continued "There is a disconnect between producer and consumer, and there are groups that are exploiting it," she says. "Now, most of what I see that the other side of the issue puts out is not educational material. It doesn't discuss how we should do this better; it's all hate propaganda and it spurs people on toward attacking the producer in order to 'save the earth.' Look at what animal research scientists go through. There's a school of thought that says you cannot use animals to benefit human beings. I talked to someone who told me, we don't need fur from animals; we can use hemp to produce clothes. He had no idea of becoming a hemp farmer. He was in the controversy business." She continues, "Only 25 percent of the earth's surface is land. Out of that land, about 10 percent can support crops. You're talking about 2.5 percent of the earth's surface can support crops. And you're saying that six billion people can live off of food and clothing produced on 2.5 percent of the earth. It's not true. Well, a lot of them say, 'It doesn't matter, we'll stop using animals and then we'll figure it out. No animals should be owned or used.' It's a disconnect.
"If you lived in the San Joaquin Valley and you said to a farmer, 'Hey, we're going to feed everybody and clothe everybody off of crop production,' they'd do the numbers in their head automatically and tell you it's impossible. There's not enough land. But most of the earth can support grazers, it can support fish, it can support birds. Then, as a supplement, you have domesticated production."
An example of domesticated production is fur farming, raising minks or foxes on a farm with the ultimate goal of selling their pelts. This involves killing the animal. Is this cruel? Platt says no.
"When you're dealing with animals," she explains, "you're dealing with them birth to death. We care for the animals from birth. Every part of this animal's life is taken care of by the farmer. Everything the animal needs it has been given all its life. And at the end, the farmer is responsible for its humane death. The American Veterinary Association recommends certain methods, and that's what we use."
For foxes, the method is lethal injection. For minks, it's gassing. If there's one word that sums up what Teresa Platt does for fur farmers, it's communication. She writes, answers e-mail queries and accusations, does radio and press interviews, and has put a video tour of a fur farm on the commission's Web site.
"Fur is global," she says. "It's got everything in it from indigenous trappers in the Arctic to fashion models. Diversity is probably the strength of the industry. Its weakness over the years has been a lack of communication. That's what I'm trying to fix. They certainly haven't used the Internet like they should. Now, we use the Internet a lot. I write pieces that get picked up by publications and it just bubbles up. It's like what we did with tuna. We did coalition work, gave a lot of speeches, wrote newsletters, got the information out there, and it worked. The information started to flow. The extremists were saying, 'One dead dolphin is one too many,' and the reporter would hear that. But he'd be able to go on the Internet and find our information and be able to write a balanced piece."