End Systematic Government Funding of Animal Cruelty in America
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94% of Americans agree that animals raised for food deserve to live free from abuse (ASPCA).
We've all seen the frightening images of the conditions endured by the chickens, cows, and pigs that we consume every day, and we overwhelmingly want this factory farming system to change. The truth is that any one individual can't solve this problem. Instead, we have to look to our government’s morality and actions. Not practicing what you preach is deeply wrong, and in the case of factory farming our government is profoundly hypocritical.
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (UN General Assembly).”
As Americans, we pride ourselves on being the world’s leader in the fight for human rights for all. Some say we can’t live without eating meat, but almost all say we can live without torturing our livestock before we eat them. It is the federal government’s obligation to represent the values we pride ourselves on. So how is enabling the torturing of animals when we can prevent it upholding the values we stand for? It isn't, but how exactly can the government change this?
The US Department of Agriculture has an annual budget of nearly $150 billion (2017 USDA Budget).
Where is all of this taxpayer money going? The answer is pretty simple. The majority goes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which helps millions of low-income individuals get the nutrition they need. The USDA has the choice of what foods to subsidize for SNAP. One immense but simple change for the USDA is to subsidize a more plant based diet without the heavy dependency on meat, corn and soy products that support the current factory farming system.
The US agricultural system alone could feed one billion additional people by shifting crop calories - mainly soy and corn - to direct human consumption (Cassidy).
While it may be unrealistic and unnecessary to completely transition to a vegetarian diet, there is an enormous amount of food grown in the US for animal feed. This is enabled by the second highest piece of USDA spending - crop insurance. Through this process the department effectively chooses which crops they want farmers to grow by offering financial protection. Each contract between the USDA and farmer is a year long, so it is definitely possible for the department to transition to more sustainable plants, not incredibly wasteful crops for livestock consumption that feed the factory farming industry (2017 USDA Budget).
Farmers determine what the people eat and the federal government and USDA determine what the farmers grow. It's on the government to hold true to our ideals and make a change for the sake of the hundreds of millions of animals suffering each day and for our dignity as a nation.
ASPCA Research Shows Americans Overwhelmingly Support Investigations to Expose Animal Abuse on Industrial Farms. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://www.aspca.org/about-us/press-releases/aspca-research-shows-americans-overwhelmingly-support-investigations-expose
Cassidy, E. S., West, P. C., Gerber, J. S., & Foley, J. A. (2013). Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare. Environmental Research Letters,8(3), 034015. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034015
UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, 217 A (III), available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3712c.html [accessed 13 March 2017]
United States Department of Agriculture FY 2017 BUDGET SUMMARY (pp. 1-124, Rep.). (n.d.). doi:http://www.obpa.usda.gov/budsum/fy17budsum.pdf
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