Critics are crying foul over this week’s TIME magazine cover story. The story is a wide-ranging frontal assault on all aspects of modern food production, and the story is written in a manner that the very few words included to give agriculture a token voice are quickly trampled by an onslaught of anti-modern-agriculture rhetoric.
The first paragraph pretty much sets the tone. “Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He’s fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he'll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That's the state of your bacon—circa 2009.”
The article quotes numerous entities critical of modern farming, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, several disenfranchised farmers dismayed about how agriculture has changed, organic advocates and others who sell their farm and food products based on criticizing the products and processes of mainstream farming and ranching.
Letters regarding this opinion article, which TIME unfortunately cloaked as a news magazine cover story, may be sent using this link: http://bit.ly/19LOXL. You will need to input the headline of the article—America’s Food Crisis and How to Fix It—when you submit your online letter.
Listen to an AgriTalk radio interview with Daren Williams, of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Read Bob Stallman's letter to the TIME magazine editor. Stallman is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Pork magazine associate editor Rick Jordahl comments on the TIME magazine article.
As a journalist, I cringe at what Time magazine has done here. I was taught years ago to get both sides of a story and be objective. But it appears that the writer of the Time article already had his mind made up when he wrote an article attacking animal agriculture. Daren Williams, of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says he got wind of the story as it was being written and insisted that the writer contact several experts in livestock production. Williams said he lined up five interviews and it appears that the writer did contact these people, but not a single word in the story came out of those interviews. — Tom Quaife, editor