LETTER: Eliminating animal agriculture is not the best solution

GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from reader Diane Zinger in response to an earlier letter about animal husbandry.

I’m afraid Mr. Steckle is very naive. Believing that getting rid of animal husbandry – dairy, beef, pork, poultry, goats, sheep and we can’t forget mink – and retraining our farmers to grow food is the best solution to stop the needless mutilation of our pets and conserve water and land and create this huge utopia that these vegan loving people are all searching for.

Unfortunately, this kind of utopia is unattainable. In our area beef is the most common crop, the land is very inhospitable, rock debris from the retreating glaciers has rendered the land virtually unusable as far as harvesting is concerned. You might find a bit of area to plant hay for the harvest to feed your livestock over the winter months, but that’s about it. Unless you go a little further south into the “Clay Belt” where crops are grown, winter wheat, soy and kidney beans, canola and CORN. Lots and lots of corn.

This corn is harvested and loaded into an elevator to dry, and once dried it is shipped on very large tractor trailers to various feed mills for processing. Not everything is processed into cattle feed, some goes into your precious puppies. Soybeans usually end up on an ocean-going freighter bound for Europe, and kidney beans, though laboriously cultivated and harvested, eventually end up in mills for processing for human consumption. We won’t even talk about the cost of the equipment; Combines and buggies, seed drills and fertilizer conveyors, tractors, cultivators, peeling machines. Tracks for 1 John Deere tractor cost $45,000… just imagine the cost of the tractor itself.

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I’ve been on enough farms of different types to know a little bit of what I’m talking about. My husband actually works as a truck driver for the grain farmer. The cereal farmer’s father breeds beef cattle, I was actually in the 4-H calf club and had to train and show a few Holstein heifers on our performance days.

Many dairy farmers I know have smaller farms, maybe 50-100 cows, and their animals are well cared for. They seem to forget that there are many “feeder” industries directly affected, the milk transporters, the dairy system workers who install and maintain the equipment. The employees in the processing plants. 100 year old dairies making butter, what do you intend to do with it?

I’m sure Gay Lea, Saputo, Neilson’s and Organic Meadow can do something about how this will be handled and how they will get the message across to their employees that they will no longer produce milk and dairy products. Oh while you’re at it maybe roll up Victoria Road and tell United Breeders they might as well close down, their services are no longer needed as we won’t be working to raise new and better cattle. Don’t ask what I think about other topics, I’ve been around for over 60 years and I’ve learned a thing or two. Many of our family businesses have disappeared, but they are still with us, and this is how they make a living and support their families for more than 100 years. I would hate to see your “plan” come to fruition.

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Diana Zinger

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