Tuesday, December 1, 2015

5 upsides of the Farmwatch expose

It's very easy to get caught up the immediate anger, denial, and polarisation when whistleblowers expose what we'd prefer not to see. Social criticism can be violently unpopular, and "killing the messenger" is a cliche for a very good reason.

But undeniably, whistleblowers get us talking about the important stuff instead of sitcoms and sports. No other way works like it. And beneath the painful arguing, this is our common ground...
1. Compassion

New Zealanders love animals, and we don't want to see what we all had to see. Nobody. The farmers, the businesses, the animal activists, the consumers. Not even the perpetrator of the worst videoed violence would enjoy that footage. Animal industry workers have a stressful, traumatic job that is generally insecure and badly paid, and as such are another victim of the system, as well as being the convenient scapegoat for the offenses.

2. Public pressure

The government and MPI now know without a doubt that New Zealanders want action for better treatment for farm animals. This is the only sort of pressure that really works. Simply reporting the abuses was not working.

3. Awareness

Many more people, including townies, now know the open secret of what happens during industrial farming to produce milk for the shops. Don't they say education is key? Of course it doesn't have to be this bad. Let's look for short and long-term solutions together to acknowledge that animals as economic objects are at risk.

4. Memories

So many people from rural New Zealand backgrounds have shared their memories of how farming was back on their family farms and how unbelievable it is that these traumatic scenes could be widespread. For better or for worse, caring for their animals is the common theme.

5. Vision of the future

New Zealand's economy doesn't need to depend on industrial dairy so desperately that we accept  welfare compromises for financial success. Even if New Zealanders didn't care about animals (we do!), we'd be wiser to diversify our rich land into more sustainable operations.

The future could be cruelty-free, if we decide we want it.

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