In the perfect storm facing the U.S. pork industry, the anti-agriculture chorus just keeps growing louder and louder. The refrain --“just try to produce food in this country”-- is being belted out by group after ill-informed group. Unfortunately, the government is the loudest and most off-key member in the swelling chorus against U.S. agriculture.
The first verse starts with the renewable fuels mandate which forces pork producers to bid for their corn against ethanol producers. The difference is that there is no government mandate stipulating how much pork we have to buy. The doctrine of energy over food started the unprecedented losses which have crippled the pork industry for two years. (Refrain)
Then there’s the verse by the animal rights activists. They are the ones who drone on, brain-washing the public that we should be treating hogs and beef cattle the very same way we treat our beloved pets. One of their goals is undoubtedly to push their vegetarian diets on those of us who don’t prefer tofu over meat. Their attacks on animal agriculture seem focused on bewildering the public with anthropomorphisms and half-truths about an industry they do not understand. (Refrain)
What they don’t tell the public is that a pork producer’s business depends on the well-being of their animals, and that they are committed to raising them humanely. "It is easy to forget that the reason we raise hogs, cattle, and chicken is for human consumption," says Rep. Jean Schmidt, (R-Ohio). “That fact is often glossed over by animal rights activists. These animals are not the pets we so love but part of our national and global food chain.”
The climate bill is now chiming in with its own verse. Currently being debated in the Senate, the bill would effectively force U.S. farmers to compete in the world arena with one arm tied behind their back. The Cap and “Tax” bill has the potential to “dramatically increase the cost of production agriculture,” says Rep. Frank Lucas, (R, Okla.) the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee.
But we’re told not to worry. U.S. agriculture competitors in Asia or South America will follow our lead, say supporters of the climate bill, by adopting their own environmental restrictions …. Right. Tell that to consumers as they face the inevitable jump in food prices forced by higher farm production costs. Tell that to laid off agriculture workers when the cost of production forces their employers out of business. (Refrain)
The next verse also poses a threat to affordable food. The proposal to limit antibiotic use in U.S. livestock production is ill-informed and also represents a threat to food safety. Obviously, the bill’s sponsors believe that animal agriculture alone is responsible for antibiotic resistance. What they seem very willing to ignore is that any answer which effectively addresses the issue of antimicrobial resistance must also address the misuse of antibiotics in human medicine.
Instead of politicians coaching from the sidelines on the subject, let’s leave the livestock antibiotic question and regulations to food animal veterinarians and scientists -- those who know the most about the subject, have the most experience in the subject and are best equipped to answer questions scientifically and without mis-guided suppositions. (Refrain)
The tendency for misrepresentation in the antibiotics bill also is present in the media which continue to blindly and incorrectly refer to the H1N1 influenza illness as ‘swine flu’. Seems many media outlets are unable, or at least unwilling, to accurately inform or enlighten the public. (Refrain)
It’s time for a new song. Maybe the United States, and those who make our laws, will wake up to the facts when we’re buying our food from countries whose production methods, animal welfare standards and environmental infractions truly make one shudder.