Following this past Tuesday's The Oprah Winfrey Show, titled "How we treat the food we eat" that focused on the topic of farm animal well-being, the Illinois Farm Bureau has extended an open invitation to Oprah Winfrey to visit any of the livestock farms in the state.
"Oprah is obviously interested in the subject of animal welfare, and we have a great story to tell," says Philip Nelson, Illinois Farm Bureau Federation president. Nelson is a grain and livestock producer in LaSalle County, Illinois.
On this week's show, Oprah featured Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States president, along with a food industry and two producer representatives. The driving topic of discussion was California's Proposition 2.
Many meat industry veterans who saw the show felt that it did not delve adequately into the many considerations and elements of running a modern livestock operation. That's true, and thoroughness would be a lot to expect from a 60-minute television show, which makes Oprah's attempt to "address" the topic all the more concerning. And, it's well documented the level of influence Oprah has with her viewers.
Kirk Ferrell, National Pork Producers Council vice president of public policy, said: "We conclude it (the show) was pretty fair." However, he noted that an Oct. 9, New York Times commentary carried a similar headline and message. His point: "Don't believe for a moment that is a coincidence." He emphasized that it's a focused effort by HSUS.
"If Oprah is willing to take some time out of her busy schedule to visit a farm, she would discover that modern livestock producers are ethically committed to the well-being of their animals," Nelson wrote in a statement on the IFBF's Web site. "Our livelihoods depend on the production of healthy animals. No one understands better than a livestock producer that well cared-for animals mean healthy food for Americans and the rest of the world."
You also can listen to an interview with Matt Kellogg, a pork producer from Yorkville, Ill., who participated in the show.