Jette Pleasant, a student at Riverside-Brookfield High School, is the Grand Prize winner, High School Division, McCormick Foundation Environmental Journalism Awards competition held earlier in 2009.
By Jette Pleasant
Rapid industrialization, which has occurred in the past 50 to 60 years, has caused most Americans to become completely unaware of the major changes in agricultural practices. A new type of farming, known as “factory farming” or “agribusiness,” has developed as a way=2 0of mass-producing packages of meat, milk and eggs.
Common conceptions of the word “farm” are that of great expanses of green pasture blanketed by soft blue skies. Yet most animals raised on factory farms are confined in cramped, unhealthy indoor warehouses and denied room enough to stand up or even stretch their limbs out comfortably.
The reason behind these appalling conditions is simple: the more animals that can be crammed into a single space, the more animals there are to slaughter for food.
Each year, over 10 billion farm animals are raised and killed on U.S. factory farms.
Hope Bohanec, the Grassroots Field Manager for In Defense of Animals, claims that it is “really hard to imagine a more horrible existence” than that o f the typical farm factory animal.
“They are subject to painful procedures without anesthesia,” said Bohanec. “Babies are taken away from mothers. The stench of ammonia from the concentrated urine is so overwhelming, workers go in with masks on, but the animals are forced to live in it.”
Sick or dying animals are often neglected, denied veterinary care and thrown into the garbage where they are left to die from suffocation.
Chickens are de-beaked with red-hot blades; male calves, often used to produce veal, are tied up inside tiny crates for the duration of their unnaturally short lives. The cruel irony behind this situation is that veal calves, along with many other animals, are quite literally born for the sole purpose of dying.
There are currently no federal laws in existence to protect farm animals from these and other forms of abuse.
Longtime animal advocate and Farm Sanctuary Employee Matthew Rice believes that the simplest and most effective way in which animal cruelty can be prevented or decreased is through the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet.
“Each time we shop at the supermarket or dine at a restaurant, we cast a vote with our money,” said Rice. “We can choose to support the cruel and destructive practices inherent in modern animal agriculture or instead we can choose compassionate, plant-based alternatives.”
Paul McCartney once said: "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian," and certainly, the biggest problem currently facing animals is that the majority of the public remains unaware of the conditions and abuse which animals are ritually subjected to, and the cruelty inherent in modern animal agriculture, a fact which industries rely on to continue practices which would commonly be considered unethical.
If we are to truly prevent this kind of abuse, we must stop thinking of animals as unfeeling commodities. We must learn that while, in contemporary America, millions of products are marketed for the sole purpose of making a profit, life should never be among them.
Rice, Matthew. "Factory Farming and Animal Abuse Prevention." E-mail interview. 10 May, 2009.
"Factory Farming." Farmsanctuary.org. Farm Sanctuary. 12 May, 2009.
Bohanec, Hope. "Animal Abuse within the Food Industry." E-mail interview. 13 May, 2009.