Little did we know we would spend about an hour inside the tent conversing with this man and his colleagues:
This is Austin. He's a PETA2 representative, meaning he is a part of the 'college division' of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He stood outside holding a sign stating "Make it through and get FREE STUFF!" luring students into a tent labeled "What they never told you..."
I'll explain exactly the details of our experience, include a few quotes, and then give my grand synopsis. Buckle down and hold on, here we go:
So, upon arriving Kevin and I pretended to be ordinary students (disregard Kevin's boots, belt buckle, and livestock judging hat), Austin invited us inside for a tour of the tent. He took us through a winding sequence of 8 foot tall posters of dead animals, slaughter houses, and animals in their "natural habitats".
Here is Austin showing us how pigs and cattle are raised. Then, we turned the corner and found a farrowing crate.
Note: for anyone that doesn't know, a farrowing crate is a crate that mother pigs (sows) are kept in when they have their babies. Sows can weigh up to 500 pounds, when born the piglets weigh about 2 pounds. The sows are kept in the crate, so that when they lay down, the piglets have a place to escape to so they don't get squished!
Here is a typical farrowing crate. The piglets can run around and be safe! Sure, the sow is confined to a small area for a couple weeks, but, I think all mothers sacrifice a whole lot for their kids! At least the sows get to sleep all night long.
Back to my story. Austin demonstrated how a farrowing crate worked, then preceded to tell us a statistic that was shockingly false. This is when Kevin stepped in and asked Austin "where did you get your statistic?", Austin avoided our question and simply told us to "visit a farm, you'll see this practice everywhere." Our "undercover" status broke loose when Kevin and I reacted quickly, stating that we both lived on farms, and that his information was false. We explained to Austin about family farms, and why farrowing crates were used to keep pigs safe. At this time, Austin backed away, and the "head" guy, Dave, stepped in to give us a chat. Here's Dave:
Dave talked with us for a few minutes about farming practices. He tried to inform us that beating animals was a common practice, we told Dave that we were farmers and this was not true. About this time, a new wave of students came in. Dave and Austin both excused themselves from our delightful conversation to inform innocent students of PETA's false scares and untruthful statistics.
Folks, I'm a relatively level-headed person. But I have a passion for agriculture and watching this man falsely accuse MY industry took anger management to a whole new level.
I stood up on my tippy toes, mustered my strength, quieted my anger, and yelled:
"I'm a farmer. If you have any questions about farms, ask me, not them."
Two things then happened:
1. Dave and Austin got real mad.
2. Two girls on opposite ends of the tents turned around and yelled "me too! This is ridiculous."
Victory. Most of the students then left the tent, and the two girls: Danielle, a hog producer, and Dianne, another dairy girl, joined Kevin and I for our talk.
The four of us ag students then talked for about 45 minutes with Dave about agriculture. It's all too long to mention, but here are a few quotes that deserve to be heard:
Dave: "The American Heart Association states eating meat is bad for you, and can cause cancer."
The truth: The American Heart Association recommends eating 6 oz. of chicken, fish or red meat every day.
Danielle: "So, you're saying that all you want is for meat production to end and the world to be vegans."
Dave: "Yes, in a perfect world, there would be no production animals or meat consumption, only vegans."
Thanks for admitting what we already knew: PETA is solely on a mission to end animal agriculture. I guess PETA has to have some mission, now that their "save the puppies and kitties" ploy has fallen through. Murdering nearly 30,000 dogs and cats at the PETA headquarters doesn't go over very well.
Dave: (while talking about his farm experience - which is visiting ONE farm) "I know about farming, I know what you guys do, I do this for a living, I talk to college students."
Emily: "Correction, we do this for a living, we go to farms."
Emily: "Look, we know we are never going to change your mind. We will respect your decision to be vegan, as long as you respect us: the four farmers you met that treat their animals right."
Dave: "I will never respect you. I know you beat your animals."
Oh yeah Dave, I forgot, thanks for your help on the dairy last week.
Then, Dave revealed his true colors:
Dianne: "Look, my family and I live 30 minutes from here, come out with me to my farm, and see that we do not mistreat our animals."
Dave: "I would, except I am going to Austin in a couple days, I don't have time."
Emily: "Oh you'll be going right through my hometown, you're more than welcome to stop in and see our dairy, and how we do not mistreat our animals."
Dave: "I don't want to see your farms, I don't have time."
The truth is: Dave probably did have time. Students don't stay on campus 24 hours of the day, I'm certain he had more than enough time to tour Dianne's family dairy, or our family dairy. Dave turned down two offers to tour a farm (thus, doubling his on-farm experience), because he doesn't want to see the truth - that farmers ARE good to their animals. For Dave, it's much more fun to take an isolated incidence and falsely publicize cases of neglect as common practice.
So Dave, the offer still stands: you are welcome to tour our dairy anytime. You're wrong now, and you'll be wrong then, we don't mistreat our animals. Just like the majority of farmers and ranchers in America. Dave, I know you'll keep telling lies the rest of your life, so I guess that means it's up to me to balance it out. I'll keep exposing the truth behind the "glass walls of production agriculture", come on out, and I'll give you the tour.