United Poultry Concerns
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27 June 2013
20,000 Chickens Will NOT Be a Community Asset

On June 10, 2013, the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire editorialized in favor of “a plan to construct a high-tech poultry barn capable of housing 20,000 chickens.” Noting that “More and more consumers want locally grown food,” the editorial argued that this plan for producing organic eggs “humanely” will be “a community asset, not the nuisance its critics claim.”

On June 19, 2013, the Monitor published the following response from United Poultry Concerns in both print and online editions:

Chicken barn not humane,” Concord Monitor, June 19

Regarding the editorial “20,000 chickens will be an asset for Dunbarton” (Monitor, June 10), I respectfully disagree. A 600-foot-long building holding 20,000 birds is a factory farm, and residents are right to oppose it.

The fact that “little human labor is needed” means that the birds will not get proper care, locked inside an automated building as if they themselves were mere extensions of the machinery, which they are not.

The situation is not “humane.” It will not “permit chickens to act like chickens.” A square foot or square foot and a half of living space for each bird is standard in these types of operations. Such packing does not permit “roaming.”

The cruelest industrial farming conditions and practices have become the standard by which “humane” treatment of chickens and other farmed animals is now being measured. The rhetoric and the reality are disconnected. Chickens are creatures of the earth whose earthrights should be respected – and restored. They are whole beings, not just “egg-layers.”



Toward Freedom

UPC’s “chickenadvocate” published the following perspective on “The Awakening,” also on ZNET. We thank philosopher John Sanbonmatsu for pointing the way.

“A food system contributes to community sustainability if it is economically viable for small farmers; nourishing of the earth and elements; and socially equitable for all involved, including farm and food workers and consumers.”

A food system that is “socially equitable for all involved” is extremely desirable. What is troubling in the picture presented in this article is the total exclusion of nonhuman animals from the definition of “all involved.” In the article, the food justice model takes human violence to nonhuman animals for granted: “The CSA model is now being used not only for vegetables but also for many other goods like grains, meat, dairy, fish, medicinal herbs, pies, and spun wool.”

However, chickens, pigs, cows, fishes and other sentient individuals and species, however ignored in most food/social justice discourse as if they didn’t exist, actually have families, feelings, lives and interests of their own, if we would stop treating them like our property and our slaves. Animals are not “goods” to be lumped together with grains, herbs, pies, and spun wool in a progressive worldview.

Why are social justice and food justice advocates so oblivious and indifferent to other animals except in the selfishly utilitarian manner of all other systems of exploitation and injustice?

Earlier this month, I was on a panel on Animal Liberation at the Left Forum at Pace University in NYC. I also attended a session that included a presentation about a project called “Milk Not Jails” in rural New York. The goal of this project is to liberate farmers from their economic dependence on the local prison system by promoting a dairy milk program. All the lovely talk about “food justice” without a glimmer of consciousness of the irony of a “justice” project based on complete injustice to the cows and their calves on whose bodies this “justice” program is obscenely based without their consent.

Animal farming is not a just enterprise. Nor, as a person in India wrote recently, does parceling factory farms into smaller units reduce the total amount of water and other resources needed to raise and slaughter billions of animals in order to satisfy the unsustainable diets of billions of human beings. Our social justice and food justice programs will live up to their names only when we incorporate a goal of justice for nonhuman animals along with justice for humans. We can do both! Thank you for your attention.

Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns


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