Bad for the Environment. Bad for Animals. Bad for our Health…Really?

Remember when farmers used to be respected? The very word farmer would conjure up images of Grant Wood’s American Gothic or any of a number of Norman Rockwell images depicting life on the farm.

Not anymore. According to pop culture and perhaps even a generation of consumers, “factory farms” are nothing more than cesspools of pollution that cause fish kills, abuse animals, and destroy communities. Farmers are pawns in a world run by corporate giants as they plant mutagenic GMOs that will surely advance an Armageddon like end to life as we know it. And if dairy is bad for you then meat is pure poison.

Here’s the problem. Both the Norman Rockwell image and the current pop culture image are wrong. They don’t exist. One exists in memories shaped by an image on canvas, the other exists in the minds of some consumers shaped by misinformation.

But if you hold this (misperceived) pop culture image, of course you would view the farmer as a villain. And now celebrities are on the anti-meat, anti-large farm bandwagon. Like it or not, they are influencers. Recently, Factory Farming Awareness Coalition posted a video on their website for Meatless Mondays that includes implicit and explicit endorsements from Oprah, President Clinton, and Jessica Simpson. Again, like it or not, these celebrity endorsements are credibility builders.

And of a more immediate environmental regulatory concern, is the August 30th statement by the EPA that they will continue to use flyovers to monitor livestock farms in Iowa. For those who view farmers as environmental villains, this is welcome news.

Producers and processors of our food are not villains nor are they some static image on a canvas. They feed us, and they do so in a manner that is more efficient than in any time in history. Research substantiates this. Two examples are Dr. Jude Capper’s “Comparing the environmental impact in 1944 to 1997” and Dr. Frank Mitloehner’s “The Truth About Sustainability – Debunking “Livestock’s Long Shadow”.

Unfortunately, far too many people (in my opinion), are misinformed, don’t know how to ask critical questions, and are easily persuaded with little evidence. Nevertheless, there is a battle being waged against much of modernity including modern agriculture.

As for the Dragun Corporation, we continue to provide sound scientific input to the agricultural community on matters of environmental science, hydrogeology, geology, and engineering practices. Granted, this is not nearly as sexy as a celebrity endorsement…but a celebrity endorsement is not what you need when you are facing technical or legal challenges.

As always, your questions and comments are welcome.

Alan Hahn

ahahn@dragun.com

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