by Max Brantley
No this isn't about the sad state of Razorback football, but the sad state of attitudes toward treatment of animals.
TURKEYS: The following ad appeared in the Baxter Bulletin this week:
PETA OFFERING UP TO $5,000 REWARD
For info leading to arrest / conviction of Turkey Trot Festival "turkey drop" participants.
Yes, it's time again soon (Oct. 12-13) for the Yellville Turkey Trot, a festival at which an unsanctioned — wink, wink — tradition of long-standing had terrified turkeys dropped from small planes over the town, sometimes with splattering results. It's defended as very nearly the cornerstone of American life by its fans, who love to speak for the turkeys in saying it's no bother to them. PETA's reward fund and a years-belated FAA crackdown on safety rules put the kibosh on the turkey drop last year, much to the unhappiness of this misguided turkey dropper, who apparently thinks he's funny and is spoiling to terrify turkeys again. From his page:
A Long Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far Far Away, A Mysterious Figure Appeared. His Name: The Phantom Pilot. His Mission: To Hurl Turkeys From Aircraft. His Quarry: PETA. Current Score: Phantom 65 PETA 0.
HOGS: You've read before about the conditions in gestation crates, the tiny pens in which sows are kept in big hog operations. The word is getting out about the conditions, though farmers object. From the New York Times :
This year, however, Mr. Dittmer and fellow hog farmers are under increasing pressure from corporate pork buyers and animal rights groups to return to the old way of doing things: putting sows in group housing. In the last week of September alone, three companies — Dunkin’ Donuts, ConAgra Foods and Brinker International, which operates Chili’s — announced that over the next decade, they would no longer buy pork derived from pigs housed in gestation crates.
This week, the Bruegger’s bagel chain joined them. That brought the number of fast-food companies and food retailers that have made such commitments this year to 32 — a stunning victory for the Humane Society of the United States, which has worked for years to persuade pork producers to make the change. The National Pork Producers Council said it did not know how much pork these companies bought but estimated it might be about one-fifth of the pork produced.
Hog growers aren't happy about it and contend the crates are better for hogs than the alternative. The industry isn't rolling over easily. This is where Arkansas comes in.
Earlier efforts to convert the pork industry have had mixed success. Cargill, the nation’s third-largest pork processor, owns about one-quarter of the sows that produce pigs for the company and began putting them in larger group pens about a decade ago. Smithfield Foods recommitted to transitioning to pens last year, after first promising it would do so in 2007 and then changing its mind. Tyson Foods and JBS, the two other large processors, have refused to budge.