In the past few years, many issues have popped up about animal welfare.  These issues range from quality of life, the antibiotics used to treat livestock, and environmental concerns from factory farm animal waste.

The first thing I want to say is stop believing everything you read from large animal activist groups.  They don’t always have the facts right.  It’s just like in school when your teachers told you to not use Wikipedia as a “credible source” for writing a paper.  I’m not saying that they are always incorrect, but the very fact that they are spreading false information is a major concern in supporting any claim they make.

I have seen many videos distorting the truth about factory farms.  There was one video that used a drone to fly over a factory farm where the farm was shown disposing of animal excrement by spraying it carelessly into the air.  When I first watched this, being the gullible, I was shocked by their lack of concern.  However, after having read many stories where actual farmers expose the false information being fed into media—I was highly skeptical of this video.

7-19-161468927292587_imageDid you know that large farms are required by law to create Nutrient Management Plans? Basically, these plans describe how much manure is produced, how it will be stored, and where it will end up.  In the case of this video, the factory farm disposed of their waste by having vents in the floor where animal excretions drop through and are flooded into a body of water.  After a certain amount of time, this waste breaks down in the water and is transported to other farms where it can be sprayed over crops as fertilizer. Manure has been used for centuries to fertilize soil and provides a lot of essential nutrients to crops.  While there are alternative fertilizer choices to manure that are beneficial and more cost efficient, still many farms are utilizing manure as a form of soil fertilizer.

Now let’s talk about antibiotics.  When an animal gets sick, farmers carefully evaluate when they should use medicine to treat their animals. All antibiotics must go through rigorous government inspection before being approved for use in livestock. The medicine has to be approved in three areas; safety of the animal, environment, and the consumers.  After approval, antibiotics are annually re-evaluated and only stay on the market if they are still safe.  Specifically in the case of dairy cows, farmers separate cattle with illnesses from the cattle that are producing milk for purchase.  Then, as the cattle that are treated with antibiotics, they remain separate until the medication passes from their system before returning to be milked for production.  The separation period is also the same for livestock bred for meat.  Farmers diligently make sure to take care with using antibiotic treatment and ensure that their products are not at all contaminated by the former medication when they hit market.

Here’s another thought.  Why would a person become a full-time farmer if they didn’t love animals in the first place? Think about your job. After you finish school, it’s what consumes a majority of your life so it makes sense to work in what you love.  More than that, agriculture is a business that costs.  Taking care of even a dog, say for example, is expensive.  How much more than does it cost to take care of hundreds of cattle or pigs?  I’d like to end this by encouraging you to really dig deep when evaluating your standpoint regarding animal treatment.  Farmers are not out to get you, because they also eat the food you eat.

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Deidra Sonnemaker
Communications Intern
IL Corn

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