Animal cruelty is something that unfortunately happens and definitely should not occur. When some form of animal cruelty does occur, the mass media and special interest groups promote it as something that commonly occurs in the industry. This is not true at all, but production groups have not taken a proactive approach until recently to educate the general public. As each generation gets further removed from production agriculture, the general public’s knowledge and information about production practices is relatively unknown and is a black hole. It is up to production animal organizations to fill this information gap in order to inform consumers about their food and the way it is produced.
Production groups are now in the process of informing the consumers about the reasons why all things are done the way they are. If production groups do not take the opportunity to inform people, then special interest groups utilize the people’s uninformation and fill the knowledge gap with misinformation. The major reason why this is done is for political agendas. Proposition 2 that happened in California is a prime example of this. Consumers had no idea why chickens were raised in cages and sows were farrowed in gestation crates. Special interest groups such as HSUS and PETA took this opportunity to use some extreme examples and made people think they were the normality, even though there are numerous health and economic benefits in raising animals this way. After people were more informed about their food and the reasons it was raised, people were more supportive of the way animals were raised the way they were. Consumers are most likely to believe producers and people involved with universities.
The pork and the beef organizations have started to take more of a proactive role in trying to educate people. They have started media training programs in order to train people ways to express their knowledge and passion for their products. In all of these training modules, none of these organizations support harming animals in any way, shape, or form. All of these organizations take the stance that as producers, consumers, food supply workers, or whoever needs to prevent and stop animal cruelty when incidences occur. At all costs, these events need to be stopped and prevented. However, changing the entire production system by adding more rules regulations will not help prevent these isolated events. People who do things such as animal cruelty are acting out of spite and changing production practices will still not prevent people from acting on their own accord. It is important to stress that these are very isolated incidences and explain the steps taken to not allow this to happen again. This can be a great opportunity to educate the people about current production practices.
Production practices have been established by evaluating several parameters. Two of the parameters that are weighted more are the well-being of the animals and also the economic impact of these operations. These animals are raised for production purposes and to feed people. This provides numerous job opportunities for people. These practices are established based on determining how the animal is most efficient in utilizing the nutrients available. By forcing a change in practices, ultimately we are just turning into a less-efficient business and therefore requiring more resources. Resources are becoming more and more limited each day in the world due to the available land mass to produce products shrinking. Animal production efficiency needs to continue to increase, if we are going to be able to feed the world especially with the increase in population. In 2050, the world population is expected to exceed 10 billion people which is a 43% increase from our current population. That is a lot more mouths to feed and the best way to do this is to increase efficiency by letting agriculturists determine what is the best method.
Agriculture has historically just decided to play defense and react after an unfortunate event occurred. They like to keep to themselves and do their own thing. Now it is time for agriculture to play offense and tell their side of their story, and tell their story not just about their stance about animal cruelty but their entire production practices. If agriculture does not, then the rules and regulations that govern agriculture will be determined by misinformed and misunderstood people which will have a negative effect on our efficiency. The time is now to stand up and speak out.
Twister Sister said it best as far as what agriculture needs to do in their song, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” Here are the following lyrics, “We're right. We're free. We'll fight. You'll see. Oh we're not gonna take it. No, we ain't gonna take it. Oh we're not gonna take it anymore.” It’s time agriculture, it is time to stand up and be proud.