Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cows and chickens going on a diet

There's a familiar disconnect in today's Reuters article about meat. The story is that the high cost of feed, driven up by ethanol demand, will cut the amount of meat produced by reducing the weight of cattle and the number of chicks hatched. But the story takes little notice per se of the animals who will be eating less feed. Instead, it talks of beef output, meat and poultry production, beef and broiler production, and a "decline in beef carcass weights" (my personal favorite). Just as "freeze damage would cut the Florida orange crop by 6 percent and California's by 20 percent from a month ago," apparently "beef output would dip by 62 million lbs and chicken by 124 million lbs from last month's estimate." The production problem is real, but that doesn't make Reuters' euphemistic approach to the story of our animal farms any less jarring. Are the poor animals going to starve, or just be force-fed a tad less or kept alive a bit longer before they are harvested?

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