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Response to CNN Factory Farm Abuse Story

| 3/18/2014 11:24:00 AM

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, CNN published an opinion piece by Jane Velez-Mitchell titled, Factory Meat, Cruel and Bad for Us.  While I am no fan of chickens living in battery cages or ruminant animals living in unnatural confinement, I am also not a fan of the misleading nature of Velez-Mitchell’s article.

Throughout her piece, Velez-Mitchell makes a number of points to back up her theory that “America's most intractable problems all double back to our collective mistreatment of animals.”

Rather predictably, Velez-Mitchell jumps right in with a quote by the Humane Society’s vice president Paul Shapiro stating that "Animal abuse is the norm in the meat industry. Many standard practices in animal agribusiness are so cruel that they're just out of step with mainstream American values about how animals ought to be treated."

Those are some pretty harsh words, and the allegations are based upon finding a number of instances of abuse at various factory farms. From the Humane Society’s web site: “In 2007, there were 20 reported neglect cases involving cows and eight involving pigs, down from 33 cow neglect cases and 11 pig neglect cases in 2006, and 26 cow neglect cases and nine pig neglect cases in 2005.” (Source)

The Humane Society’s report does not state how many individual animals were involved in these abuse and neglect cases, but to be fair we will assume it was abuse or neglect that may have affected the entire herd on the farm(s) implicated. There were approximately 89.3 million cattle between 935,000 farms and ranches in 2013 (according to numbers provided by and the USDA).

So – to state these numbers in a different way, there were 20 reported cases of abuse or neglect among those 935,000 farms and ranches. According to my calculator, that is one reported case of abuse or neglect for every 46,750 cattle ranches and farms.

3/26/2014 2:32:28 PM

This is a seriously flawed response that would take me way too much time to point out all the errors. But for instance, the deforestation of the rain forest for field crops is exactly to grow GMO soy for animal feed, mostly for China and Europe. And just because only a few reports of abuse are official does not mean that there are not thousands, millions of abuse incidents not being reported. The burden of proof is so difficult and protecting their a**es is exactly why the ag gag laws have been put in place... to protect the abusers. While oddly enough the article tries to throw off blame on the oil/gas industry, it ignores how much of the animal production industry needs oil/gas inputs. And I really cannot believe you would proudly assert that cattle are fed chicken s**t as if that's a good thing! Meanwhile you go on about vegans eating GMO when it's the animals that the vast majority of GMO is grown for. I could go on...

3/23/2014 7:24:49 AM

Leigh, I agree totally with your arguments. It seems that organizations are tugging at people's emotions to sway one way or the other in so many of controversial issues today. Facts seem to change from one trend to the next. First eggs were bad for you now they are good for you is one example. ***** I have actually been to the egg laying factories and yes it is bad when the only purpose for the chicken is to lay as many eggs as possible with a minimum amount of space to live. To exploit birds like that is not a good thing. Unfortunately the disconnect from the chicken and the store bought eggs is a wide gap. Most folks could care less about how the egg got there and the emphasis is mostly on how cheap they can I get it. Our culture in this country has become food spoiled. Cheap food based on petroleum transportation will some day crash. It can not be sustained. ***** Have a great CNN factory farm response day.

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