liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Ranchers Fight Back (on astroturf)

I googled "Matthew Scully," author of Dominion, and got pages and pages of links. On about the fourth page was this editorial, appearing on

The editorial is dismissive of Scully and of George Will who read Dominion and echoed Scully in a column in Newsweek. The author of the editorial says:
Scully and Will fall into the trap of well-meaning people who have not been around animals in a production agriculture setting enough to understand how animal sensitivities differ from ours. Give a cow a windbreak, enough feed and a water source and she can not only survive but thrive in a North Dakota winter... That is a totally different level of sensitivity than humans could exhibit outdoors with no clothes under the same conditions.

Since science has not yet learned how to quantitatively measure sensitivity and pain, we must go by empirical observation. Things like weight gain, increases in size and sufficient nutrition and energy in excess of maintenance for reproduction are signs that an animal’s nutrition and behavior needs are being met -- which includes the proximity of like animals to be comfortable.

Okay, so city-boy doesn't know an asshole from an udder and should mind his own business before he puts his foot in his mouth.

Our editorialist concludes,
these kinds of assumptions are due to a mistake people make of putting themselves – with the mind and emotions only humans possess – into the situation of a pig or a chicken or a cow. That is no more valid in real life than the children’s stories people make up about animals in a human-like world. Production agriculture is going to have to get people to understand that only humans are humans. Animals are living creatures deserving our care and the respect for life up to the level animals deserve. But animals are not humans. It’s something so basic, so obvious, yet something some people just unintentionally ignore or blur – and others exploit and play upon.

We get the point. But our editorialist takes it a step further and pinpoints the real crisis awaiting civilization as a result of do-gooder exploitation:
Animal agriculture in general, and the more intensely confined species in particular, are going to have to figure out how to deal with people claiming the moral right to “reform” production agriculture. What gives Scully and Will the expertise to fix this perceived problem? Like do-gooders sometimes do, they skip over their lack of expertise and grasp of the facts to the moral “imperative” they feel to do something.

The solution is to educate consumers about the differences between people and animals as well as proper farm management.
One of the biggest battles for American agriculture over the next decade will be for the hearts and minds of our customers, as well as their pocketbook. The education of consumers about what food production is really like and what farm and ranch families are like is part of that story. But the difference between animals and humans and what proper management of animals is also a key issue. [sic] Just as most people “eat” a dish first with their eyes and nose, before they actually eat it, so also will we have to work to make sure people’s hearts and minds are with us, so their stomachs will follow.

Ha ha. But the real punch line is that this editorial was produced by Steve Dittmer, the sole author, editor, producer and all-around brains behind AFF, the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation.

The AFF states on their website that their "purpose is to promote free market principles throughout the agricultural food chain."

Under "Staff Bios" we see that Mr. Dittmer is the only staff member, and that his bio was written by "Administrator," which is undoubtedly an alias for Steven Dittmer. "He co-published CALF News magazine for nearly 20 years." His resume is just bursting with credentials as beef industry apologist:
Past experience included beef council CEO, association communications director and small-time rancher.

Was member of Beef Industry Council Advertising Committee that developed the first-ever beef industry national television ad campaign and industry's first Long Range Planning Committee.
What are the odds that AFF is a 501(c)(3) organization with a staff of one, in other words, "astroturf?" It's a platform for spouting the cattleman's call in objection and opposition to the likes of Scully, Will and Farm Sanctuary. It's an organization dedicated to the right of people to make a fortune exploiting animals with no restraints whatsoever.

Charming. No wonder Scully and Will's writings resonate so deeply with us: we live in the society who has applied industrial mass production techniques to the raising of domestic animals.


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