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Letter to the Editor: Agriculture ambassadors

Published on 09 December 2008

Editor,
Sixty percent of California voters responded to horrific photos of animal abuse and believed the advertisements from major animal rights organizations which showed cruel treatment of our livestock.

We failed as an industry to educate the public about how we care for our animals. We have also failed to produce sufficiently versed agriculture ambassadors in our major universities that are capable of telling our side of the story.

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While it is true that the HSUS and PETA have budgets in excess of $150 million a year to spend, as agriculture educators we have the opportunity to educate the general public about where they get their food and the humane care we demand and practice. With the passing of Proposition 2, California may lose its status as the number one agriculture state in America. We will do so only because we have given up trying to explain to “city folk” our industry and its needs and we have allowed our industry to be “legislated out” of the state.

Oprah Winfrey should be invited to our farming operations. She should be educated so that she understands what and why we house and manage our animals in the manner best engineered for their health and safety. Oprah and others reached out to millions of voters and we sat and did nothing until it was too late. The voters were convinced, and still are, that we do not care about our animals – we only care about profit.

Unless we spend some of our farm advertising budget on education we will soon be producing in and importing from south of the border all of our animal food products. I doubt Mexico has or embraces the humane treatment practices we already have in place and there are no laws there to force them to comply. Let’s increase our spending, research, promotion of our humane practices and of our industry to the general consuming public. Let’s send our brightest young educators to city schools to educate our children and their parents about the truth of animal agriculture in California.

Dr. Leland S. Shapiro
Pre-Veterinary Science
Program Director
L.A. Pierce College

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