By Mike Archer. Can we please have a more intelligent, educated and useful discussion about whether or not we want to keep abusing animals for the convenience and enrichment of a few wealthy factory farmers?
While the community newspapers run editorials defending the dairy industry and make money off of special advertising sections about the importance of the industry’s money to the economy in the Fraser Valley, more important questions need to be asked.
For starters, is allowing a certain amount of animal abuse to occur while hiding behind a PR campaign claiming zero tolerance really an effective or even honest approach to the crisis?
For all the money they make and taxes they pay, would the Fraser Valley’s factory farmers really pack up and leave if they were required to treat animals in a humane fashion?
Making a few bucks off of the tragedy condemning the industry’s critics is unseemly and reflects the kind of short term thinking that leads to crises just like this. A much deeper and critical response to the issue is required – not boosterism and apple pie statements.
If we are being asked to believe that what happened at Chilliwack Cattle Sales was an isolated incident and the fault of the teenagers who were caught then we are being played for fools and the entire factory farming industry in the Fraser Valley needs to be dragged into this issue.
Maybe it is time that we, not as consumers, or taxpayers or animal lovers, but simply as citizens of the Fraser Valley, start asking some serious questions about the factory farms which hold such influence over the old media and the politicians who never miss an opportunity to extol their virtues.
There is no doubt that big agriculture pays a lot of taxes and makes a lot of political contributions in the Fraser Valley. The industry hires a lot of teenagers at minimum wage too and, unlike the family farm, which the factory farm has replaced, they use PR firms and advertising agencies to help them maintain an image that is palatable to those who buy their products on supermarket shelves, sometimes at three to four times the cost for the same products across the border.
Due, in part, to the inability of factory farms to stop abusing animals, Australia recently put an end to the practice of factory farming in the area of its capital and the sky didn’t fall. If you have ever been inside one the giant chicken factories or cow factories in the Fraser Valley you will appreciate the fact that, from an animal rights perspective, it is simply impossible for today’s ‘farmers’ to in anyway guarantee the humane treatment of the chickens or cows unfortunate enough to have ended up on a factory farm.
The few remaining small to medium-sized family farms which allow their cattle to graze in actual fields and have a small enough herd so they can actually manage them without the abuse which is the inevitable result of giant factory farms, deserve absolutely no blame for what is happening at the factory farms.But the owners of the factory farms certainly deserve every bit of concern and criticism over the way they allow their animals to be treated. Nobody has accused all farmers of abusing animals and for those in the media defending the industry to suggest that is the nature of the argument against them, is puerile and contributes in no way to the public interest.
If the industry is to regain the public trust, it should start with honesty and be ruthless with those of its members responsible for the damage being done to the industry as a whole.
The veterinarians who regularly visit factory farms such as Chilliwack Cattle Sales and, somehow, find no evidence of abuse, when an amateur activist was able to reveal such obvious examples, have a great deal of explaining to do.
It defies common sense to expect anyone to believe that the examples in the video taken at Chilliwack Cattle Sales – not the images of abuse by teenagers – the images showing examples of physical abuse and neglect inherent in the mechanical factory farming process – were undetectable by trained professional veterinarians who gave Chilliwack Cattle Sales a clean bill of health before – and very quickly – after the abuse was revealed.
Please bear in mind – it is not the abuse by the teenagers in the first half of the video I refer to. It is the clear evidence of pain, disease, injury and agony revealed in the second half of the video which is perhaps more disturbing since it is clearly the result of the business model and process to support it rather than the isolated actions of a few teenagers.
If factory farmers can institute policies, practices and procedures which will actually protect against that kind of abuse which appear to be the result of its business model, and if veterinarians can ensure that those policies, practices and procedures are adhered to, factory farming may yet prove itself acceptable to an increasingly dubious public.
If it doesn’t take the crisis evidenced by the revelations of what has been happening at the Kooyman family farm as though it were something bigger than a short term PR crisis, the days of Fraser Valley’s factory farming may truly be numbered.
Here’s the thing …
If you are going to argue that factory farming, and all of it’s attendent horrors and abuse, are required in order to keep the price of chicken, turkey, beef and milk products down, you are going to have to explain why we have some of the highest prices in the world for your products.
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WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Undercover Video at Chilliwack Cattle Company