chapter  6
13 Pages

‘This ain’t agriculture’

ByBernard E. Rollin

Consider the story told to me by one of my colleagues in Animal Science at Colorado State University. This man told of his son-in-law, who had grown up on a ranch, but could not return to it after college because it could not support him and all of his siblings. (Notably, the average net annual income of a Front Range – i.e. eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains – rancher in Colorado, Wyoming, or Montana is about $35,000!) He reluctantly took a job managing a feeder-pig barn at a large swine-factory farm:

One day he reported a disease that had struck his piglets to his boss. ‘I have bad news and good news,’ he reported. ‘The bad news is that the piglets are sick. The good news is that they can be treated economically.’ ‘No,’ said the boss. ‘We don’t treat! We euthanize!’ He proceeded to demonstrate by dashing the baby pigs’ heads on the side of the concrete pen, and then throwing the still-twitching piglet into a garbage heap. The young man could not accept this. He bought the medicine with his own money, clocked in on his day off, and treated the animals. They recovered, and he told the boss. The boss’s response was ‘You’re fi red!’ The young man pointed out that he had treated them with his own time and money, and was thus not subject to fi ring. He did, however, receive a reprimand in his fi le. Six months later he quit and became an electrician. He wrote to his father-in-law: ‘I know you are disappointed that I left agriculture, Dad. But this ain’t agriculture! ’