Just like everyone else on that Sunday evening when the breaking news came across my TV screen, I was proud of our country for staying the course this past decade and removing the world’s most wanted terrorist. I’m sure those men who removed Osama bin Laden will probably never march in a parade due to the secretive nature of Navy Seal Team 6, but they are true heroes of this country, along with the others who have worked so hard in bringing this closure to our nation.
Now the debate begins on how it was achieved, who did what, why it took so long, who should get the credit and even if it really was bin Laden caught there standing in his PJs. Just like the sightings of Elvis and whether or not we landed on the moon, there will always be those who will argue the fact if we really did take him out. But this is nothing new and goes all the way back to man staying put because he thought the world was flat and we all would fall off if we travel beyond a certain point. I can’t even look at a grassy knoll without being reminded of the uncertainty debated over the death of President John Kennedy, but that is just the nature of mankind I guess.
When it comes to the President’s decision whether to release the photographs from the mission, I can sort of understand his reasoning behind not wishing to do so. Back in 1995 when coyotes were first getting their real start in our state, I was involved in putting a story in the Tennessee Farm Bureau News about how the animals were affecting farmers and some of the methods being used to rid them from farms. Down in Hardeman County, we did an interview with an expert hunter who helped the farmers “remove” problem coyotes from their farms. The story also contained interviews with a Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency biologist detailing the good properties of coyotes, where we attempted to present a balanced article on Tennessee’s newest invader.
The article also contained the picture of the hunter with two of the problem coyotes he had harvested on a farm in Hardeman County laying at his feet on the ground and explained that the two carcasses were being sent to the University of Memphis for an on-going research project being conducted at that time. Being the editor of the paper, I was soon to receive an envelope without a return address in the mail and a handwritten note attached. The note read, “Dear Whomever, pictures like these make me want you on the ground. Leave them out.”
I really don’t like people wanting to do me bodily harm, especially over coyotes, and we didn’t take this threat lightly either, but it does go to show you that you never know what some people think on certain subjects. The frightening part is the extent they may go to prove their point.
When it comes to animals and the humane treatment they receive, the debate coming from the non-farm sector of our country over animal agriculture has been a major concern for farmers over recent years. With the majority of this country’s population today being as many as four generations removed from the farm, the understanding of what farmers do to take care of their livestock has caused many misunderstandings between non-farmers and farmers, that at times can also turn into something like what I described with our coyote story. Not necessarily life threatening, but a whole lot of legal actions that would not be needed if an understanding dialog was developed early on.
To help develop this dialog of animal agriculture, farmers, livestock producers, horse enthusiasts and others from across Tennessee are banding together to become a part of the Farm Animal Care Coalition of Tennessee (FACCT). The primary mission of the newly formed, nonprofit organization is to be a proactive voice for humane animal care for farm animals. The coalition aims to reach out to farmers, ranchers, consumers, lawmakers and the media with facts about farm animal welfare.
“FACCT will advocate for our industry by telling the science-based facts about animal agriculture and the important role livestock plays in providing a safe, nutritious, abundant food supply in the U.S,” said Dr. David Whitaker, president of FACCT’s founding board of directors in a recent release from the group. FACCT was launched May 3, before the Tennessee House Agriculture Committee during a special celebration of Ag Day on the Hill where all facets of agriculture came together to promote agriculture.
In addition to advocacy, FACCT will be an educational resource, providing training and information regarding farm animal welfare. Organizers also plan for FACCT to be a resource for first responders to crisis situations involving farm animals in the state.
“Until now, local law enforcement personnel and agriculture professionals have not had a place to turn when they need help in responding to an emergency,” said Whitaker. “We hope FACCT can fill that void by coordinating public and private Tennessee agency responses and drawing on the expertise of the local agricultural community to assist in humane rescue efforts.”
In today’s world with modern technology, a picture is not always the true picture. With FACCT and science-based facts, everyone can get to the truth of humane animal care for farm animals.