Ethics of Factory Farms
Purposeful Dairy Practices Draw Public Criticism
March 31, 2010 - 3:53am
By Katerina Athanasiou
From Food, Inc. to Michael Pollan’s novels, in recent years, the public at large has criticized agriculture. Often, the public portrays farmers as villains. Busy farmers frequently remain unheard in the media. Recently, ABC ran a special with the headline, “Got Milk? Got Ethics? Animal Rights v. U.S. Dairy Industry.”
This upset students from farming backgrounds, like Kelly Lee ’13 from Mill Wheel Farm in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. She said, “I was really upset that was the portrayal of the dairy industry. That was one farm in one instance, where things weren’t up to standard. Most arms in the US use healthy and responsible management practices.”
Prof. Michael Van Amburgh, animal science, is advisor of the Cornell University Dairy Science Club (CUDS). He suggested that many of the negative perceptions of dairy farmers emerge due to public opinion of animal welfare.
He believes that public view of animal treatment is caused by “anthropomorphism,” or the allocation of human qualities to animals. For example, animal images infiltrate popular culture through the personification of animals in books and cartoons. From these sources, the public generates the notion that animals have needs that parallel those of humans. Read More
When people use emotion to come to a conclusion on an issue they normally don’t come up with the best one. When it comes to raising livestock with modern production techniques, many people falsely think that how it was done several generations ago was the best way. The advancements that have been made were for the benefit of the livestock as well as the people they feed. It’s a great example of why it’s so important for all farmers and ranchers to introduce themselves to the consumer and explain to them what they do and why they do it.