I am not sure what is going on, but animal agriculture is under attack. It seems like almost every day we are getting a new headline and new story about how you can save the environment by cutting back on the amount of red meat you consume. Every time I see or hear this, it sends my blood pressure through the roof because all the claims are boundless and completely without merit.
First it was the teenage girly from Sweden who suddenly was everywhere proclaiming that we were destroying the planet with global warming. It led to protests in the streets and even other children being excused from schools to join the protests. I would argue that allowing these children to miss school was a horrible idea, because they obviously need more science. I also am slow to blast the young lady from Sweden because I think she is being used and manipulated by adults to promote a cause that no one will listen to them about. The hypocrisy of the whole situation is that she is flying and traveling all over the world and burning a lot of fossil fuels to do so.
Then we have the poor confused senator running for President that believes that if we ban confined feeding operations that we will also reduce global warming and save the planet. First, I am quite sure that he has never visited one of the farms and ranches he berates. If he did, he would see that they are quite advanced and limit the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. If he would take the time to do some research and learn the true facts, he would know that the amount of greenhouse gases agriculture is responsible for is a very small fraction of the total. He might want to think about his state’s usage of cars, buses and trucks first.
This past week, we learned that the Golden Globes award ceremony was going vegan because they wanted to raise awareness of the production of meat and its contribution toward global climate change. First, taking cues and advice from a bunch of pampered, empty-headed actors and actresses is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. Why anyone would think that they have any idea about what they are talking about is beyond me. Then the thought of them all coming to the awards on chartered private planes and then pontificating about the evils of animal agriculture is mind-blowing.
Mix all of this in with the proliferation of non-meat-like products. We have a real crisis brewing in animal agriculture and it is all based upon false information and outright lie. Being spread by people — mostly celebrities — who are being used and manipulated by anti-agriculture organizations that have far more sinister intentions than to raise awareness.
I would bet the farm (and that might not be a stretch) that if you dug down far enough into the sudden interest in global climate change awareness — more specifically, how it pertains to the production of meat — it will lead directly back to some of our old nemesis like HSUS and PETA. In fact, I know it does.
You see, they could not reach their clearly stated goals of eliminating animal agriculture by using their tried-and-tired tactics of going after how we treat our livestock. The public had stopped listening to them and they were not getting the traction they need with the same old publicity stunts and ad campaigns. They had to come up with a new approach.
That new approach was to join forces with environmental groups and attack animal agriculture by linking us with global climate change. Never mind the fact that animal agriculture only accounts for less than 4 percent of the supposed greenhouse gases. Never mind that the way we produce meat is the most efficient and environmentally safe way of growing food. Facts mean nothing to these groups if they can sway public opinion. The scary thing is, it seems that they are gaining traction.
They do not care if we raise enough food to feed a growing world. They do not care if people starve. All of this is simply a cause to them and one that they can line their pockets with and ultimately become rich. They are not do-gooders but rather evil self-promoters who ensnare and entangle many who do legitimately care about our world but are rather gullible.
If it seems like I am trying to alarm you, it is because I am. We need to take this threat seriously and let the world know what the truth is. Our greatest hope is that people still trust farmers and ranchers and we can have a positive impact of the story that is told about agriculture, but it will take all of us doing our parts and telling our stories. After all, it doesn’t look like we can count on Hollywood doing it for us.
Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.