What does it mean to a farmer (and yes this includes showmen) for places like Subway and Chipotle to be pushing the other side of the conversation? It means that the door is being pushed open, just a little bit more, everyday. Eventually, this means the door will be wide open and all the "birds" will be allowed in the house, and lets just say I am not ready for those "birds" to rule the roost.
Subway, who we all know has been in the news a bunch lately, announced they have made some more poor choices on Tuesday. This time they made the decision to start serving sandwich meat that is free from antibiotics, which I can say is a bit misleading.
On their website they have their latest news and press releases posted. The first thing I see on the release was of course the tittle, "SUBWAY® Restaurants Elevates Current Antibiotic-Free Policy U.S. Restaurants Will Only Serve Animal Proteins That Have Never Been Treated With Antibiotics".
The top of this release was a picture of a farm, near a subway with a bike rider going down a trail to a sign that reads “continued”... So, what is next for Subway? And what does this “continued” sign mean for agriculturalist?
(The above picture came from the Subway press release, released Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015)
The release states the following plan for Subway restaurants,
~ Chicken will be completed by the end of 2016.
~ Turkey will be introduced in 2016 with a completed transition expected within 2-3years.
~ Pork and Beef will be completed in 2025.
The statement that gets me, or more or less makes my stomach turnover, is this quote from the last paragraph, said by Dennis Clabby, executive vice president of SUBWAY’s Independent Purchasing Cooperative (IPC).
“Given the size and scope of the Subway brand, this commitment is the largest of its kind in the restaurant industry,” added Clabby. “We hope that this commitment will encourage other companies in our industry to follow our lead, and that, together, this will drive suppliers to move faster to make these important changes for consumers.”
Did you catch that farmers of America? They will be ENCOURAGING other companies in their industry to follow THEIR lead! And TOGETHER, with those other companies, THIS WILL DRIVE SUPPLIERS (farmers, like us) to make changes! Knock, knock, knock, do you hear that door squeaking open now and those "birds" screeches echoing off your walls a little louder?!?
Our problem did not start yesterday, or when Chipotle jumped into the food conversation, or even when Carrie Underwood decided to share her feelings on consuming meat and raising livestock with country music fans. It started when we decided as an agricultural community to ignore those blasting us as we continued to work long endless hours feeding those "birds" with the loudest screech.
This might all sound harsh, but this is reality. The cliché "preaching to the choir," pops into my head, but the deal is the choir can sometimes be the ones who need a wakeup call and the most direct sermon. Why is this? Because the choir is the one leading the rest of the church in song.
As I try to rein myself in, and comeback full circle, I hope we all take a step back. I am going to leave a link to Ryan Goodman's blog post right here because he describes perfectly the issues more in detail about the use or in better terms, the lack there of, of antibiotics in our food system.
For our farmers in our country, which is less than 2%, this is an insult on you as a business owner, a caretaker of the land and livestock and your family! As for our family, this is threatening the future of our children having the chance to grown up on the farm.
So let us, as a united front, no longer put on our headphones to drown out the screeching birds, but instead pull out our megaphones and share our story and to sing loud!
4-H and FFA members, soccer parents, business leaders and agriculturalists; you wear many hats and now your job to be an advocate. So when you go to sleep at night you know you have secured your door the best way you can and you are not worried about all those sneeky birds nesting in the shadows of your own home! Do not be scared to share your story, because it is a great one!
Also, as a side note I would like to add the importance of being respectful when speaking to a person with feelings different from yours! Happy advocating, friends.