It was a colorful and attractive pamphlet at first glance. But closer inspection found it negative and full of exaggerations and misinformation, playing on the emotions of readers.
It was published by a couple of the animal rights groups and handed to a local person recently in downtown Cleveland.
These radical groups are spending a lot of time, effort and energy trying to take from us healthy, protein-rich foods, such as meat, milk, other dairy products and eggs.
Distributing their pamphlet to urban folks tells a story that is simply not true. Factual information based on sound science says livestock farmers are taking better care of their animals today than anytime in the past.
Animal agriculture is all about providing high-quality nutrition to those in the well-developed countries and to those who do not have access to high-protein foods. Lesser developed countries depend on animal agriculture for a quality of food they cannot get any other way.
Yes, livestock farms in this country are mostly bigger today. But bigger doesn't mean animal abuse anymore than the big box stores or megamarkets mean human abuse. The excellence of a livestock farm is determined by the operator, not the size.
Grandpa's farm of 50 or 60 years ago kept dairy cows confined in stanchions, where they had little room to move around. Feed was available when Grandpa was in the barn to give it to the cows or beef cattle. Some farms did not have water available at all times, and cattle were watered twice a day.
Today's livestock farms are very different. Keeping animals comfortable is a priority on most farms. Practices that are used provide feed and water at all times, and in free-stall barns, cattle are allowed to move around as they please.
Farmers use various kinds of bedding in the stalls. Some newer barns, like one recently built in Ashtabula County, have water beds with a layer of straw or sawdust on top, a very comfortable bed.
Most livestock farms provide feed to their animals at all times. That may be hay, corn silage or a mixture of both along with grain such as corn and soybean meal. They call it a total mixed ration, or TMR.
With few exceptions, humane livestock care is a top priority on farms. Unfortunately, the animal rights groups are good at finding those rare exceptions and publicizing them. It is easy to stage pictures or find situations that may not look good and use them.
Somehow these groups have a pile of money, with people who do not have enough to do, to get out and promote their cause. This summer, one of them also distributed a leaflet at a rock concert in Cleveland.
It is unfortunate that all this effort and energy isn't used to help people who need food or money for medicines or to pay their utility bills. We have too many problems that need help to be wasting our time and money on a program that would lower the quality of life in this country.
People have the right to be vegetarians. We can all chose our lifestyles and eating habits. But those who try to destroy an important food supply and impose their eating habits on the rest of us should give serious consideration to what they are doing. If, by chance, we have a shortage of high-quality, protein rich foods, the blame will fall on their shoulders.
Parker grew up in Trumbull County and works with the local Farm Bureau Board.