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Compared with 50 years ago, the carbon footprint to produce pork is 35 percent less per pound and water usage is down 41 percent. Manure is recycled as a fertilizer, creating a sustainable nutrient cycle.
Every packer in the Midwest demands onsite animal-welfare assessments and audits that determine whether or not they will buy pigs from that farmer.
Pig farmers have also made notable progress in food safety. Pork continues to have a lower incidence of foodborne pathogens than in previous decades.
The way we care for animals today is better than ever. Is it perfect? No. But we will continue to get better every day. My family and I are committed to producing the highest quality of food for you.
BRANDON SCHAFER, Goodhue, Minn.
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It was interesting to read the commentary about the animal cruelty inherent in what are known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), then in another section of the paper (Business+Money) read about a piglet-killing virus that hit a 3,000-sow barn in Minnesota. Could this be the financial side of the issue?
I buy meat from a local farm, where I am welcome to visit and inspect how the pigs and cows live. Yes, I pay more and eat a bit less meat as a result, but I know the animals are content and healthy for the time they are alive.
LENORE MILLIBERGITY, Minneapolis
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I was born and raised on a small crop and livestock farm in Minnesota and have been a farm-animal veterinarian for 28 years. There has been a significant change in the way farmers raise crops and animals during my career.
The debate over today’s farming techniques and how it differs from the past is nothing new. What is often overlooked are the forces behind the change. The desire to have inexpensive food so more of our consumer dollars can be spent on other consumables is not the fault of the farmer. Politicians hope to create policy that satisfies the voters who will re-elect them. Today’s family farmers are resourceful and adaptable and have responded to these pressures that we have put on them. We are the problem.
When American consumers are ready to increase the portion of their income spent on food dollars from less than 6 percent to almost 30 percent or more, as less-developed countries do, we may be able to go back to the way things used to be.
KEITH A. WILSON, Worthington, Minn.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.