20th Annual World Farm Animals Day

Farm USA’s Alex Hershaft recently distributed a press release announcing the 20th annual celebration of World Farm Animals Day. The release had an odd title, “Activists bring the slaughterhouse to America’s streets.” Is that some sort of commentary on the movement’s penchant for terrorism and destruction? Hershaft has, after all, made it clear that activists who espouse violence are more than welcome at his annual animal rights convention, and no sort of criticism of such activists will be permitted therein.

The press release was filled with several dubious claims, but smartly avoided publishing any statistics on the number of farm animals killed in 1983, when the event began, to 20 years later

When World Farm Animals Day began in 1983, Americans ate a total of 180.9 pounds of meat per capita every year. For 2003, the USDA projects Americans will eat 193.6 pounds of meat per capita. But, of course, for farm animals the situation is (from Farm USA’s perspective) far worse.

Beef consumption during those 20 years declined from 74.2 pounds in 1983 to an estimated 62.0 pounds in 2003. The problem, of course, is that this means total chicken consumption skyrocketed from 34.5 pounds in 1983 to an estimated 53.3 pounds in 2003 — and it takes a lot more chickens to provide that additional 18.8 pounds of meat than it does cattle. The total number of farm animals has exploded just in the United States.

Yet, according to Farm USA,

Growing awareness of the adverse health consequences of meat consumption, including the largest recall of ground beef contaminated with E. coli, is driving consumers to meat alternatives offered by mainstream producers in local supermarkets.

Certainly there is a rise in the popularity of vegan and vegetarian products, but Farm USA makes the mistake of associating that with a total rejection of meat, which is simply not happening (my family, I suspect, is typical — we buy plenty of meat substitutes along with our chicken and turkey).

Moreover current estimates put the total number of farm animals worldwide as likely doubling this century as the per capita incomes in the underdeveloped world increase to developed world levels.

Farm USA also makes this odd warning about foot and mouth disease,

The foot-and-mouth and mad cow epidemics have devastated the European meat industry and threaten to have a similar effect in the U.S.

But, of course, the foot-and-mouth and mad cow epidemics have been a boon for American animal agriculture which has been exporting meat to make up for the problems in Europe. Neither Mad Cow nor foot-and-mouth have yet to rear their heads in the United States despite the wishful thinking of some animal rights activists.

It won’t be too long before Hershaft is issuing the press release for the 30th and then the 40th and so on observances of World Farm Animals Day.


Activists bring the slaughterhouse to America’s street. Farm USA, August 25, 2002.

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