Are farmers to blame?

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, et cetera. On Animal Freedom we deal with intensive farmers. 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 Blues".
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 the media. 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.

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