Changing the language– new terms for animal husbandry

One thing I think sustainability advocates need to move away from is the false dichotomy of CAFO vs., say, “free-range”.  In terms of sustainable farming, the focus should be on husbandry, and whether a given practice is good or bad.  We need farming operations covering hundreds of acres (like, you know, beloved Joel Salatin’s operation) to actually feed everyone without resort to 100k acre industrial farms.  And we also need to accept that confining animals is not necessarily harmful or unhealthy for them, *in the proper context*.  For various reasons, many breeds of livestock are pulled from pasture into stalls in a barn to birth.  This is not actually bad if done with an eye to good husbandry.  There are good ways and bad ways to provide a birthing-place for an animal, and sometimes an operation with hundreds or thousands of animals can have excellent husbandry practices and an operation with a dozen animals can have absolutely awful husbandry practices.

But resorting to the term “CAFO” to mean “large farm operation, probably with bad husbandary” doesn’t allow customers and would-be farmers the opportunity to understand that you can have lots of animals and still treat them well.  It instead paints the false picture that you have to have a micro-farm to offer good husbandry to your livestock.  That’s not real and is a big obstacle to helping would-be farmers gain the tools they need to sort out good practice from poor practice.  I am sticking with good and bad husbandry, and moving away from a reliance on terms like “CAFO” to represent farms with bad husbandry practices.  I can only hope others will do the same.


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