Temple Grandin, in her book “Animals in Translation“, talks about a government program in the 1960’s that eradicated screwworms. If you don’t know what a screwworm is take a look. They are the larvae of a fly that lays its egg in the wounds, cuts, bites and scratches of animals. After they hatch, the maggots come out and eat the animal alive. They’re disgusting little creatures and will kill an animal, or human if not taken care of quickly. This is what it can do to your livestock. Anyway, the USDA put sterile male screwworms in little chinese food paper boxes and dropped them out of airplanes all over the Southwest and Western regions of the U.S., even Mexico. When the flies got out they mated and voila! eggs that never hatched were laid in wounds. There hasn’t been a screwworm case in the US since 1982. That story is a great example of action taken by the government.
Today, there is a lot of talking going on with the government. Talk about how to make ag more sustainable. Talk about how to feed the world in 50 years. Talk about how to make meat plants more humane and safe. Policies are being enacted that don’t have a lot of scientific background but lots of smoke and lights instead. Instead of talking, let’s act. Instead of saying “no mistakes can be made in a meat plant” (which is impossible) make meat plants more humane by setting standards that can be met, like 95% of all animals must be stunned correctly on the first try. Work on feeding the world in 50 years by allowing farmers and ranchers to continue using current practices that work (ex. antibiotics). Instead of inhibiting beef production with regulations on air emissions from cows (in my opinion: stupid) or regulating antibiotic use in swine that prevents disease AND allows us to produce lots of high quality pork at a low price, protect our industry from nay-sayers like PETA and anti-ag-activists/lobbyists like HSUS. Policy should reflect the wants and needs of the population that is being represented. That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore. Let’s stop talking and start doing and keep feeding the world in a safe, healthy and efficient manner.
Until next time,
p.s. I suggest you read Animals in Translation – it’s about animals and Temple wrote it. How can it be bad?