Speak Up is a series of blogs where CommonGround volunteers from all over the U.S. speak up to answer questions from consumers. This blog was shared from CommonGround Kansas.
Do farmers care about their animals? Absolutely, we do!
But Americans are getting a different story today with a post on Yahoo! titled “8 Cruelest Foods You Eat” from Prevention magazine. The article includes a sufficiently terrifying dose of buzzwords like factory farms, animal abuse, gestation crates and inhumane conditions. As consumers, it’s easy to get swept up in the wave of fear.
In our nation today, most folks are many generations removed from the farm. It’s perfectly natural to be concerned about where your food comes from and how it was raised. Here’s what we want you to know:
As farmers and ranchers, we absolutely agree that the treatment of our food matters.
You might be surprised to learn that we put our animals’ health and safety first. In fact, guests at our recent dinner at the Kansas State Fair were fascinated to hear how our ranching volunteers care for newborn beef calves, even bringing them inside their own homes to stay warm in the cold winter birthing months.
We watch over our livestock and ensure they are comfortable and content. We provide veterinary care when needed. We make sure they have all of the food, water and shelter they need. These animals are our livelihood, and they deserve to be treated with the utmost care and respect. As an example, volunteer Katie Sawyer talks about how they care for their beef cattle in this video.
Simply put, healthy animals are good for business. We are family farms, many of which have been handed down from generation to generation. We simply could not stay in business without providing excellent care for our livestock.
You might be thinking, “Well, that’s nice that you take care of your animals, but what about all those undercover videos? You must be in the minority.”
Actually, quite the contrary. The overwhelming majority of farmers and ranchers practice great care and respect for their animals. As in any industry, there are isolated cases of the “bad apples” … but American agriculture is making great strides every day to help eliminate these outliers. They simply do not represent the industry as a whole, and we are as passionate as you are about creating positive change among these offenders.
Remember, in the media, sensationalism reigns.
Think about how reports of crime and car accidents all too often trump good news happening in our communities. As consumers, we only seem to hear about animal care when an undercover crew exposes mistreatment.
Guess what? Those stories upset us, too! We never want to animals to be mistreated.
Sadly, the media never shares the other side of the story — stories of how we go to great lengths to provide excellent care for our livestock. We’re very proud of the way we care for our animals and very comfortable in talking with folks off-the-farm about how we ensure our animals are healthy and safe.
Do your homework.
Instead of simply taking what you hear in the media at face value, we encourage you to seek out your own information from sources based on research and science, as well as asking the folks who actually raise food. In fact, in the most recent Yahoo! article, we can’t find any citations of even a single farmer being consulted. Perhaps that’s because the facts that truly represent the agriculture industry aren’t nearly as sensational.
Farmers across the nation, including volunteers in the CommonGround program, are eager to talk to consumers about how we raise your food. We want everyone to feel confident in their food choices. Most importantly, we want you to have all the information you need to make educated decisions about how you feed your family.