Building a fortress

30-09-2009 | |
Van Der Sluis

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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