When you read the objections on Animal Freedom about intensive cattle farms, you may
wonder "does Animal Freedom think all farmers are
bad, or what?"
Farmers come in all fruits and sorts: a farmer can be
a potato farmer, a greengrocer, a gentleman farmer, a
cheese farmer, a dairy farmer, a tenant farmer, a cattle
farmer, etc.. On Animal Freedom we deal with intensive
Just like everywhere else, there are bad apples. In the
last few years the already overflowing "basket of
apples and pears" has been topped with a number of
cattle farmers ("pears") who originally were
not farmers ("apples"). We mean those cattle
farmers who do not have their own farmland to raise cattle
fodder, and who have started a factory farm with the sole
purpose of making a lot of money ("bad pears").
This is the group of farmers with which we have a bone
to pick. The farmers with their own orchards, who have
still started a factory farm ("bad apples"),
as far as we are concerned should grin and bear going
back to ecologically responsible management and offer
their cattle the opportunity to go outside.
For an understanding of the situation for cattle farmers
in Brabant, see the "Brabant
Earlier this year investigations
by the General Inspection showed that over 50% of Dutch
farmers are violating even the most minimal rules for
pig welfare and are knowingly inflicting harm on the animals.
Very tight housing, dim to dark
pens and withholding diversion material is more the
rule than the exception. By housing these animals even
tighter, farmers are sidestepping the purchase of ammonia-rights.
Animal Freedom thinks that the image of the agricultural
profession suffers from factory farmers, and for this
reason calls on farmers to rid themselves of this group
by working together in farmer's organizations to put a
stop to factory farming and other wrongs. Too many pigs
make for small pieces of the pie. A pig farmer is checked
only once every seventeen years for pig welfare, while
the majority of pig farmers is violating one or more aspects
of the pig decree.
What's important now and in the future space for successors
in farms is not only the environment, but also animal
welfare, an aspect that is "manured over" in
Animal Freedom thinks that those cattle farmers who are
willing to work responsibly, have to stop selling their
products for a song through export, and instead aim toward the local market. This goes for
the sale of products and manure, but also for the purchase
of animal fodder.
Words that characterize Dutch cattle farmers are: small-scale, farmland-bound,
animal-friendly, ecologically balanced, aimed at the national
market. The government should do well to support this
development for a while.
Farmers who operate ecologically, modern and efficient,
those are the apples of our eye. And we wouldn't
mind losing factory farming altogether.