May in animal news: Five questions with Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur
We're asking prominent figures in the animal-protection community to give us their insights on animal news and updates on their work in a new feature called Five Questions. Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur took our questionnaire; here's his take on the most important animal news to happen in May and what animal advocates should watch for in the coming month.
Gene Baur: The most important development for animals in May was the expose of animal cruelty at Conklin dairy farm in Ohio. Video footage was obtained by an undercover investigator for Mercy for Animals that showed farm workers violently abusing cows and calves, kicking and beating them and jabbing them with pitchforks, among various assaults.
Unleashed: What were Farm Sanctuary's biggest projects in May?
Baur: Farm Sanctuary reached out to law enforcement officers investigating the Conklin dairy case, and we've engaged them to provide rescue and refuge for animals who were abused at Conklin dairy should authorities seize any of the animals.
Farm Sanctuary also continued supporting an initiative effort in Ohio that aims to ban inhumane confinement where animals are packed in cages and crates so tightly they cannot even turn around or stretch their limbs. The goal is to collect more than 400,000 signatures in order to place a measure on the November 2010 ballot for a vote.
Finally, Farm Sanctuary's annual visitor season opened in May, inviting people to participate in farm tours, special events, overnight stays and other activities on our farms in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif.
Unleashed: What will Farm Sanctuary be working on in June?
Baur: Farm Sanctuary will remain involved with the Conklin dairy case and initiative in Ohio, and our farm visitor programs will continue. We'll also be reaching out to officials in Washington, D.C., and urging them to support policies to prevent animal cruelty and promote a healthier, plant-based food production system. Among the federal legislation we are supporting is the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (H.R. 4733) and the Healthy School Meals Act (H.R. 4870).
Unleashed: How can interested animal lovers help in June?
Baur: Animal lovers can help in June, as always, by educating others about the cruelty of factory farming and by choosing to eat plant foods instead of animal foods. They can also bring friends to Farm Sanctuary to meet rescued animals and learn their stories, or they can sponsor an animal who lives at Farm Sanctuary through our Adopt-A-Farm Animal Project.
Unleashed: What led you to become involved in the animal-protection movement?
Baur: I've always wanted to make a difference and combat cruelty done to innocent victims, and animals, especially those exploited by agribusiness, are among the most abused. In the 1980s, there was little awareness about the abuses of animal agriculture, so I co-founded Farm Sanctuary in 1986 to rescue needy animals, educate citizens about the cruelties of factory farming and advocate for change.
Gene Baur is the president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, an organization that advocates for the humane treatment of farm animals and operates two sanctuaries in northern California and New York. A vegan since 1985, he lives in Washington, D.C., and campaigns to raise awareness about animal welfare and food safety. Baur holds a master's degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University and is the author of Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food.
Photo: Baur with a Farm Sanctuary resident. Credit: Derek Goodwin