Animation provokes big ag PR offensive

From Tom Laskawy on

“During the broadcast of this year’s Grammys, Chipotle “stole the show” when it ran this animated ad to illustrate the company’s support for less-intensive sustainable livestock agriculture.

The animation itself has been online since last August, but thanks to Chipotle, it was seen by millions of people that night. It also got the attention of Big Ag, which expects to be the one doing all the expensive ad buys when it comes to agriculture.

Case in point: The Chipotle ad inspired Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst (author of the provocative anti-foodie screed “The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals”) to pen this New York Times op-ed. The article is nothing less than a full-throated defense of factory farming that even includes a strong endorsement of one of the worst factory farm practices — pig gestation crates.

In Hurst’s view, gestation crates are the “flux capacitor” of factory farming, or the one thing that makes it possible. He maintains this position despite the fact that, as Twilight Greenaway wrote recently, the crates represent “the especially despicable practice of confining pregnant sows in spaces roughly the width of their bodies.”

For Hurst, it probably feels like a betrayal that companies such as McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Bon Appétit Management Company have all committed to requiring suppliers to end the use of gestation crates. As Hurst sees it:

Many big multistate operations will … be able to afford to make the changes, or will at least have the political sway to resist them. But the small farmers now raising hogs will be pushed out of the industry.

It’s worth noting that Florida, Arizona, California, and Ohio and several other states have passed bans on gestation crates, with more states considering them. Resistance does appear to be futile….”

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