Agriculture, just like every other industry, is not immune from politics or politicians.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many great supporters of agriculture in public office, but it only takes a few of those non-supporters to leave a sour taste in your mouth for that line of work.
Back in February, Colorado Gov. Pete Ricketts proclaimed March 20 as MeatOut Day. What’s MeatOut Day? It began in 1985 by the Farm Rights Movement to encourage non-vegetarians to move toward a plant-based diet. Reports state Ricketts is not a vegetarian, but his fiancé is a vegan and an animal rights advocate.
There are times I have a meatless meal. It’s not, however, because I’m want to become a vegetarian or a vegan. It’s because I forgot to lay something out, or am too tried or busy for anything other than a bowl of cereal. For the most part, however, there is meat in every meal, every day. Even if it’s just a sausage patty on a biscuit in the morning, or chicken or ham chopped up in a salad, there is meat.
Ricketts was called to the carpet not only by Colorado farmers and ranchers but some of the state’s lawmakers for the move. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association urged folks to have a “Meat In” day, and others pledged to have cookouts that were “heavy on the meat protein.”
When pressed, the governor’s spokesman said the office “gets hundreds of requests for proclamations throughout the year and rarely declines these non-binding ceremonial proclamations that get auto-penned by the Governor.”
Colorado farmers and ranchers, all Colorado residents actually, should be worried if their governor whips out the autopen without actually knowing what he’s proclaiming. I have covered a few proclamation signings over the years, mostly to honor groups, organizations or individuals, or to publicize an upcoming event. Never, however, have I attended a proclamation event where people were encouraged not to eat something.
I’m not a political person. I’m not particularly eager to discuss politics, what one party is doing or what the other one isn’t doing. If someone opposes my views, it doesn’t offend me, and I won’t debate them, nor will I persuade someone to change their mind. I will, however, get on a soapbox when it comes to agriculture.
Agriculture is the most scrutinized industry globally and continues to face obstacles by local, state and federal regulations. Not a year goes by without someone trying to introduce bills to control farming. The bills are typically introduced by someone with no understanding of the industry, choosing instead to believe what they have read on the internet or other propaganda, or what some lobbyist or political action committee has stumped for. Yes, there are those people who are paid to go solicit lawmakers for their support animal rights. One even has campaigned for the passage of the first non-human rights laws in the United States. These are very powerful groups, and more people are drawn to them because these organizations tend to pull at the heartstrings of animal lovers. They are good at claiming their efforts will stop the abuse of dogs, cats and other pets, but what many of these organizations are attempting to do is put a stop to all animal ownership. For example, PETA’s website states “in a perfect world, all animals would be free from human interference and free to live their lives the way nature intended.”
In their “perfect world,” free-roaming livestock would destroy their veggie patches. If they think a fence will keep their greens safe from harm, they obviously haven’t seen hogs root around, or a determined cow, sheep or goat find or make a hole in even the best of fences.
I hope our lawmakers in the Ozarks remember that animal agriculture is critical for the local, state and national economy, and what’s important to our communities – the communities they were elected to serve.
Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected].