Thursday, August 12, 2010

Does Ohio Farm Bureau-Humane Society agreement signal deals in other states?

In July we reported the controversial agreement between Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Humane Society of the United States to alter some farming practices. Now those concessions may be signaling a major change in modern agriculture as so-called "factory farming" becomes less popular. The agreement "is a rare compromise in the bitter and growing debate over large-scale, intensive methods of producing eggs and meat, and may well push farmers in other states to give ground," Erik Eckholm of The New York Times reports. "The rising consumer preference for more 'natural' and local products and concerns about pollution and antibiotic use in giant livestock operations are also driving change."

"Farmers in Ohio have accepted the agreement with chagrin, saying they sense that they must bend with the political and cultural winds," Eckholm writes. While groups like the Humane Society say keeping chickens in cages, one of the issues at the heart of the agreement, is cruel, farmers maintain their caged chickens are content and less prone to disease than barnyard flocks. "If our chickens aren’t healthy and happy, they won’t be as productive," Ohio egg farmer Tim Weaver told Eckholm. For now the United Egg Producers, a national trade group, maintains that egg prices would rise by 25 percent if all eggs were produced by uncaged hens.

"Formally, the new Ohio agreement only makes recommendations to a state livestock standards board, and getting opponents to recognize the authority of that board was an important achievement," say Farm Bureau officials. "We all know change is coming," Keith Stimpert, a senior vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau, told Eckholm. "But is this how we’re going to deal with these issues, on a state-by-state basis?" he asked. For its part, the Humane Society is already picking its next targets and will likely push permit referendums in Washington and Oregon. (Read more)

1 comment:

Jim Webster said...

"Now those concessions may be signaling a major change in modern agriculture as so-called "factory farming" becomes less popular."

That seems a sweeping conclusion, based as it is on a single development in a single state. It strikes me as the hope of elites on the Upper West Side. It is far from the journalism we were taught 50 years ago.