Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Being Thankful

Be thankful for ag producers on Thanksgiving
By Mariah Baumann, MFBF regional field manager, Billings, Mont.

When it’s your turn to announce what you’re thankful for this upcoming Thanksgiving season, don’t forget to thank the farmers and ranchers who made your Thanksgiving meal possible.

Not only do farmers and ranchers produce enough food and fiber for every person in the nation, they also make it affordable. American Farm Bureau Federation has found that the average cost of this year’s feast for 10, including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and all the basic trimmings, is $44.61, up only $2.35 from last year.

One way farmers and ranchers are being recognized is through National Farm-City week, which is taking place the week leading up to and the day of Thanksgiving. The National Farm-City Week is a time to remember the farmers and ranchers—and all within the food production chain—who work to provide us with the food we have in this country and export throughout the world. It is meant to remind people of the interdependence among agriculture, the people who grow the food and the people who eat it. Read More

We have a lot to be thankful for around our house once again this year and I am sure that you do as well. Remember, there would be no Thanksgiving meal if it weren’t for the farmers and ranchers that grew the food. I hope all of you have a very wonderful Thanksgiving.

Feeding America

Farm’s Open Harvest Draws 40,000 in Colorado
Published: November 23, 2008

PLATTEVILLE, Colo. (AP) — A farm couple received a big surprise when they opened their fields to anyone who wanted to take away vegetables left over from the harvest: 40,000 people showed up.

The fields of the couple, Joe and Chris Miller, were picked so clean Saturday that a second day of harvesting was canceled Sunday, The Denver Post reported.

“Overwhelmed is putting it mildly,” Ms. Miller said. “People obviously need food.” Read More

I recently asked a representative from Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest) about changes in demand at their facilities across the nation since the downturn in the economy. She said that since the end of summer, demand for food is up 40%. The generosity of rural America has always been second to none, and the Miller family has shown that again.

Ag and the Environment

Technology reduces ag’s environmental footprint
Grand Forks Agweek
Published: 11/25/2008

The efficiencies American farmers and ranchers have implemented in the last 60 years have done more to help the environment than hurt it, said an American Farm Bureau Federation environmental specialist.

“Our ability to increase our efficiencies in feed conversion, our ability to in-crease the genetics of our herd and increase the meat per animal, has basically reduced our environmental footprint, rather than increased it," said Don Parrish, AFBF Senior Director for Regulatory Relations at North Dakota Farm Bureau Convention and Exposition informational session.

Compared to 1948, across all production in agriculture, animals produce 25 per-cent less manure. At the same time, each animal we raise produces 700 percent more meat than it did in 1948. Read More

This is probably one of the least advertised stories in agriculture. In the past 80 years, we have gone from the horse drawn equipment to four wheel drive tractors that drive themselves. Also during that time, the output produced by the American farmer and rancher has skyrocketed. It continues to grow today thanks to modern production practices that maximize efficiency.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cows, Not Cars They Say

Appeals Court Sides With Air District In Lawsuit
Are Cows To Blame For Valley's Dirty Air?

MODESTO, Calif. -- Some experts say cows -- not cars -- are causing most of the dirty air in the San Joaquin Valley.

A citizen group recently filed a lawsuit claiming air district leaders aren't doing enough to control cow pollution in the area, but this week an appeals court sided with the air district.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District wouldn't comment on the lawsuit.

Cow patties -- in pollution terms -- is a volatile organic compound. Farmers said they are doing all they can to cut down on the pollution by flushing often -- as much as every six hours. Read More

Why do you suppose that people would attack agriculture saying that cows pollute more than cars? It’s because the one’s filing the lawsuit have cars, but probably not cows. They would rather blame someone else, and force someone else to change their lifestyle rather than their own. I hope people enjoy eating their cars someday when they regulate agriculture out of business.

Communcating With The Consumer

Why Agriculture Can’t Get a Break on the Front Page
By Gary Truitt

Do a search of news headlines about agriculture, and you are likely to be depressed. Very few of them will be positive, actually most will be negative. On issues such as food safety, animal care, ethanol, trade, the Farm Bill, fertilizer, CFOs, and crop protection chemicals, the stories will almost always focus on the negative. This is because negative stories attract more readers, viewers, or listeners. A threat to our food supply or our environment, a waste of taxpayer dollars, cruelty to animals, or hikes in food or fuel prices will always get our attention. Stories about the positive things in agriculture are relegated to the Sunday feature section or public affairs programs that air at 3AM. So what can we in agriculture do to get some positive coverage of our industry?

To help answer that question, I went to a communications expert at Purdue University. Chris Sigurdson is head of the Ag Communications Department and would cringe at being called an expert. Yet I value his viewpoint because of his knowledge of the agricultural sector and his experience trying to explain ag to both the farm and non-farm media. Read More

I would agree with Sigurdson that not everybody cares about agriculture, but I also believe that more and more people are caring all the time and we need to be the reason for their recent change. Unfortunately, the biggest reason that people start caring about ag is because someone like HSUS has painted an unflattering picture of it that promotes their agenda of forming a vegan society. The biggest thing agriculture and particularly the livestock industry need to do is be proactive rather than reactive.

Algae Power

Company pushing catfish ponds as biofuel farms
Eleanor Barkhorn • Delta Democrat Times
November 25, 2008

GREENVILLE — With the catfish industry in turmoil and fuel prices in flux, an Arizona-based energy company has a plan for Mississippi's catfish farmers: transform their ponds into biofuel farms.

At a recent Mississippi Biomass Council meeting, PetroSun BioFuels unveiled a proposal to convert Mississippi's catfish ponds into algae farms. The algae, which have a high oil content, would be converted to biodiesel, ethanol, animal feed and other products.

By providing a potentially profitable use for Mississippi's 80,000 acres of catfish ponds, PetroSun's plan has generated interest from members of the state's aquaculture industry.

"This is definitely something that catfish farmers are interested in looking at as an alternative source of revenue for their farms," said Andy Whittington, president of the Mississippi Biomass Council. Read More

I was fascinated with my recent visit to a catfish farm in Alabama and that is probably the biggest reason this article caught my eye. However, it also shows how important agriculture is going to be in developing alternative energies. Pretty much every form of alternative energy coming down the line is going to require the cooperation of rural American’s in order for them to come to fruition.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Animal Rights

The Rights Of Animals
California voters have put the animal-rights movement squarely in the mainstream. Will we all soon be vegans?

Peter Singer

The notion that animals should have rights was widely ridiculed when it was first advocated in the 1970s. Now it is getting more respect. The movement has gained tens of millions of adherents and has already persuaded the European Union to require that all hens have room to stretch their wings, perch and lay their eggs in a nest box, and to phase out keeping pigs and veal calves in individual crates too narrow for them to walk or turn around. And earlier this month Californians voted 63 percent to 37 percent for a measure that, beginning in 2015, gives all farm animals the right to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. The state's 45 major egg producers will have to rip out the cages that now hold 19 million hens, and either put in new and larger cages with fewer birds or, more likely, keep the birds on the floor in large sheds. California's sole large-scale pig-factory farm will also have to give all its pigs room to turn around.

Pressure on other states to grant the same basic freedoms may prove irresistible. Many people see this movement as a logical continuation of the fight against racism and sexism, and believe that the concept of animal rights will soon be as commonplace as equal pay and opportunities for women and minorities. If that happens—and I believe it will—the effects on the food we eat, how we produce it and the place of animals in our society will be profound.

If this sounds radical, so did suffrage and civil rights a few decades ago. The notion that we should recognize the rights of animals living among us rests on a firm ethical foundation. A sentient being is sentient regardless of which species it happens to belong to. Pain is pain, whether it is the pain of a cat, a dog, a pig or a child. Read More

Peter Singer would love nothing more than to see this country go vegan. This author of animal liberation books thinks more along the lines of terrorist animal rights groups than typical families. But since he is a professor at Princeton, many will give him undeserved respect on this issue. Activist professors on our campuses can be a big problem for agriculture, and Singer is probably one of the biggest.

Donkey Basketball

Donkey Basketball cruel, say animal-rights activists
Published: November 21st, 2008 12:05 AM

Shooting hoops from the back of a donkey is one way to raise money for a good cause. And few would argue that awarding teachers $300 grants for classroom projects or after-school activities is not a good cause.

But animal-rights activists say Donkey Basketball is also a way to hurt the animals and possibly their riders.

Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals want to stop a Donkey Basketball Tournament scheduled Saturday at Graham-Kapowsin High School. They say it will subject the animals to pain and confusion. Read More

One of the most frustrating things in trying to tell the story of agriculture can be when the public wants to believe PETA rather than the owners of the donkeys who have been doing this for nearly 30 years without incident. It goes to show that institutional knowledge and common sense can take a back seat to sensationalism and emotional, feel good arguments and that needs to stop.

Private Info Going Public

EPA to require livestock operation manure plans to be made public

by Leah Beth Ward Yakima Herald-Republic

Large-scale livestock operations on tribal and nontribal land must now submit their manure-management plans for public review under regulations issued Thursday by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The requirement that the CAFO manure-management plans be open to the public was foreshadowed in a federal court decision in 2007. That ruling was a result of appeals to the 2003 proposed EPA discharge permit by both environmental and industry groups.

Industry groups prevailed on the question of whether dairies had a duty to apply for the new CAFO permits by arguing successfully that they do not discharge into waterways.

As a result, the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit said CAFO operators can't be required to get a discharge permit if there's only a potential for pollution. Put another way, a dairy that stores manure in lagoons and sprays it on crops is not considered to be discharging. Read More

The EPA wants to allow anyone who requests to do so, the permission to see your nutrient management plan. This is not only a privacy issue, but also a security issue. Anti-livestock groups love to see and report livestock operations that have problems with their systems, such as the rare occurrence of a lagoon that fails. With the type of information that these groups could now get about your system, there is the very real threat of someone trying to sabotage your setup to further their agenda. Allowing these people access to this information could be very dangerous.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Point of View

Agriculture has been on a losing streak lately. In 2002, we got blindsided in Florida with a ballot measure that banned gestation and veal stalls. Then in 2006, Arizona faced the same defeat even with a much more coordinated effort from our side. Now California has passed Prop 2, which took one more step and banned battery cages for egg production. Also during that time, Colorado was forced to dance with the devil and negotiated a deal through their legislature to phase out gestation stalls. The Oregon Legislature also passed a similar law. This snowball keeps getting bigger, so what do we do?

To answer that question, we must first try to learn some lessons from our past battles. The argument that agriculture has been trying to convey is that these laws will force the cost of food production to rise, thus making it more difficult for families to put food on the table. We have also put forth all of the science that we can generate about the benefits of using modern production techniques. In short, we have tried to reason with the consumer by using numbers and logic.

Meanwhile, our opponents have busy arguing on a different level. That level is emotion and the idea of making you feel good by voting to ‘help’ animals. They have compared livestock to the family pet and pose the question “Would you treat your dog this way?”.

Recently, I attended a meeting where I was exposed for a second time (thanks Matt D.) to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need. Basically, humans have eight levels of need. The first need is physical. In other words, we need to take care of hunger, thirst, and bodily comfort. The last need that humans desire to fulfill is transcendence, i.e. helping others realize their potential. In between these two needs, are things like learning and self-esteem. Humans will always strive to fulfill needs higher on the list. After some discussion at our meeting, this list was applied to how people vote on issues, and specifically the recent vote on Prop 2 in California.

You see, our arguments were aimed at fulfilling a need that most people have already attained, the need for food and physical comfort. The argument from HSUS appealed to people’s need for helping with a cause that is bigger than themselves and makes them feel good. The people that voted for these measures were looking to fill their need for transcendence. They were able to help someone (or in this case something, although most animal rights activists like to argue that livestock are a “someone’) who couldn’t help themselves.

The other problem we face is that there were basically no consequences for the voters if they passed these laws. It won’t directly affect the consumer at this point. The grocery stores in California will now just import eggs from other states or countries and consumers will still have an affordable and abundant supply. No matter how they vote, people will still expect the grocery store to be full of food and it most likely will be. I used to think that if this country could go hungry for a day that people would realize the importance of a home-grown food supply and that would end this effort against modern production techniques. That’s not going happen however, due to the global economy we live in. I truly believe the only thing that might scare consumers enough to change their mind would be a food-borne disease outbreak from imported food, but by then it’s too late for US agriculture to ramp up production and get back in the game because of over-regulation. So we can’t wait for that to happen.

So what do we do? I doubt there is a silver bullet out there that will fix everything, so we need to stop looking for it. But here are my thoughts.

I think we need to start focusing on the people in our industry. When our industry is talked about as a whole in the media, normally it gets beat up pretty fast, but when individuals are highlighted it seems as though the tone changes somewhat. The general population doesn’t think the producer that lives down the road from them, that they know, is the problem. It’s the one that lives further way or in another state that’s the bad guy. They are the ones that causing the problems. This highlights the need for producers to get up, get out an introduce themselves to the public.

We still need to continue generating the best available science and show that 99.9% of producers are doing the very best jobs we can at sustaining life on this planet. Even though we have found out this won’t win at the ballot box, we must have that foundation under our efforts.

Also, if you don’t belong to an agriculture organization that represents your views, you should be. And if you are already active in one, you need to encourage them to work together with other ag groups to combat these misperceptions. And it’s not just the livestock organizations, it needs to be ALL groups that deal with agriculture. It’s time to put petty differences behind us and realize the need to work together toward this common goal. HSUS isn’t just trying to change how we manage livestock, they are trying to abolish animal agriculture and promote a vegan society. Like Ben Franklin said, we must hang together or we will surely hang separately.

And finally, the best thing you can do is tell everyone who will listen what you do. Pamphlets, TV commercials, radio advertising, or the various ways of disseminating information on the internet do not hold a candle to a one-on-one conversation or presenting to a group of consumers. The previously mentioned items are a great way to back up the message that producers need to convey, but they can’t do the job by themselves.

I realize these are broad, rough ideas, and not a comprehensive list, but we need to be gearing up for our next challenge. We can’t allow agriculture to be forced into using 1940’s technology in the 21st century. That is a death sentence for agriculture and for the security of this country.

Your industry is calling and it needs your help. Are you willing?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This Behavior Is Not Acceptable

Animal rights group video captures abuse at farm
15 hours ago

LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A video released by an animal rights group on Tuesday claims to show horrific abuse of turkeys at West Virginia farms operated by major global poultry grower Aviagen Inc.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the video, which includes workers stomping on turkeys' heads and twisting their necks to kill them, was shot by an undercover investigator who worked on the companies' farms for more than two months.

The undercover worker, who was not identified, described stifling, dusty barns where the animals were kept and caught video of several workers killing turkeys, slamming them into metal cages and bragging about previous abuse of the animals.

A company official told The New York Times that they "condemn the abuse of any of the animals in our care and will take swift action to address these issues." They said they would investigate the allegations, which could lead to firing employees who were involved. Read More

Watching this video shows that some of the workers at this particular operation were not following proper handling guidelines. The video is quite graphic and if found guilty of animal abuse, they should be punished according to our laws. Of course, like most of these videos, you do not know what the circumstances were when the video was shot. It makes no sense, whatsoever, that these people would go around killing perfectly good turkeys. That is not, and will not be tolerated by the livestock industry. However, for PETA to suggest that this type of behavior is normal practice is absurd. It’s not like they will ever release an undercover video showing producers doing things the right way. They certainly weren’t in western South Dakota last week filming ranchers giving all they had to take care of their livestock during a very bad blizzard.

The Consequences of Prop 2

Prop. 2 a blow to local agriculture
Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Proponents of Proposition 2 celebrated the measure’s passage on the Nov. 4 ballot as a victory for humane treatment of farm animals. But the outcome could very well put local egg producers out of business.

“It’s probably going to mean the end of an era in Petaluma,” Steve Mahrt of Petaluma Farms told Argus-Courier reporter Corey Young.

While the measure might mean a slightly better life for some farm animals in California, it will likely put another nail in the coffin of local agriculture where egg farming once earned Petaluma the title of “Egg Basket of the World.” Read More

I don’t know if it’s buyer’s remorse yet or not, but it seems that since Prop 2 in California passed on November 4 there have been several news articles about what happens now. Apparently now that it has passed, people are starting to ask the questions they should have posed beforehand. The truth of the matter is that California egg producers will have a very tough time competing with the rest of the world now which will likely force them to close their farms down or relocate. With increased hunger and rising food costs, this is not the course our country should be taking.

Exploiting Tragedy

Gene Mueller: PETA uses tragedy to push hunting ban
Gene Mueller Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Imagine turning a tragic incident in which a child apparently shot his father and another man into a campaign to stop those younger than 18 from hunting.

That's what happened in Arizona, where wacky animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Gov. Janet Napolitano, urging her to support legislation that would ban hunting by anyone younger than 18. The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, a pro-hunting organization headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is trying to making sure every hunter in the country knows about this.

"PETA is attempting to exploit recent news coverage of a tragedy in which an 8-year old boy allegedly shot and killed his father, Vincent Romero, [with] a .22-caliber rifle," USSA's executive vice president Rick Story said. "The organization claims that the violent act was fomented by a recent family prairie dog hunting trip."

PETA, Story said, told Napolitano that hunting teaches "children to see others as nothing more than living targets. PETA always uses the most distasteful tactics to make headlines. In this case, it is exploiting a tragic situation to advance its anti-hunting agenda."

How a sad event of a boy misusing a gun can have anything to do with the hundreds of thousands of children who accompany their fathers, uncles and grandfathers on hunting trips is beyond me. I started hunting at age 10 under the tutelage of my father and grandfather. Never in all my years of hunting have I heard even the most rabid anti-hunter say an apparent criminal act was the result of a child being introduced to hunting.

Shame on you, PETA. Link

PETA has never been afraid to exploit a tragedy in order to further their agenda. Hunting is a great sport and a necessary one. It provides a way to manage game animals and at the same time utilize a resource. Just like in agriculture, hunters will need to work hard to protect their hunting rights.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Congratulations Meghan!

Our good friend Meghan, from Kansas, recently ran a half marathon in San Antonio. Stacy and I have the opportunity to sit on the American Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher Committee with Meghan. We were especially proud to see that Meghan was wearing her beef jersey during the run. You can promote agriculture in all kinds of ways, even while running a half marathon. Thanks Meghan for helping promote your industry and congratulations on a job well done.

The Cow Tax

Cow tax proposal would threaten agriculture viability

“With the economy in bad shape and the possibility of a deep recession looming, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to levy new taxes—on cows and pigs,” American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Regulatory Relations Rick Krause told Wyoming Farm Bureau members at their annual meeting. Krause spoke in Sheridan on Nov. 7.

“This is no laughing matter,” Krause said. “The cow tax and the pig tax are parts of a larger scheme by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”

“Under the proposal, if a state charged the “presumptive minimum rate” from the EPA, the cow tax would be $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head for beef cattle and a little more than $20 per pig,” Krause explained. Read More

Just recently, Mike Miller from Cattle-Fax told the attendees of the Beef Quality Summit that the projections from earlier in the year that showed the cow/calf producer should profit about $25/head had disappeared. Add an $87 tax per head on top of expenses, and you don’t have to be much of a math wizard to figure out what will happen. There is still time to comment on this proposal.

Dealing with the EPA

Is the EPA in tight with Obama administration?
By David Kruse
POSTED: November 17, 2008

One guy that will see some job security during the economic recession as a result of the Obama election is Feedstuffs Magazine columnist, Trent Loos. He's a strong advocate for animal agriculture, who loves to torture the Humane Society and their liberal sect.

I suspect the change being planned by the Obama administration is going to include an EPA that doesn't think agriculture deserves special treatment. There is even talk of the appointment of Robert Kennedy Jr., as EPA administrator. Even if it's not Kennedy, as that would be overreaching, it is likely to be an RK Jr.-type. It's not as if environmental rules in agriculture had not been tightening up under George W. They have a lot.

State environmental laws have grown and toughened as well. The worry of livestock producers is that they had a seat at the table when environmental policy was debated and decided by the Bush administration. Policy was science based, real science, not the fruit loop pseudo science promoted by the Wachos.

The Obama campaign promised the science based policy evolution would continue but most livestock groups will believe that only after they prove it. The question that I would ask livestock producers is...are you ready? Read More

Regardless of who you voted for in the recent presidential election, our industry needs to start preparing for the renewed effort to regulate livestock production even further. If you have new representation headed for Washington, DC that you haven’t met, now is the time to start developing those relationships. There aren’t any mind-reading elected officials, so if you want them to know your thoughts on an issue, you need to contact them.

Hungry Kids

USDA: Hungry childen rose 50 percent in 2007 in US

WASHINGTON (AP) — New government figures show that almost 700,000 children went hungry in America at some point in 2007.

That number was up more than 50 percent from the year before and reached its highest point since 1998.

The Agriculture Department's annual survey of food security, released Monday, also shows that more than 36 million adults and children struggled against hunger last year. That's up by 700,000 since 2006. These are people who either didn't have enough money for food or access to enough food aid to maintain active healthy lives.

Almost a third of these people, or nearly 12 million, had what the government calls "very low food security." That means they had a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat. Read More

The number of hungry children is increasing and we will need to double food production by the middle of this century. At the same time, there are groups out there that are trying to force agriculture to use less efficient means of production, basically sending us back to the 1940’s. Also, the consuming public continues to vote for more regulations on how we raise our food. I would much rather see a chicken raised indoors than see children going hungry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MSN Headline - Anti Animal Ag

What's Really in Your Fast Food?
By Rebecca Ruiz for

You may want to reconsider getting that double cheeseburger with fries.

A study released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences contains controversial claims about menu items served at McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King.

Using a technique that identifies carbon and nitrogen isotopes in meat, co-authors A. Hope Jahren and Rebecca Kraft tried to determine the animals' diets and in what conditions they were raised. Based on the high levels of carbon and nitrogen isotopes found in the meat products, the authors claim that the cattle and poultry were predominantly fed corn, which makes them as fat as possible in as short a time as possible, and were raised in extreme confinement.

In an interview, Jahren, who is a geobiologist and professor at the University of Hawaii, even suggested that the nitrogen isotopic signatures found in meat products were so high that they were consistent with environments where animals had consumed their own waste.

Please Read More. This was a headline on yesterday.

This is one of those stories in the media that when you come across it, all you can do is shake your head. Where should I start dissecting this article? First off, it is no mystery that most livestock on finishing rations have corn in their diets. They did not need to test for any type of isotope to find that out. Next, there are many reasons why corn yields are much higher than they were 70 years ago. It’s not just due to putting more fertilizer on the fields. If that theory was true, you could just put on more and more fertilizer and the yields would just get higher and higher. Seed corn technology has been a major factor in increased production along with weed and pest management, just to name a few reasons. Finally, the authors of the study claim the meat tested came from animals that were in “extreme confinement”. What is that? What does that mean? Have they compared meat samples from animals in different types of confinement or no confinement? They seem to insinuate that because they were fed corn, that they were in “extreme confinement”. These are just a few of the items that should have caught your eye as a producer reading this article. This is what we are up against in our efforts to promote agriculture.

Setting the Record Straight

Horror stories don’t reflect America’s great farmers

I grew up in the Kansas City area, a typical “city kid” until I went to the University of Missouri in Columbia and fell head over heels for a farm boy from Saline County.

I have seen both sides of the agriculture debate.

I know what it is like to rely on media reports, not really knowing the true story of U.S. agriculture. But after 20-plus years of operating a farm with my husband, I now know the “rest of the story.”

That is why I was very upset by Karen Dillon’s recent article (10/30, “Factory farms under fire; Warehouse-style conditions and confinement inspire a wave of challenges”) about the Scott Phillips farm near Drexel. Read More

Marcia Gorrell happened to be reading an article I posted on my blog recently about a hog farm in Missouri and the industry in general. The article was very one-sided and failed to tell the true story of hog production. Marcia contacted the newspaper to let them know her disappointment and they invited her to write her own piece, which she did. Congratulations Marcia for standing up for agriculture and educating the consumer about how we sustain life.

CA Egg Farmers Left Wondering

Prop. 2's impact still debated
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The Press-Enterprise

Egg-laying hens in California have won the right to have more wing room, but the industry that sells their eggs contends a proposition granting those rights is unclear.

Prop. 2, crafted by the Humane Society of the United States and supported by 63.2 percent of California voters, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015, and demands that animals be given enough space on farms to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely. The law applies to egg-laying hens as well as pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal.

Egg producers contend the cost will be serious.

Gary Foster, general manager of egg producer Norco Ranch, said the company doesn't know what its next step will be, but moving out of state is "always an option." Read More

Now that the vote is over, the HSUS answer to how egg farmers are supposed to survive in California after passage of Prop 2 is that they will have to be “innovative and adaptive”. Before the vote, they continued to say how this wasn’t going to cost jobs or it would only add very little expense to the cost of producers and the retail price of eggs. This group could care less about the humans that will suffer because of this vote, be it the producers or family on a budget that can’t afford the high priced food they are trying to force on consumers.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Time to Work Together

Ag needs to tune in, turn on and get involved to survive

Millions of voters cast their lot with the Humane Society of the United States last week, helping California's Proposition 2 win, and win big. Conventional egg production will now effectively be banned in California in 2015.

Well before that happens, many of those millions who voted "yes" will pick up a dozen eggs from the market; most of those eggs will be raised conventionally. Few will recognize their own hypocrisy.

Agriculture lost on Election Day because more voters heard about Prop. 2 from the HSUS or its allies than they did from farmers or ranchers. They defined us, not the other way around. And in politics, if your opponent defines who you are and what you stand for before you can do it yourself, you will almost always lose. Read More

We have seen how ineffective we are as an industry when there are some that don’t want to work together towards what should be a common goal of protecting our ability to choose what management systems we utilize. Now is the time for all commodity groups to put any past differences behind them and work together. And it’s not just livestock groups, it’s all agricultural commodity groups that must come together with a single message that tells our story and resonates with consumers.

Saving the Ants

Activists antsy at ant farm
Sunday Star Times Sunday, 16 November 2008

FORGET BATTERY hens and factory farmed pigs, animal rights activists have turned their attentions to the plight of the humble ant.

They are worried that a new space-age ant farm being marketed here as an ideal gift for children will leave its tiny inhabitants feeling blue and misunderstood.

Save Animals From Exploitation wants the ant farm sold for $36.95 at upmarket Christchurch department store Ballantynes and Nature Discoveries stores around the country withdrawn from sale.

The clear tank allows children to watch ants as they live, work and tunnel their way through a luminous blue gel, apparently based on a Nasa space shuttle experiment.

Its manufacturer claims the gel is nutritious and non-toxic for ants, but Safe is concerned the toy is "anti-educational'' and does not teach children to respect animals in their natural environment. Read More

The Humane Society of the United States Senior Scholar Michael W. Fox was once quoted as saying “The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.” Apparently some animal rights advocates have taken that to heart and are protesting the sale of ant farms for kids. This may be one of the most frustrating things about the whole animal rights versus agriculture fight. They are worried about the feelings of an ant and we are trying to sustain life by feeding the world, yet we look like the bad guys.

PCRM's Latest Attack

California Attorney General Opposes Animal Rights “Cancer” Lawsuit Against Grilled Chicken

Phony “Physicians Committee” Slammed For Cynical Courtroom Ploy

Sacramento – Today, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom applauded California Supervising Deputy Attorney General Edward Weil, for arguing against an animal rights group seeking to use the state's Proposition 65 law to force cancer warning labels on grilled chicken sandwiches.

Last week, Weil wrote in a memorandum to Superior Court of California Judge Emilie Elias that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM, a deceptively named animal rights group) “has submitted nothing to establish that there is any plausible claim that a warning is required,” and that “provision of the warning would not be in the public interest.”

His argument comes at a point in a pending case in which PCRM is seeking approval for a settlement under which consumers would be needlessly warned that eating grilled chicken could expose them to a cancer-causing chemical. But as the Attorney General writes, “warnings need not be provided where the chemical in question is created by a process [cooking] that actually has the net effect of making the food safer to eat, i.e., killing bacteria.” Read More

The attempts to stop consumers from eating meat continue by PCRM. About the time you think you’ve heard it all from these groups, they come along and want to put a skull and crossbones on a grilled chicken sandwich. Humans have been cooking meat over a fire for thousands of years and, for our own good, we will continue.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Power Plants Denied Permits

Coal plant permit blocked
By H. JOSEF HEBERT – 4 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has been blocked from issuing a permit for a proposed Utah coal plant without addressing global warming, jeopardizing the fate of scores of other proposed coal plants that will likely be left to the Obama administration.

An EPA appeals panel ruled Thursday that the agency's regional office didn't adequately support its decision to issue a permit for the Bonanza coal burning power plant in Utah without requiring controls on carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.

Michael Gerrard, an attorney not involved in the Bonanza case and author of "Global Climate Change and the Law," said the EPA appeals panel decision "will embolden the lawsuits" challenging construction of new power plants based on their impact on climate. Read More

There is no doubt that all efforts should be made to have the most efficient coal plants that we can. However, this new ruling has shifted the burden to the power companies to prove their limited impact on the climate rather than the benefit to human beings that need electricity to maintain life. As a society, we can’t continue to let our electric infrastructure deteriorate or fall behind demand. The irony of writing this this morning is that we don’t have any electricity right now, most likely related to our recent blizzard. It’s not much fun when the power goes out, but apparently that is the path that the Sierra Club would like us to go down.

Schafer Says Tell Story

Schafer: Farmers Need to Tell Livestock Story to Consumers
Thursday, November 13, 2008

In light of the recent passage of California's Proposition 2, which bans certain animal care practices, outgoing USDA chief Ed Schafer told RFD Radio Wednesday that farmers must continue to tell the public about how producers safely care for their animals. "We must continue to inform consumers that we have the safest, most cost-effective food supply in the world," Schafer said.

He said farmers must make sure that isolated incidents do not cause special-interest groups to ban good livestock practices that could eventually move domestic livestock production to off-shore or overseas locations. Link

To listen to the interview click here.

You hear me say this all the time, and now Sec. Schafer is also sending this message to the livestock industry that we need to tell the consumers about ourselves and our operations. It’s easy to think that the animal rights movement will go away or that someone will take care of this issue for us. Ultimately, those of us in the industry are the only ones who can do this job.

Insurance Premiums and Diets

Animals Rights Group Approaches Blue Cross Blue Shield

VERMONT -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont to raise health insurance premiums for people who eat meat, and lower the premiums for vegetarians.

In a letter sent Monday to Bill Milnes Jr., president of Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Vermont, PETA's Executive Director Tracy Reiman urged Blue Cross to raise rates on meat eaters because -- she claims -- heart disease, diabetes and other leading killer diseases have been conclusively linked to the consumption of meat and other animal products.

"Given the latest news about the effects of E. coli on meat-eaters -- and the mountain of evidence linking meat consumption to some of our nation's deadliest diseases -- this change will benefit Blue Cross Blue Shield's bottom line while also helping to ensure that your policyholders don't flat line," Reiman wrote. Read More

PETA continues to ignore proper nutritional guidelines, sound science and common sense to further its vegetarian/vegan agenda. Whenever we see things like this, it should remind us how important it is for our livestock commodity groups and producers to continue emphasizing the nutritional value of meat and dairy products and it’s role in a balanced healthy diet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Caribou Benefit From Wolf Hunting

Helicopter wolf-kills help caribou calves

SURVEYS: Survival rate soars after shooters thin a herd's predators.
By CRAIG MEDRED (11/11/08 22:53:19)

Slaughtering wolves on the Alaska Peninsula appears to have had the desired effect -- more caribou got a chance to live, according to biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

As ugly and as politically incorrect as the wolf killing might seem to some, they said, the helicopter gunning that took place earlier this year saved caribou, especially young caribou, from being eaten alive.

Fall surveys of the Southern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd completed in October found an average of 39 calves per 100 cows. That's a dramatic improvement from fall counts of only 1 calf per 100 cows in 2006 and 2007. Read More

I have talked before about the importance of managing wildlife to keep populations in check. Gov. Palin received her fair share of criticism for the aerial hunting of wolves, but now it shows that the strategy is working quite well. People might not like this type of hunting, but it’s obvious that the caribou really appreciated it.

Documenting Our Story

US Documentary Challenges Welfare Perceptions

MANHATTAN, US - On the heels of last week's Proposition 2 vote in California to end the practice of confining certain animals raised for food comes a Kansas-produced television documentary that showcases the care, empathy and human compassion involved in raising farm animals.

Kansas Farm Bureau's latest in a series of award-winning television documentaries, "The Care & Feeding of Farm Animals," features men, women and families of Kansas who raise farm animals for food. The film delves into the heritage of livestock production in Kansas and examines the economic impact associated with a growing negative perception related to the welfare of farm animals.

"As people shift away from the farm, geographically and culturally, there's a void - and perceptions are filling it," said Mike Matson, Manhattan, who wrote, produced and directed the documentary. "The ways consumers think about and react to their food and the animals it comes from impact everything associated with it, starting with the farmer who raises the animal."

Read More

One of the reasons that producers are reluctant to brag about what a good job they do raising livestock is because of the modest nature most of us have. It’s how we were raised and how we live. But this is something that us as producers have to learn to do, brag about what you do and how you do it. The next time you don’t feel like telling the story of agriculture just think about who else is telling your story for you.

Livestock Benefit Property Values

IU Study Reveals Data on Rural Home Values


Andy Eubank

A new Indiana University study indicates regulated livestock operations, CAFO’s and CFO’s, can have a net positive influence on nearby residential property values in rural areas. The study was commissioned by the Indiana Soybean Alliance whose members count on the livestock and poultry industries as their number one soybean meal customers. For data analysis the Indiana Business Research Center used almost 8,000 real estate transactions in Hancock, Decatur and Shelby counties.

Interim Executive Director at ISA, Jane Ade Stevens told HAT the number one thing learned from the study was, “to make blanket statements that regulated livestock operations have negative impact on property values cannot be substantiated in those three counties. In fact, in some cases there was no impact or it was a positive impact. So to make those claims in your county may or may not be true.” Read More

So here is the scenario. A family moves to the country to get out of the city. They want to be next to farmers and ranchers on their acreage, and they normally pay a premium to do so. Then they get upset with the producer over some practice and claim their property value is declining. This seems to be a pretty common theme over the last several years. However, the numbers don’t agree with the assertion that property values drop when a livestock operation expands. This is some good information to put in your toolbox.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HSUS and Hunting

Humane Society of U.S. asks ban on lead bullets
By BRETT FRENCH Of The Gazette Staff

The Humane Society of the United States has called for a nationwide ban on lead ammunition in the wake of a federal study released last week that showed North Dakotans who ate venison killed with lead bullets appeared to have higher lead levels in their bloodstream.

"If there was any doubt about the urgent need to rid our country of lead ammunition, here is proof positive," Andrew Page, senior director of the Wildlife Abuse Campaign for The Humane Society, said in a press release. "Extremist hunters have long contaminated watersheds and habitat, dooming animals to slow and painful deaths. Now that hunters know their actions are directly putting themselves and other people at risk, there are no more excuses to use the ammo that just keeps on killing.

"Not surprisingly, the firearms industry interpreted the findings differently, seeing the study results as confirmation that lead ammunition is not a concern. Furthermore, groups such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation see the publicity over the issue as another step by anti-hunting groups to dismantle "the culture of hunting one step at a time."

"Traditional ammunition poses no health risk," said Ted Novin of the NSSF. "We think the CDC results speak for themselves. Hunters on average had a lower lead level content than most Americans." Link

HSUS has as much dislike of hunting as it does for raising livestock. While they have been a little quieter about the subject of hunting, there is no doubt they would love to see hunting come to an end. Sometimes sportsmen’s groups and farming and ranching interests have been at odds, but if there was ever a time to come together and work towards some common goals, it is now.

Unwanted Horses

Rejected: Area horse owners find disposing of unwanted animals difficult
By Brittny Goodsell Jones

Rebecca Lewis gives horse owners more “Nays” than “Yays” these days.

People call up Lewis, manager of Utah State University’s equine facility, every day asking if she has room for a horse that needs a home. It used to be that Lewis accepted about two of every three offers. Now, it’s one out of five. It’s not really a choice, though.

Unwanted horses have become a major issue in Cache Valley, Lewis said, and the problem will continue to grow.

At a meeting Wednesday night, Kerry Rood, extension veterinarian at USU, said although the main reason for unwanted horses is the closing of processing faciltites, there are other factors on the horizon.

Abandoned horses living throughout Utah are often dropped off to join bands of other horses. Rood said thinking that horses can easily adapt to band socialization is a “pipe dream.” Horses often end up by themselves, searching for food without much luck.

“It used to be that you keep a padlock on the barn to keep your horses in,” Rood said. “Now you keep a padlock on the barn to keep four other horses from showing up.” Read More

Instead of utilizing this resource for the benefit of humans, we are capturing and pen feeding these feral horses to the tune of $21 million per year and rising. BLM now has nearly as many feral and unwanted horses in captivity as there are still roaming public lands. If the decision is made to put some of these horses down, it doesn’t make sense not to utilize them for their meat. In this age of continually being told to conserve our resources, it would be a complete waste not to do so.

Lucy Convicted

Judge: animal activist harassed UCLA researchers

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — An animal rights activist who as a child was the voice of "Lucy" in several "Peanuts" television specials has been convicted of contempt of court.

A judge Thursday found that Pamelyn Ferdin violated an injunction barring the harassment of University of California, Los Angeles faculty members who do research on animals.

She demonstrated outside the researchers' homes and distributed fliers that included their photographs, home addresses and phone numbers.

Ferdin faces up to five days in jail and a $1,000 fine. She says she has "every right to hand out the leaflets" and plans to appeal.

Ferdin also appeared as a child on "The Odd Couple" and "The Brady Bunch." Link

Our judicial system continues to see these radical animal rights activists for their destructive and threatening ways. With new laws being put in place to better protect our researchers, we now need to make sure our law enforcement officials have the resources to enforce them. And hopefully our judges will use them to show these criminals that society will not accept this type of behavior.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Whale Wars

'Whale Wars' on Animal Planet
By Mary McNamara, Television Critic

It's difficult to begrudge anyone their media savvy in this synergistic age, but there is a level of TV-consciousness in Animal Planet's new weekly docu-series “Whale Wars” that often seems at odds with its dramatic and controversial subject.

The seven-week series, which premieres tonight at 9, follows an anti-whaling "campaign" against Japanese fishing vessels conducted on the high seas by Capt. Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Watson, a co-founder of Greenpeace, was kicked out of that organization when his activism was deemed too extreme.

Although it is illegal to kill whales for commercial use, the law allows the killing of 1,000 whales each year for the purposes of research. Watson and his crew consider this a bogus loophole, used by the Japanese as a smoke screen for a purely capitalist enterprise, and they are not content to simply protest and document.

Not surprisingly, many on both sides of the Save the Whales issue consider Watson more terrorist than activist, and the Japanese fishing industry has labeled him a pirate.

Watson may be certain, and persuasive, in his belief that these whales are not dying for research and that research does not justify slaughter, but the fishermen he and his crew are stalking are within the law. Which means the Sea Shepherds are not. Read More

I have heard other parents say to us that their kids watch a lot of the Animal Planet Channel because they thought it was always safe to let the kids watch. Then along comes “Whale Wars”. Paul Watson is a professional pirate engaged in illegal activities and Animal Planet will most certainly paint him in a positive light. And, here is a guess from me, I would imagine that we will also hear about climate change, hunters and maybe even get into the evils of livestock farming on this show.

Prop 2 Fears

California livestock vote raises fear in Iowa
By PHILIP BRASHER • • November 10, 2008

Washington, D.C. — Sponsors of a California ballot initiative that sets new welfare standards for livestock are pledging to push those changes nationwide.

That's just what livestock interests in Iowa and nationally were worried about. They contributed millions to a campaign to defeat the measure, which would effectively ban the use of sow stalls and hen cages. Farming interests in Iowa contributed about $300,000 to the campaign against the measure.

The measure won't take effect until 2015, and it's not clear how quickly and widely those standards could be adopted nationwide, industry officials say.

"It's too soon to say what's going to happen," said Kevin Vinchattle, executive director of the Iowa Egg Council, the trade organization for Iowa's egg industry, which is the nation's largest.

California is the sixth-largest egg producer, and if farms there shrink, "that's a lot of egg production that's going to have to be picked up somewhere else," he said. California has no significant hog industry, so the measure primarily affects egg operations. Read More

The livestock industry needs to be preparing for more initiatives and propositions that HSUS will be submitting for a state election near you. Here is what we know right now, HSUS want to abolish animal agriculture, they have been very effective in painting agriculture in a negative light, and we have not been able to convey our story to the public. The public is not very interested in hearing about sound science; instead they want their emotions appealed to. There are many lessons to be learned from the passage of Prop 2 and it’s up to us to use this knowledge and apply it in future votes.

New Research Center

Livestock center will address environment
Dairy producers provide impetus for education, research
Dave Wilkins Capital Press

Plans for a $30 million livestock research center in Idaho are moving ahead despite a slumping economy.

Fundraising efforts are continuing for the center, which will cost an estimated $25 million to $35 million, leaders of a private foundation said.

The group behind the proposed Idaho National Center for Livestock and Environmental Studies is considering the possibility of acquiring property with an existing dairy or livestock facility and modifying it rather than building all-new structures.

Idaho dairy producers have led the drive for the proposed center in an attempt to solve some of the environmental challenges facing the industry. Read More

A lot of times we hear that “factory farms” (whatever they are) are driving smaller farms out of business. But the truth of the matter is that excessive regulation does more to drive them out than anything. With environmental regulations growing exceedingly difficult to afford for smaller producers, this research center intends to work on that problem. Even though the general public is unreceptive to sound science about animal agriculture, it will always be necessary to have good data for our use.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tales from the Tarmac

As I write this, my wife and I are in the Rapid City Regional Airport waiting to catch a flight. If all goes well we will end up in Montgomery, Alabama later this evening. Because of the hectic morning I didn't have a chance to put together much for the blog.

But I wanted to let you know that Prop 2 in California did pass 63% to 37%. That was as of 5:30 this morning and that included 87% of the precincts. While that wasn't the outcome animal agriculture was hoping for, we need to take the lessons learned from this and apply it to our next efforts to defend our livelihood.

The blog may be hit and miss this week, but I will try post as time permits. Have a great week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Point of View

Over the last couple of weeks I have been getting one question with more frequency.
If you read my blog, you have noticed that I have used quite a bit of web space on articles dealing with California's Proposition 2 that is being voted on today. Likewise, with the people that I have visited with or spoke to lately I have also spent time on the subject. Today's vote will have a significant impact on determining where animal agriculture will be spending their time and energy in the coming years.
As I have shared the information on this ballot issue, the one question that I have been getting is "What can I do out here when these issues are taking place in other states? "
At first glance, many people think this is a California issue and it won't affect us. It's easy to think that since normally we do feel quite insulated out here in the 'flyover country' from some of the issues that our coastal states tend to deal with. However, no matter where you live, any vote on how livestock are to be managed is going to eventually be our problem as well. The Humane Society of the United States has a long term goal of passing legislation through Congress that will ultimately mandate all of agriculture on how livestock will be managed. They are trying to accomplish this by going state to state passing these laws until they feel they have enough momentum to push it through Congress.
So what is the answer to the question of how do we help our fellow producers in other states to rein in this activist agenda? Well, the truth is there are several things you can do.
First, if you do not belong to an organization that represents your thoughts and ideas in agriculture, you need to get involved. Many different ag organizations across the country have donated time and money to their fellow groups in the states that have been taking on these challenges. It takes an incredible amount of money to run these campaigns. Our opponents have huge budgets and we need to show them that we are equally committed to our cause.
Second, it is imperative that no matter what type of livestock you raise, you need to realize that what affects egg producers affects hog producers affects cattle producers. All of us in animal agriculture need to stop seeing different livestock industries as separate and start viewing us as one entity. I realize that we have different issues and problems that are specific to the livestock that we raise, but when it comes to an issue such as Prop 2, livestock producers are being targeted and we need to respond as livestock producers together.
Finally, educate people about what you do whenever you have the opportunity. All you have to know to do this is your name, where you live and what you do. Because of the disconnect between producers and consumers, they are fascinated by what you do to produce food for this country. If you think just because you live in a rural community that everyone there knows about agriculture, you are wrong. Start in your local communities and if you have the chance to do some traveling, take advantage of visiting with someone from outside your region.
As with most issues, there is no silver bullet to solving the problems we face but we have some tremendous tools at our disposal that us as producers need to take advantage of. Educating the public about agriculture can start as simply as a producer extending their hand and introducing themselves to the consumer.

Mull Memorial Cattle Drive

200 riders wade through fog in 5th annual Mull cattle drive
Monday, November 3, 2008 By MARCIA GORRELL/Staff writer

A foggy morning didn't hamper the enthusiasm of over 200 horse and wagon riders during the fifth annual Houston E. Mull FFA Memorial Cattle Drive Saturday, Nov. 1. "I think that everybody thought it went great, except it got off to a foggy start," said Robin Mull. "Everyone we talked to had an excellent time."

The approximately 11-mile ride took riders from the farm of Robin, Brenda and Bradley Mull near Malta Bend and through the town of Shackleford.

After a luncheon stop the riders drove 40 longhorn cattle back to the Mull farm. On Saturday evening, over 400 people attended a steak dinner at the farm, prepared by the Saline County Cattleman. An auction was also held.

"The auction went as well as it ever has," said Mull. Read More

Congratulations to Houston Mull’s family and Trent Loos for hosting another successful cattle drive in memory of Houston. While I never met Houston everyone talks of his passion for agriculture. Even though he is no longer with us, he continues to promote agriculture through the scholarships that bear his name.

Prop 2 A National Issue

State veal, livestock producers eye California proposition
Initiative designed to prevent cruelty
By Nathan Phelps

It's half a country away, but veal and other livestock producers in Wisconsin will watch what happens with a California ballot item Tuesday.

Voters in California will take up Proposition 2, a ballot initiative designed to "prohibit cruel confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs."

"Both proponents and opponents agree this measure is going to have national reverberations," said Paul Shapio, a spokesman with the Humane Society of the United States, which is backing the ballot initiative. "These ballot measures provide the most modest reforms on an industry that for so long … has been able to treat animals however it likes."

Those in the livestock ag sector say the wellbeing of their animals is a crucial part of their operation.

"When it comes right down to it, if (farmers) didn't have healthy and content animals, they wouldn't be in business," said Casey Langan, a spokesman with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. Read More

Today we will find out if California will vote their producers out of the state in favor of imported food. This article shows that this isn’t just a California problem, but rather HSUS is going to be taking this effort to a national level. They have a goal of abolishing animal agriculture and this is another step towards that effort.

Chinese Food Anyone?

Chemical concerns grow over China's livestock feed

BEIJING (AFP) — China's state-run press warned Friday a toxic chemical found in eggs and milk was likely being mixed into livestock feed, in the clearest official indication yet that other foods may be contaminated.

"The feed industry seems to have acquiesced to agree on using the chemical to reduce production costs while maintaining the protein count for quality inspections," the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

Authorities in the eastern metropolis of Shanghai have already ordered that more than 100 fish farming enterprises in the city be tested to see if their feed is tainted with melamine, the Shanghai Daily reported.

It was one of the first reports warning seafood may also be laced with the chemical that made headlines in August after authorities admitted it had been mixed into milk.

The contaminated milk resulted in the deaths of four babies from kidney failure and the sickening of 53,000 others.

Hong Kong authorities reported last weekend that melamine had also been detected in Chinese eggs, leading to concerns the chemical was much more prevalent in China's food chain than initially believed. Read More

When agriculture producers are legislated out of business in this country, these are the problems we have to look forward to with imported food.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cattle Methane Production

Less grass, less gas, says cattle researcher
Linda Shepertycki, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, October 30, 2008

WINNIPEG -- A University of Manitoba scientist says he's figured out how to cut the amount of greenhouse gas belching from cows by as much as 200 litres a day -- feed them grain instead of grass.

For the past four years, Ermias Kebreab has been analysing cow burps at the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment south of Winnipeg to measure the amount of methane dairy cows produce when they are fed different types of food.

About 98 per cent of the methane from a cow is emitted through its mouth -- "only two per cent comes out the other way," said Mr. Kebreab.

Traditional wisdom holds that grass is less of a contributor to global warming than more energy-intensive crops like grain.

However, Mr. Kebreab's report, published in the Journal of Animal Science, shows that may not be the case.

The grass-fed cows produced 600 to 700 litres of methane per day, compared to about 500 litres a day per grain-fed cow, Mr. Kebreab said. Read More

This is a very interesting study to think about. It throws a wrench into everything the environmentalist crowd has been trying to sell the public about animal agriculture. Not only do grain fed cattle produce less methane than cattle on grass, but when fed a higher concentrate diet, those cattle reach market weights faster. Producing less methane with fewer days on feed makes it appear as though America’s corn fed beef is actually helping the environment. It’s doubtful you will see environmentalists touting this study anytime soon, but this is some great information to have ready to share with the consumer.

Prop 2 Funding

Late campaign money
Hank Shaw Capital Press

In the money chase surrounding Proposition 2, the "yes" side is swamping the farming and ranching community as Election Day nears.

Bankrolled by the Humane Society of the United States, Prop. 2 would essentially ban conventional egg production in California. The HSUS is largely funding the effort, backed by Hollywood stars and old-money philanthropists.

The "yes" campaign had spent nearly $8 million as of Oct. 18, according to state records - more than a half-million dollars more than the "no" side.

The egg industry is the chief funder of the "no" campaign, although pork producers have also chipped in, as have state Farm Bureaus as well as some beef and dairy companies.

In the final two weeks of campaigning, the "yes" side has racked up a slew of high-dollar contributions, including $500,000 from Audrey Burnand of Newport Beach. Burnand is involved with Farm Sanctuary, which is also a major funder of the campaign.

The "yes" side has also received at least $216,000 from people affiliated with the Internet company Google, including $100,000 from Anne Wojcicki, who runs the biotech firm 23 and Me and is married to Google billionaire Sergey Brin. Brin's co-founder at Google, Larry Page, chipped in another $33,000, as did his wife Lucinda Southworth. Wendy Schmidt, the wife of another Google billionaire, added $50,000 more. Read More

The amount of money being spent on Prop 2 in California should show you how much is at stake with this vote. If HSUS wins, we will soon be fighting this same type of legislation in Washington DC. With the vote taking place tomorrow, I would urge anyone with family or friends in California to let them know how this vote will not just affect California’s producers and consumers, but potentially affect everyone in this country.

Obama Blames Farmers

Obama links health issues to farming, then backs off


Washington, D.C. — Barack Obama appeared to link farming with some of the nation's leading health problems, including obesity and heart disease, in a recent interview.Obama - citing an article by Michael Pollan, an author and outspoken critic of U.S. farm policy - told Time magazine that agriculture is "partly responsible for the explosion in our health care costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in health care costs."

The Obama campaign issued a statement on Thursday saying that Obama "was simply paraphrasing an article he read. He believes there are a lot of factors that contribute to obesity, heart disease and other health problems, but he certainly doesn't blame farmers."

But Ron Litterer, a Greene farmer who is chairman of the National Corn Growers Association, said Obama's comments in the Time interview were "in conflict with what he's been saying about agriculture, no question about it." Read More

It seems hard for me to believe that Sen. Obama is willing to blame family farmers and ranchers for America’s health care costs. The only thing that America’s producers are guilty of is producing the world’s safest, least expensive, most abundant food supply on the planet. Ultimately, every person is responsible for their own health. I think it is important to remember that there are still a lot of lawyers that would love to take a crack at agriculture as a whole, just as they pursued big tobacco. It’s disappointing to hear a presidential candidate throw gas on that fire.