Friday, September 26, 2008

USDA caught in bed with agribusiness

Out of sunny California comes word today that a federal judge has ordered the USDA to stop spending money to buy ads to defeat a state ballot measure that would ban cramped cages for chickens and other farm animals.

I love this part:

In a lawsuit filed Aug. 13, sponsors of Prop. 2 said the American Egg Board voted to spend $3 million against the ballot measure at a November meeting in Napa. The board is a government-supervised group of 18 egg producers that uses fees from the industry to research and promote egg products.

The USDA assured Prop. 2 sponsors that no such expenditures were planned, the suit said, but documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act confirmed the egg board's plans. Government records also showed that Agriculture Secretary Ed Schaefer had approved the spending and endorsed the advertising, the plaintiffs said.

Ohhh, you mean THAT $3 million expenditure...with my signature on it.

Real nice. Now, while finding the USDA in bed with agribusiness doesn't even shock me anymore, I would like to talk about Prop 2. Is it really a good idea?

You know I hate CAFO operations, you know I'm all for treating the animals we eat with respect; but we're talking about legislation here. It's the wrong way to go about it; like using radiation to sterilize meat instead of trying to keep shit off it in the first place.

With legislation like this, how is it going to be enforced? Who's going to keep all the records? Will it actually force egg producers out of the state?

I would much rather have seen the efforts to get legislation like this passed instead used to educate consumers about what CAFO's do to the environment; how the animals are treated - and show people that there are alternatives and to let consumers have the choice.

There are people that don't care at all if a chicken is kept in a shoebox with it's beak cut off, unable to stand for it's short lifetime; if it means cheaper eggs and 99 cent KFC snackers, then so be it! I think they are idiots, but they exist.

But I also think those people are a minority. If given unbiased information and choices, I do believe people are smarter than they're often given credit for.

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