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The People Behind the Pew Report

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In the December 5th edition of the Jefferson Policy Journal I told you about the Pew Commission’s report condemning large-scale livestock farms. The report is called, Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America.

I thought it might be important for you to know the credentials of the people making these reports.

There are three people on the Pew Commission with apparent agricultural experience – Bill Niman, Dr.Fred Kirschenmann, and Dan Jackson.  Mr. Niman is described as a San Francisco Bay rancher, meat processor and distributor with a focus on ‘humanely raised’ livestock. Today his corporate business claims to sell to 1,200 restaurants and restaurant groups.

A summary on Wikipedia alleges that Mr. Niman, having left the company, lives on a 1,000-acre ranch with his wife who is “…environmental lawyer and animal welfare activist Nicolette Hahn Niman.” The Wikipedia summary states “Because Ms. Niman is a vegetarian, Bill Niman eats almost no meat.”

Dan Jackson is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes and is a former president of the Western Montana Stockgrowers Association.

Dr. Frederick L. Kirschenmann has a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Chicago and manages his family’s 1,800-acre certified organic farm in North Dakota. He is the Leopold Center’s director and has been a member of USDA’s National Organic Standards Board. He farms without using fertilizers and pesticides, according to his bio.

READ MORE: Pew Condemns Large Livestock Farms
Other members of the commission include Michael Blackwell, a former Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee and former Assistant surgeon General (retired) of the U.S. Public Health Service. Brother David Andrews, a lawyer and a coordinator for peace and justice of the congregation of Holy Cross and a member of the Iowa Food Policy Council.

Fedele Bauccio, a CEO with Bon Appetit Management addresses how food is grown.  Dr. Marion Nestle a professor at New York University and author of a book Food Politics and What to Eat is a member of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  Dr. Mary Wilson, M.D. is a leading infectious disease expert on infections in travelers and immigrants at Harvard Medical School.
I could go on, but you get an idea as to the qualifications of the commissioners.

Growing impatient
The folks condemning large livestock farms appear to be growing impatient that no new regulations have yet to appear as a result of this report. Earlier this year the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future (CLF) said the administration and congress have exacerbated problems in the food system. Translation:

“There has been an appalling lack of progress,” said the director of CLF. “The failure to act by the USDA and FDA, the lack of action or concern by Congress, and continued intransigence of the animal agriculture industry have made all of our problems worse.” (Notice he did not criticize EPA.)

Former Kansas Gov. John Carlin, chair of the Pew commission, says, “The results of this analysis show that our policymakers are really not listening to their constituents.”

What’s all the fuss about? Here are the Pew Commission’s key recommendations regarding animal agriculture:

  1. Ban the non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials.
  2. Define non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials.
  3. Treat “industrial” livestock farms as an industrial operation and implement new systems to deal with farm waste and replace the “broken system” that exists today.
  4. Phase out the most intensive and inhumane production practices such as gestation crates and battery cages.
  5. Aggressively enforce existing anti-trust laws applicable to food animal production.

Robert P. Martin wrote in his introduction to the Pew Report that “…the formation of this commission was greeted by industrial agriculture with responses ranging from open hostility to wary cooperation.”

There may be a reason for this response.

The Pew report and its commissioners claim “The disposal of manure and animal waste are among the most significant challenges for IFAP (CAFO) operators.” It claims that animal waste is enormous and claims over 500 million tons of manure are produced by CAFOs and that is three times the EPA estimate of 150 million tons of human sanitary waste annually.
Five hundred million tons = 1 trillion pounds.

What the Pew report doesn’t tell you is that we humans create 250 trillion pounds of wastewater in the country annually. Nor does it put into context that we create 3.7 trillion pounds of construction and demolition waste annually.

You get the picture. It helps to put facts into context and tell the rest of the story. Animal agriculture needs to tell its story!

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