Another article from the ABC Rural site
Capitalism traps intensive farmers
By Kim Honan
A visiting animal philosopher says capitalism has trapped intensive farmers.Jes Harfeld from Aarhus University in Denmark also says that free market systems means animals get treated as objects.He says farm animals need to be treated as individuals, and not as units or commodities."
An un or under-regulated free market capitalism will give us a framework where the animals can only be objects," he says.He says unlike animals humans are subjects and individuals and believes animals should also be given this right. "We are subjects that have a mental life, can feel pain, sorrow, happiness and through ethology we have learnt that animals aren't that far from us in that respect," he says. "They should be somehow regulated in a way that they do no become objects, not even in the system of capitalism."
He believes farming with free range give animals more of an possibility of expressing its normal positive behaviours. "These are behaviours that will show you that they are subjects, individuals with a mental life," he says."If you're a sow in a sow stall or a chicken in a little cage it would be very difficult for you to show any of these behaviours and you will easily become an object."Mr Harfeld says getting rid of factory farming is the answer but the responsibility doesn't entirely lie with the farmer. "It's important to notice that these farmers are trapped in a system, they are trapped in a system of free market capitalism," he says."Many of these people would not be able to do farming if they did not do intensive farming."Mr Harfeld comes from a farming background in Denmark and sympathises with farmers. "I feel very much for the farmers because they are under attack from so many sides," he says."There are the animal welfare people, the government and the systems, they get new rules all the time." "And because they are caught in this market system as well, I feel for the farmers but they are part of the solution as well."The young animal philosopher, unlike Peter Singer, does eat meat. "I look at this way: I work with farmers all the time and I have seen farms and I've seen places where the animals lead extraordinarily good lives," says Mr Harfeld. "The animals would certainly not be living these lives if there were no such thing as agriculture and if we create welfare enough within the system - enrichment, possibility of positive natural behaviour and all that - I think agriculture can ethically exist."
In this report: Jes Harfeld, PHD fellow, Aarhus University, Denmark.