By Philip Bashaw
Government Relations Manager
Arizona Farm Bureau
In the last century the explosion of technological advances has created a culture that is more productive and specialized than ever. Few industries have embraced that technology as wholly as agriculture. GPS systems applied to farming implements have been reported to save up to 40% on tilling time improving fuel, time and maintenance efficiency. Biotechnology has provided us with higher yielding, disease and pest resistant crops, allowing us to meet the demands of an ever-growing population. Improved refinery and distilling practices now make mass production of ethanol and other biofuels a possible supplement to oil consumption.
Advances in agriculture have allowed our economy to soar as the common household only expends 10% of its annual income on the safe, wholesome and reliable food source we provide and with an impact of $9.2 billion dollars a year to the Arizona economy alone.
But as with every great success story there are obstacles to overcome, in our case, fringe animal activist groups that wish to dictate our future through emotion-based laws and regulations while ignoring good science. This agenda has been painfully clear in 2006.
A city ordinance in Chicago banned foie gras, a delicacy made from duck liver, on August 11th sparking nationwide attention and a public outcry driving sales of foie gras in Chicago to record levels one week before the ban. To make things worse, Farm Sanctuary, the main supporter of this ordinance, had the nerve to label this ordinance “in-line with our values as a society.”
The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary are also working to pass the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act through the U.S. Senate. According to the USDA almost 100,000 surplus horses were harvested in 2005 for export to Europe, Japan and Mexico. The shear magnitude of caring for 100,000 horses, that for one reason or another are no longer of use, would be a drain on our economy and natural resources. Not to mention shut down three processors putting honest Americans out of work.
That brings me to the word that is on the minds of every Arizona farmer and rancher…HOGWASH. Prop. 204, a direct attack on Arizona agriculture through the initiative process, I am sad to say was passed in Arizona on November 7th .
We have become a culture two to three generations removed from the farm. Even though we live in the age of information, many consumers are ignorant of where there food comes from. They do not understand that to provide them with the sustenance they rely on, agriculturalists have relied on science, technology and sustainability. For this reason the majority of consumers and voters are easily misled, gaining the information in their fast-paced lives through sound bites they see on television, or read in newspapers.
“Stop animal cruelty” is a powerful message to accept with little to no other information.
We must take the message influencing the public perception of agriculture into our own hands and inform those who dictate our future of the work we do to enrich and ensure their livelihood.
One of the tools offered through Farm Bureau to help proliferate the message of the agriculturalist is FBAct. By visiting http://capwiz.com/afb you can find a multitude of information regarding issues faced by agriculturalists nationwide, as well as access to state and national legislators from your area. Remaining informed on the issues and talking with your neighbors and friends about how legislative action affects agriculture is the first step in taking ownership of our message and shaping public perception.
Additional programs and events available through the Arizona Farm Bureau are:
- Legislative AgFest and Adopt A Legislator: Familiarize yourself with your elected officials and let them know how they can better serve rural Arizona.
- Effective Communications Classes: Train members to be spokesmen and advocates for agriculture and rural Arizona.
- County Farm Bureau policy Development and Commodity Committees: Policy development provides a forum to surface issues and suggest solutions for problems facing the agriculture industry for implementation by the Farm Bureau.
- YF&R Joint Conference: Tools for being proactive on agricultural issues.
I urge you to try and attend one of these events or utilize one of these programs in the new year.
For more information about any of the programs listed above, contact Philip Bashaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 635-3614.
Key Words: Animal Rights in Arizona