Don't ask Keegan Poe about animal welfare and the animal rights issue unless you have plenty of time to listen. The subject stirs him into action. He's hoping it stirs others into action soon. Otherwise, many fear it may be too late. There's nothing less at stake than the future of livestock agriculture in this country.
The first tough task is convincing people that the threat from such groups as the Humane Society of the United States and PETA are real, Poe says. Their victory with proposition Two in California last fall and the current animal welfare frenzy rippling through the California legislature should be enough to sound the alarm. Unlike other states where animal rights groups have been successful in passing some form of animal cruelty legislation in the past, California is a major ag production state. In fact, its nation-leading poultry industry, especially egg production, is in jeopardy if the law enacted by California voters in a landslide last fall takes effect as planned in 2015. It would require that every animal have room to stand up, turn around, stretch its wings, if it has them, and not touch another animal. That could all but eliminate poultry production as it's currently known in the state.
The next task, Poe says, is stepping out of the comfort zone most people in agriculture have developed and telling their neighbors that farmers do in fact do a good job raising animals. Most people don't want to talk about the production practices that ensure good animal production, including castration and vaccinations. It's time to discuss it, and not make excuses for it, he notes. These practices have helped develop the most successful livestock production system in the history of mankind.
With Poe's admonition in mind, here is our 'Top 10 Reasons for Inviting Your Neighbor to Dinner."
#10- Serve him a real steak that passes your specs to make sure he remembers how good meat tastes.
#9- Remind him it was animal rights groups, not farmers, that stuck a veal calf in a closed-panel truck for a trip to a demonstration in Washington, D.C., a few years ago, only to find it just barely alive due to near-suffocation when the truck reached its destination.
#8- Keep him away from his TV while HBO airs 'Death on a Factory Farm' for the umpteenth time this month
#7- Assure him that farmers see animals in color, not the stark black-and-white images the activists groups use to make things seem worse than they are.
#6- Tell him how it took activists 3 months of undercover work in a packing plant to finally catch one violation on film for a 30-second commercial in California
#5- Make a formal invitation for him and his family to visit your livestock operation anytime they choose.
#4- Tell him that you're proud you produced the pork chop or steak he is eating at your table
#3- Ask him if he's willing to devote his garage to corn storage if livestock agriculture, the biggest user of corn, goes away.
#2- Explain exactly where the bacon he enjoys every morning comes from, and how well the pig that produced it was cared for while under the farmer's care
#1- If he doesn't have dinner with you, he might attend a PETA meeting instead!