Friday, September 26, 2008

Fighting for Ag

Farmers must stick together

"We must all stand together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Benjamin Franklin's words couldn't be more apt to describe our reaction to groups such as Family Farm Defenders supporting Proposition 2.

Proposition 2 would effectively ban large-scale egg ranching in California because it would require in-state producers to scrap their existing cage systems and go cage-free or install far larger, more expensive European-style cages.

No other state would face such a restriction, and so these states would fill the economic vacuum for inexpensive eggs. California already imports 50 percent of its total egg products - passage of Prop 2 would push that number toward 90 percent.

Much of the rhetoric surrounding Proposition 2 involves veal calves and sow gestation crates for hogs. This is a distraction, one we could argue is intentional by the initiative's sponsors, the Humane Society of the United States, to put cute piglets and sad-looking calves in their campaign material.

There is no veal industry in California, and no California hog producer will be using gestation crates in a few months; the industry has voluntarily changed its practices. So it's frustrating to see the "yes" on Proposition 2 campaign's release announcing support from Family Farm Defenders focus so heavily on pigs and calves.

But that's not really the most distressing thing. Read More

The independent nature of farmers and ranchers has been one of our greatest assets and one of our most debilitating weaknesses. Supporting legislation that will put your neighbor out of business is not good for agriculture, and that is the business we are all in. Supporting an organization that one day hopes to rid this country of animal agriculture will only come back to bite you eventually.

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