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The Humane Society of the United States versus Ohio farmers

By Gay Published: July 19, 2009

The Humane Society of the United States and Ohio farmers have all but declared war upon each other, and the farmers, in my opinion, are given to hyperbole and dire predictions and paint doomsdays scenarios.

The Humane Society, which has been successful in California (always on the forefront of the newest trend) changing the way agribusinesses shelter farm animals, has set its sights on Ohio, which has one of the largest number of egg-layers in the US.  The farm associations are adamantly against the Humane Society’s suggestions, as they say they are too restrictive, too, expensive, will result in Bad Things Happening and so on.  Plus, it will cost consumers a penny an egg more.  The Farm Bureau Federation, Pork Producers Council, Cattlemen’s Association and Poultry Association are pitting their powerful selves against the equally powerful Humane Society of the United States, directed by the extremely capable, savvy, and articulate Wayne Pacelle.

The farmers claim that larger containers for the animals, which do not now have enough room to turn around or stretch out their legs or chickens having about 2/3 the space of an ordinary piece of typing paper, will likely result in widespread disease, cannibalism, and yes—the extra costs associated with providing humane conditions.

You know what?  I’ll pay the extra penny an egg, gladly. The truth is, most Americans should not eat so much meat, and maybe that will cut down on the obesity epidemic we are experiencing.

I’ve blogged about farm animals before, but this is exciting.  The HSUS says it will take this to the voters via a campaign putting it on the ballot.  It is, says the HSUS, a fight the farming unions can not win.

I don’t really have a huge problem with eating meat, although I do limit the amount I eat.  Bigger animals eat smaller.  It is nature’s way.  I do have a terrible problem with confining animals in tortuous spaces, feeding them chemicals to make them grow faster.  The reason pigs are so standardized is so that the cutting machines—the ones that carve the animal up while sometimes still alive—makes the exact cuts on every animal.  That makes nice packages of meat.

While I ate my breakfast today (I had pancakes, thank you), I commented to my husband about the methods being used to raise and slaughter animals.  I was talking to MY HUSBAND.  In OUR booth.  A woman and her husband sitting at an adjacent table leaned over an ripped me good.  I didn’t understand blah blah.  I said my family had a farm and we didn’t slaughter that way.  I don’t think you can make it humane, but you can make it quick and not scare the animals and torture them.  And anyway, I said, why was she butting in to our conversation, she could feel free to butt right back out.

Se gave me a withering look and said, “I suppose you think animals are more important than people."  I said I thought they were equal, but you know, truth be known, I do like most animals more than most people, including the harpy who felt free to enter our private conversation.  She accused me of being all manner of things, one of which was a Democrat (that may or may not be true, but I hardly see how it concerns the treatment of animals).  She accused me of being a tree-hugger, and oh, I don’t know, a whole bunch of other things, including my political views on anything even slightly controversial.  I would have gladly stuffed my pancake in her face, but it was a blueberry pancake, and it was good.  She didn’t deserve such a delicious morsel.

Politics don’t enter into the treatment of animals, and I become more than a bit agitated when people try to make it so. I have not much use for people who are unkind to animals.  I judge people by how they treat animals, and if it going to cost that woman a penny more per egg, well, so be it.

This is a fight I wholeheartedly hope the HSUS wins.  It has championed the rights of all animals, not just our dogs and cats.  Farm animals don’t have much of a voice.  They don’t fetch your paper or curl up beside you or play fetch.  But they are living beings and they deserve the rights of all animals.  They can not be forgotten.

Written by Gay Fifer, owner, Parsley Hollow, Inc.

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