Animal Agriculture

October 29, 2008

October 29, 2008

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

Keep your eye on this. It could have serious long-term consequences for animal agriculture in this country. Next week, a California ballot initiative will be voted on that would prohibit the confinement of laying hens, veal calves, and sows. Cages and crates -- no more.

The critics pushing the ballot measure want to wipe out what they call "factory farms." Back to the "horse and buggy" days.

We can't feed the world population without using modern farming methods. When I was a boy, we had 20 or 30 hens that laid eggs. They ran free in the grass pecking and eating off the ground. I know -- I gathered the eggs every day and fed the chickens. We had turkeys and pigs and cows to milk (by hand). I was so happy when my dad sold the cows. I learned a lot -- a great way to grow up. But we didn't have the productivity and efficiency to compete and produce in today's modem agriculture industry.

A victory in California for the animal rights advocates will --

Increase the cost of food;

Open the door for other states to follow the California example and impose restrictions on livestock farmers; and

In the end, put us out of business and then our only alternative will be to import our chicken, our pork, our veal.

They want to tie our hands and dictate to us how to farm .

Thousands of jobs will be lost.

Food safety will be compromised. Chickens outside are at risk of getting bird flu. Is our food supply going to be safer with chickens pecking in the dirt and their own waste? I have been in modem chicken houses. They sound cheerful to me -- all singing and clucking.

This initiative is driven by wealthy elitists that have very little understanding of how modem agriculture works. The simple fact is, unless the animals are comfortable and content, they will not produce efficiently. Unhappy animals are a money loser.

Let's hope that sound science and common sense can top emotion in this critical vote.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.