When it comes to animal welfare, “rhetoric trumps reason.” That is part of the message in the recently published proceedings from the “Complementary Relationships in Animal Agriculture.”

The forum was a USDA-sponsored education program. The organizing committee represented academia, agribusiness, animal welfare, environment and government participants. According to one of the co-organizers, David Brubaker from the University of Pennsylvania, the forum was critical to illustrate the gap that exists between livestock production and activist agendas.

“During my work in agribusiness, I have noticed a strong tendency for business owners to dismiss the concerns of activists out of hand, usually with the caveat that industry must follow science, not hysterical claims of people who do not understand animal agriculture,” Brubaker says. “We cannot afford the current confrontational situation where rhetoric trumps reason, and where economic reality and the global economy are ignored.”

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