What's that phrase again? "Sunshine is the best disinfectant?"
Yeah, that's it. It's an oldie-but-a-goodie; one of Louis Brandeis'* greatest hits, and just as true in animal agriculture as in forming public policy -- and given the growing urban-rural divide in the United States, perhaps even more so.
So it should come as no surprise that we were delighted to hear (er, read) Temple Grandin** urging livestock farmers to be more open and transparent with the general public.
This isn't the newest or most revolutionary idea out there right now -- farm tours and farmcams have been around for years -- but that doesn't diminish the importance of increased transparancy, and it is always great to hear somebody whose name we all recognize bringing this issue up!
For those interested in our quick and dirty analysis of this issue:
- There are a lot of people out there with a keen interest in agricultural processes and where their food comes from. What may seem like everyday, boring stuff to farmers can be educational, even tranformational for them thar city folk.
- Because of this interest, it is essential that farmers -- livestock, in particular -- let people know what they're up to. Curious parties will seek out information regardless of whether or not farmers provide it; if the only source is selectively-edited videos, depicting cruel, archaic (and oftentimes illegal) practices as the norm, that's all they'll know.
Of course, we're not suggesting that if you own a farm, you need to keep your front door unlocked and a kettle of tea on the stove for any random stranger that happens to show up on your front steps. No, that would be ridiculous and highly intrusive -- not to mention expensive, given the rising costs of most caffeinated beverages. But we do believe that sharing what you do is not only good for the health and well-being of your animals, but quite possibly essential for the survival of your hobbies, lifestyle, or even career.
And we don't want to single out farmers, either. This goes for everybody who works with animals in a way that the general public may not experience or understand -- veterinarian, cat or dog enthusiast, professional trainer, what have you -- if you are doing it the right way, don't be afraid to show it off!
*Fair warning: we'll be quoting Brandeis quite regularly as this blog moves forward. Get used to it.
**If you're looking for a film to rent or purchase, give HBO's Temple Grandin a view. Even if you already know the whole story, it's still worth it just for Claire Danes' unfreakingbelievably excellent performance in the title role.