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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hadrick Boosts Monolithic Ag Industry, Ignores Animal Rights Allies

I read Troy Hadrick's blog, Advocates for Agriculture, to keep my finger on the pulse of propaganda from the ag-industrial complex. His latest post is another sad example of his failure to effectively advocate for the family farms and ranches he claims to represent.

Hadrick describes the opportunity he and his wife had to make another couple thousand dollars in speaking fees at the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Casper, Wyoming. He shared the usual platitudes—tell your story, work together, etc. Hadrick then turns to denigrating the following speaker who told his story. Hadrick apparently found this speaker so distasteful he can't even mention the man's name. Hadrick takes issue with Rollin's recommendation that beef producers take advantage of consumer desire for a product raised in humane conditions by emphasizing that American cattle spend their lives in far healthier conditions than do pigs or poultry. Hadrick says all ag producers need to stick together as a united industry and not "trash" competing commodities.

Now there is a reasonable argument about marketing and business strategy, even if it does smell faintly of unionism and collusion. But Hadrick never feels secure enough in his argument to stick with the issues. He resorts here as usual to attacks on personality and association. He criticizes the man for being an ethicist with a Ph.D. who "sit[s] at a desk for a career." He notes the speaker grew up in Brooklyn and clearly "knows nothing about the cowboy culture" (because, like Sarah Palin, Hadrick apparently doesn't think urban American produces "real" Americans). Hadrick brands this man as a tool of the Humane Society and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. (Never mind that Hadrick himself is big in the Farm Bureau and thus associates with numerous D.C. lobbyists.) How can "a person like this" have any authority to tell farmers and ranchers what's right or wrong?

[Photo credit: Today@Colorado State]
Who is this unnamed sissified urbanite destroyer of agriculture?

Dr. Bernard E. Rollin, bioethicist and University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Animal Sciences, and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. When he's not lifting weights or riding his Harley, Professor Rollin writes books and teaches about animals and morality. Last month, Dr. Rollin had the audacity to give one of his lectures right in the heart of rural America at South Dakota State University. Amanda Nolz, a passionate advocate of agriculture herself, wrote up his Brookings presentation to 300 beef producers and students. Her assessment:

At first, his audience was unsure of Rollin's allegiance, but by the end of his lecture, there wasn't a doubt that he was a true champion for the beef cattle industry [Amanda Nolz, "Animal Ethics Professor Offers Advice to Beef Industry," Tri-State Livestock News, 2009.11.20].

But what about all his academic namby-pamby animal rights talk?

Rollin said that producers often mistake ‘animal rights' as a dirty phrase because groups like PETA and HSUS so heavily use that word. He warns producers not to let those groups take that phrase from them.

“Animal rights is a word producers should own because it's a very powerful word,” said Rollin. “The vast majority of ranchers truly believe that animals have rights. Animals do have certain entitlements: access to food, water, shelter and shade. Ranchers follow that code everyday, so why not own it?”

Hm. Sounds to me as if Dr. Rollin has a pretty level-headed understanding of what ranching is about and how beef can sell itself as a superior product. Nolz and the Brookings audience appear to have gotten that message. But Troy Hadrick seems to be so overwhelmed by the fumes of his own propaganda that he'd rather stand cheek by filthy jowl with ag atrocities like Smithfield Foods than embrace the message of a thoughtful advocate who shares the values of South Dakota's family farmers and ranchers.

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By the way, still not one word from Hadrick in defense of the family farms our state may put out of business with oppressive new rules on raw milk sales. Read this letter from Lila Streff of Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy near Custer as she tells her story... and then ask Hadrick why he's not advocating for South Dakota's small dairies.

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