The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 17, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Bill and Lou: Murdering pets or practicing sustainable agriculture?

The controversy over Green Mountain College's intention to slaughter its two oxen, Bill and Lou has caught widespread attention in the college community and beyond. Many state politicians have weight in and letters and petitions have flooded GMC inboxes. 

Now it's Chuck Ross's turn. Ross, the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, recently issued the following statement:
"A sustainable food system is a complicated web. It involves many participants. The slaughter of animals by those able and interested in eating meat has been part of the human experience since the beginning of recorded history.  Doing so in a humane fashion is standard practice today, and subject to regulatory oversight.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets respects and supports the people involved in the food system.  We applaud the efforts of those working towards community-supported, sustainable, diversified agriculture.

Recently, there has been much attention directed towards a decision made by Green Mountain College to slaughter two oxen raised on their campus farm. This decision has drawn interest on a national level. Here in Vermont, however, it is not uncommon for people to raise their own animals for meat, or join a meat-CSA.  Our culture is closely tied to the food system.

Green Mountain College has reached their decision after careful contemplation and input from the campus community. They have raised these animals humanely, and have made a responsible choice.  We encourage others to respect their decision, even if their own personal philosophy includes abstaining from eating meat.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets will not tolerate the inhumane treatment of animals and addresses reported incidents with its full regulatory authority. This situation, however, does not constitute inhumane treatment. Instead, it is the progression of two animals from one stage of the food system into the next."

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. For more info visit