Defending the Meat and Poultry Industry
In the article “They Die Piece by Piece” Joby Warrick of the Washington Post tells a dramatic story of how animals are slaughtered and strongly advocates for further regulations on the meat and poultry industry in order to better protect animal rights. Thesis: While it may seem like the moral high road to support animal rights regulations, upon evaluating the effects of the proposed solution on our economy it will prove that the status quo remains the most viable option.
In order to further understand this situation it is important to evaluate the impact the meat and poultry industry has on the United States economy, the effects of imposing further regulations upon it and the counter arguments to the issues presented by the animal rights movement.
Body 1: impact the meat and poultry industry has on our economy Since the end of the second world war the United States has been the world’s predominate super power with the efficiency of meat and poultry industries begin a driving factor in maintaining this status.
As the world’s super power the citizens of the United States have enjoyed an unprecedented amount of opportunities which are often over looked and taken for granted. The United States has an annual gross domestic product of over $15 trillion, the largest in the world and approximately 25% of the global economy (International Monetary Fund). As result of this the possibilities for entrepreneurs and changes in social-economic class are larger then anywhere else in the world. In order to achieve and maintain this level of dominance it is essential for the United States to continue and support its thriving industries.
Currently the meat industry in the United States employes 6. 2 million people, totally $200 billion in wages and generates over $83 billion in federal and states tax revenue annually. Additionally, the economic impact of the meat and poultry industry equates to $864 billion annually, approximately 6% of United States’ entire GDP (The American Meat Institute). To put this into perspective, Exxon Mobil, the largest company in the world produces $482 billion annually, only about half of the impact of the meat and poultry industry (Forbes).
Were we to more tightly regulate the meat and poultry industries it would have a dramatically adverse effect on the United States economy and transitively on every American. Body 2: the effects of imposing further regulations upon it Were further regulations to be imposed on the meat and poultry companies, these added measures will increase overhead costs and these companies will be forced to lay off employees and increase the prices in order to maintain their currently level of profitability.
This will adversely effect the economy and well being of America in two ways. First the newly unemployed people will no longer contribute income taxes which work to fund schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, along with ever other public service. Additionally these unemployed people will receive unemployment benefits and welfare which will further drain tax dollars away from essential programs. The second adverse effect will be the rise in food prices. Currently people in America spend less money on food then any other country in the world (Economist. com).
As a result people in America have more disposable income to spend on unessential items and help the economy maintain its level of superiority. Rising food costs will effect every single persons level of disposable income and will effectively depress spending on every single other industry. In turn reduced consumer spending will force more layoffs and downsizing of companies and further perpetuate this cycle. As our government continues to collect taxes in a deficit compared to spending they will be forced to cut funding to social programs such as schools and hospitals and the general welfare of people will be effected.
A perfect example of this concept is the 2013 Sequester following the failed fiscal cliff negotiations in which the federal government cut $83 billion in funding to national security and domestic programs including “health, education, drug enforcement, national parks, Hurricane Sandy relief and other programs” (Green). After reviewing the consequences of these proposed regulations it is apparent that well being of humans in America is far more important then the humane treatment of meat and poultry. It is also important to evaluate who will benefit most from these proposed regulations.
If American meat and poultry companies are forced to raise there prices due to an escalated cost of production it will create an opportunity for foreign companies to penetrate into the US market. Meaning if regulations were imposed, consumers would switch to purchasing foreign meat and poultry. These foreign companies will be impossible to regulate and the goal of the proposed regulation will not be achieved. Additionally, US companies may move their operations outside of the country which will result in a massive rise in unemployment and loss in tax revenue. Body 3: counter arguments to the issues presented by the animal rights movement.
Now lets evaluate the counter arguments to the issues presented by the animal rights movement. The first issues is that animals suffer during the slaughter house process. Human are carnivores and kill animals and eat them, which will obviously require some suffering on the animals behalf. Additionally, regardless of how nice the animals are or how nicely they are treated ultimately all of them are killed. It would be a waste of resources to invest in a product that is facing guaranteed destruction. It would not make sense to give a car a brand new paint job before crushing it at a recycling plant.
It may seem unsettling to think about the slaughter house process but understand that life is not all sunshine and rainbows. Many industries practices far more shocking business practices and receive drastically less media attention. For example Foxcon the Chinese company that Manufacturers Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad, has been forced to install safety nets because workers are committing suicide as a result of overbearing work conditions (Moore). Realize these are real people dying and not livestock, yet activist seem to care far less as they write tweets from their apple iPhones.
While this information is unsettling it is important to understand these are the measures necessary to maintain the lifestyle that Americans are accustom to. The United States has achieved its super power status by embarking on these efficient processes and without it we would be unable to enjoy the luxuries this country has available. The second issue proposed by animal rights activist is that meat and poultry plants are unsafe for workers. In Joby Warrick’s article he says, “Improperly stunned animals contribute to worker injuries in an industry that already has the nation’s highest rate of job-related injuries and llnesses” (Warrick 323). While worker safety is a very important issue, it is in the meat and poultry companies best interest to work to improve the safety of their employees. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “Over the last 20 years, injury/illness rates in the U. S. meat industry have improved by nearly 80 percent, as efforts to enhance workplace safety have taken effect” (Bureau of Labor Statistics). While it is impossible to prevent all work place injuries, a reduction of 80% is a very impressive figure and shows that these companies are actively working to improve safety conditions.
Additionally, a portion of the responsibility falls onto the employees who are aware of the dangers of working in a slaughter house presents. For the last 60 years the United States has been the world’s predominate super power. We have achieved this level of success by supporting our thriving industries and creating the world’s largest and most powerful economy. While the humane treatment of animals appears to be a strong ethical issues upon evaluating the side effects on our economy and the well being of our citizens it is apparent that further regulations should be avoided.