Thursday, March 4, 2010

Consumers less familiar with farming

By Mindy Ward and Jeff DeYoung, Missouri Farmer Today
Friday, February 26, 2010 11:27 AM CST

CHESTERFIELD -- With consumers now two generations removed from life on the farm, explaining how their food made it to the dinner table is more complicated.

Dave Drennan says that those in the animal-rights movement manipulate and twist agriculture’s story to suit their agenda. And, consumers are listening and watching.

As video footage of tail-docking and dehorning of dairy cattle stream across television and computer screens, all Dave Drennan could do was cringe.

“There are common-sense reasons dairy farmers do this, to protect themselves, other cows and the food supply,” he says.

Drennan, executive director of the Missouri Dairy Association, says that while many Missouri dairy farmers do not use the practice of tail-docking, many will cauterize horns.

“It protects the farmer from getting gored while working with the cows,” he says. “And, if they are all about animal well-being, this protects other cows from hurt from being gored. Isn’t that what they want? A safe environment for the cows.”

He says the issue surrounding tail-docking also focuses on safety. Tail-docking started as a way to protect farmers from illnesses spread by cow urine and feces during the milking process. It was also an attempt to keep the feces and urine from finding its way into the milk supply.

However, these two concepts are lost in the story, Drennan says. Many consumers do not visit a farm to learn about their food. Rather, they rely on the media.

“Families do not take that weekend trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm anymore,” he says. “They are not tied to agriculture. They do not see just where their food comes from and what we do on the farm.”
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