Improving animal welfare a worthy priority
Ron Glaser of the Beef Information Centre, is correct when he says in the Aug. 26Manitoba Co-operatorthat the consumer hasn’t abandoned animal products in general. I am not sure who participated in his survey but I gotta tell you that for health reasons my household has definitely reduced its consumption of meat, especially red meat; we also forgo meat once a week as well. I know many people who are doing the same, so I think perhaps his numbers in this regard may be off target.
As far as organic beef goes, where can I buy it? I cheerfully pay between five to 10 per cent more for pork that is not raised in sow stalls and ditto for free-run organic eggs.
Laura Rance is 100 per cent on point when she says in her column, how can you ignore the concerns of a quarter of your market? Whether or not producers think improving animal welfare is a worthy priority, the purchasing public sure does. Changes in eating habits are happening quietly and persistently.
Unless animal welfare is treated with the respect it deserves along with the other identified priorities, all credibility will be lost.
My concern is to improve the living and dying conditions for animals raised for food. Almost every factory farm organization quoted in these pages talks about activists wanting meat production to stop. I can only assume that this vilification of activists is intended to enforce the “them versus us” mentality. This prevents any opportunity for meaningful interaction, dialogue, exchange and understanding of ideas and for perspective. And not only between producers and activists, but even among producers themselves. How is that benefiting anybody?
Leslie Yeoman, The Humane Education
Network, 106 Lipton Street,
Consider Crops For Hogs To Root
To Bernie Peet (“Brits take the lead on welfare assessment,” Co-operator,July 29, page 14): Two years ago I wrote to some of the pork producers here in Manitoba, outlining to them that they could reduce their costs as well as increase their animal welfare by growing special crops in which pigs like to root, and which would be very nourishing at the same time. For example, my mother used to grow peanuts in her garden in St. Claude, so Manitoba summers are long enough and hot enough to grow peanuts as a crop.
My idea was to grow crops which could be rotated and which could be left in the ground all year long – even in winter, so they are then available for rooting early in the spring and early summer while the producer waits for the summer crop to mature.
You may not be aware that certain crops must freeze before they go to seed, so freezing does not hurt them and they stay in the ground all winter just fine. Some of these crops are winter wheat, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, raspberries and many more. My idea would be to seed different crops in different plots on a farm, separated by suitable fencing, to keep the pigs on certain plots as the crops grow and mature. For example, you could grow one acre of each of the following, separated by a fence: corn, peanuts, sugar beets, beets, rutabagas, carrots, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, beans or soybeans or peas, green beans or cowpeas, chickpeas, mung beans or lima beans, lentils, field peas, sunflower, lettuce, cabbage, certain kale and buckwheat and pumpkins. Of importance are the root crops which stay in the ground over winter, ready to be rooted by pigs during a mild winter or early spring. See the older bookPrinciples of Field Crop Productionby Martin and Leonard, 1949.
Louis J. Gautron
Remove Barriers To Rural Subdivision
I am dismayed at what appears to be an increasingly rigid approach by the authorities to rural subdivision applications wherever there is a perceived loss of some acres of prime agricultural land. I know of several applications that have been vetoed on that basis recently. Is this good policy?
When I got involved in farming 26 years ago, there were seven occupied farmsteads within a mile and a half of my yard. Today, there are four (of which two are non-farming, as well as one recreational hunting cabin. Plus one factory farm, but then no one actually chooses to live there.)
Fast forward another 30 years and where does that leave us? Last man leaving please turn out the lights.
The other part of the message is that land use is changing. Land has value for other than agricultural production. Some folks like to live and raise their kids in the countryside. Some folks like to hunt. Some would like to operate non-agricultural businesses in a rural area. All are contributing to the rural economy and helping to sustain the infrastructure and social fabric.
I don’t think it takes an economist to figure out that the contribution of a few additional live bodies in rural Manitoba is an order of magnitude greater than any loss of production of the acres supposedly lost to accommodate them. Sad to say that not all our land base is farmed in the most productive or sustainable manner in any event. Seems to me we should be putting in place policies that actively encourage more people to live in our rural areas, rather than putting up roadblocks at every turn.
It’s time for our provincial, municipal and farm organization leadership to rethink their ideas on this one. And for the vetoing agency to start taking some of the rural initiative its title embraces.
Jon Crowson Oak River, Man.
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