An Advocacy Plan Against CAFOs
An Introduction to CAFOs
What are CAFOs?
Confined Animal Feeding Operations, otherwise known as CAFOs, are large, industrialized animal farms that are owned and operated by private companies. With the primary goal to turn a profit, these “farms” frequently harm their animals, the environment, and local communities to irreparable conditions.
CAFO damage has become so prominent that they have been studied extensively by numerous researchers, universities, and environmental organizations (“Factory Farms Abuse Animals,” 2016, Glanville et al., 2001, Hendry, 2010, Holt, 2016, Hribar, 2012, Imhoff, 2010, Marks, 2001, McClelland, 2013, Mossner, 2011, Overcash, 2011, Peeples et al., 2014, “Regulatory Definitions of Large CAFOs, Medium CAFO, and Small CAFOs,” n.d., “Why are CAFOs Bad?” 2016).
In this section, the tragic results of CAFOs on their animals, the environment, and the community are addressed and analyzed using a number of research articles and information.
CAFOs house thousands of animals such as milking cows, chickens, and hogs in small, wired coups with concrete floors, unnatural lighting, and often in their own excrement. Within one CAFO you can find about “1,000 cattle; 2,500 swine over 55 pounds; 10,000 swine under 55 pounds; 55,000 turkeys; 125,000 chickens; or 82,000 laying hens” lined up in one metal “barn” with no AC or windows (Imhoff, 2010).
A slideshow depicting the thousands of animals stored in one feeding operation. Photo from Green and Blue Stuff.
A slideshow depicting the thousands of animals stored in one feeding operation. Photo from Green and Blue Stuff.
A slideshow depicting the thousands of animals stored in one feeding operation. Photo from Green and Blue Stuff.
Chicken CAFO photo from Earth Desk.Several researchers, such as Elizabeth Overcash, have had the opportunity to examine how the excessive number of animals have created cramped conditions within these facilities and, as such, resulted in physical and mental problems for the animals (2011). Specifically, Overcash has found animals suffer in two ways: from stress and ammonia.
Although stress may not seem noteworthy, many pigs develop something called “porcine stress syndrome,” which is a malignant form of hyperthermia that results in sudden death (Overcash, 2011). Stress also leads to neurotic behavior in animals, which has resulted in CAFO workers to perform cruel procedures to make the animals less harmful, such as de-beaking chickens or removing their animals’ toes (Overcash, 2011). These conditions worsen as each animal is bred through extreme conditions using steroids and antibiotics in order to make them mature quickly and grow to a maximum size far outside the normal and prevent illness (“Factory Farms Abuse Animals,” 2016).
Research has indicated, though, that the torture does not end here. Slaughter methods within CAFOs have also been studied and results show that CAFO methods of killing animals are performed inhumanely and are resulting in dangerous meat production systems harmful to both animals and humans (McClelland, 2013).
To combat these organizations, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) has launched several campaigns against companies who use CAFOs for their meat production. One, in particular, was launched in 2000 against cruelty to chickens from large companies like McDonalds and KFC (citation). Their campaign was noted for the rhetoric and framing techniques used against CAFOs to promote animal welfare and expose the animal cruelty taking place.
The rhetoric PETA is using in these campaigns is strategically gruesome in order to “...connect our food to the animal it comes from, and then to cruelty, which constructs our reality” (“Factory Farming from the Eyes of Chipotle," 2014). Using this tactic, the campaign was able to “guide their audience to interpret their dining experiences as supporting cruelty and suggests a moral evaluation that the practices of factory farms (CAFOs) are inhumane” (“Factory Farming from the Eyes of Chipotle,” 2014).
This has been proven effective by most on-lookers, even those who prefer to ignore things that do not align with their current way of thinking, it is hard to ignore such horrid photos. Thus, the gruesome portrayals of animal cruelty prove to be an effective approach to framing and manipulating rhetoric into a scare tactic.
Therefore, I think this strategy needs to continue. It is hard to deny facts - although many try to - if the facts in the form of photos of real companies and their cruelty were placed in tandem with big-name companies like McDonald's, it could be a similar but more realistic message to consumers.
In addition to animal cruelty, CAFOs are also responsible for numerous harmful environmental conditions, which have been documented by both researchers and environmental organizations.
The Sierra Club, in particular, has put together numerous articles that document the air pollution that results from CAFOs, such as the more than 168 gasses that are produced from CAFO waste - some of the most dangerous chemicals being ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane (“Why are CAFOs Bad? 2016). These gasses arise from flawed waste storage units such as lagoons or spray fields.
Researcher Robbin Marks has performed extensive research on the water damage that can result from these waste storage units (2001). She notes that, when heavy rainfall occurs, these open-aired lagoons often overflow and spread into other bodies of water and kill their wildlife. Because of the chemicals found in the manure, marine animals suffocate as a result of excessive nitrogen and ammonia which causes excessive algae to develop and absorb all oxygen inside a body of water.
For humans, one of the most dangerous environmental harms is when lagoons or spray fields overflow from rain and allow manure to seep into the ground and contaminate drinking water for local communities (Marks, 2011). In states such as North Carolina, who have a significant number of CAFOs and notoriously high water tables, the possibility of contaminated freshwater sites are a constant fear and it frequently occurs (Holt, 2016). But rainfall is not the only problem, research has pointed to how these storage units are known to fail on a regular basis as they “typically leak at a rate of approximately 1 mm/day” (Glanville et al., 2001). However, repairs or new storage facility are rarely completed or purchased.
There is extensive research regarding the waste of CAFOs and how it negatively impacts the environment; however, most of these problems are not currently highlighted by animal rights groups or their campaigns. Instead, research has found that most rhetoric from animal rights groups that fight against CAFOs “gloss over concerns about air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gasses, produced by CAFOs” (Jorgensen, 2015).
Therefore, it is necessary to make these environmental problems understood on a larger basis and a priority by legislators and anti-CAFO groups. Although it is harder to motivate people to act based on environmental damages, if we combine this message in tandem with the plethora of community health risk research, it could be an effective step to protect the environment.
Community Health Risks
Research regarding the negative community impact of CAFOs is the most numerous, primarily because CAFOs relate heavily to environmental justice problems - a phenomenon that predominantly studies low income and minority based communities and how their status results in environmental woes (von Mossner, 2011).
Alexa Weik von Mossner is one researcher who has documented how economic profit and security often outweigh the health, justice, and livelihood of poor communities (2011). Mossner highlights how the seemingly natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and its detrimental results to the state of Louisiana are actually a result of racism, classism, and economic drive (2011). A similar comparison can be made to communities around CAFOs as the “natural” effects of capitalism often result in more health and economic burden for blue collar individuals.
For example, the state of North Carolina has one of the highest percentages of CAFOs and most of them are located near poor and African American neighborhoods; specifically, communities in NC are 7.2 times more likely to have a CAFO located near a community with the highest poverty rates (Overcash, 2011).
When CAFOs are placed near these poor areas, the neighboring communities will begin to experience water pollution and the eradication of clean groundwater. This is problematic as 53% of the U.S. relies on groundwater for drinking, and most of this percentage is found in rural areas where CAFOs are often located (Hribar, 2010).
Finally, CAFOs are also known for decreasing property values, as one study found that 82.8% of individuals living near CAFOs and 89.5% of individuals living far away from CAFOs believed that their property decreased in value as a result of the manure’s odor and placement of their house in relation to a factory farm (Hribar, 2010).
The research in regard to community health and CAFOs is extensive and leaves very little room for question about the social inequality and horrendous health effects that result in communities as a result of CAFOs. Yet, the question remains, why has this research not been acted upon by legislators or companies?
What does this all mean?
There is clearly extensive work that analyzes the impacts of CAFOs on animals, the environment, and the community; however, this research has hardly done anything to limit or illuminate CAFOs. I think this may be, in part, due to the fact that there is little analysis done on how CAFOs use effective rhetoric to protect their operations.
For example, one of the largest CAFO users is Smithfield Farms. There is extensive research, both in the form of film and written work, that expose Smithfield as being cruel to their animals and uncaring of local community members, like local farmers. One of the most popular films that expose these truths is called Undercover at Smithfield Foods:
Although there is this concrete, photo evidence, Smithfield frequently uses workers such as Ashley DeDecker, the Director of Production Resources for Smithfield’s Hog Production Division, to refute these claims with kind words and “dedication” to the well-being of their animals, when in these claims are only false. For example, DeDecker was a guest on Coastline, a North Carolinian radio show, answering questions from the host about animal well-being in hog farms in North Carolina (Hillburn, 2016). Many times, DeDecker was quoted saying thing such as:“...it is our obligation as animal caretakers to show those animals utmost respect—regardless of what the outcome, whether it is a service animal, whether it is for clothes or for food—it still is our obligation as animal caretakers to provide the care, make sure animal health is well for that environment. There’s a lot of rumors. There’s a lot of misconceptions about the industry.”
Although Undercover at Smithfield Foods proves otherwise, this is a strategic device used by Smithfield. Because this big “family oriented” company is getting backlash for their production methods, the company is taking steps that Frank Luntz, a leading Republican consultant during the Bush administration, would encourage those who are seen as “losing the environmental communications battle” (Burkeman, 2003).
The steps DeDecker, and several other Smithfield workers, take to reframe Smithfield’s anti-animal rights reputation are what Luntz would argue is the first and most important step to take: “assuring your audience that you committed to ‘preserving and protecting’ the environment, but that it can be done ‘more wisely and effectively’” (“The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America, n.d.). The more “effective” means of “preserving and protecting” these animals, DeDecker claims, is through gestation stalls, which their effect on an animal's well-being, she claims, is backed by “research after research...all the way back from twenty, thirty years ago” that states “there is no difference in animal state of being” compared to group housing units (Hillburn, 2016).
By assuring listeners that Smithfield does, in fact, care about their animals and that their methods are “effective” - when research proves otherwise - is one way to address their anti-environmental and anti-animal rights reputation.
Other rhetoric in which needs to be analyzed is how the company’s who have CAFOs talk about environmentalists or those who oppose them. For example, the chairman of Smithfield Foods, Joseph Luter III, once said this about groups who oppose CAFOs (Tietz, 2006):
Thus labeling all of those who disagree with CAFOs to be seen as crazy and radical, and CAFO company’s to be the realistic and logical ones. This is similar to the rhetoric used by early Conservationists who often stressed “logical” and “American values” in tandem with the utilitarian principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number” (Oravec, 2009).
Using these same strategies as early Conservationists, CAFOs have also worked to label environmentalists and anti-CAFO groups as anti-American, radical, and, mostly vegetarians - who are often seen as elitists. However, labeling those who oppose CAFOs as outsiders who are not for the average American is not a CAFOs only strategy. Additionally, CAFO company’s enjoy framing anti-factory farm individuals as radical in their requests for environmental well-being when they claim to already be highly regulated and at an impasse for creating more environmentally friendly ways of “farming” because of economic costs. As Smithfield’s chief sustainability officer Dennis Treacy states (Tietz, 2006):
Therefore, relating back again to Luntz’s words about having care for the environment, but to make sure the methods they use to transform their operation are wise and effective.
Doing thorough break-downs of the manipulative rhetoric these companies use against consumers could be used as effective counter arguments and strategy against CAFOs and is not something currently done by anti-CAFO groups. It would be a useful tactic, at the least, in constructing CAFO companies as environmental devils and thus label them as the bad guys.
Using the current literature available about CAFOs and the above two concepts, this information could be used to create and inspire action; an action that will hopefully lead to new and effective legislation for CAFOs, better treatment of livestock, and, maybe, even a decreased number of factory farms.
However, there is not enough time to just hope action will come about. The time to act is now, and the public needs to be inspired.
In order to accomplish this goal, I have devised an in-depth advocacy plan in order to address all of the following components:
Although the goal at hand is large, I intend to accomplish this goal through my campaign called Fighting Factory Farms.
To address all aspects of my advisory plan, I have divided my plan into chronological stages: beginning with discovering my audience and defining who is involved and who needs to be involved.
There is a consistent cycle of individuals who are impacted by factory farms: Those at the top that are making a profit from the industry, the animals being tortured to make the profit, the local communities who are harmed by the factory’s chemicals and pollution, and the environment due to the copious amounts of greenhouse gases emitted.
In order to successfully engender change for all these parties, a small scale audience must first be addressed before large-scale change can occur. Therefore, I will first select a part of the U.S. where CAFOs have a heavy presence: North Carolina.
Why North Carolina?
North Carolina is one of the most afflicted areas by CAFOs. Although it is not the number one location for CAFOs, North Carolina has moved from number fifteen to second in hog production in a relatively short time (Wing, Cole, & Grant, 2000). Today, over 2,000 hog CAFOs are found along the southeastern side of North Carolina, where communities are predominantly low-income and African American (Wing, Cole, & Grant, 2000).
Three comparison maps of CAFO hog farms based on race and socio-economic status. All three photos are from Environmental Health Perspectives.
Before the CAFO explosion that exists in North Carolina today, most citizens in this area used to make their living off of small, family-owned farms; however, after the early 90s, almost all of the local farms were bought out by large companies, such as Smithfield Farms(Wing, Cole, & Grant, 2000).
When this happens, small farmers work directly for a private company and have no ownership of their livestock or their methods of care: what they’re fed, their antibiotics, and how they live are all determined by a contract in place by CAFO companies. The only thing these farmers truly own is the waste produced by the company’s produce, and the waste produced is in enormous quantities. There are serious repercussions that can occur in North Carolina because of a large amount of waste produced.
North Carolina is known for having low-lying coastal plain that can frequently flood (Nicole, 2013). When paired with the fact that the state has high groundwater tables, this results in freshwater sites to be contaminated with manure and toxins, even if the waste seep through just inches of soil.
Thus, when waste is stored in lagoons and spray fields and it rains or there is a tropical storm - like that of recent Hurricane Matthew - nearby neighborhoods and facilities become flooded with manure and bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. These pathogens have caused significant damage to local communities and these problems continue to this day.
The Initial Primary Audience
Therefore, as one of the most accurate depictions of environmental injustice, environmental degradation, and place with animal cruelty – as North Carolina has over 10 million hogs in their state – the Fight Factory Farms campaign will begin in North Carolina with the primary audience of:
- Southeastern community members and farmers: Those directly affected by CAFO hazards.
- Community members in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh, and Charlotte, North Carolina: Areas completely unaffected and unaware of CAFOs as they hold predominately white and blue collar communities.
- The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DEQ): The department that is meant to regulate North Carolina CAFO regulation and standards. This department has done little to punish and maintain CAFOs abide by government rule.
- Smithfield Farms: The largest owner of CAFOs in North Carolina who have bought out most small farmers land and farms.
- North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr: Three political influences that could bring attention to the hazards and dangers of unregulated CAFOs in Congress and on a broader government scale. Regulation should be consistent in the state of North Carolina as well as on a federal level.
I don’t believe it will be difficult to persuade southeastern community members to join the fight, as many are already seeking an outlet to work with. However, I do think it will be more challenging to get those who aren’t affected as well as legislators. However, one must try as it is vital for change.
Much like Spike Lee’s film “When the Levees Broke,” a documentary about the damage that occurred to low-income and African American because of Hurricane Katrina, I believe it is necessary to obtain both perspectives - from those affected and those who are not. Although obtaining information and opinions from the more affluent and those without CAFOs around them will “naturally...differ, depending not least on the degree to which they were and are personally affected...and on how well they were and are able to cope with the long-term effects of the disaster economically and psychologically” (von Mossner, 2011).
However, this difference is necessary for articulating the point that these problems are real and many are unaware of them because of their privilege. Thus, like Lee’s piece, I hope that this idea will have similar results as his movie did. “The multiplicity of perspectives is one of the many strengths of the film,” and, also like Lee, I won’t leave it to the audience to decide who is the most persuasive or worthy of listening to (von Mossner, 2011).
With a large community support system, I believe it will be significantly easier to persuade legislators to attend our meetings or hear our messages. But, In order to effectively address all of the above audience members, there are a few talking points and arguments that I need to consider.
Why They're Important & Arguments to Refute
The primary message that is the foundation for my Fight Factory Farms campaign is this: to emphasize public understanding of CAFOs as they create an excruciating amount of harm on the well-being of animals, the environment, and local communities and demand for government involvement and regulation. Thus the three talking points I will focus on are related to animal abuse, environmental degradation, and community health risks as a result of CAFOs.
A significant amount of animal cruelty has gone, for the most part, undocumented or unbeknownst to the public. Specifically, there are three primary points I feel the public must understand when formulating an opinion on CAFOs: CAFOs keep their animals inhumanely, they mutilate their animals, and kill them in the most barbaric ways possible.
Photos and facts from Modern Farmer.
Arguments to Refute
I phrased a majority of my talking points to address a few arguments often made for CAFOs and their treatment of their animals. Arguments like:
- The animals are going to die anyway, why does it matter how they’re treated?
- Does this mean environmental groups want us all to stop eating meat and become vegetarians?
- The harms that occur to these animals are accidental or for economic benefit.
- If we didn’t mutilate certain animals, they would kill one another on the farm, how else do we prevent that?
These arguments are primarily economically based, which leads to my ultimate question from this area of my campaign. Is economic surplus worth sacrificing basic ethics?
Why animal rights?
It is difficult to ignore the torture occurring to the animals in CAFOs with the use of photo evidence; however, it is even more difficult to ignore when it is understood that this torture is being conducted by evil corporations.
I selected this topic as a talking point because it allows for the easy and effective use of melodrama, which “generates stark, polarizing distinctions between social actors and infuses those distinctions with moral gravity and pathos” (Schwarze, 2006).
The information presented about the treatment of animals, such as debeaking young chicks, clearly, evokes a feeling of sadness and disturbance. Coupled with the fact that workers do this in order to store them in mass quantities makes it easy to blame the CAFO companies. If there are enough resistance and disdain for CAFO companies, I believe this can be an effective tactic to reduce their presence or push for better legislation. Although many argue that this blame asserted on the companies as a result of melodrama does not address the real problem, which is overconsumption, I think you must first work backward in order to move forward (Schwarze, 2016).
Furthermore, I chose to pinpoint animal cruelty because of the photos available in the manner. From most of the above photos, including the cover page of the advocacy plan, the patterns, and shapes of these horrendous photos are confusingly beautiful. Thus, this makes for an easy use of the toxic sublime. The toxic sublime is “the tensions that arise from recognizing the toxicity of a place, object, or situation, while simultaneously appreciating its mystery, magnificence, and ability to inspire awe” (Peeples, 2011).
Photos, such as a photo about Slaughter Houses, have beautiful movement and alignment, however, it is also quite ugly as it depicts how chickens are skinned and butchered. Showing both ugly and beauty, these photos illustrate how nature-represented by the animals themselves-is being destroyed and conquered by humans and their technology. This is known to be a tremendously impactful use of sublime as photographer Edward Burtynsky often uses locations or situations that explain how it “has evolved from sites of nature to sites of technology to human damaged landscapes” (Peeples, 2011). This tool is emphasized further when we review the photos once again and see no humans within the photos, but see clearly that human impact has resulted in these damages.
The environmental woes that surface as a result of CAFOs are not what typical factories create. Instead, CAFOs waste and environmental degradation stemming from the animal’s biological waste. This matter is far more serious than it appears, though.
Arguments to Refute
With so much research backing the negative environmental claims against CAFOs, it’s difficult to think of possible arguments - especially with alternative options to lagoons and spray fields. However, many don’t know about these alternatives, which is typically why the primary argument against these claims is:
- How else do you store the waste?!
There are clean, humane alternative options that are simply not being acted upon because it is cheaper to pollute the environment than to use other resources. This requires a change in mindset, one that shifts the focus from money to livelihood.
Why environmental rights?
In order to communicate an essential environmental information about the topic, I chose topics that are readily understood to be concerning already. Most understand when the words "Green House Gases" or "Water Damage" are spoken that something is very wrong or dangerous. I chose to do this because it has been illustrated that understanding or recognizing or remember terms, about an issue increases the likelihood that correct information will be spread and acted upon (Monroe, Andrews, & Biedenweg, 2007).
Using familiar terminology and their coinciding facts also prevents miscommunication about the information the reader may think they already know. Working as a two-way form of communication, building understanding of a familiar topic “aims to engage audiences in developing their own mental models to understand a concept, values, or attitudes,” which decreases the chance of an audience identifying an environmental group as radical or preachy (Monroe, Andrews, & Biedenweg, 2007). As such, using objective information is more likely to better align with an audience that may not fully embrace environmental ideals or would otherwise identify as anti-environmentalists.
As the environment is often an issue many will disregard, I specifically chose to make this section more educational and objective because environmental pieces with angry or judgmental undertones tend to scare those away who do not care as much for environmental damage as they do the economy. As such, I wanted to put this problem in the hands of the people and arm them with information about their own environment and how the government is not making the proper steps via legislation or community aide in order to solve the problem. This is why the call to action from these talking points is to push for better, more effective legislation.
However, this goal may be ambitious. Although it would be wonderful to attract legislation change from these points, I see more use from this set of talking points in the form of education and background for my talking points about community rights. Although both subjects are extremely important, it is more likely that individuals will act and care if people - not just nature - are involved in the conversation.
Some of the most empowering talking points will be conducted in this section about environmental justice. A significant amount of the environmental damage that occurs happens in low-come, minority communities.
Arguments to Refute
There is extensive research presented on community impact in regard to CAFOs. However, it is not the facts that are often argued, it is the solutions:
- If not in their backyard, then whose?
- Isn't it better to have it there than anywhere else?
But people also argue about the economic benefits of CAFOs in a community; however, I think one of the most important sections of my talking points is to address this false notion. Another important aspect to consider is whether any economic benefit is worth a poor quality of life. For that, I would also like to include personal narratives within my talking points from individuals affected by these factory farms. For example, there are already a few personal testimonies from communities in North Carolina, such as the ones illustrated here:
But with such a long documentary, I believe these interviews need to be shorter and involve a significant emotional appeal from the participation-such as crying and mothers holding children. Additionally, I think a time-lapse photo evolution of an area may also prove effective as it shows the change over time of a community prior to and after the installment of a factory farm. Seeing the beauty and lively community that thrived before a CAFO could easily provoke nostalgia and empathy.
Why community rights?
As mentioned in the reflection about my primary audience, swine CAFOs are found in dense portions along the South East of North Carolina. The locations of such hog farms are documented in places with “the highest disease rates, the least access to medical care, and the greatest need for positive economic development and better educational systems” (Wing, Cole, & Grant, 2000). As such, I chose to discuss the community effects of CAFOs because it highlights a significant problem occurring in in the U.S. and around the world: environmental injustice.
Environmental injustice is defined as “the disproportionate burden of pollution on people of color and the poor” (Wing, Cole, & Grant, 2000). When put into action, the environmental-justice moment works to “change forever the material conditions of people of color in the U.S., as well as those whose lives are affected by U.S. policies throughout the world” (Miller, 1993). By including this talking point in my plan, I can include the Fight Factory Farm campaign into a larger movement already occurring across the U.S.
I also want to include videos in my talking points of citizens who have suffered the effects of CAFOs, like those in the above documentary, in order to humanize those affected by CAFO destruction. This method has proven to be effective as Lee took a similar approach to his documentary “When The Levees Broke.” In his final scenes of the film, instead of having credits roll through at the end, Lee “individualizes the previously anonymous mass of ‘hurricane victims’...when many of the interviewees are quite literally ‘reframed,’ holding up picture frames to their own faces and stating their names and place of birth or residence” (von Mossner, 2011).
Lee’s ability to put a face to a number of victims of Hurricane Katrina victims moves the problem away from politics and back on to the people who are truly important. If I were to take a similar approach, it would be to interview people who are predominately affected by CAFOs, especially using young children to evoke pathos, and also have those who are not affected by CAFOs interviewed and explain their own understanding of the incident; thus following closely to how Lee put together is own film (von Mossner, 2011). Here, I believe pathos will be my most effective tool, as well as community support. Combining these two aspects, in addition to factual analysis, I believe there could be a significant amount of participation from citizens all over North Carolina.
As the campaign has three separate, but unified, groups within the campaign that focus on one of these three issues, this will allow for a greater audience to be reached, specific environmental or union groups to join our cause, as well as emphasize the need for legislation that is for the betterment of all parties involved in the harmful effects of CAFOs.
And Rhetoric to Use
In order to use my talking points to effectively communicate with the audience at hand - those in North Carolina - I will create media that is directly pointed toward that audience. This media will be handed out during scheduled meetings, through canvassing, and via email. The media in which I will create includes:
- Video Advertisements
This media will predominately be used for distribution while canvassing in non-CAFO areas-for those who do not know about or understand a majority of the problems caused by CAFOs in their own state.
The inside of the brochures will contain information provided in my talking points section, laid out in a similar manner but each subject taking up one page of the brochure to look something like this:
These brochures would have all information presented during our events; however, I would encourage each group within my campaign - those fighting specifically for animal rights, environmental protection, or environmental justice - to have their own brochures specific to their topic but relevant only to the realm of CAFOs.
Although it may appear as though there isn’t an inordinate amount of information on these brochures, there are a significant amount of photos on the page - photos that are compelling and startling, yet still beautiful in color and symmetry. Thus, I chose to use this approach to my brochure using a technique of the toxic sublime. Specifically, because “images heighten awareness of ‘the fragility of life-systems in face of different kinds of hazards’” (Peeples, 2011). I think this fragility is further heightened in this situation by the fact that the fragile beings involved are baby animals.
Although the photos are explanatory of torture and environmental degradation, there still needed to be context to go along with the photos. Therefore, I put the most important information about each topic in tandem with the most influential photos about each subject. I did not provide in-depth information because I will use these brochures to just get people interested. Once we have that, then they can obtain more information from meetings and our infographics and flyers.
Infographics are an easy and effective way to distribute information. Using the most horrendous facts and placing them all on one page with surprising or shocking graphics is a quick and simple way to stimulate emotion. These infographics would be handed out while canvassing, at meetings, and via email. Below is a sample of what our print out infographics would look like:
Deciding what information to put in this infographic ultimately came down to the information I deemed necessary for in-depth knowledge of CAFOs, and the best way communicate this information is through an infographic; especially when the information being presented should be deemed information about risk. According to Candice A. Welhausen’s research “Visualizing a Non-Pandemic: Considerations for Communicating Public Health Risks in Intercultural Contexts,” visual rhetoric of data, or infographics, influences our perception of risk (Welhausen, 2015).
For example, using the color red is extremely useful in communicating urgency or emotion with a subject (Welhausen, 2015). Which is why the majority of my slogans, media, and the advocacy plan itself holds a majority of red tones. Furthermore, the more context available in an infographic, known as low-context infographics, the better a user will understand an infographic and the less likely they are to misinterpret information (Welhausen, 2015). This infographic is nothing if not information packed.
Although there is a significant amount of information presented in this infographic, it is necessary for individuals to have a clear understanding of CAFOs and properly understand the graphs and charts I’ve associated with this piece. Finally, although this piece is predominately geared toward North Carolina, it also encompasses the United States as a whole and how we are all affected by CAFOs; thus, using a global focus instead of just an individual one that may not apply to other advocacy plans.
Everyone is familiar with the family-oriented commercials of Tyson’s Food Inc. However, what many are not familiar with are the torturous ways animals are treated in Tyson’s CAFOs or the environmental and community health risks associated with such a company that runs through a CAFO.
In order to expose companies like Tysons, I would take their seemingly loving and kid-friendly commercials and manipulate them to include photos and videos obtained from inside their own CAFOs.
For example, I would take this normal Tyson’s video titled “Yuck” and, whenever there is a transition or a different child begins talking, I would include clips from the video titled “Secret Video Catches Tyson Foods Torturing Animals.” Many of the children in the video say yuck to certain foods, but, using the children’s voices in a voiceover of the disturbing animal torture video, it would explicitly express how “yucky” it is to torture animals and pollute the earth.
Tyson’s “Yuck” Commercial
Tyson’s Animal Torture Video
Although this may seem dark and aggressive, I think this is the most effective way to make CAFO companies out to be environmental devils. Environmental devils are characters that appear to be filled with “greed and indifference toward future generations” and are typically “infatuated with economic profits at the expense of natural ecosystems” (Check, 2008). This is clearly illustrated using the children in the video who are eating tortured animals, showing company’s who have CAFOs as having no regard for “future generations” because they are feeding children diseased and tortured animals.
The “natural ecosystem” being exploited here is also fairly clear as the animals on the farm. These animals are given excessive hormones, live in small cages and in mass quantity all to turn a bigger profit; therefore proving CAFO companies to be the perfect example of an environmental devil.
In order to meet my goal of obtaining better legislation to regulate CAFOs and prevent abuse in the animals, environment, and communities involved or impacted by CAFOs, I hope to first effectively communicate and engage communities in North Carolina-a place where CAFOs are densely found and have tragic results-through effective talking points and media.
If the Fight Factory Farms campaign were to be successful in obtaining some or all of the goals set forth, then this campaign would use similar tactics to target CAFOs in a different state within the U.S. until, eventually, every state affected by a CAFO has been addressed and properly helped.
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