Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Have My Reservations...About Alternative Farming

In recent production agriculture news, Chris Raines, assistant professor and meat science extension agent for Penn State University teamed up with Feedstuffs Foodlink and toured Polyface Farms.

Polyface is the "alternative to factory farms" that is seen in the movie Food INC. The movie uses polyface farms as an example of ways to raise animals so that they aren't on factory farms because the movie wants you to believe that commercial farms are bad. We have already shown (as an industry) the USDA has no specific rule or regulation that declares you as a factory farm. Bu tthe movie is trying to spread fear through emotion that animals are mistreated, mishandled and that harversting these animals for meat is done inhumanely & creates unsafe meat products.

Chris was able to take some photos of Polyface Farms while on his tour and he posted them to his facebook page. Here is the link to those photos.
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.957304996121.2469526.17009737

Look through these photos before you read this.

The photos blow my mind. How can you have safe food products being raised in this environment? Even worse, they are harvesting livestock and creating finished meat products here. I was amazed to see that the chickens are eating, sleeping, and living in a barn under rabbits that are in hanging pens. This means that all the manure and waste from the rabbit pens is landing in the chickens food supply and living area. I have never seen animal care housing like this on a commercial production level. I can't believe that the USDA let alone the HSUS sees this as a safe and clean environment to raise chickens in. By the way these chickens are all COMMERCIALLY BRED heavy muscled broilers. Thats right, COMMERCIAL. these birds aren't homegrown, they come from a commercial hatchery that is genetically modifying the birds to be big breasted for increased meat. You see, the birds hear aren't any different from the chickens at any other commercial farm, in fact polyface is supporting farms that modify these traits by buying their birds.

A similar story is seen in the hog. The hogs at Polyface are all purchased as feeder pigs. These feeder pigs come from commercial production units similar to the one that my family operates. They buy the hogs from producers when they weigh roughly 45lbs. They DO NOT breed and farrow any of their own pigs. You see a trend???

Wait til you get this....

Did you see the pictures of the "slaughter house"? you might have noticed it as the outdoor meat processing area! Would you buy meat from a place that you know slaughtered and prepared your meat outdoors where the meat is exposed to contaminants? what about products from the offal bucket? The offal is everything that can't be cu tinto a normal meat cut. It still get s used as food though, and their was a cat standing next to the RAW MEAT. I would be extremely scared to eat food that was processed in this atmosphere and I encourage that you compae this to any standards, rules, regulations that "commercial" processors like Smithfield, Tyson & Purdue must follow.

Overall I am astonished to see that a farm that is said to be "better & safer" for us is operated, managed and owned in the way it is. As I reflect on this, I think I realize just how safe my pigs are, how healthy they are and how well the slaughterhouses I've seen are run. Consumer confidence shouldn't be getting stronger through the image of happy animals as Polyface Farms, consumers who are truly worried about the quality of the food they eat should contact a farmer, producer or extension agent to gain information about how safe their food products are.

I have strong feelings about these photos and I want to thank Chris Raines and Feedstuffs Foodlink for the eyeopening experience of what is going on at the "alternative" farm.