by James Videle
In 2017 the United States raised over 9.63 billion land-based animals. This number includes cows, veal (baby cows), cows for their milk, chickens, chickens for their eggs, turkeys, goats and sheep (both for their meat and their wool). There are also aquatic species (both wild and cultivated) as well as bees for honey; however, specific numbers were not readily available. This massive industrial raising of animals for food and fiber requires a complex system of workers anywhere from owners and operators to support services in mechanics and technology, to seasonal agricultural workers and slaughterhouse janitorial services.
Not all jobs are equal in their exploitation of the specific animal species. In order to fully assess which jobs are most exploitative, we have created a classification system as follows:
1. Specific job sectors that exploit animals
These jobs would consist of the primary raisers of animals, fisher people, trappers, and hunters (where jobs are required, but not recreational). These sectors would also include transportation of live animals and breeders of animals.
2. Job sectors that exist because of the exploitation of animals
These jobs would consist of all work that is required to deal with the animals after leaving the farm, for the most part processing and manufacturing of the animal products.
3. Job sectors that exist that support the exploitation of animals
These jobs would consist of all support services that are required to raise the animals and then sell the product of animals. For example, grain production needed to feed the animals and restaurants and grocery stores, currently the mechanism for selling the animal products. Also, bakeries and confectionary making which utilize the products of animals.
4. Job sectors that do not exploit animals
These jobs consist of all work that does not currently exploit animals, for comparative purposes. For example, vegetable and melon production or beverage stores.
From the most current information available, we found:
- The total workforce in the United States at the end of 2017 was 154,065,000
- The amount of jobs in the agriculture, food, and related industry sectors total 23,234,985 (15.1% of total workforce)
- There were 2,509,362 jobs (10.80%) that specifically exploited animals
- There were 796,050 jobs (3.43%) that existed because of the exploitation of animals
- There were 16,989,533 jobs (73.12%) that supported the exploitation of animals
- There were 2,940,040 jobs (12.65%) that did not exploit animals
- The largest work sector was restaurants and other eating places that employed 10,509,980 workers (45.23%)
The full report prepared by the Economic Transition Team of the Humane Party can be found here.
By accurately assessing where the animal exploitation is occurring, we can begin to consider the possibility of transitioning to non-exploitative job sectors. Only the specific job sectors that exploit non-human animals would need to be eliminated (for example, the animal farmers); however, all these workers could be re-trained to cultivate a non-exploitative plant-based product, and farmer’s existing lands and animal raising facilities could be re-utilized. All the other exploitative (those that exist and support) job sectors could see a relatively swift transition.
Simply stated, if we were to eliminate all jobs (a little over 2.5 million) on animal raising farms and in trapping, hunting, and fishing, 99.9% of all animal exploitation in the United States and her waters would end.
We are not saying that any of this would be easy. To transition to a plant-based, free-from-harm economy, all industry leaders would need to collaborate. All farmers, food product manufacturers, restaurant owners, and grocery chains would need to work together to realize this goal. It would require help from animal rights’ activists and politicians who currently have very different views on animal rights.
In closing, the United States agriculture, food and related industries job sectors need a drastic overhaul. With over 23.23 million workers exploiting more than 9.63 billion farmed non-human land animals (plus countless bees and aquatic species) and over 1 million undocumented human workers employed every year, these industries require change.
If the agriculture and food industries are to continue to be the backbone of our national security and a source of human pride, then shifting to a more compassionate way for all beings is 100% necessary.