Monday, January 11, 2010

Farmers fight back against animal rights groups

The Humane Society of the U.S. has shepherded laws in at least six states to ban cramped cages for farm animals and persuaded some of the country's largest fast-food restaurants and retailers to make at least a gradual switch to cage-free eggs. The group last year championed a ban on tail docking at California dairies.

Jack Fisher of the Ohio Farm Bureau implored farmers in other states to be proactive and take similar steps of their own. He noted that the Human Society has turned its efforts toward regulating so-called "puppy mills" and dog breeding operations and urged farmers to join forces with that industry in educating consumers.

Posted: Jan 11, 2010 7:31 AM EST
Updated: Jan 11, 2010 8:51 AM EST
Associated Press Writer

SEATTLE (AP) - It's little wonder that farmers fret about the future of the livestock industry. In the past two years, feed costs skyrocketed, pork and dairy prices plummeted, and animal rights groups stepped up efforts to improve living conditions for farm animals.

Some farmers are hoping to strike back with proactive efforts to ward off unwanted legislation and boost the struggling industry.

"A line must be drawn between our polite and respectful engagement with consumers and how we must aggressively respond to extremists who want to drag agriculture back to the day of 40 acres and a mule," said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

"The time has come for us to face our opponents with a new attitude," he told some 5,000 members gathered in Seattle for the group's annual convention Sunday. "The days of their elitist power grabs are over."

Several segments of the livestock industry found 2009 to be a rough year. Everyone suffered with higher feed and energy costs. Pig farmers endured slow pork sales that were triggered in part by the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture has said swine flu cannot be transmitted by eating pork products.
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