Monday, November 8, 2010

Unconstitutional Prop 2?

So I figure that headline ought to have caught your attention by now, but what I'd really like to do here is make a small concession towards HSUS, and here's why.

Regardless of whether or not California decides that Prop 2 is unconstitutional, regardless of how much money HSUS deceived out of unwitting animal shelter donors, regardless of how badly this proposition is written, and the fact that because it is so poorly written Prop 2 itself will not likely help animals enjoy increased well-being, this proposition and its supporters helped bring to the forefront something that has been lurking in our midst for a long time now. Sure, PETA and other more radical groups have done a lot to bring attention to animals and the rights movement, but HSUS really grabbed attention in a more forceful manner by making us campaign, vote and decide on how animals should be raised in a food production system.

I'm not condoning HSUS's actions or endorsing their organization. Far from it, I consider them to be the biggest economic threat to livestock producers right now. They are willing to lie, create legislation and spend millions of dollars in advertising just to cram their end-point agenda of no animal product consumption down our throats. But what I am trying to say is that in the process of being the enemy, they have done the livestock industry a great service by making us re-consider and re-evaluate the possibilities of better systems for producing food in terms of animal welfare. This is one change that can't be re-traced even if we determine that Prop 2 is unconstitutional or if we further undermine all of HSUS's progress over the past 5 years. Thus the above article is really irrelevant in the long run.

HSUS and their associated groups have helped forced us into a new age, where we have to speak up for ourselves and defend our practices, because we are under fire by a larger and more powerfully politically aligned organization. They have brought us to a point where we will need to re-vamp our processes in a more holistic manner in order to bring our industrial considerations of animal welfare up to a new level in order to ensure consumer confidence. In the end, what people really want to know is that we've taken the best care of the animals that we could, ensuring them a healthy lifestyle and a suffering-free death.

Were we abusing animals on farms, or will animal abuse stop once new regulations and researched facilities are put into place across the U.S.? No. Farmers were not nor are they abusing their animals, rather, they are caring for them as they best know how. Nor will those rare cases of abuse stop with regulation or new research. There are crooks and bad cases in every industry and these people will continue to both arise and be sorted out throughout generations.

No, the difference as we move forward into the future is that animal welfare has now become critically more important to big industry players who request that we can prove that what we do is better for the animals than other options presented. It has brought increased institute attention and funding on potential research to further improve our understanding of what animals need and how we can best provide for them. These are things that farmers want to know, but now the formalized industry is more focused on it. This is all good, and the ball is rolling. Ruling out Prop 2 will not change this.

What we need to do now is continue to improve animal welfare on farms through implementation of ideas as research discovers new viable and practical options. This doesn't happen overnight or with happily worded constitution amendments. The best people to improve the care of animals are the people who know them best from working with them most. Animals will continue to be raised for food as long as we do our best to care for them and provide them an existence free of suffering. Through the research that is going on, we will identify the best options for raising animals and continue to improve them in the future so that farmers can keep doing what they do best: raising the food that fills your plate and provides valuable nutrition every day.

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