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let's talk farm animals

Sex, lies and videotapes

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

What do these three things have in common? They get people’s attention.  And thanks in part to new technologies and eroding respect for privacy rights, “Little Brother” is everywhere. 

Distrust of others and a sense of entitlement to know everyone’s business means less and less remains private anymore. The tabloid talk show, paparazzi, leakipedia and the move toward corporate transparency are all examples of that.  Welcome too to the era of the “undercover investigation” which is just a nice name for spying.

Whether done by the concerned, the disgruntled or the impassioned the act of spying is gaining legitimacy with the public. And unless it is conducted by The State, the deceit and sneakiness that such spying involves is often judged to be acceptable behaviour in today’s society. Farming and food production has been the target of such covert behaviour now for a number of years.

Last week’s blog sparked a comment asking a very important question.  What about all those videos showing horrible treatment to farm animals?  The question came on the heels of yet another undercover farm video announcement by an activist group that specializes in such things.

Some of these videos have captured truly undisputable animal cruelty and have helped bring those responsible to justice. A good thing.  Unfortunately they have also brought shame to the entire farming community. Many who witness these easily accessible and highly dramatized videos are quick to judge, be they farmers or not.  Some, such as last week’s commentator, take such videos as proof that “animal agriculture is animal cruelty”.  But it should be no surprise that those who never get to see the true side of farming can come to this conclusion.

What often goes unnoticed is the outrage such wilful acts of abuse can spark within the farm community. These videos depicting cruel acts by cruel individuals are roundly condemned by their farming peers. And just as cases of child abuse create distain and outrage among parents and child givers, these videos do not represent the norm.  Not considered too is that not all videos are honest depictions. Not all accused are found guilty. Or that the innocent caught in such public pillory can suffer lasting damage to their livelihoods or reputation.   Yet in a YouTube world of short attention spans and a culture that is quick to judge, the truthful outcomes are often lost.

As I state in my bio: Yes there are a few jerks out there too. Farmers aren’t a class of angels any more than any other profession. But for every one “bad actor” there are probably 1000 people or more in agriculture who try to live up to their responsibilities. They care about their animals and their land and they share the same, sometimes better, ethics than many of the rest of us.

Until the Next Blog

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Posted by OFAC on April 28th, 2011 :: Filed under Activism,Animal cruelty,Media
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