One would think if you are writing for a publication such as Newsweek, you would do some research and make sure you were sharing accurate facts. I guess that’s not the “MO” for the news these days. On February 11, a writer for Newsweek wrote an animal cruelty article and took a big stab at the livestock industries. The article was written in response to the Department of Agriculture no longer keeping records of Animal Welfare Act violations on the public website.

People are free to express their opinions and thoughts, but when writing a publication their statements should be accurate.

I agree with the writer that animal cruelty needs to be called out. I disagree with the statement that animals are packed by the thousands and denied basic humane consideration. The agriculture industry has put into place some great programs, showing that producers give extensive humane consideration in raising their animals.

For example, in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance and Transportation Quality Assurance programs, certifications include training tools that have to be renewed.

I disagree that farm animals succumb to physical and psychological disorders in the “unhealthy and stressful” conditions. Why would the industry want to harm the animals? Producers gain nothing from such a behavior.

“Antibiotics are used to make them grow fast.” Well, antibiotics are defined as a medicine that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms. Nowhere was it described as growth-promoting.

The writer goes on to explain that animal agriculture has brought ecological threats such as enormous quantities of manure and other pollution that have contributed to climate change and loss of ecosystems and biodiversity. Studies have shown the pork industry has reduced use of water and land, in addition to its carbon footprint.

The Newsweek writer needs to do some more fact checking. Farmers need the land to be sustainable to grow crops efficiently and to provide for future generations.

“Growing and eating crops like corn and soybeans directly would allow us to feed more people with fewer resources than harvesting these crops to feed farm animals,” the writer said.

People don’t consume the crops that are raised in the fields, #2 yellow dent corn tastes a lot different than the kind used in canned corn (i.e. sweet corn). The writer goes on to say that plant-based diets cut health care costs by 70%!

I’d like to see the source for that data, because it was undoubtedly taken out of context.

Unfortunately, this article is typical of what you’ll see in mainstream media – it’s evidently just too time-consuming to check facts. People will believe what they read in a national publication. Animal agriculture has its work cut out for it. The industry must communicate with people about how producers raise animals, and how they care for those animals. Animal agriculture has checks and balances in place to make sure animal cruelty is prevented and addressed, with or without the USDA. Let’s make sure the public knows.