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The absurdity of Common Farming Exemptions

If you dig into the US farming industry, you will eventually come upon something called Common Farming Exemptions, or CFE for short.

I first encountered this when reading Eating Animals by Jonathan S. Foer.

CFE happen on a per state basis, and basically makes any practice legal, as long as the practice is widely used (regardless of how abusive the practice is). In other words, as long as something is commonly practiced within the industry, it is considered legal.

Again, think of the absurdity in this statement:  It doesn’t matter what it is; as long as enough people (corporations) do it, it automatically becomes legal. How crazy is that?

“In Nevada—the states welfare law cannot be enforced to prohibit or interfere with established methods of animal husbandry, including the raising, handling, feeding, housing and transporting of livestock or farm animals.”

Eating Animals, Jonathan S. Foer

So basically, even if the state wanted to, the couldn't do anything about how the animals are being treated, purely based on the fact that so many farms abuse them in the first place. Does this make sense to you?

Think about it like this: If you punch, kick, stab, hang, shoot or otherwise abuse your dog, cat, hamster or another pet; you are breaking the law. However, if you do the very same things to an animal on a factory farm—where 99% of the meat we buy comes from—it is considered perfectly legal, just as long as all the other farms do it too, which they do.

CFE basically does away with any sensible law—not that there is such a thing in this case to begin with—and let's the industry regulate themselves and do whatever they want without consequence.

Even if you live outside the US

If you don’t live in the US, and you think your country employes better practices, you are likely fooling yourself. However, if you are correct, just remember that the US exports meat to the tune of billions of tons every year, so a lot of the meat found in your own country, most likely originated in the US (or from a place where even more abuse is going on).

In 2012, according to the American Meat Institute, the US exported

If you live in a country that imports meat from a country that employ similar to or worse practices than the US—even if your country doesn’t (which is highly unlikely)—both you and your country are still contributing to the abuse.

How CFE contributes to animal suffering

CFE is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to contributing factors, but it certainly helps allow for things such as the following.

Imagine you went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled, and the dentist shoved a metal device in your mouth, grabbed the tooth and ripped it out without giving you anything for the pain, don't you think that would hurt? Multiply that by a hundred, and you’re starting to get close to what these animals are going through.

Watch Casey Affleck (brother of Ben Affleck) explain how cows are dehorned

The list is almost endless, but you get the point.

Just because we’ve been doing something for a long time, doesn’t make it okay. This has to stop.

For the animals,

Related entries

Capacity to suffer

Faulty logic - It’s okay to kill animals because animals kill animals

Is it offensive to compare the holocaust with the meat industry?

To close your eyes will not ease another’s pain

The ethics of drinking milk