The Wagner Farm Fiasco
If you don’t know Robert Grillo or his website Free From Harm, you should. I first met Robert at the 2012 Mad City Veg Fest in Madison, Wisconsin and have since followed his work carefully. Robert, not unlike his website, is a fine balance of friendliness and intensity. Today I want to draw your attention to an important story that Robert recently broke about a taxpayer funded “educational” farm outside of Chicago.
The farm is called Wagner Farm and its stated mission is to work closely with the local 4H club to provide an educational experience to children about raising farm animals. According to one of Grillo’s sources, however, “there are ongoing policies and practices at Wagner Farm that contradict the spirit of Wagner Farm.” That source is Debby Rubenstein.When Rubenstein learned that Wagner Farm, in the spirit of “education” and “tradition,” was not only lending animals to 4H, but was selling them for slaughter shortly after their 4H glory days came to an end, she founded the Wagner Farm Rescue Fund (this was in 2002). Over the years, WFRF has rescued 82 animals, allowing them to live out the rest of their natural lives in peace rather than dying prematurely in an abattoir.
Today, Wagner Farm is actively resisting Rubenstein’s rescue efforts. Sound familiar? Although the circumstances are slightly different, the Wagner Farm story vividly evokes the Green Moutnain College saga. Recall that when VINE Sanctuary approached GMC with an offer to rescue Bill and Lou, the oxen who yanked around a plow for the student farm, the school refused, arguing that it was in the interest of environmental sustainability to transform the animals into cafeteria pot roast. Given that completing this perverse “cycle of sustainability” was integral to the farm’s mission, and given that the farm was a major draw for crunchy trust fund kids to attend GMC, the matter really isn’t much different than at Wagner Farm. As one Wagner representative said about the decision to take the farm animals to market, “it falls to my group to try to make a difference in the bottom line.”
Well, at least, unlike the eco-nuts at GMC, Wagner admitted that they were killing animals to buttress the bottom line. And, technically, they aren’t lying about offering 4H students and others “an education” about farming. It’s just a bit too honest. See the full story here.
tomorrow: the Salmon conundrum