The email arrived at 4:33 on Friday afternoon June 12. Strangely late in the week. It came from the Washington office for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (they have no office in Ohio) forwarded to me by the Ohio Pork Producer's Council. It was sent by Ashley Byrne 757-274-9675 AshleyB@peta.org and Kathy Nizzari 917-609-2407 KathyN@peta.org
Here's the pasted text of the organization's press release direct from the email.
AS SWINE FLU SPREADS, PETA SEEKS PERMISSION TO BRING A REAL LIFE HOG FARM TO OHIO STATEHOUSE
At the Root of All Flu Pandemics Is the Filth in Which Confined, Stressed Pigs and Birds Incubate Disease
I phoned Byrne in Washington and it turns out the application had just been filed with the Columbus Capital Square Review and Advisory Board. According to Byrne, the application includes a request to bring 3,500 gallons of manure and urine into the statehouse Wednesday.
"Single gallon buckets would be best," she said.
I asked her if she really expected the city to grant this permit. "I wouldn't see why not," she said. "I know we submit permit requests in cities all across the country every day. It's generally not a problem."
The plan includes a display of three sows housed in farrowing crates – "the kind used on Ohio's factory farms."
And this is where you come in.
"We really would like to rescue three pigs from a factory farm," Byrne told me. "The pigs would get a reprieve from the brutality of the slaughterhouse. Afterwards we would like to see them retired to a sanctuary where they would not meet the slaughterhouse and could live in comfort and safety as opposed to being crammed in a cage."
I asked her how she intended to rescue the pigs and she told me, "A voluntary donation would be ideal."
I asked her why someone who made a living raising pork would voluntarily donate three sows to a group that advocates a vegetarian diet?
She responded: "As it is increasingly apparent to people that the meat industry is responsible for outbreak of devastating diseases like swine flu, e. coli, foot and mouth and mad cow, some farmers are realizing what they are doing is wrong."
So I asked her if she thought maybe the Ohio Pork Producers Council would work with PETA on this one. She told me she would welcome any help the council could provide.
So here is what I think. First of all this is such a stunt. PETA is great at them. This is the group that threw a dead raccoon on the desk of the editor of Vogue. Byrne herself can be seen on the Internet stripping to a yellow bikini alongside traffic to show she is one chick who despises the brutality of KFC. Google it.
The city of Columbus is not going to give PETA a permit to carry 3,500 gallons of manure and urine into the statehouse. But don't count this group out of delivering it themselves. For a quick review of their criminal connections go to Wikipedia.
That said, if the application goes through and PETA needs some help, we should be good neighbors and step up to the job.
The OPPC should offer to help PETA find a donor of three sows. Each sow should have a full litter, so visitors and television cameras can see and understand exactly why the mom is most comfortable in a gestation stall -- and piglets are protected as well.
OPPC members should attend the pigs and explain exactly how manure removal systems work. Where manure goes. How much the stalls and barns cost. Who their suppliers and business compatriots are. Go ahead and fill the halls of the Capitol with the guys who can provide first hand information.
It would not hurt to have several hundred corn and soybean growers gather on the statehouse green and provide tourists and television crews with data and real world descriptions of how and why they grow feed for animals like pigs.
And it might be nice to provide the people who come to see this display with a tasty slider-sized sample of barbequed pork. We might offer beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, an omlette, ostrich, fish or some other delicious form of protein to passers by as well. OK throw in some fruits and veggies and milk of course. We are all farmers.
Furthermore, I think the pigs should all participate in the NAIS or some method of a GPS implant that would enable us all to track their long and fulfilled careers. Get out the cameras. Let's see where these piglets go and how they are treated by professional animal rights activists as opposed to real Ohio farmers. Let's document it.
Finally, as a token of gratitude from PETA, I think it is mandatory that the $25 million a year organization donate a minimum of the full cost of this display to the OPPC in recognition of the help given by these Ohio pork producers, and as a humanitarian demonstration of PETA's sincere concern for the other 26,000 Ohio farmers they advocate throwing into bankruptcy.
If PETA wants to teach people about agriculture, they can go to no better source than Ohio farmers.