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16 December 2007 Issue

1. Should We Hope for God’s Mercy?

2. PETA Accuses Smithfield Pig Supplier of Torture

3. U.S. Ag Reforms Saved “Factory Farms” $3.9 Billion

1. Should We Hope for God’s Mercy?

I contend that contemporary factory farming is among the most egregious offenses against God and God’s Creation ever perpetrated by humanity, for the following reasons:

1. Factory farming is unnecessary. We have access to healthy non-animal foods, and those who insist on eating animals and animal products could obtain them from far less abusive systems. In fact, the article below shows that factory-farmed foods cost less than other methods largely because of federal price supports.

2. Factory farming is cruel. Only those who close their eyes to standard practices of factory farms – including intensive confinement, mutilations without anesthetics, and prohibition of virtually all behaviors God created animals to do – can believe that factory farming doesn’t constitute animal abuse.

3. The victims are innocent. Animals have done nothing to deserve the unrelenting abuse they experience. Even “humane” farms typically kill animals in adolescence or young adulthood. It is human arrogance to believe that animals belong to us, not God, and it is human callousness and hardness of heart that accounts for the massive abuse of about 10 billion land animals in the U.S. (50 billion in the world) each year. The number of fish killed is far higher. At no time in history have human beings tortured more animals, and tortured them more exquisitely, than our current times.

4. Modern animal agriculture causes suffering to humans. As the CVA booklet "Are We Good Stewards of God’s Creation?" discusses, modern animal agriculture contributes substantially to world poverty and hunger, global warming, environmental degradation, disease propagation, antibiotic resistance, and human diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Factory farming is a choice – a choice that is having disastrous consequences for animals right now and threatens to contribute heavily to the collapse of human civilization. Will God save humanity from its own violence, cruelty, destructiveness? Should God save humanity from its own violence, cruelty, and destructiveness?

What can we do? For starters, we can stop consuming the products of cruelty.

But we can do much more. Organizations like the Christian Vegetarian Association www.christianveg.org, Vegan Outreach www.veganoutreach.org, and PETA www.peta.org have excellent resources to help all of us make visible the hidden, invisible victims of factory farming.

Our being a witness to the abuse, and compassionately and respectfully showing people ways that they can avoid contributing to the abuse, we can serve God and God’s creatures. In addition, I encourage those people of compassion who are able to offer financial support for these or other organizations that strive to prevent the massive crimes against God’s creatures.

In Christ,

Steve Kaufman, M.D., CVA chair

2. PETA Accuses Smithfield Pig Supplier of Torture

Eyes gouged out of pigs; injured pigs dragged by their ears, snouts and legs; pigs hit and jabbed with 2-foot metal rods; tails and testicles amputated without pain relief from screaming piglets in the presence of their mothers. These are among the abuses a PETA investigator claims to have documented at a 2,200-pig Murphy Family Ventures (MFV) farm in Garland, N.C. (footage at: http://tinyurl.com/ywtpwm).

The company supplies pigs to Smithfield Foods, the nation’s largest pig meat producer (see: http://tinyurl.com/2bqbp5).

The investigator worked at the facility from September 13th until November 2nd, after PETA reportedly received a tip from a former MFV employee who told of similar abuses at another of the company’s farms. He said he quit out of fear that his co-workers were becoming suspicious of him since he was the only person there who was not abusing the pigs. The investigator had been instructed to do so, and the PETA footage includes a worker vulgarly describing how he viciously assaults pigs.

PETA contends the actions violate state anti-cruelty laws and it wants criminal charges brought against the filmed workers. The organization has turned its evidence over to the Sampson County District Attorney. He stated that he will announce whether charges will be filed after the allegations are investigated. PETA is also demanding that Smithfield install surveillance cameras at farms and slaughterplants and conduct internal investigations. Smithfield's subsidiary Murphy-Brown LLC, and MFV, which it contracts with, have both said they are investigating the accusations and will require strict compliance with Murphy-Brown's animal welfare policies.

Fox News, Catherine Donaldson-Evans,
December 12, 2007

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
December 11, 2007

3. U.S. Ag Reforms Saved “Factory Farms” $3.9 Billion

U.S. agricultural policy reforms of 1996 led to the overproduction of crops, including corn and soybeans used for animal feed. Between 1997 and 2005, industrial animal farms, the main purchasers of corn and soy, were able to save an estimated $3.9 billion per year by obtaining them at below-cost prices. By doing so, these cattle, chicken and pig operations saved an estimated $35 billion over the 9-year period.

According to “Feeding at the Trough,” a new report by the Global Development and Environment Institute of Tufts University, this gave these “factory farms” a competitive advantage over diversified farms that grew their own crops. They also benefited from externalizing the costs of pollution from the large manure concentrations they generated. The researchers estimate that full-cost feed and stricter environmental regulations could have increased the operating costs of intensive pig operations by 17.4% to 25.7%, essentially eliminating the cost advantage they had over smaller, diversified pig farms.

GDAE Policy Brief No. 07-03,
Elanor Starmer & Timothy A. Wise,
 December 2007

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