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Building a fortress

Poultry producers are encouraged to show the public that the industry is a transparent business and that there really is nothing to hide.

Many years of just doing what they are meant to do, farmers have kept their layers and broilers in confined barns to secure flock health and product safety. Animal activists, however, want the general public to believe that this practice hides something, and sometimes to enter these facilities without permission in the hope of finding something they can make use of in their propaganda against livestock farming.

Whoever believes that this is a problem of just a few countries in North Western Europe is wrong. The problem is even more sever in the US and may soon be in other countries as well.

I recently had the opportunity to give a presentation in the US about the effect of welfare, environment and food safety measures designed by the European Union as well as local governments on the EU poultry industry. During the conference it became clear that several US poultry farms have been infiltrated by animal ‘welfarists’ to take pictures and collect information that would fit in the horror story that they were preparing. The 'evidence' should help them proceed in their initiative to ban certain commonly-used housing systems.

Stimulated by the success in California, where cage systems have been banned, US activists have chosen to add Ohio to their list of victories. No method or tool is left unused to let the unaware city and country people believe that farmers do not take care of their animals properly. The reality, however, is the opposite. Farmers want and do take care of their animals. Their business is their source of income, and mistreating their birds will only lead to no or insufficient income, so it is in their best interest, too, to look after their flocks.

Nevertheless, like in most cases these activists pick out an exception and manipulate the information or illustration to sway the innocent public into believing that this is common practice. This burglary has led to the rebuilding of the fortress and securing gates and doors to restrict unauthorised people into poultry houses, hatcheries or processing plants. New staff are screened repeatedly and all initiatives to be more open have been terminated.

In Ohio, a decision will be made on 2 November for the livestock farmers, including egg producers and broiler growers, as to whether the state government will have to bow for the threats of animal welfarists. Their organisations, often dominated by vegans or vegetarians, do not care about the livestock producers or the availability of livestock-related foods and prices.

They may say they do, but the expressions made in the absence of cameras and the media clearly show that the hidden agenda is to ban animal production and to ban all animal products from the retail and supermarket shelf. This makes clear that there is a guerrilla war going on using the slicing method, whereby the ultimate goal is to force everybody to become vegetarian or vegan.

It would show character of these welfarists to open up their agenda so the public can make an honest choice as to what they accept or not. Poultry farmers are prepared to listen and to act according to the wishes of the consumer; that is what they have always done, even when the demands are changing. Cooperation would initiate developments, confrontation does not - it only stimulates the construction of defence systems and fortresses.

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    Christophe Pelletier

    Yes, there is lots of criticism in the US about intensive animal husbandry. It is even in Time magazine! Many environmentalists try to convince the public opinion that local small farms is the only sustainable way. This is reinforced by the fact that Michele Obama is active with the "White House farmers market". The organic food market, although growing, is only 2% of food consumption in the US, so clearly to feed everyone they need something else to fill the gap. And how organic and sustainable are the organic and sustainable food sources? The Marine Stewardship Council is coming under scrutiny after having approved many fisheries with their sustainable certication, while according to the news fisheries is on the verge of collapse. Yet sustainable seafood seems to be available about anywhere these days. The facts do not add up. Would the sustainable food producers hide something? That would be ironic.
    Similarly, on Canada's West Coast, similar fearmongers tried for years to warn about salmon farming as a risk of extinction for Pink salmon. This year, their argument fell flat as the number of Pinks returning have reached record level. Nobody really knows what affects these population and the problem is probably much more complex than a few farms.
    Too much pseudo-science and ideology won't serve anyone in the long run. I just regret that none of these environmental groups has come with a comprehensive plan to ensure food security worldwide.
    The best way to educate the city residents (who do not know anything about farming and food, as research has shown that they do not connect eggs and hens or cows and milk, as in their view it is all prepacked stuff from the supermarket) is to have their kids visiting farms. And let them tell the story!

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