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'Stream it out': Grandin says animal ag should be more visible instead of secretive

In this Aug. 29, 2010, file photo, Temple Grandin attends the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Grandin, an autistic educator and expert on animal care and livestock handling facilities, spoke recently in Minnesota. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, file)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Animal agriculture should be more open about its methods and makes a mistake when it "circles the wagons and buttons down the stockade," says one of the nation's most recognizable authorities in animal care.

"That's going to be very destructive," said Temple Grandin, a designer of livestock handling facilities and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

Grandin spoke earlier this month at the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council's annual meeting in Minneapolis, keynoting a program titled, "American Agriculture: Raising Food for Thought."

Grandin, who is autistic, turned her condition into a career in agricultural animal care. Her life was the subject of an HBO made for TV movie, "Temple Grandin," and won several Emmy awards. She was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine.

Grandin said, in her experience, more than 90 percent of the people in the animal agricultural production are responsible and care a lot about their animals.

There is a flat hard-headedness about Grandin's thinking and speaking. For example, she drew applause when she said she is opposed to the term "harvest" as a euphemism for "slaughter."

"That's just a bunch of B.S." she said to applause.

She said slaughter plants have "really cleaned up" with work by companies such as Cargill Inc. She said animal agriculture should put cameras in their plants and "stream it out" to websites for the world to see.

"The activist groups are telling the public that everything's bad," she said. She said in an age of "smart phones," it is impossible to keep cameras out of production or slaughter plants anyway. If the public has better access to activist websites and scientific websites are less accessible, the public will get one side of the story.

Grandin said animal agriculture often is too concerned about what the activist groups are thinking and should be more focused on the general public. She said she learned something about that when traveling to Hollywood to help promote the movie. She said the Hollywood press was different than the media in other parts of the country.

"You know what the Hollywood press wanted to talk about? They