Food and Conscience

Ending factory farming without government intervention

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Factory farming and its abuses were once the province of an eccentric minority that invited ridicule and scorn. Agribusiness corporations could afford to ignore them. In the real America, nobody wasted time worrying about the well-being of livestock.

But the real America has changed. On Monday, the biggest restaurant chain on the planet, McDonald's, lined up on the same side as the Humane Society of the United States on a major issue of animal welfare. It informed its pork suppliers that they will have to stop confining pregnant sows in "gestation crates" that are too small to let the animals turn around.

McDonald's buys 1 percent of the pork sold in this country. When it tells pork producers to jump, they ask, "How high?"

Most Americans may not rank animal welfare high on the list of their chief concerns. But given the choice of food produced more humanely or less humanely, enough people will choose the latter to make continued indifference a bad business strategy.

McDonald's was preceded by such mainstays of American consumer culture as Burger King, Wendy's, Sonic and Winn-Dixie stores, which have moved against gestation crates. Smithfield Foods—the world's largest pork producer and one of the most reviled—has also promised to eliminate these cages by 2017. These are not companies whose customer base consists of vegans in plastic shoes who regard meat as murder.

It's no surprise that Whole Foods Market has built an empire partly by making animal welfare part of its identity. The chain is also known for rarefied offerings and high prices. But retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco, which specialize in mass-market products at bargain prices, are on board as well. Their private label eggs all come from uncaged hens.

In the past seven years, cage-free eggs have increased their share of sales to 8 percent up from 2 percent. A substantial number of Americans are willing to pay a bit more to avoid a conflict between stomach and conscience.

They may not have to. A 2007 study conducted at an Iowa State University research farm found that "group housing may produce pigs at a lower cost than individual gestation stalls in confinement facilities."

The egg industry is likewise adapting to changing norms. The United Egg Producers recently reached agreement with the Humane Society to support federal legislation mandating better conditions for laying hens.

Most of these birds spend their lives with just 67 square inches of space—smaller than the size of a standard sheet of paper. The bill would increase it to at least 124.

It would also afford them "enriched" environments where they can scratch, perch, nest and generally behave in a chicken-like manner. Egg cartons would have to carry labels to specify if the hens were caged, cage-free or free-range.

Two states have already banned the notorious "battery cages," where multiple birds are crammed into small spaces. Given that eight states have banned gestation crates, more protections for hens are very likely.

This may sound like a radical development, but it's only a natural expansion of normal human sympathies for our fellow creatures. You don't have to be an animal rights zealot to believe humans are not entitled to inflict needless misery on pigs or other livestock. If dogs and cats are protected from cruelty, why not the animals we eat?

Defenders of the status quo may dismiss their critics as insular urbanites who know nothing about farming. But some of the critics are just a generation removed from rural life and know there used to be better ways to produce food from animals.

Producers are not really to blame for the dismal conditions in factory farms. They are merely responding to the relentless competitive pressure to eliminate every unnecessary expense.

Mandates from major corporations—or from governments—allow them to adopt new methods without being undercut by less scrupulous suppliers. They provide a space within which humane impulses can assert themselves.

Americans have a strong attachment to the freedom to live their lives with a minimum of interference. But they understand there is no human right to abuse animals.

Before he ascended to the papacy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger decried battery cages for the "degrading of living creatures to a commodity," a lament that applies to other factory methods as well. When the Pope and McDonald's are both against something, odds are high its time is past.

Steve Chapman blogs daily at newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/steve_chapman.

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136 responses to “Food and Conscience

  1. Does anyone proofread this shit? I think you mean “enough people will choose the former“.

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  2. Defenders of the status quo may dismiss their critics as insular urbanites who know nothing about farming. But some of the critics are just a generation removed from rural life and know there used to be better ways to produce food from animals.

    If those old better ways of farming were so great, why is every farm kid bolting for the big city (desperately desiring to become an insular suburbanite)?

    I grew up in a rural community (and until 4th grade lived on a farm), and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

    From the article, I doubt Chapman has ever farmed himself. The farmers I have known have always looked at their livestock as a commodity. Even the farm dogs had to earn their keep or they were gone.

    1. Yeah, my stepdad grew up on a farm. If anything, he’s less prone to anthropomorphizing animals than other members of my family. I’m pretty sure he’s slaughtered every kind of farm animal you could and hasn’t given much of a thought to animal misery. Farm life wasn’t like Charlotte’s Web; animals were raised for dairy and slaughter.

      Also, “some of the critics are just a generation removed from rural life and know there used to be better ways to produce food from animals”? I’m a generation removed from newspaper printing, mail delivery and typing in a secretary pool. I know nothing about any of those.

      1. You’re a generation removed from making any feckin’ sense, you gobshite bastid. Drink! Arse! Girls!

    2. If those old better ways of farming were so great, why is every farm kid bolting for the big city (desperately desiring to become an insular suburbanite)?

      I grew up in a rural community (and until 4th grade lived on a farm), and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

      That’s a complete non sequitur. Chapman is not arguing that factory farming is any better or worse for farmers, he’s arguing that they are worse for the livestock.

      Tell me, on your family’s farm, would they have allowed a cow to be raised in one stall, never leaving it to walk in pasture? Spending its entire life in a pile of its own fecal matter, only to be cleaned just before its sent to slaughter?
      Would they have crammed 100’s of chickens together in a space so narrow that they couldn’t raise their heads? Again, in a space covered in their own ammonia-laden feces? Their beaks amputated to keep them from pecking each other to death?

      Currently, my wife farms full-time. I help her part-time. As you state, even small-scale farming is hard work. Yet, the difficulty of the job doesn’t mean that it is without ethics. I believe that part of being a farmer is the responsibility one has toward their land and livestock. This responsibility is being a good steward of the land.

      1. Spending its entire life in a pile of its own fecal matter, only to be cleaned just before its sent to slaughter?

        Who gives a fuck? It’s a cow.

        1. You like tapeworm eggs and cysts in your steak, anon?

        2. People do. Whether or not it is rational, people care about the perceived wellbeing of animals. So it is something that people who raise livestock might want to take into consideration even just for business reasons.

          Why the fuck should anyone care about dog fighting either? Who knows, but people do.

          1. So regarding rationality… Let’s say one’s end goal is simply maximizing one’s own happiness — it turns out just accumulating wealth and physical pleasures does not work as well as forming actual emotional bonds with other creatures (humans or animals). Happiness is a pretty tricky business which makes rationality a tricky business. Whether something is rational needs to be evaluated in the context of end goals and values. (Sorry kind of wedged two different points together but hopefully it makes sense…)

        3. You ignorant gobshite bastid; I hope you get infested with e.coli and suffer a rupture. All at once. Drink! Arse! Girls!

      2. Being a good steward of the land is the means. The end is to produce enough to make a profit.

        If factory farming is more efficient, that means that more people will eat because food will be more plentiful and cheaper.

        If burying a cow up to its ears in manure meant that rib eyes were only a nickel a pound, I’d put an ADM bumper sticker on my car in support.

        1. Being a good steward of the land is the means. The end is to produce enough to make a profit.

          If factory farming is more efficient, that means that more people will eat because food will be more plentiful and cheaper.

          I don’t deny that. More profits lead to more R&D, which could lead to less dirty factory farming methods. That I support.

        2. I’d put it differently: the end is making the best life you can; making a profit is one of the means to that end (as is being a decent steward of the land).

          We all make our own choices whether farmers or consumers, though economic forces can make these choices tougher for farmers. Personally, I don’t want to save $.03 an egg by forcing a chicken into a box so small it can’t raise its wings ever. I also think there should laws against the abuse of animals. Yes, nature is cruel, but life is better when we don’t needlessly engage in cruelty ourselves.

      3. “I believe that part of being a farmer is the responsibility one has toward their land and livestock.”

        The only responsibility a farmer has is to increase the efficiency of his farm, resulting in lower food prices, resulting in more people (particularly third-world poor people) eating.

        1. I think that each farmer gets to decide what his responsibilities are, not Bam!

        2. The only responsibility a farmer has is to increase the efficiency of his farm, resulting in lower food prices, resulting in more people (particularly third-world poor people) eating.

          Bullshit, as both metaphor and not! A farmer can focus on increasing the quality of his product, resulting in being able to charge a higher price, resulting in more profit for him.

        3. The more people you feed the more people you get.

      4. Tell me, on your family’s farm, would they have allowed a cow to be raised in one stall, never leaving it to walk in pasture? Spending its entire life in a pile of its own fecal matter, only to be cleaned just before its sent to slaughter?

        Show me the farm that does this.

    3. insular suburbanite

      From my observation, urbanites are much more insular.

      1. Wal-Mart? Eww. I’d have to go all the way to New Jersey for that.

    4. Yep – my dad grew up on a farm, got a PhD, and became a VP at a private college eventually

      However, all animals in our (suburban)home had to earn their living. The worst fate for a dog? To be shot by SWAT?? NO, OF COURSE NOT! To be “given to a nice family as a pet” because they wouldn’t hunt birds….:) *shudder*

      I still have that in me….

  3. I don’t understand why being “just a generation” removed gives someone any more credibility on an issue. I’m just a generation from a coal miner, and I still know fuck all about coal mining since,unlike my father, I never actually went underground myself. Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe we are producing more food now than ever before. That would seem to suggest the current methods are indeed better.

    1. That’s if you’re under the assumption that the ends justify the means.

      1. If the ends are feeding more people, and the means do not involve restricting anyone’s freedom, then yes, I believe the current methods are justified. I care more about the well being of humans than that of animals.

        1. Well, if anything, there is too much food in this country. And I’m sure you can still get that food without continuing to add unnecessary misery to those animals.

          1. I’m sure it isn’t any of your business.

            What does the phrase “too much food” mean? There’s “too much” choice? “Too much” opportunity?

            1. Is it my business? Well, as a consumer, I make it so, and I vote with my money.

              Considering the amount of food that is wasted in this country, I would say “yes”. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people starving in other countries. But our logistics have not caught up with supply. Plus, those people can’t afford the price anyway.

              1. Cool. Feel free to pay more to satiate your conscience.

                1. Feel free to blow me, you gobshite bastid. Drink! Arse! Girls!

              2. Was that yes to “too much choice?” or to “too much opportunity?”

                Farmers arent enslaved, they can grow/raise less food if they want.

          2. I dont think there is such a thing as “too much food”. At least not in a moral sense.

            It may be immoral to eat too much, but the existence of it isnt the problem.

            1. We have more food in this country than we have real demand.

              How’s that?

              1. Happens all the time in all kinds of industries. The good thing is it drives down prices, so Im glad that it is the case.

                1. Prices would be better if we had fewer government regulations (industry can self regulate all the want) and eliminated subsidies, which will allow for more competition in the market.

                  1. Prices would be better if we had fewer government regulations (industry can self regulate all the want) and eliminated subsidies, which will allow for more competition in the market.

                    Well duh. Im the one arguing in favor of a free market here, you are the one using phrases like “too much food”.

                    1. You gobshite idiot; “too much food” exists in the mind of the investment capital market. If there is too much food, I ain’t gonna invest in farming. Maybe that idjit Dougal will, but I damn sure won’t. Drink! Feck@ Arse! Girls!

              2. Plus, more of product X than we have internal demand for X is a good thing, as it allows for exports.

                And, yes, the logistics are good enough. Here.

                1. Plus, more of product X than we have internal demand for X is a good thing, as it allows for exports.

                  We studied a case in my trade theory class where one of the big US chicken producers (Tyson, IIRC) sought to play the old comparative advantage angle by shipping all of their excess dark meat to South Africa where it’s far more popular. Unfortunately, the S. African chicken producers sued them under the anti-dumping provisions of the WTO and won because of how production costs were calculated.

                  A similar case can be brought up nearly everywhere there’s a food shortage. It’s always fun to bring it up when somebody brings up obesity or starving children in Africa.

                  1. Like I said, the logistics are good enough here.

                    Yeah, other countries suck even worse than us.

                  2. anti-dumping provisions

                    anti-dog-eat-dog provision!

                    Rand or Orwell, biggest oracle of the 20th century?

              3. Also, also, part of the problem isnt too much food, but misallocation of what is grown due to subsidies.

                Barley, for example, is getting plowed under because corn is so profitable due to the subsidies. And that makes me angry.

                1. Corn is ruinin’ mah beer!

                  1. Damn straight. And tequila.

                    Corn subsidies raise the price of beer. The way things are going, we are going to have to buy all our barley from Canada. Canada!

                    Fucking canuckistanis.

                    1. What we need is better options for storing food. Like stasis chambers.

                      Where is the future I ordered?

                    2. I’m still waiting on my hoverboard. And I do mean the ones that actually hover.

    2. Did your father and grandfather fight much about coal mining?

      1. I knew exactly what that link was before I clicked on it. Thank you for not disappointing me when I did.

    3. People whose parents were coal miners didn’t generally spend their time in coal mines. People whose parents farmed generally did spend a lot of time on the farm. While I am sure there are many that don’t know about farming, there will still be a closer connection for some. Some people do actually like farming.

  4. That makes a lot of sense dude, I mean like seriously.

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  5. Mandates from major corporations — or from governments — allow them to adopt new methods without being undercut by less scrupulous suppliers.

    One of these things is not like the other…

    1. “One of these things is not like the other…”

      And that is the point that could have been far better made in the article.

      1. Yeah. The author dropped the ball here. Chapman should have emphasized that consumer choice is driving corporations to pressure their suppliers to adapt more humane farming techniques. Consumer choice, as opposed to government mandate. Government mandates usually result in raising barriers to entry for new, more innovative firms. Consumer choice results in profits for new, more innovative firms.

        1. Yeah, when I read this article, I thought it was very ODD that the author was arguing FOR government regulations forcing companies in the industry to adopt new (non-safety-related) standards.

          “The United Egg Producers recently reached agreement with the Humane Society TO SUPPORT FEDERAL LEGISLATION MANDATING BETTER CONDITIONS FOR LAYING HENS. (Emphasis added)

          “Mandates from major corporations — or from GOVERNMENTS (emphasis mine) — allow them to adopt new methods WITHOUT BEING UNDERCUT BY LESS SCRUPULOUS SUPPLIERS.

          Why would Reason support using government to FORCE competitors to change their apparently lower-cost regulations? Wouldn’t this be a from of industry protectionism for the United Egg Producers? If the standards are better overall, other companies will adopt them. If they aren’t, other companies won’t, and will have an advantage. Why endorse government interference in the free market? This is in direct contrast to the subheading of the article, “Ending factory farming without government intervention.” That certainly does not seem to be entirely the case here.

          1. To clarify, it does not seem to be the case with supporting Federal legislation. The rest of it is just fine.

  6. I like to think of cage free as the Thunderdome.

    Whole bunch of chickens enter, lots are pecked to death.

    1. Yes, but at least they have freedom of peck.

  7. But they understand there is no human right to abuse animals.

    But cutting their heads off, dividing their flesh and feasting on them is alllll goooood…

    1. But cutting their heads off, dividing their flesh and feasting on them is alllll goooood…

      In the end, that’s all that really matters. Plus, I firmly believe that if these cows/chickens/pigs knew how much I was enjoying feasting on their tender, succulent flesh, they’d be lining up in droves to become my dinner.

      1. Perhaps. But I’m sure you can have that without torturing the animals through the entirety of their lives up to the point of slaughter.

        1. I am sure you can. I am sure it costs more. I am further sure that while torturing animals for purposes of pleasure is a sign that I should stay from the person engaging in it, I am not convinced that methods employed to secure inexpensive and plentiful food are subject to ethical considerations, and that is because you do ultimately have to treat animals as property.

    2. But cutting their heads off, dividing their flesh and feasting on them is alllll goooood…

      Exactly my point below. You’re about to fucking murder the animal; in what universe do you live where it’s morally OK to murder shit?

      And then you’re going to tell me we need to treat our food ethically?

      Fuck off Chapman.

      1. Some of us live in a universe that’s not black and white, but mostly shades of gray. The perfect is ever the enemy of the good.

  8. Another day, another dumb-ass Chapman article. Well, at least we have Friday Funnies to look forward to.

    1. Somebody needs a hug.

  9. Here’s an idea, lets all feel guilty about everything we do in life. That should make for a happy and healthy society.

    1. If dogs and cats are protected from cruelty, why not the animals we eat?

      Why not worms, mosquitoes, amoebas?
      Are they not God’s creatures too?

  10. “Ending factory farming without government intervention”

    I guess you mean “ending factory farming with government intervention.”

    1. Stop spelling my name wrong!

  11. A huge part of the problem is corn subsidies.

    1. A huge part of the problem is corn subsidies.

      FIFY

      1. True, but the combo or corn subsidies and sugar price supports seem egregiously bad.

        1. When Mexican farmers are burning their agave crops to grow artificially priced corn, we all suffer.

  12. Disappointing to read a pro-regulation article in Reason when the lede strongly suggests that the most substantive changes to factory farming are coming more from market/consumer pressure than from Congress or state legislatures.

    If McDonald’s decides to heed the voice of a growing number of consumers and address the issue of gestation crates, and McDonald’s then tells Smithfield to change behavior or lose their business, I have no problem with that. Smithfield can choose to comply with McDonald’s or not, depending on how it feels the decision will impact its performance/profitability. But inevitably, if left to Congress, enough special interests (including Smithfield et al) will spend enough money to influence the language of the resulting regulation that intended result will not be achieved, and the likely victims of such a regulation will be the smaller farmers who were never part of the problem in the first place.

    1. Disappointing to read a pro-regulation article in Reason

      It is Chapman.

      1. I get it, but running it here implies tacit endorsement. I expect more purity – or at least commentary – from my libertine editors.

    2. Correct. This should be up to consumers, businesses, and industry being the voice of change. The government should GTFO.

    3. “Pro-regulation article” is easy to say, but ignores the reality of animal suffering and the increasing sentiment that animals have some rights.

  13. There is a reason that these ag practices are used. Those tiny gestation crates that don’t let the sow turn around were designed that way. This prevents the sow from laying on and killing her piglets.

    1. I need to re-read Animal Farm. I didn’t realize it was a metaphor for the nanny state.

      Who am I kidding, I never read it.

      1. you should. It’s much better than 1984.

        1. That is crazy talk.

          No country has adopted Animal Farm as their governing manual.

          1. Uh, the entire Soviet Union would beg to differ.

            1. The Soviet Union was BEFORE Animal Farm.

              What the UK (and others, they just seem to be trailblazing) is a post-publication implimentation.

      2. Animal Farm is not anti-socialism. It’s anti-Stalinism.

  14. Chapman never fails to disappoint me.

    I could not give a single fuck less how much “free space” my chicken has before it reaches my dinner plate. It’s a fucking chicken. They’re vicious rapist creatures, and I’m happy for every bit of misery they experience.

    A tad more seriously though, how do you rationalize treating your food morally? You’re about to fucking murder it. You throw whatever “morals” you had out the window by committing murder.

    Stuck up self-righteous assholes, the lot of these PETA types.

    1. A. It isnt murder.

      2. No need to cause it unnecessary pain before killing it. Whether is should be illegal or not (probably not, in most cases), animal cruelty is immoral.

      1. A. It isnt murder.

        Ok, terminate. You’re still “taking a life.” If we’re treating dinner morally, you must accept that it’s immoral to terminate a life. Such necessarily causes the creature “unnecessary pain.”

        1. Also, I think you’re missing the real point that it’s absurd to consider treating dinner morally.

          It’s sustenance. What’s moral? The preservation of my life.

          The only benefit these creatures have to our society is to provide me/us with dinner. It is their purpose in life. We’re acting morally by eating the fuckers.

        2. you must accept that it’s immoral to terminate a life

          No, I mustnt. I dont accept that at all. If I squash a bug or slaughter a pig, that isnt immoral at all.

          1. Right, and it’s not immoral to produce as many chickens as possible to feed as many people as possible.

        3. I take lives eating vegetables, just as I do eating meat. What’s the difference? Is a carrot less deserving to live than a rabbit?

          1. And what about all of the bacteria that your immune system mercilessly slaughters every day.

      2. Immoral to whom? The only reasonable ethical framework to evaluate the way animals are treated is virtue ethics. Deontologically, animals are property, and property can be dispensed with at the owner’s pleasure. Utilitarians don’t have a leg to stand on. However, a particular act of animal cruelty can tell us much about the character of the agent: if he is doing it for pure base pleasure, that makes that act immoral. If, on the other hand, he is doing it to feed his family and society, I don’t see the immorality.

        This is a context-dependent moral evaluation.

        1. Yes. It’s why treating pets as you would treat your chicken dinner is immoral.

          The pet’s purpose is some variation of companionship. The chicken is dinner. Big difference.

          Then again, if I were starving to death my cat might become dinner.

        2. if he is doing it for pure base pleasure, that makes that act immoral

          This was my point.

          I have no problem with slaughtering of animals for food…none at all. But to intentional create pain in the animal for your jollies?

          1. But to intentional create pain in the animal for your jollies?

            It’s not for joy that Chapman’s arguing against, he’s arguing for the reduction of production of food purely for the animal’s comfort.

            1. Dude, its Chapman. Im not even discussing his article. Whats the point?

              1. Dude, its Chapman. Im not even discussing his article. Whats the point?

                You have a good point. The opening post was directed at Chapman though.

      3. And killing the animal itself may or may not be immoral. We don’t really have any idea how this experience works for the animal. Significant uncertainty exists.

        I gave up meat because (a) I could not with 100% certainty convince myself that killing animals for food was moral and good; AND (b) I can sustain myself more than well enough through a vegetarian diet.

        If either of those things were not true I would eat meat.

        1. Absent the ability to rationalise contra-survival behavior, a vast number of the living things on Earth survive by killing and eating other living things. Thus it is 100% ‘moral’ and ‘good’ to do so because b) humans are not designed to survive on a fully vegetarian diet any more than the other great apes are.

          1. And, how would you like your steak?

            you know you want it…..

            1. Rare and bloody. I’m pretty sure that synthesized meat will be available in my lifetime, and I sure am looking forward to a nice juicy steak.

        2. “a) I could not with 100% certainty convince myself that killing animals for food was moral and good”

          “If either of those things were not true I would eat meat.”

          You ARE aware that a higher number of animals die through the spraying, shooting, trapping, threshing and so forth that go into the planting, cultivation, harvesting and transportation of plant matter, right?

  15. Is this Reason or Newsweak? Sometimes it’s kind of hard to tell the difference.

  16. Cardinal Ratzinger doesn’t like animals to be confined in concentration camps. That’s rich.

    1. I read that as “contraception camps.”

  17. This just in: solution to inhumane factory farming? raise brainless livestock:

    http://www.wired.com/underwire…..-solution/

    Fantastic!

    1. I love it. Once again, idealists try to force reality to fit their narrative of how things should be and create a horror worse than the one they are trying to avoid.

      1. Creepier, not worse. If you grow a creature without a brain, it’s just a lump of growing meat, similar to any cell culture, only larger. It’s just that an unconscious, brainless bird in Matrix-style restraints is a pretty creepy image. It is, though, much better than a living animal being put through severely uncomfortable and/or painful living conditions in order for us to eat it later.

        In my opinion, this is just the beginning, they haven’t gone far enough. What I would really like to see would be the possibility of just growing individual parts, preferably close to the time you actually want to eat. Instead of growing a whole chicken (or cow, or pig), you could just get some legs, or wings, or thighs without ever involving a living animal. Same result, not messy ethical considerations because there was never a living animal in the first place.

  18. What about dog fighting? Should that be illegal?

    It seems to me that if you think that something like dog fighting should be against the law, then you have already accepted that some regulation of how animals are treated is acceptable.

    Personally, I find both dog fighting and factory farming distasteful, but animals are property and their owners should be able to dispose if them as they see fit.

    One other thing I’d like to inject for no particular reason. Chickens and eggs that are actually free range and eat a diverse diet are amazingly better than anything you can get at a supermarket.

    1. “but animals are property and their owners should be able to dispose if them as they see fit.”

      Assuming your premise. The question first is, can animals ethically be considered property? Well, can men? No, not by another. Ditto with land to a certain extent. Yet men own themselves and we do allow land ownership to various extents in various different culture. “Property” encapsulates a large bundle of rights. Each right to do something to the thing owned brings up a separate question as to whether that action is moral. We can’t just avoid the question because of the lack of details in a single word called “property”. Saying that people should have the right to do a bunch of things to something doesn’t imply that they get to do anything they want with it, just because we’re stuck with the one word “property” to describe various different bundles of rights over things.

      Men own themselves but they can’t position themselves in your way, let’s say in a doorway, without violating your rights (let’s say it’s a really big guy you can’t move). That could end up being kidnapping. Ditto with objects you own. I could own a giant concrete block, but I couldn’t put it just outside your driveway to block your car without violating your rights. You can own land, but there are numerous laws and conventions dealing with easements and access and paths that make sure people have the right to travel unmolested. You have the right to stop people from entering your property, but if they have to do so to travel, then they get to. And when you own land, you own the airspace above it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop people from flying over your land. And you don’t own crops grown on your land, whoever labored to create them does. etc. etc.

    2. The biggest difference is that one is for food, the other is for sport. We don’t do these things to chickens because we want to hurt them, it’s just (presumably) cost-effective for getting tasty chicken. On the other hand, dog-fighting, like bull-fighting, is hurting animals (or having them hurt each other) for entertainment. Hurting in order to eat is acceptable to me, but hurting animals just because it’s how you get your jollies? Ugh. That sort of extends to hunting as well, I don’t like sport-hunting. As long as the animals killed are actually eaten, I don’t mind. But I really don’t like the idea of people killing creatures just so they have antlers to hang on their walls.

      1. of course we eat them. If anything it’s morally superior, at least our dinner has a chance to run away.

        And of course there’s killing for crop protection, like the time my little brother shot that rabbit who was eating my okra plants in my garden, using the air-rifle. I was surprised I was able to skin and clean him (never did much like that before), put him in the freezer, never ended up eating him, though I had intended to.

      2. Aside from poaching and pest control, I’ve never heard of a form of hunting, including so-called sport hunting, where the meat is regularly wasted. Even when hunters don’t eat the meat themselves, it almost always goes to someone who needs it. For instance, hunters donate a LOT of game meat to homeless shelters, and in the case of elephant and other large game hunting in Africa, the meat that the hunter cannot take with them is given to local villages.

  19. For what it’s worth, one of the oft-unheralded drivers for livestock confinement choices is regulation.

    Certain regulations require a producer to do particular tasks at a particular frequency, and provide traceability, etc. This is WAY easier and faster (read: cheaper) to do when, for example, the critters stay where you put ’em.

    Regulations requiring a certain outcome (safe food) would produce different results than regulations which require certain processes (do this and this and this and this and document it all). We generally have the latter, which contributes to the confinement-style systems.

    1. Again, do-gooders creating misery.

    2. let’s not also forget taxes sucking up margins, and real estate taxes making land costly… then again so does the system of land ownership, which isn’t the only method of land-use control by societies (not all land has to be owned, and there are many systems in place and possible where land isn’t owned period)

  20. A hundred comments and no one points out that the author is completely disregarding the main flaw with factory farming: health.

    The more animals are “factory”-treated, the more likely their meat is to spread disease. Furthermore, caged animal meat/eggs are very low on nutrition and very high in omega-6s compared to free-range equivalents.

    The author falsely implies that the only reason for caring about farming conditions is ethical concern for the animals. I care about myself which is why I care not to make farming conditions any worse than they are. I want to be healthy.

    1. Bingo! Give this gentleman an hour with Mrs. Doyle!

    2. Exactly! That’s why, before modern factory farming, so few diseases were spread by livestock anf humans lived such vastly longer, healthier lifespans.

      What?

      They didn’t?

      Really?

      What about the disease thing–that’s right, isnt’ i—Oh my god, no! Really? And there are people who think going back to this is a good thing?

      Oh. Well that makes sense. Even if it is kinda suicidal.

      Oh, they mean other people.

      Idiots.

      1. Right. Everything in the past was the same except there was no factory farming. Things like refrigeration, antibiotics, and the germ theory of disease are irrelevant.

        Nutritional science is pretty weak, but there do seem to be some indications that they way animals are raised (especially what they eat) does make a difference to how healthy the food is. I’m not saying that is a certainty, but rejecting it out of hand is dumb.

        1. It also can change how tasty they are.

  21. This whole post is completely shot to shit by the following essay from a farmer, Blake Hurst-

    http://www.american.com/archiv…..ellectuals

    Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is. This is something the critics of industrial farming never seem to understand.

  22. “Americans have a strong attachment to the freedom to live their lives with a minimum of interference. But they understand there is no human right to abuse animals.”

    What a load of bullshit. We kill and exploit animals for food. That is nature and life. It’s disgusting that people really believe this.

    1. Chapman, if there’s no human right to abuse animals, why aren’t you out working for PETA and attempting to send to jail everyone who eats meat, farms, etc.?

  23. “When the Pope and McDonald’s are both against something, odds are high its time is past.”

    Heh, the Pope?

    1. So . . . what happens if McDonald’s takes a stand against contraception or gay marriage?

  24. This is where Animal Rights cultism starts to show it’s Marxist roots.

    “Factory Farm”, “Agribiz”; these are Orwellian scare-phrases designed to bully people into thinking with blind emotionalism and hysteria instead of logic or reason.

    http://www.animalagalliance.or…..page18.pdf

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