I have had the pleasure of speaking twice at OSU on a farmer's perspective of the human/animal relationship. A point I always stress is that we must have perspective: while Americans have the blessed ability to analyze & sometimes criticize food production, to some of my friends & staff members who lived in countries with unreliable & unsafe food, the American bounty is a marvel! I absolutely encourage food choice, and believe we should each be able to make our own choices on what we eat! (And as an aside, I am intrigued that one of Oprah's guests is a vegan author & spiritual advisor . . . interesting!) I love talking about my experiences as a butcher & farmer, so please let me know if the show leaves you with any questions that I can answer! Thanks to the Ohio Farm Bureau for the following information.
We recently learned that The Oprah Winfrey Show plans to air an episode called “Food 201” that will center on food production issues. It isbelieved the show will likely include video about cattle feeding and slaughter, among other food production topics. While we will not know the tone of this show until it airs, it will likely require further discussion by farmers and food system experts to express a balanced viewpoint.Those involved in the industry believe potential show guests on include Michael Pollan, author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and Kathy Freston, a vegan author and spiritual advisor. We are not aware of any food system experts who have been invited to participate.The show is tentatively scheduled to air on Tuesday, February 1, 2011
We encourage farmers and leaders in the food system to pro-actively engage in values-based discussions about the content on this talk show, including the benefits of a diet that includes animal-based foods. Most consumers today are more than two generations removed from the farm. They don’t understand why farms look like they do today, why beneficialtechnology is used, or other recent advances in food production. What theywant to know first and foremost is that farmers are doing the right thingand share their values. The following messages are examples of how farmerscan connect with the values of consumers on many current topics about thefood system. These are presented as examples only – it’s important for youto put these in your own words so they are unique to you.
“Farmers have an ethical obligation to ensure food safety on the farm. Regulations and inspections by U.S. Government agencies at the plants haveresulted in one of the world’s safest food supplies.”
“I am committed to providing for the well-being of my animals and providing consumers a safe, nutritious and affordable supply of food. In fact, I’ve committed my life to it.”
“As a producer, I have an ethical obligation to make sure the animals on my farm are well cared for. I would not be in business today if I didn’t provide my livestock with a safe, healthy environment in which to grow.”
“I applaud efforts to improve the well-being of livestock but when itcomes to animal welfare, we must consider facts as well as emotion. I have a moral obligation to provide for the well-being of my farm animals, and I rely on veterinarians and science to provide guidance on best practices fortheir care. Research shows there are pluses and minuses with all systems and that individual housing or group housing can provide for the well-being of our animals.”
"Animal abuse in any form is unacceptable. The actions of a few “badactors” in no way reflect the high standards demonstrated daily by a vast majority of America’s farmers and ranchers."
“Here are some important facts to keep in mind when talking about antibiotics used by farmers. Veterinarians are involved in animal care and discuss with farmers how best to use medicines. The Food and Drug Administration approves medicines used if animals get sick and animals thatreceive antibiotics are not allowed to enter the food supply until after their systems are clear. Government agencies require testing to ensure the absence of antibiotic residues in food products.”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved antibiotics for use in livestock more than 50 years ago, when most food animals were raised outside. Modern housing systems, where animals are kept in comfortable indoor environments, help today’s producers better manage the health of their animals because they can act quickly when an individual animal issick.”
“Whether raised indoors or outdoors, early treatment of disease is crucial. Because modern housing means today’s producers and veterinarians are more aware of the health of individual animals, they are able to provide better overall health care and disease treatment for each animal in their care.”
"U.S. farmers continue to produce more food using fewer resources to meet demands of growing global population."
"Today’s ag practices allow America’s farmers to produce twice as much wheat on fewer acres (compared to 1950 acres/yield), 3.5 times as much corn on nearly the same acreage and 12 times the lettuce on 2.5 times the land.”
“In 50 years, we will need to produce 100% more food than we do today to meet demand.”
"By 2050, the global population is expected to increase by 3+ billion people.”
"United Nations: 80% of future production growth must come from increased yields, 10-15% from higher cropping density, and 5-10% from expansion of land use.”
"Consumer choice is important but shouldn’t limit our ability to increase production.”
"Consumers have the right to expect the food system to act in a responsible manner.”
"We can produce more with fewer resources to meet global demand by using technology and innovation in an ethical way that’s right for people, animals and the planet.”
"Producing more food using fewer resources is the ethical choice for people, animals and the planet.”
"If we relied on the food production systems of 1950, approximately 150million people living in the U.S. would be without food.”
"The best food choices for one family may not be right for another. We should support the right we each have to choose the food that fits our lifestyle and our family budget."
"Supporting a diverse food supply, raised using a variety of farming methods, is vital to ensuring that we all have access to affordable food."
"Placing restrictions on the U.S. food system that limit the ability to produce the food we need will increase the cost of food and limit healthy, affordable food choices for all of us, including those who can least afford it."
"Supporting today’s food system in order to produce the food we need using fewer resources is the ethical choice for people, animals and the planet."
"Understanding our choices and how they affect our food supply is vital to preserving our personal right to choose the best food for our family's dinner table."
"We should each be free to buy the food that works best for us. Access to abundant and affordable food is necessary to ensure that millions of American families do not go to bed hungry."