Andy Hanacek

Does it seem to you as though the government, these days, looms larger in our everyday lives than it had in the past? Beyond the constant “stimulus package” and “bailout” chatter, how much government intervention do we need in our lives?

In the last month or so, two instances of ridiculous government and administrative intervention cropped up that irked me, and I’ve supported much of the current Administration’s strategies. These particular problems have occurred on state and local levels.

First, the state of Michigan bowed to lobbying by animal-rights groups and passed HB 5127, which mandates housing for animals that will allow them to lie down, stand up and turn around freely.

When I traveled to DePere, Wis., earlier this year to cover the American Veal Association (AVA) Group Housing initiative by visiting Chris Landwehr’s farm, Chris and I spoke about this very situation.

The AVA believes government intervention of the Michigan variety is not necessary because of the progress the industry is making on its own. It also believes the timeframe for compliance is unfairly skewed. I agree and believe the numbers don’t lie — AVA mandated its own 10-year transition period for group housing, and today it appears the industry will complete the conversion much more quickly.

More recently, bureaucracy reared its ugly head on the consumer side, when the Baltimore City Schools adopted a “Meatless Monday” program. As such, students in Baltimore schools will have a vegetarian-only option on Mondays.

Janet Riley, AMI senior vice president for public affairs, appeared on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” show to criticize the move, saying that it denied the students freedom of choice and the movement resembles indoctrination more so than education of consumers.

Meatless Monday claims a variety of health benefits for cutting out consumption of meat for even just one day per week. Right or wrong on the facts, it’s not the point.

The meat industry must stand up and tell government and administrators to back off. Rather than attempt to regulate consumers’ choices and tell farmers how to raise their animals, “Big Brother” should be working on ways to clear budgets, ease economical burdens and maybe fix some of the glaring, real issues in their locales.