Commentary: Producers, meet your ‘General Grievous’

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Zoey BowmanZoey prefers the original "Star Wars" trilogy, as she demonstrates here in her Princess Leia costume. My six-year-old daughter, Zoey, is an overachiever. While other kids her age are whining about going back to school, she’s already vocally opposing the mere thought of snow returning to the forecast. I explained how snow, while inconvenient, can actually be good.

"Mom, I know why you said we needed the snow,” she said. “Because snow melts into water, and the grass and crops need the water.”

With a very serious look on her face, she added, “You know our other big problem? General Grievous."

Yes, that would be General Grievous, one of the villains featured in “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” Even though she has yet to see the movie, General Grievous is very real and very terrifying thanks to her “Star Wars-“obsessed older brother.

General GrievousLucasFirlm LTD. | Promotional render for "The Clone Wars"The dreaded General Grievous  We have a General Grievous threatening our own industry – animal rights advocates.

More than 90 percent of the general public are generations removed from farming, so it should be no surprise that these consumers generally consider groups like the Humane Society of the United States harmless or even helpful.

If only that were true.

Just a few weeks ago, HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle came out with his proverbial light sabers swinging against all of animal agriculture.

“Our society is raising so many of those animals harshly and inhumanely,” he wrote. “Within the last 50 years, agriculture has become thoroughly industrialized, with the forced migration of animals from pastures and into windowless, overcrowded, stinking, ammonia-laden buildings. In some cases, factory farms immobilize the animals in small metal cages and crates barely larger than their bodies. They cut off parts of the animals’ bodies as routine management practices.”

Of course, he didn’t stop there.  To those who choose to trust and believe the HSUS deception, it’s clear – you are the enemy. As producers, as those working within the animal agriculture industry day in and day out, you are the villain. You are the abusers who need to be found out and punished. YOU are the problem.  

And there’s a lot more than the industry’s reputation at stake here.

Don’t forget: public perception has an incredibly strong influence on today’s agricultural policies and industry standards. It’s unlikely that the country will ever become a vegetarian or vegan society, but it is becoming more and more likely that these public concerns, stoked by the fear-mongering animal rights activists, have the potential to drive changes that would have lasting effects on the industry.  

It’s time to channel our own inner Obi Wans to face off with a villain that isn’t impossible to defeat. It’s time to take back the high ground in this battle.

An upcoming commentary will spotlight people who are effectively engaged in that battle.

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Rndy Janssen    
September, 03, 2014 at 06:04 AM

The national animal rights groups like the HSUS, PETA and the ASPCA have become urban concentrated vegan cults. They have little or no experience with the animals they claim to protect and either misconstrue legitimate animal husbandry or take isolated instances of animal cruelty and say they are the norm. They get away with this because of the urban population of the US is separated from its food production and large animals. The country has become a society of small pet owners who view livestock the same as small lap dogs. If these groups have their way, primates will be viewed as human and meat eating will be outlawed. Their attack on food production is already causing an increase in cost. So unless you want to end up paying $10.00 for eggs, $20.00 a lb. for bacon and $50.00 a lb. for beef, don't support these groups.

Pittsburgh  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Try watching how factory farmed animals are treated. Swinging dairy cows by the neck with chains; punching them in the face; ripping hair out of their tails; kicking them...this is animal husbandry? I cannot believe that this type of behavior is even tolerated in the industry. Factory farming does not promote the decent treatment of animals nor do they care if healthy food is put on your plate; all they care about is mass production and profit margin.

kansas  |  September, 03, 2014 at 10:33 AM

I'm glad these blights on humanity are Finally being taken seriously, and I can only hope we will see a serious, brutal and aggressive counter-attack coming from our industry's leaders. We've wasted far too much time in self-pity, bemoaning the "injustices" without actually responding with more than dry scientific lecturing by experts, who are simply dismissed as corrupted shills for the generic evil of "Big Business". Loud & General Public Media denunciations of their lies, coupled with litigation of the Feld Entertainment sort and visceral appeals to consumers' sense of shame for supporting the exposed lies and liars is what will count. The "educational" approach that has failed miserably for us has also failed for the medical community working to overcome myths surrounding vaccinations, that's led to new epidemics of diseases thought to be wiped out in our time. Today's consumers are not only ignorant of farming realities, they're lacking in any true understanding of science. They've become the great unwashed masses and mobs, easily manipulated by sophisticated "marketers" and mass media prophets/personalities. Keep up the fight, our continued existence depends on winning.

Chris Hitch    
Guymon, OK  |  September, 03, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Support groups like and to protect animal agriculture and attack groups like HSUS and PeTA.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  September, 03, 2014 at 07:23 PM

nah nah nah no one's listening.

Pittsburgh  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:17 PM

If anyone can watch how these animals are treated and not be haunted by what is going on in the factory farming industry, then they have no soul. Thank God for HSUS and other organizations that are trying to end the needless suffering these poor animals endure at the hands of the twisted, sick people who abuse them on a daily basis. I'm originally from Texas and never saw anything wrong with eating meat. The chickens and cattle I saw as a child were allowed to be the animals they were born to be and live a free life until they were quickly and humanely killed for our consumption. Oh, by the way, God is watching and the day will come when you are held accountable.

Animal welfare not rights    
Virginia  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:25 PM

95% of the general public are against animal cruelty. 15% of millenials are vegetarians. Consumers want hormone and anti biotic free food from animals not fed GMO soy and corn. This is the future. Wake up and change practices or become a dinosaur to Organic markets.

Pittsburgh  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:28 PM

The footage gained by undercover investigators from animal advocate groups is not something they've is real and it is chilling. The factory farmers aren't farmers at all. They are experts at running concentration camps for animals. Anyone who watches the undercover videos would be sickened and shocked. I grew up in Texas and first-hand saw local chicken and cattle ranchers and how the animals were treated. They would be appalled at what goes on today. I don't see anything wrong with eating meat..why can't the animals be allowed to live normal lives. Why is daily suffering a part of your so-called "farming"?

Eric Mills    
Oakland, CA  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:29 PM

It ain't just HSUS and PETA, folks. Renowned novelist, poet and essayist WENDELL BERRY (himself a fifth-generation Kentucky farmer) had this to say about modern-day intensive animal agriculture (one could hardly call it "farming"): "The designers of animal factories appear to have had in mind the example of concentration camps or prisons, the aim of which is to house and feed the greatest numbers in the smallest space at the least expense of money, labor, and attention." (in the book, CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories) (edited by Daniel Imhoff, Earth Aware Press, San Rafael, CA, 2010). RECOMMENDED READING, 400pp, with many graphic color photos, and 35+ essays by major writers on the subject. x Eric Mills, coordinator ACTION FOR ANIMALS Oakland

Daytona Beach  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:35 PM

The serious, butal attacks are on today's farm animals. Quality is sacrificed when mass production is the goal. Brutality and suffering do not have to be a part of animal farming; it is just so frightening that the sick people who are employed by factory farms seem to enjoy causing pain.

D. Lands    
Michigan  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:37 PM

To Eric Mills: well said.

D. Lands    
Michigan  |  September, 05, 2014 at 12:37 PM

To Eric Mills: well said.

wolfgang planz    
greensboro , nc  |  September, 05, 2014 at 01:49 PM

keep watching TV Angela ! oh ; and when you have a minute ; get a glimpse of reality .......

Suzana Megles    
Ohio  |  September, 06, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Wow - I thought this would be kind to HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle because I poorly read the intro. Not kind at all and I stand by him and ALL THE PEOPLE who espouse animal rights. WE DON'T NEED TO EAT MEAT. In fact and I should have capitalized FACT - meat is bad for our health, the environment, and it takes 660 gallons of water to make one pound of meat. Also the grain used can better help the hungry of the world. How is my comment going to go over - probably like a load of bricks - the same this post went for me. Don't bother to reply. I'm not ever coming back to this site.

Ruth Henriquez Lyon    
Duluth, MN  |  September, 07, 2014 at 09:07 AM

I grew up on a cattle farm, and yet for the past twenty years I have refused to allow any meat into my kitchen (or my stomach) unless I know the conditions under which it was raised and slaughtered. The inhumane ag practices mentioned in the other posts are all too familiar to me. That means in our household we eat a lot less meat and most of it is produced in our immediate region. I am not a vegan, or a cultist, or some city slicker who can't tell the front end of a cow from the back. I am a middle aged, middle class lady living in middle America, who wants to help create a kinder world. I know, from growing up with and spending time around cows and other farm animals, that they can suffer physically. They can also feel terror and anxiety, as well as peace and happiness. They are sentient beings. I am one of a growing number of Americans who care how the animals on their plates were treated in life and in death. We represent the changing face of the purchasing public. You can call us names and disparage us as crazy extremists, or you can learn more about your evolving market and adapt to it.

Jim Corriere    
Brawley, Ca.  |  September, 07, 2014 at 01:12 PM

Love the way how the food produces see animal rights groups as villains. If it wasn't for those few select people ag. producers would continue to abuse animals and in even more hideous ways. I was a leading signature gatherer for Prop. 2 in Ca. and am looking forward to its implementation.

joan silaco    
nyc  |  September, 08, 2014 at 01:09 AM

how many times am i going to read about farm animals being sexually abused? thank god their are whistle blowers in this country so they can witness and film the animal abuse. of course you want to pass bills in this country to hide that fact. you try to justify why you have to treat the animals the way you do so the prices don't go up. what kind of crap is that? you just admit that you are abusing animals! people are not stupid, and regardless, you would probably raise the prices anyway and blame the weather or lack of rain. if animal people are a cult, then you people need your head examined! i will accept it proudly, because you know you're in the wrong and we are in the right! and you sound like these holdovers that still was denying the rights of others to the same sex marriage. let's face it the world is changing and evolving and you people can't accept that. so deal with it!

Jim Demoruelle    
Louisiana  |  September, 11, 2014 at 04:06 PM

Really the H$U$ is worse than this as they also hold workshops for police departments and instruct them about laws that do not exist or stretch the scope of the law. This causes raids on farmers and other animal owners who then must hire lawyers and defend their reputations. Angela what kind of public awareness would a threat by farmers and ranchers to withhold livestock from market until the government did something about the pest, H$U$,$PCA and PeTA? I do think that things would change in a hurry with just the threat. If it does not work then the issue will only get worse, Remember that in farming we have no such thing as blood free meals, The plow kills more creatures than any slaughter house. Let Vegan Weiner Wayne Purcelle choke on that vision as he chops tofu..


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