldly forward via executive order. "...the president won’t be able to achieve his goals for health care, climate change, immigration and economic inequality — the four pillars of his second term — if he doesn’t address the food system," they write.

    Prescient, or prelude?

    Whether Bittman et al were privy to its release beforehand or simply beneficiaries of good timing, the new 571-page federal report that will craft the federal government's next set of official dietary guidelines released in February could have come straight from the November Post editorial.

    Recommendation in the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, written by a panel of university nutrition experts recruited by the Obama administration got a lot of press. But most of it centered around the advisors' recommendations for a shift to plant-based diet from the typical American meat-centered diet. "Unfortunately, the statement disregards the positive role of lean meat," said the Denver-based National Cattlemens Beef Association in a prepared statement. "Lean beef is one of the most nutrient rich foods, providing high levels of essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and protein, as opposed to empty calories."


    Vegetarianism the least of it

    But the vegetarianism in the recommendations is only the tip of the bad-news iceberg grocers may have be bearing down upon. Despite the immediate threat to your meatcase the report brings, the worse implicaton of the report is that for the first time, federal dietary guidelines may be formed not just on nutritional implications, but on the environmental and social considerations outlined by the activists in their November editorial. The stated goal of the committee could have been lifted from those pages. It's goal? To:

    "Align nutritional and agricultural policies with Dietary Guidelines recommendations and make broad policy changes to transform the food system so as to promote population health, including the use of economic and taxing policies to encourage the production and consumption of healthy foods and to reduce unhealthy foods."

    That attempt to “transform the food system” has taken the panel far outside its area of expertise, critics say. The panel's language, although obviously carefully crafted to appear benevolent, hides the strong hand of government dictate beneath, in speaking of its strategy to:

    "Incentivize the development of policies and initiatives at local, state, and Federal levels that are carried out using cross-sectorial collaborations to promote individual healthy lifestyle behavior changes and create community 'cultures of health.' These may include improvements in built and physical environments to create safe and accessible resources and settings for increased physical activity and more widely available healthy food choices. They may entail changes in policies, standards, and practices in retail, and public and private settings and programs that promote 'cultures of health' and facilitate the initiation and maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviors at individual and community levels.

    "These actions will require a paradigm shift to an environment in which population health is a national priority and where individuals and organizations, private business, and communities work together to achieve a population-wide 'culture of health...'”

    In such a re-thought culture of health, the panelists say, "...the resources and services needed to achieve and maintain health would become a realized human right across all population strata...." It also calls for increased local, state and federal policies to limit access to foods the report deems unacceptable in public facilities, and to set nutrition standards for food offered in public places.

    "Efforts are needed by the food industry and food retail (food stores and restaurants) sectors to market and promote healthy foods," the report ominously advocates.


    Implementation of the proposed dietary guidelines would have profound impacts on the retail grocer. The government is accepting written public comments here until midnight May 8. Take advantage of the chance to make the grocer's viewpoint known, and then post your comments to the comment section below so other grocers may adapt your points to their own comment submission. Let's make the grocer's voice heard while we have the chance!


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  • Competitive Commodity Information: Where are beef prices going now?

    Where will beef prices head now?

    Encouraged by the return of (some, at least) winter precipitation, America's drought-beaten beef producers now show at least intentions of expanding the supply of cattle. Denver-based market-analytics firm CattleFax predicts the U.S. market for live cattle ready for slaughter hit its top cyclical price in 2014 and in all likelihood is now on its way down the back side of the traditional high/low price cycle.

    However, that road back to wholesale price relief for grocers is a long and bumpy one, and will not come soon.

    Rain makes grass, and grass makes beef, the old saying goes, meaning cattle ranchers devastated by years of drought are now making plans to start adding more breeding animals. Those obvious intentions, combined with a milder winter that should help farmers achieve those plans, coupled with a strengthening dollar and labor slowdown at West Coast shipping ports that could both tamper beef exports are all working together to push down the cost of live cattle on expectations of rising future supply.

    But how quickly that translates to lower wholesale and retail prices is not black-and-white. The undertone in the wholesale beef market currently remains "soft," in USDA's words. But don't confuse that softness with poor demand, the agency's analyst cautions. Historically, total meat consumption tends to languish during the winter quarter, followed by burst of increased consumption as grilling season arrives. So for the first quarter of 2015, at least, buyers at the wholesale level remain reluctant to significantly increase beef purchases.

    Retail beef prices rose to record highs in January, with January 2015 Choice retail beef at $6.33 per pound—up almost a dollar from this time last year—and all-fresh retail beef at $6 per pound, up over a dollar from January 2014. Still, at least for the near-term, packers continue to operate in the red. While wholesale beef cutout values did rally noticeably in late February as a result of reduced steer and heifer slaughter, those prices have not risen enough for packers to maintain steady profits, USDA says, although certain components like 90 percent lean beef remain at historical record levels.

    USDA predicts beef prices will increase 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent this year--less than half last year's 11 percent to 12 percent increase. Overall retail meat, poultry and fish prices are expected to increase 3 percent to 4 percent.

    On the way back to replacing the approximately 3 million breeding cows U.S. ranchers sold off between 2004 and 2010, supply will test the market's patience. All indications say we will have a larger crop of new calves born in the spring months, but that doesn't correlate to a bigger supply of market-ready cattle until 2016.

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  • Meet your farmers: A Nebraska kind of cattle-feeding morning, from the tractor seat

    Southeast Nebraska's Niemann Enterprises posted this short video showing what it's like feeding steers on a late January morning from their point of view. It's a 24-7 job, they say, whether snow, rain, sleet or sun.

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  • On the lighter side: Shopping cart wheel oil? That'd be Aisle 9

    There appears to be a new trend among shoppers--or at least a new meme justifiably poking fun at them--first noticed when an observer posted this photo on Reddit, in which a shopper doesn't seem to grasp the distinction between carrying handle and basket rack.


    Not doing it right


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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.


-4 #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
+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'?
-2 #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.
-2 #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.
0 #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.
0 #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.
+2 #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.
0 #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.
+4 #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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