In honor of Canadian Ag Day (February 15), I thought that I would share with you a paper that I wrote back in 2019 while attending Gillette College. #CdnAgDay
The Importance of Animal Agriculture
Animal agriculture and agriculture as a whole are a very big part of today's society, and it has been for several years. Many things would be different if we were to put an end to agriculture production. "Sufficient food supply for all humans was, is, and will remain one of the main priorities for mankind." (Szucs). Research proves that the earth would not be able to sustain an entire vegan society as there would not be enough crops available to produce the food that would be demanded.
Many people believe that animal agriculture is bad and that it should be put to an end. It has been said that the production of animals is bad for the environment due to the greenhouse gases that are being released. "It is reasonable to claim that agriculture's activities should not diminish environmental quality if the goal of feeding a growing population is to be achieved on a continuing, long-term basis" (Zimdahl). Though they do produce a significant amount of greenhouse gasses, without being produced and harvested for food there would be a larger population of animals therefore they would produce more greenhouse gasses. In the big picture, animals have been produced for many years and their environmental footprint is a very natural production of greenhouse gasses, and it will ultimately be difficult to reduce.
The majority of people that are against animal agriculture are misinformed and do not understand what animal production entails. They believe that it is inhumane and therefore animals should be treated as an equal and not be used for food. There are organizations like PETA that tend to turn people against animal production because they believe that it is cruel. There are laws in place to make sure that animals are taken care of to the highest possible standards and that slaughters are done humanely. "Therefore attention has to be paid to a variety of factors, such as standards of stockmanship, especially animal welfare. Good welfare status can be achieved through a high standard of stockmanship, effective management, adequate housing, and well-maintained equipment." (Szucs). Though cruelty can be the case in some productions
the majority of big-name producers follow the protocol and animal rights guidelines to avoid being shut down and put out of business entirely.
I have a personal connection to the animal agriculture world as my family runs a small beef production. Speaking on a personal level my family and I take pride in caring for our animals, both those used for production such as our beef cows as well as those used for work and performance such as our horses. Our cattle are fed round bales throughout the winter that consist of grasses and straw, they also have 24/7 access to water and we provide them with a protein mineral tub and salt. We have found that our cattle do really well on this program and we are nearly, but not certified as organic. If there are ever any animals that are sick we treat them with antibiotics or the other necessary treatments. We also yearly give our cattle a vitamin injection and they are treated for lice to keep them healthy. "Each animal's growth, development, reproduction, and well-being is critically important for a profitable enterprise." (Avant). As a beef producer myself I know that the majority of the time we put the needs of our animals before our own.
Many producers have been a part of the beef or animal production industry for more than twenty years, those years come with a significant amount of experience from trial and error. If animal agriculture productions were put to an end, many of these people would lose everything and have a financial burden, along with a significant change in their way of life. Children that have grown up on farms and ranches have a different type of respect for people and animals. These children have been given responsibility at a young age shaping them into respectful, responsible, hardworking individuals. That being said not only is animal agriculture production a career it has become a way of life. These children that have been involved in agriculture are often distanced from drugs and crime scenes because of the way that they have been raised. Looking back thousands of years ago when cattle productions were first brought to northern Montana and Wyoming are both now known as cattle country and Wyoming specifically is still to this day known as the cowboy state. "The primary role of agricultural scientists, farmers, ranchers, food processors, and others is to provide a safe, nutritious food supply for the world's people.” (Zimdahl). With the elimination of agriculture, life would change drastically for anyone involved.
Ethical values are also used as a segment in animal agriculture. Ethical values are learned through hands-on experience with animals and human beings. "Those engaged in agriculture know they are feeding the world, an undeniable, ethically correct activity. In other words, no debate on the ethics of agriculture needs to occur because there should be no question about the ethical correctness of feeding people." (Zimdahl). Ethical values also touch on human values themselves, such as love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, and a need for community (Zimdahl). Though ethical values can be taught they are majority a trait that you are born with and learn as you grow up and mature into an adult. Having compassion and ethical values in animal agriculture is a very important trait, and most farmers and ranchers are raised to have compassion for the animals that they are responsible for.
Animal agriculture has been a part of society and a way of life for many people for thousands of years. Children in the agriculture production world are raised to respect animals and humans alike as well as take responsibility, growing up to become adults that show professionalism along with these traits. Not only would those involved be devastated and lose their livelihood and way of life if it was eliminated, but the earth also would not be able to sustain the human population being vegetarian alone. Research proves that animal agriculture is undeniably important for the earth to remain sustainable. Animal welfare is a top priority to producers all over the world, their animals are taken care of with pride and expertise that has been studied and adapted over the years. Animal production is evolving daily with new technology being put to use to ensure the best living conditions and care for the animals. "The data is used to measure the animals' activity, which is then used to estimate the amount of body mass change in a cow and her calf whether they are gaining or losing weight." (Avant). With the new technology and changes being made for benefiting animal care and the environment, I hope to see animal agriculture as a way of life, and a part of the earth's sustainability for generations to come.
© Fallyn Mills | 2019
Avant, Sandra. "Managing Animals with Precision." Agricultural Research, vol. 65, no. 12,
2017. Gale OneFile:
Szucs, E.,et .l "'Stewardship, stockmanship and sustainability in animal agriculture." Asian - Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, vol. 22, no. 9, 2009, p. 1334+. Gale In Context: Science,
Zimdahl, R. L., & Holtzer, .T O. (2016). The ethical values in the U.S. agricultural and food system. Agricultural and Environmental Ethics