November 18, 2007

Last week was focused on the Washington Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Spokane. As a County Delegate, I accepted the obligation to be at all general sessions during the page by page policy review. The review was flowing along with very little action when one policy regarding changing the classification of rabbits from poultry to rabbit (I’ve got to ask someone to explain that one to me some day) reminded me of a larger policy issue in the news. I skimmed through the entire policy book and discovered it did not seem to be addressed.

There has been a trend towards classifying traditional livestock animals as companion animals. Sometimes this may be done without malice towards ranchers and farmers by folks who simply want to keep an unusual pet within a city, and reclassifying a pot-bellied pig or pygmy goat as a companion lets them get around zoning issues. At other times it has been a tactic used by animal rights activists who intentionally desire to change the way we relate to animals, e.g. going so far as to declare it unconscionable to ride a horse. While the second group may be an obvious enemy to our rural way of life, the first group is the greater long term threat.

Last summer, Craig received an e-mail from a well-meaning resident near one if our vegetation management projects in King County. The neighbor was concerned about whether the goats had enough to eat. The goats were vocal because they were pretty well done with the pasture they were in, and Craig was getting ready to move to another one in the morning after rush hour traffic subsided. We take good care of our livestock, but they are not pets. Even our pets aren’t pampered pets – as much as I appreciate what they contribute to our life, I’m not going into debt to the vet if the cat gets sick, nor will I ever give insulin injections to a dog. We are entrusted by God with the responsibility to be good stewards of our animals. I hope to work through the Farm Bureau’s outreach programs to make sure that common sense prevails in defining what good stewardship means.