Why Farm Animal Rights Week Matters

Farm Animal Rights Week BannerGuest column by Natalie Blanton, Sociology Graduate Student and Y4AL Co-Creator

I have always been fascinated by the romanticized “Old MacDonald’s farm.” From the earliest stages of development, American children learn to associate cows, pigs, chickens, and many other hoofed and feathered friends with a quaint red barn, free roaming green pastures, and the token hard-working, good-natured caretaker/farmer.

But what happens after this finite moment of peace and balance of life for these animal’s idealized-lives is never mentioned. How do we interpret Old MacDonald’s farm in an age of factory farms? We put blinders on to the horrors that await these animals that held so many of our childhood affections.

A pig roams at Ching Farm. Photo by Smyer Image Premier Utah Photography

A pig roams at Ching Farm Rescue & Sanctuary. Photo by Smyer Image Premier Utah Photography

The case for farm animals is one of cultural speciesism—the idea that humans have greater moral rights than non-human animals and where humans pick and choose which species are “worthy” of life, love, and agency. Think: sharing your home with a dog or cat, giving them daily belly rubs food, and care, versus having a steak or chicken dinner. This is an all too common act of speciesism and one that I hope to bring to the forefront of our campus community’s consciousness with the upcoming Farm Animal Rights week, April 11-15.

This week is being put on by the University of Utah student group You for Animal Liberation. All events are free and open to the public.

Schedule of events:

Pig Pampering Volunteer Day
Saturday, April 11, 11 am – 2 pm
Ching Farm Rescue & Sanctuary

Ching Farm is a safe space for animals who have made it out of the agriculture sector to live out the rest of their natural lives. This will be a day spent, in partnership with local activist organization Direct Action Everywhere SLC, with the pigs and hogs of the sanctuary, cleaning out their areas, feeding and cleaning the pigs, and learning more of the Ching Farm’s mission to “change the perception of farm animals and create a deeper respect for the rich emotional lives of these animals.”

Peta2’s “I, Chicken” Exhibition and Experience
Monday, April 13 – Tuesday, April 14, 2-8 pm
Peterson Heritage Center lobby, 151 Connor Street in Fort Douglas

p2 I, Chicken posters_8.5x11_BLANK.ai“I, Chicken” couples cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) hardware—including wireless VR goggles, motion-capture cameras, and a powerful computer—with guidance from leading VR psychologists in order to immerse participants in a world in which they can flap their wings, communicate with other chickens, take dust baths, and engage in other natural chicken behavior. But as participants soon learn, life for the 26 million chickens slaughtered every day isn’t a walk in the park. This experience came to campus last semester.

“Cowspiracy” Film Screening and Q&A
Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 6:30 pm
Social & Behavioral Science building Auditorium, 392 S 1530 E

Cowspiracy PosterCowspiracy” is as shocking yet humorous documentary that reveals the devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population. “Cowspiracy” is as eye-opening as “Blackfish” and as inspiring as “An Inconvenient Truth.” There will be a Q&A following the film with local activists and environmental and climate change scholars, as well as ways to get involved locally. First 100 attendees will receive free Pop Art Popcorn, which is vegan and local.

I ask you to think critically about the different species of animals that you interact with daily, be it in your home or on your dinner plate. I hope to see you at some of these events and to further the conversation of why farm animal rights matter. If you have any questions, email me at natalie.blanton@soc.utah.edu. View the list of events on Facebook.

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