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Defending Agriculture and Sometimes Horse Slaughter and Michael Vick

By       Message Martha Rosenberg     Permalink
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Self-described agricultural activist Trent Loos has a lot in common with his enemies.

The sixth-generation farmer with his signature cowboy hat and handlebar mustache is obsessed with farm animals and public ignorance of where food comes from.

"Most Americans have just now realized or considered the fact that an animal dies to make their hamburger," he writes in his weekly Feedstuffs newspaper column. "I believe it is a thought many well-fed Americans have never had before."

He leans toward street theater and organized the Loos Tales FoodLink Chuck Wagon float in Chicago's McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade this year to highlight "the modern food production system and the progress made over the past century as a result of the application of science and technology."

Loos and his wife went undercover at a Farm Sanctuary Forum in Chicago in 2004, Kelli Loos noting that animals receive "better treatment than the children who lived in those thousands of high-rise dumps we passed on our train ride form O'Hare," in the High Plains Journal.

Nor does Loos shrink from a man-on-man defense, following environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., "all over the country," says Kennedy in the Peoria Journal Star in 2004, saying "menacing things," after his anti-factory farm speeches.

Both Loos and the ag weekly Feedstuffs see agribusiness losing the battle against animal rights because of public sentimentalizing of animals, frequent farm "cruelty" exposes and food producers' refusal to circle the wagons and defend themselves.

But who can blame them?

Not only do animal industries have nothing in common except using animals to make money-- a PR hot potato--why would the vealer want to import the foie gras producer's problems? Or the furrier the animal researcher's?

In fact, Loos might be the only person in America willing to publicly defend horse slaughter (nee harvesting) rBST in milk, antibiotics in chicken production and Michael Vick--"charged with the crime of letting a dog be a dog" and "not treating his dog like a kid."

Like his animal activist enemies, Loos agrees that a horse is no different from a muskrat or a chicken despite its distinguished national service. A bunny is no more valuable than a weasel just because it is cute. He is no speciesist.

Loos even agrees with his enemies that people who eat meat should stop pretending it grows on trees and take a good long look at how it is slaughtered.

Lose their "death virginity" as some put it.

But whereas animal activists think gushing jugulars will cure people of wanting to eat meat, Loos thinks it will cure them of their guilt.

Ten years ago there was no mention of PETA or the Humane Society of the United States between the grain prices and enterocolitis news in the 80-year-old Feedstuffs.

There were no challenges to the science behind debeaking chicks or putting them into a grinder at birth--depending on gender--or veal and gestation crates.

Nor were there many articles about the antibiotic fest on modern farms or manure lagoons that exceed the waste produced by entire cities.

But today Feedstuffs resembles an academic "issues" journal--its first page devoted to animal rights legislation, middle section to a threatened-industry-of the-week and national news pages to undercover cruelty investigations that end up on YouTube.

Nor does the public believe any longer the frequent videotaped farm cruelty is an exception or a few "bad apples."

In April 2007 the editors even foresaw imminent defeat from animal activists.

"Why are they winning? It's simple. They have their game together, while animal agriculture and its allies have a fragmented, hopelessly under-funded, ineffective, reactive approach," they wrote. We need to "get to consumers before the activists do--before, not after, it's on the ballot or passed as law or posted on a despicable web site."

Seventeen months later California's Prop 2 passed--with more yes votes than for President-elect Obama.

Meanwhile "Lone Ranger" Loos continues to tour the country regaling people not to criticize farmers with their "mouth full" and demonstrating that the public is sometimes at fault.

Who remembers the day the racehorse Barbaro died, he asked an audience last year reports Associated Content writer Chelsea Edwards to a show of many hands.

"What other big event happened on that day?" he asked drawing blanks about the date of President Gerald Ford's death.
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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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