A Washington D.C.-based nonprofit is traveling around Kansas to get college students to skip the grill line and hit the salad bars.
Farm Animal Rights Movement, also dubbed FARM, is here to promote its campaign called the 10 Billion Lives Tour. The name comes from a USDA statistic that the United States raises and kills nearly 10 billion land animals each year.
The group travels to college campuses around the country paying students $1 to watch a four-minute undercover video of factory farms and slaughterhouses. This is the tour’s first visit to colleges in Kansas.
Jillian Lowry, director of the 10 Billion Lives Tour, said the group targets universities because of students’ new independence in food choices.
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“Hopefully they’ll make better food choices and hopefully work toward a plant-based diet,” she said.
The group visited Kansas State University on Thursday and plans to visit Fort Hays State University on Monday and Tuesday and Wichita State University on Wednesday and Thursday.
Lowry said Kansas State students showed split reactions to the video, largely because of the school’s agricultural focus.
She said that more than 250,000 people have seen the video to date and that most promise to change their diets after watching the video showing cruelty to farm animals.
Scarlett Hagins, communications program manager for the Kansas Livestock Association, said she couldn’t speak to the video because she hadn’t seen it.
“We understand what their objective is, but we tell the truth about what happens on farms,” she said. “We know their goal is to sensationalize things and to misrepresent what happens on ranches.”
The video is available on www.10billionlives.com. Hagins said she doesn’t need to watch the video because of her own experience visiting farms and ranches.
Ken Odde, a veterinarian and head of the department of animal sciences at Kansas State University, has seen the video and said it dramatically overstates the issue.
“A very high percentage of livestock producers care deeply about the animals they raise and they don’t just think of them as an economic entity, but they really do care for the livestock,” he said.
He owns a cattle ranch in South Dakota with about 330 beef cows.
“We do our very best to take care of those cows and those calves not just because its in our economic interest, but because it’s the right thing to do and I think that ethic is shared by most people in livestock production.”
He said he wasn’t surprised that the group found examples of abuse, but added: “I think a very high percentage of livestock producers do a very good job.”
The group will be at outside WSU’s student union from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.