President’s Message:

“Standard Farming Practices” Can be Cruel to Animals

Laura Ann Cammisa, President of NYSHA

While driving through the rural county where I live in upstate New York, I always wonder about the reality behind the beautiful bucolic scenes I see everyday – there is something puzzling and disturbing about the phrase “standard farming practices.”

For example, look at the barbaric method used to produce foie gras. Would we allow this procedure to be used on our beloved cats, dogs, or other animals? Imagine the reaction if our neighbors forced a tube deeply through the mouth of a family pet, time and time again, destroying his/her throat – we all would be calling the police! Yet, force feeding a helpless goose or duck is defended as a “standard farming practice.” I call it animal cruelty and believe, with humane laws, a jury would agree.

Numerous similar practices exist in the factory farming world, all defended on the same grounds and found in abundance at auctions where unwanted animals are sold. Concern for their comfort, whatever it was before, is even less now. There may be horses with injured legs or cows crying out in pain, suffering from mastitis, with no relief provided. They are there to be disposed of as quickly and as efficiently as possible, and the callous behavior of the auction staff and the attendees is consistent with “standard farming practices.”

…if you see foie gras on a restaurant menu, speak with the owner or send an information packet to the chef (about the pain and suffering caused to the animals). Sometimes, it’s just a matter of education.

We need to call this sort of “norm” what it really is: animal cruelty that is systemic. When criticized, the defenders of these methods, trying to deflect the attention from the miserable lives and deaths of these poor creatures, respond that these “animal rights activists” don’t understand. However, any caring human couldn’t help but understand and recognize the truth.

We all need to speak out against the acceptance of many farming practices. Write to your legislator (, write to the newspaper, get attention. For example, if you see foie gras on a restaurant menu, speak with the owner or send an information packet to the chef. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of education. There are existing laws that help these animals, but we need to make them stronger. Let´s insist they be strengthened and enforced.

As always, for the animals,

Laura-Ann Cammisa

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XX, No.4, Winter 2005.