LIFE ON THE FARM
It is no secret that Hollywood produces propaganda movies to prove a point, to have us question our thinking or to influence popular opinion. We recently watched Mrs. Miniver, which was one of the movies designed to get the United States to enter World War II.
It was done entertainingly with the end result being that no true lover of freedom could conscientiously abstain from entering the war.
The same is being done today, but with a much different agenda. There is a documentary called Earthings, that used hidden cameras to chronicle the day-to-day happenings of factory farms that rely on livestock solely for profit. You can bet they found the worst of the worst and have glorified on screen for all to see.
It doesn’t just center on livestock farms, but sports, pets, food, clothing, fur industry, research, just about anything that has to do with the use of animals. Because if you read the comments by people there, the attitude is that animals are preferred to people. Their welfare is of upmost importance.
Just lurking at their website, leaves you with a creepy feeling, that this is not a place your mother wants you to be looking at.
There is much at stake here. Our livelihood, our very existence. It doesn’t matter if you are considered a conventional farmer, a holistic farm, organic, grass – their final goal is to do away with all meat eating. That is why we need our farm groups, livestock and crop organizations to come together and produce a better than high quality documentary that tells our side of the story.
It has to be real, featuring real families that do make their living from raising livestock and growing crops. It has to show how ranchers have been going out in the latest blast of wintry storms to take care of their animals. To carry the baby calves with an anxious mother cow following close behind, breathing down their necks. How calm she is once she realizes you have brought her newborn calf into a warm barn, bedded down with fresh stall. Where fresh water and hay is within easy reach.
How the sheep owner is going out regularly to check for new baby lambs, providing assistance when necessary. These checks go on 24/7 with no breaks for weekends or after hours, with nothing other than maybe an opportunity to catch a few winks of sleep and a bowl of chili.
It doesn’t matter how tired you are or how sick you are with a virus or headache, those animals still require your care. You’re going to give it the best you have, not just because your livelihood depends on it, but also because you realize an animal is an animal needing you to feed it and shelter it from weather and wild animals.
The film needs to show the farm family planting a crop, only later to see their hopes and dreams of a profitable year destroyed by a hailstorm, flood or wind. Or in a good year, the combines rolling for hours while car after car of well fed folks travel down the highway to a ball game. That farm family is out there working to bring a crop before winter sets in.
This documentary must also show the flip side of what would happen if farmers were extinct. The end result would be starving, malnurished children and adults, an America totally dependent on other countries for food.
What we read does affect us, too. How many of you have a bottle of olive oil in your cupboard? I can bet most of your grandparents didn’t. But we cook with it instead of lard because we perceive it to be healthier. How many of you drink lowfat milk? They just have gotten a bit more zealous than we have in their thinking.
That is why we need to do a much better job at expressing our views and getting our story into the public’s view.
Every last one of our livestock and crop organizations must work together to write and produce this movie that needs to be done now. It took five years of research and study to produce Earthlings. I have an idea we can do it in less. We have to because time is running out.
Somehow we also need to convey to those around us that our farming practices are good. That eating and drinking ag products is part of a healthy lifestyle, a necessary component of proper nutrition.
I don’t have a clue how to do it. If you do have an idea, let the rest of us know.
Vander Schaaf is a Farm News staff writer from northwest Iowa. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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