Hail To The Nihilist

Category: Agriculture

LE Giles & Sons Abattoir vs Primesafe: This isn’t Animals Australia’s Fight

The latest episode of Landline which has ruffled some feathers on Twitter.

Landline – Overkill

The closure of the LE Giles & Sons Abattoir is an affair between the apparently undependable statutory authority, Primesafe, and a business at which an alleged breach of the law took place. The alleged fraudulence of Sarah Lynch, the undercover animal activist who obtained the footage, too, ought to be investigated but to focus on that is a diversion.

Primesafe had every right to investigate a complaint irrespective of the character of the party who brought the complaint to their attention. Heck, the complainant could have been an enraged mass murder who broke into the facilities by running a tractor through the fence. The content of the evidence is what it is important and, at least on face value, it appeared to display a potential breach of the law. That breach ought to be investigated. Whether revoking the business’s licence under the Meat Industry Act 1993 is the appropriate action is what most people have a gripe with. For if it wasn’t revoked – or handed back by LE Giles & Sons as Primesafe claims – it would be fair to say they could have continued operating whilst the investigation took place.

The tilt of this report was overwhelmingly bias. To be expected from Landline. The stories of the primary producers affected by the closure were understandably emotional but didn’t see the complaint for what it was potentially worth. All charges were later dropped, for reasons unknown claim the parties involved. However, what if they were found to be valid and charges ensued? The character references made by businesses and individuals associated with LE Giles & Sons would have been rather credulous indeed.

I hope those affected by this case take it upon themselves to expect more by way of animal welfare measures so they can be certain of what happens to their livestock. One thing is for sure with this story: there still is a lot of uncertainty surrounding it.

Update: I don’t necessarily agree with what Sarah Lynch did to obtain the footage that lead to such a dire chain of events. She gained access to a private premises through deception and took advantage of somebody’s goodwill. This could be viewed as immoral at least, illegal at most. However, I think there are situations where such acts produce consequences good enough to justify them. I think most reasonable, fair-minded people would agree with that.

The jury is out on this one.

Federal Assistance for Australian Farmers: Really?

Farmers in Victoria are doing it tough. They are in the grip of “drought-like conditions, land devaluations and [are] struggling to feed their cattle” according to The Age. The Federal Government have agreed to help out by providing low-interest loans with a view of consolidating growing debt.

Whole Larder Love‘s, Rohan Anderson, is critical of this and tweeted:

“How to plug an unsustainable agricultural system by the Victorian government … PULL UP THE  ORCHARDS? Logic has been removed and replaced with short sighted economic rationalism”.

I agree with Rohan. I added:

You would be forgiven for thinking farming is a sacred act. The way farmers respond to threats that would make businesses in other industries “shape up or ship out” is indicative of them being [viewed as in] some higher category. But, is this really the case? With farming suffering because of globalisation and competition; are a few local farmers in a drought stricken region really of such great economic importance and benefit? Or should our primary industries be treated like any other?

I’m sort of playing the devil’s advocate here, as I am not a big supporter of free-market economics. I’m concerned that this apparent sanctity is getting in the way of better decisions. Just as one is told they supposedly cannot question another’s religious choice, one ought not question the role of farming in our country or whether or not farmers should be eligible for Federal assistance. From the conversations I have had with farmers, they consider their role to be of unequaled importance. However, the fact that many farmers are doing it tough, and not just because of environmental reasons, but global competition and consumer behaviour too, suggests that they are maybe not as highly-regarded – rightly or wrongly – as they think.

I for one think it’s a dreadful shame that we source so much food from overseas and will not buy Californian oranges or Chinese garlic. However, while ever this is allowed, it seems wasteful and contradictory that the government bailout farmers. There is an important premise that needs to be addressed here: If we care about sustaining agriculture in Australia, then we need to put some substantial protections in place.

On Sustainability

The word ‘sustainability’ certainly makes me feel optimistic, provided it has been used with the right end in mind. In many contexts it is nothing more than a buzz word. A word used with the intention of eliciting a response from a certain group of people–getting the be-seen-to-be-doing-something types to buy your stuff. Sustainability requires sacrifice. We have hit a point where our behaviours have become unsustainable. But these companies that misuse the word postulate the illusion that sustainability can be achieved without sacrifice. I’m weary of this use of the word.

Monoculture is bad. It makes bad vegetarians.

Lierre Keith writes in her deeply captivating, “The Vegetarian Myth”, that monoculture is the greatest sin of our time not livestock production. From this she deduces that vegetarians are then exceedingly sinful for they consume a lot of things that have been produced through a monoculture system. In particular they love grain, corn and foods derived from soy. More vegetarians  made, more pressure on crops. She wraps it up neatly: vegetarians are not as moral as they make out to be and if they were serious about animal welfare and the environment they would eat sustainably farmed meat.

This is an opinion shared by many in the #AgChatOz fraternity. In fact just yesterday, Fiona Lake brought this argument to a vegan she was in discussion with. Tweets Lake, “Vast numbers of (native) animals are affected by all other types of agriculture-eg crop growing; by necessity, monocultures”. Lake doesn’t argue that monoculture is worse than meat production but she states it as a concern. Lake has shared many views in the past along these lines, that you’re better off eating a bit from every agricultural domain, rather than stuffing your face with heavily-marketed faux-meats and cheeses.

This is my question to the animal agriculturalists out there that agree with this position. If vegetarians are committing a moral crime eating too much grain, corn and soy, surely that implicates the farmers that grow it and the industry groups that spruik it? Where is the criticism of your fellow farmer if, indeed, is is a genuine concern and not just a strawman?