Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Great Example of Telling Your Story

As I write this, my wife and I are stranded in Chamberlain, SD after using the radiator of our Suburban to go pheasant hunting. I guess those things were made to hit a pheasant at 75 mph. Regardless of our bad luck, we had a great time in Morton, MN at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Conference and the Young Farmer and Rancher Conference.

As always, we shared how important it is for producers to educate young people about agriculture in our communities. The animal rights groups have been targeting our youth with their propaganda. And as you can imagine, the story they are telling is far from the truth.

After we finished speaking, I had a great conversation with Greg and Charity Vold. Their family milks cows near Glenwood, MN. Greg told me about some great things they are doing on their operations to tell the story of agriculture. For many years now, they have been inviting the preschool and kindergarten students out to tour their dairy. They get to see, smell and touch a lot of things while on the tour. He also explained that their dairy is a member of their local chamber of commerce. Here they get a chance to talk with local business leaders about agriculture.

We have been saying for quite some time that the things we do off our farms and ranches can be just as important as the day to day chores that keep our operations running. When I asked Greg his thoughts on that statement, he said that while these extra things they are doing require some extra time, the rewards have been priceless.

You see, they are now trying to expand their family operation. Because of their involvement in the community and their willingness to invite people to tour their dairy, they have many people in support of their proposed expansion.

These are great examples of how effective we can be as an industry if we are willing to go out and tell our story. You don’t have to travel across the country speaking to groups. You can accomplish a lot in your own communities by being open, honest and passionate about agriculture. Congratulations to the Vold family for being tremendous advocates for agriculture.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Been A Long Week

Today I am in Morton, MN writing this. Stacy and I arrived here late last night. We started yesterday off in Phoenix, AZ. We flew back into Rapid City and then headed east for the 500 mile trip. It's been an exhausting couple of weeks being on the road so much, but the people we get to meet and share our story with makes it worth it.

On Wednesday, we had the privilege of sharing the stage with several wonderful speakers in Phoenix. Dr. Dave Sjeklocha from Kansas, who is the chairman of the Beef Cattle Health and Well Being Committee of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, hosted a meeting to examine how animal agriculture can more effectively deal with the radical agenda of the animal rights groups. It was a fantastic meeting. It was very encouraging to see that so many people realize the threat that animal rights poses to our food producing ability in this country. The room was packed and there was some great discussion that followed the presentations. This is an issue that everyone in animal agriculture needs to be paying attention to. The animal right agenda will do more to shape how you do business in the next 10 years than any other issue out there.

Today, we get to share our story with the Minnesota Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference participants as well as the MNFB Promotions and Education Committee. I will admit that it is hard to go from sunny Phoenix to frozen Minnesota, but the enthusiasm of the people we will be sharing with will be just as high.

Here are a few headlines on the agriculture front that may interest you. PETA's Super Bowl ad was rejected by NBC due to it's graphic nature. Wayne Pacelle says HSUS is ready to take their agenda to Congress and the new Administration. And finally, I saw this article in Newsweek yesterday. I particularly enjoyed all of the hypocrisy it contained, especially from Michael Pollan.

Normally I do most of the commenting on news items I share with you on this blog. Now it's your turn. Read these articles or any others that you have seen this week and share your comments here.

Everyone have a great weekend, and remember, we are one day closer to spring!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vets Backing HSUS?

HSUS adds another animal rights organization
Sunday, January 20, 2008, 10:59 AM

High feed costs aren’t the only threat facing America's livestock producers today. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) announced Monday a corporate combination agreement creating the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

It's the latest effort by HSUS to further the anti-meat agenda of its vegan (vegetarian) leader Wayne Pacelle.

A news release from HSUS, announcing the launch of yet another in Pacelle's "family of organizations" explains that both groups have long expressed frustration with the positions taken by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The release points to the stand AVMA has taken on the slaughter of horses for human consumption, the continued use of dogs and cats in research, cruelty to ducks and geese in the production of foie gras, the confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens in crates and cages.

So what's the big deal? Why should you care? According to HSUS, of the approximately 80,000 veterinarians in this country, 11,000 are already supporters of HSUS. Read More

HSUS has always employed a very obvious tactic of divide and conquer. They have always managed to talk a producer into speaking bad of his neighbor or in this case, getting a group of vets to talk bad of their colleagues. What those who side with HSUS fail to realize is that eventually HSUS will come after them. When they get rid of conventional animal agriculture, they will then go after organic and natural producers. We must remember that they want to eliminate all animal agriculture, not just parts and pieces of our industry.

Coyote Hunting

Wily in the pursuit of coyotes
By Joe Mozingo
January 27, 2009

Jimmie Rizzo puts a lump of chaw in his lip and picks his way into a ravine below a home in Redlands. Through a wrought-iron fence, a French bulldog named Phoebe yips, snorts and wheezes in her rhinestone collar. Rizzo tells her to shut up. He's here to help.

For years, coyotes have fed on pets in this hilltop neighborhood. When residents complain to the county, the county calls Rizzo.

The trapper, born and raised in the hardwood forests of the Mississippi Delta, specializes in California's big predators: coyotes, bears and mountain lions.

Bear and lion problems make news. Coyotes make business. Rizzo spends about 80% of his time tracking, trapping and putting down wild canids from Pacific Palisades to Twentynine Palms.

His services are at once widely sought and controversial, reflecting suburbia's conflicted relationship with its wildlife. Read More

You will notice how lightly HSUS is treading on this subject. They need to keep suburban residents sending in donations, so they aren’t very eager to make a big deal about this. Now if this involved livestock, they would be shouting from the mountaintops about the evils of trapping coyotes. I guess they are smart enough not to bite the hand that feeds them, even if a coyote has to die in the process.

Fighting Coal

EPA Rejects S.D. Coal-Fired Power Plant News

Environmentalists say a new era has begun concering coal-fired power plants in the U.S., following a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday to overturn the State of South Dakota's approval of a massive coal-fired power plant.

The decision came less than three days after President Barack Obama took office; however, Carl Daly, unit chief for EPA Region 8, said "It would be fair to say" the decision would have been made under the Bush administration.

Nonetheless, the Sierra Club said the EPA's decision to require state-of-the-art pollution controls on the new facility marks a turnign point.

"This is a great day not only for clean energy and people's health, it's a victory for the rule of law," said Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club's Move Beyond Coal Campaign. "EPA is signaling that it is back to enforcing longstanding legal requirements fairly and consistently nationwide." Read More

You can almost hear the joy in their voices through this article. The Sierra Club, in all of their shortsightedness, has successfully blocked the building of an electric plant. And while they are celebrating, the hard working people of Minnesota and South Dakota will suffer from an increasingly unreliable power supply.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Home For A Day

Our whirlwind tour of Maryland, Delaware and North Dakota went off without a hitch last week. The view from 30,000 feet appears to show that most people in the northern part of the United States are dealing with more winter than usual. In fact Bismarck is running out of room to pile the white stuff.

Dover, Delaware was the site of the Regional Women in Ag conference that we spoke at on Thursday and Friday. They had a great crowd in attendance. Delaware is one of those great places in this country that can support a large variety of agriculture. The women there were excited about agriculture and are doing a fantastic job promoting it.

We left there and flew straight to Bismarck, ND. Even in North Dakota they are getting tired of winter. While it was cold outside, things were cooking inside at the Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Conference. There were over 100 in attendance. The state's YF&R committee did a fantastic job hosting the event. The enthusiasm for agriculture was fantastic and they were eager to hear the message we shared with them.

Congratulations to both of these groups for their commitment to agriculture and feeding the world. It was our privilege to be there with you and keep up the good work.

UK Activists Headed For Jail

Seven jailed over animal rights blackmail plot
Wednesday, 21 Jan 2009 12:59
Seven animal rights activist have been jailed today

Seven animal rights activists have been jailed today after being found guilty of blackmailing companies who supplied Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The members of the group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) engaged on an intrusive campaign targeting companies linked to the controversial animal testing centre in Cambridge.

The group issued threats to employees of the companies suggesting they were paedophiles, sending them hoax bomb parcels and making threatening phone calls.

Seven members of the group were sentenced to between four and 11 years in prison at Winchester crown court this morning. Read More

Here is an update to an article I posted last week concerning the extremist group SHAC. After years of trying to destroy people’s lives through terrorism and setting back life-saving medical research, they have gotten what they deserve. This type of activity can’t be tolerated anywhere in the world. These activists are not above the law.

CA Activist Jailed

Capitola animal rights activist sentenced in Marin
By Gary Klien - MediaNews
Posted: 01/22/2009 04:34:34 PM PST

MARIN - An animal-rights advocate who threatened a Larkspur professor over his medical research was sentenced to six months in Marin County Jail.

Justin Bhagat Thind, 33, also received three years of probation during a sentencing hearing Wednesday before Judge Faye D'Opal. Thind's lawyer, Robert Casper, said the sentence was "fair and appropriate."

"He never intended to carry out his threats, but at the same time he recognized the wrongfulness of his actions and he's remorseful for it," Casper said.

The case began in 2007 after someone obtained the phone numbers and personal information of several University of California at San Francisco researchers who used live animals in their work.

The information was posted on Internet discussion boards for animal-rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animal Liberation Front, according to court documents. Read More

It’s encouraging to see that law enforcement and judges are taking the animal rights threat seriously. When these extremists are threatening people’s lives, they need to be dealt with appropriately in order to send a message that these terrorist activities will not be tolerated. Our constitution allows for protest but not for terrorism.

Banning a Food Source

Horse Slaughter Legislation Reintroduced
by: Pat Raia
January 16 2009

New legislation aimed at stemming the export of horses for slaughter in Mexico and Canada was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Jan. 14. Sponsored by Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) HR 503, the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, prohibits the transport, sale, delivery, or export of horses for slaughter for human consumption. It also criminalizes the purchase, sale, delivery, or export of horsemeat intended for human consumption.

Violators would face fines and/or one year imprisonment for a first offense or those involving five or fewer horses, and fines and/or three years imprisonment for repeat offenses or those involving more than five horses.

The new bill is essentially the same as HR 6598, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008, also introduced by Conyers and Burton in July 2008. The committee passed that bill in September, but it never received a full House vote.

"It's a new Congress, so the bill has to go through the process from the beginning with a new name," said Nancy Perry, vice president of Government Affairs for the Humane Society of the United States. "But HR 6598 underwent so much scrutiny, we feel this bill will reach the full House quickly." Link

Here we go again. A bill to ban the transport or sale of a horse for human consumption has been introduced again in Congress. It is important to remember that regardless of how the government or animal rights extremists want to categorize horses, they are livestock. And this bill is an assault on the livestock industry that still depends on horses to a certain degree. Be sure to contact your delegation in Congress about this issue. Be assured that the animal rights crowd is.

ND Takes A Look

North Dakota Bill To Study Impact of Equine Slaughter Facility
by: Kimberly S. Brown, Editor
January 24 2009

North Dakota legislators are advancing a plan that would allow the nation's only equine slaughter facility to be built in that state, according to an article on

According to the article, Rep. Rod Froelich, D-Selfridge, and Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River, sponsored House Bill 1496, which would direct the state's commerce department to conduct a $100,000 study to see if a privately owned horse slaughterhouse would be viable in that state.

Since 2006 horse slaughter has not been legal throughout the United States due to a removal of federal meat inspectors from slaughter facilities. There is national legislation being considered that would permanently ban equine slaughter in the United States.

Comments from locals in the article were in support of the bill due to the increased number of unwanted horses in the area and the United States. Read More

Rural America has been witnessing the devastation caused by the closing of the three horse processing facilities in the United States. This idea was tossed around in the South Dakota Legislature last year and received an enormous amount of attention from out-of state interests. Harvesting horses is necessary in this country, not only to have an outlet for unwanted animals, but also as a means to feed people in the world.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On The Road

Stacy and I have a very busy schedule for the next couple of weeks. We will be speaking in several states including Delaware, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Arizona. That is if the weather and the airlines cooperate.

We leave tomorrow to attend the Regional Women in Agriculture Conference in Dover, Delaware. They are expecting a great crowd and we can't wait to share our thoughts with them. From there we fly to Bismarck to attend the ND Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher conference. They have a very strong program in North Dakota and we are excited to speak to them. After being home for a day, we fly out to Phoenix. We were asked to attend a meeting being hosted by the Academy of Veterinary Consultants to share with them what we have been doing to promote agriculture. They are having several speakers there to discuss the challenges facing animal agriculture and to look at the best ways to communicate the truth about our industry.

Returning home after only a day and a half down there, we will jump off the plane and into our outfit to head to Minnesota. Their Farm Bureau Promotion and Education team are having a meeting in conjunction with the Young Farmer and Rancher conference. We have the privilege to visit with both of them while we are there. We have some great friends back there and are looking forward to meeting new ones.

Finally, we will be headed to Sacramento, CA for the American Farm Bureau Federations Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Conference. Stacy and I serve on that committee and can't wait to see our Farm Bureau friends from all over the country.

With all of the traveling ahead of us, I may not be able to post on this blog everyday. But please keep checking back. I will do my best to keep the information flowing for you.

I have really enjoyed keeping this blog and enjoy hearing from those of you regularly read it. Keep the comments coming and let me know if you hear of an issue that you think I should post.

Your Friend in Ag,


Standing Up To Cowards

The men who stood up to animal rights' militants
Not once, even in his darkest hour after he was beaten outside his home with pickaxe handles, did Brian Cass think of walking away from his job as managing director of Hungtingdon Life Sciences (HLS).

By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter Last Updated: 11:41PM GMT 17 Jan 2009

He says he could never have lived with himself if he had bowed to violence and intimidation from animal rights activists.

Instead, Mr Cass risked his life by standing up and being counted when countless of other firms publicly declared they would have nothing to do with HLS even though the company was, as the law insists, simply testing new drugs on animals before they could be declared safe for human use.

While animal rights activists protested in their SHAC – Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty – T-shirts, Mr Cass started wearing a design of his own.

It said SHAC on the front but the acronym was spelt out on the back as: "Spongers Hypocrites Anarchists Cowards".

Tomorrow Mr Cass and a small group of defiant businessmen will see most of the leaders of SHAC sentenced to lengthy jail terms for their part in a ten-year campaign aimed at shutting down the company, which employs 1,700 people worldwide. Read More

Even in the face of being killed, the leaders of Huntingdon Life Sciences knew the importance of their work and standing up for what is right. Those of us in the United States, and particularly our farmers and ranchers, have never backed down from a fight. And we aren’t going to start now by bowing down to the animal rights extremist cowards.

An Unsettling Choice By Obama

Exposed: The Secret Animal Rights Agenda Of America’s Next Regulatory Czar

Barack Obama’s pick for “regulatory czar,” Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein, may be the incoming president’s most popular appointment so far. Judging from his resume -- best-selling author, “pre-eminent legal scholar of our time,” and an endorsement from The Wall Street Journal -- we can almost understand why. Almost. Because as we’re telling the media today, there’s one troubling portion of the new Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator’s C.V. that has seems to have flown under everyone’s radar: Cass Sunstein is a radical animal rights activist.

Don’t believe us? Sunstein has made no secret of his devotion to the cause of establishing legal “rights” for livestock, wildlife, and pets. “[T]here should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, scientific experiments, and agriculture,” Sunstein wrote in a 2002 working paper while at the University of Chicago Law school.

“Extensive regulation of the use of animals.” That's PETA-speak for using government to get everything PETA and the Humane Society of the United States can't get through gentle pressure or not-so-gentle coercion. Not exactly the kind of thing American ranchers, restaurateurs, hunters, and biomedical researchers (to say nothing of ordinary consumers) would like to hear from their next “regulatory czar.” Read More

This is definitely something that agriculture will need to keep an eye on. Sunstein has said some incredible things such as suggesting outlawing hunting and eating meat. When someone who make a blanket statement that accuses livestock producers of “unconscionable barbarity” we need to be prepared. As I have mentioned before, if you have never been politically engaged, now is the time. Our industry is going to need every voice it has to make sure our politicians realize the importance of food production to our national security.

Agriculture - Always Improving

Report Finds U.S. Farming Increasingly Sustainable
Jan 18, 2009

Initial findings of a first-of-its-kind report released at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting suggest that American farms are making progress toward reducing their environmental footprint. The Environmental Resource Indicators report, which evaluated the nation's land use, water use, energy use, soil loss and climate impact in corn, soy, cotton and wheat production over the past two decades, is the work of Field to Market, the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.

The initial index shows significant progress in the area of soil-loss efficiency, which has improved by 30 percent to nearly 70 percent for the four crops evaluated. "Soil is the key to sustainable agriculture," said Marty Matlock, area director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability at the University of Arkansas, in a press conference announcing the report last week.

Energy use per unit of output is also down in corn, soybean and cotton production by nearly 40 percent to more than 60 percent. Irrigated water use per unit of output has also decreased 20 percent to nearly 50 percent while carbon emissions per unit of output have dropped by about a third for these three crops. A next-generation report slated for release in mid-2009 will assess water quality and biodiversity indicators.

Experts predict demand for agricultural goods will double by 2050 as the global population increases by an additional three billion people. Agriculture is already the predominant user of all habitable land and 70 percent of fresh water. By 2030, grain-producing land per capita will drop to just a third of what it was in 1950, while the World Water Council predicts in just a decade we will need 17 percent more water than is available to feed the world. Read More

There are a lot of good things to share with the public about agriculture. Unfortunately, it seems the word ‘sustainable’ has been hijacked by people who have the singular mission to eliminate modern agricultural practices. They claim that agriculture can’t feed the world and be sustainable at the same time. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Technology in our industry has always been centered around the premise that we need to raise more food with less inputs. And that is a goal that we have continued to reach and go past.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Beef With Our Beef

USTR takes trade action in EU-beef hormones battle
By Tom Johnston on 1/15/2009

U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab said Thursday the USTR is modifying its list of European Union products subject to additional duties under World Trade Organization settlement rulings in an ongoing dispute with the EU over the use of hormones in U.S. beef production.

The modifications add and remove from the list of products subject to additional duties, change the EU member states whose products are subject to the duties and, for one product, increase the level of the additional duties.

The action represents the latest move in a long battle with the EU, whose ban on beef from animals administered certain growth-promoting hormones dates back to 1988. The United States, with authorization from the WTO, has imposed additional tariffs on EU products since 1999. The modified duties announced Thursday remain within the level authorized by the WTO, Schwab said.

"The existing duties have been in place for over 9 years; the goal of these modifications is to reach a resolution of the dispute under which the EU would allow market access for U.S. beef and the United States could end its trade action," she said in a statement.

EU's take

However, the EU said the move is illegal and promised to challenge it at the World Trade Organization.

"Transatlantic trade needs champions, not sanctions," EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said in a statement. "This action is most regrettable in the view of many attempts by the EU to find a solution to the long-standing dispute over hormone-treated beef."

The modifications come a little more than a month after USTR closed a month-long public comment period, during which it received some 600 comments. Details of the modifications are contained in a Federal Register notice that will be posted Thursday on the USTR Web site and has been sent for publication in the Federal Register.

The modifications are effective March 23. Link

With absolutely no science to back their claims, the EU has continued with its ridiculous ban of our beef because of our use of growth promotants. Because of their refusal to accept our beef, we have been given permission to continue sanctions against them. Products that will be sanctioned will be on a rotating basis. Remember, the EU would starve to death in a matter of weeks if they didn’t continue importing food. They lost their ability to feed themselves years ago.

Saving Lobsters

Lobster Lives to See Another Day

Lobster, apparently, is not what’s for dinner at a New York City restaurant that decided to set the crustacean, named George, free.

Weighing in at a whopping 20 pounds, as reported by the Associated Press, activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) staged a publicity campaign upon George’s behalf to dissuade City Crab and Seafood from boiling him.

Fortunately for George, the restaurant relented and released him into the custody of PETA, who then transported him several hours Saturday to his final destination of Kennebunkport, Maine – less than a mile from the summertime home of former President George H. W. Bush.

Caught off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, the lobster sat inside City Crab and Seafood’s tank for a total of ten days while activists demanded his return to the wild.

The animal rights group believes the gigantic lobster to be about 140 years old, but traditional measurements suggest the lobster is closer to 80 years of age. Link

Animal rights groups have long been upset with eating lobsters, mostly due to how they are cooked. A stunt like this is quite tame for them but still garners the media attention they crave. As usual, they make up their own numbers, as to the age of the lobster, to make their cause draw more attention.

The Other "Livestock Tax"

Groups sue EPA over farm emissions
WASHINGTON, D.C. January 16, 2009 12:02am

A coalition of environmental groups is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a last-minute Bush administration rule that exempts factory farms from federal laws requiring them to alert government officials when they release unsafe levels of toxic emissions into the surrounding community.

The environmental law firm Earthjustice filed the suit on behalf of the groups, arguing that the exemption will harm people living and working near factory farms.

Earthjustice is representing the Waterkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Environmental Integrity Project, the Humane Society of the United States, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future and Center for Food Safety.

So-called “factory farms,” formally known as Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs, are large-scale livestock facilities that confine large numbers of animals in relatively small spaces. A large factory farm may contain upwards of 1,000 cattle, 2,500 hogs or 125,000 chickens. Read More

Make no mistake about the intent of this lawsuit. It’s not about helping the environment; it’s an effort to make regulations so onerous that it would be impossible for producers to continue their operations. These size operations are already under strict environmental regulations. Adding more will only further the goal of a meat free society that has become the center of these groups existence.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Agriculture Activists

Farmers Urged to ‘Become Activists’ for Agriculture

SAN ANTONIO, January 12, 2009 – Farmers and ranchers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th annual meeting were encouraged to speak out and become activists for agriculture.

“We can’t think of the word ‘activists’ as a dirty word anymore,” said Will Gilmer, a third-generation dairyman from Lamar County, Ala. “We have to be proactive, aware and informed about our industry and what others are saying about us. It’s going to take all of us to be active.”
Gilmer’s activism takes the form of maintaining the family farm’s web site, which includes an “E-dopt a Cow” program, and writing a blog that explains what goes on at a dairy farm. He said he could reach more people through the Internet than he can in rural Alabama.

Gilmer was joined by Chris Chinn, a hog producer from Clarence, Mo., and Michelle Ganci, a livestock/poultry consultant from Clovis, Calif., on a panel discussion on the issue of animal agriculture. The three shared their different experiences in becoming active in speaking out for agriculture. Read More

Having met two of the three panelists over the past couple of years, I can tell you that they are doing great things for agriculture. Many times it’s easy to feel like the lone wolf howling at the moon when you are out trying to tell the story of agriculture. However, there are many of us working hard every day to share the truth about our food production systems. If you doubt that there are young enthusiastic people in agriculture today, just contact anyone on this panel or myself and you will discover that US agriculture is in fine hands.

Barker's Donation

Television host's gift creates animal law program at U. Va.
4:18 PM EST, January 13, 2009

Television personality Bob Barker is giving the University of Virginia a $1 million gift to create an animal law program. The Bob Barker Animal Rights Program will be housed in the university's school of law.

Barker, the longtime host of the game show "The Price is Right," is an advocate on animal rights issues such as pet overpopulation and animal cruelty and neglect. In 1995, he created the DJ&T Foundation in memory of his wife and mother to support free and low-cost spaying and neutering clinics and programs. The new program at U. Va. Will feature courses focused on animal rights and law, guest speakers and a writing competition. Law professor Mimi Riley will head the new program.

The first formal class on animal law will debut in 2009-10. Barker has made previous gifts for animal law programs at other law schools, including those at Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Duke, Northwestern and Stanford universities and at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Bob Barker has long been an animal supporter. Most of us are aware of his efforts to support spaying and neutering programs. However, his efforts now have turned to supporting law school programs to educate students on granting legal rights to animals and, in general, giving human rights to animals. The rise in law students studying animal law has been compared to the rise in environmental law students in the 1970’s. We have seen how that has impacted our lives.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Losing Home to Raise Hogs

Legal fight over hog operation forcing farmer to sell his home
But Robert Young expects to ship first pigs this spring

Posted Jan 13, 2009 @ 12:05 AM

ROCHESTER — Robert Young spent the better part of the last year and a half fighting a lawsuit aimed at stopping him from building a large-scale hog farm between Rochester and Buckhart.

Now, because of the expense of the legal fight, he’s being forced to auction off his house.Young thought the start of 2009 would see him finally starting the 3,600-head operation and collecting thousands of dollars in damages from the Rochester Buckhart Action Group, or RBAG, a not-for-profit corporation of about five area residents who sued to try and stop him.

“I got my hopes up,” Young, of Rochester, said Monday, citing decisions by a state appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court overturning Sangamon County Circuit Judge Leslie Graves’ injunction blocking the hog farm.

With the injunction lifted, work is progressing on the hog barn, and Young said he anticipates the first shipment of pigs this spring under an agreement with Cargill Corp.

Meanwhile, though, he and his wife, Sandra, are facing foreclosure on their 37-year-old home, about one-fourth of a mile from the hog operation. Read More

Unfortunately, situations likes these usually turn into a game of who has the biggest pile of money. These “concerned neighbors” didn’t have much to lose, but Young has everything to lose, especially his livelihood. A livestock producer should not have to lose his house to defend his ability to produce food and fiber for 144 of his neighbors. Best wishes to Robert Young. If it weren’t for dedicated people like Young, we would not have the safest, least expensive food supply in the world. And shame on you RBAG.

More Death Threats

Calif. probes threats against animal researchers

Monday, January 12, 2009
Davis, CA (AP) --

University of California, Davis, officials are on alert after an animal rights group says it sent letter bombs to two researchers.

The scientists work in the university's Primate Research Center. A group calling itself Revolutionary Cells — the Animal Liberation Brigade posted the bomb warnings on the Internet on Saturday.

Authorities say the group used pipe bombs in 2003 against an Emeryville business that was doing work for an animal testing company. The bombs did minor damage and no one was injured. The group also was blamed for an unsuccessful attempt in 2007 to blow up a UCLA researcher's van. The FBI considers it a terrorist organization.

University spokesman Andy Fell says no suspicious packages had been found as of Monday.

This is what animal rights groups have had to resort to. Threatening researchers and their families with letter bombs and other bodily harm is how they operate. If you have to use fear to convince people to agree with your position, you should probably reconsider your views. We need to continue supporting our university researchers in their quest to improve the human condition.

More Kids Eat Meat

Fewer Kids Are Vegetarians Today. Must Be Eating Their Brain Food.

An Associated Press story is making the rounds this week concerning a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on vegetarianism among American kids and teens. It's being touted as evidence that meat-free dieting is on the upswing for youths, but guess what? History shows the data means just the opposite.

The CDC found that about 1 in 200 American kids under 18 (or 0.5 percent) reported observing a vegetarian diet in 2007. Yet in 2001, a Roper poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) found that two percent of Americans ages 6 to 17 considered themselves vegetarians. That number later grew to three percent in a 2005 VRG poll conducted by Harris Interactive.

So it actually looks like vegetarianism among teens and 'tweens has taken a nosedive in recent years. Which is a good thing for children's health. Read More

I’m sure it’s discouraging for the anti-meat groups to see that the hundreds of millions of dollars they have spent have been wasted. With a vegan society as their goal, they have lost ground in recent years. It’s not often you see common sense prevailing in today’s world, but it seems as though it hasn’t disappeared completely. A balanced diet that includes meat and dairy products will always be your best bet.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rodeo Under New Regulations

Animal rights activists welcome new rodeo laws
ABC News, Australia
Jan 8, 2009

The RSPCA in Tasmania hopes new laws regulating rodeos will see a reduction in injuries and mistreatment of animals.

Amendments to the Animal Welfare Act relating to rodeos will come into effect for this year's season.

The changes include a ban on the riding of sheep and livestock and the introduction of penalties of up to $5,000 for animal mistreatment.

The head of the RSPCA in Tasmania, Greg Treddinnick also welcomes the new requirement for an on-site vet.

"One of the most important things is having a vet surgeon on hand so they can attend to animals that are either unfit to participate in the rodeo, or if they're injured during the events that they can be attended to promptly," he said. Link

Australia is dealing with a lot of animal rights issues. In fact they are in the midst of several battles that haven’t even begun in the US. The sport of rodeo is one, and the other that we really need to be aware of is livestock transportation. The animal rights groups are trying to completely rewrite the books on how livestock must be transported. That fight will be coming our way soon.

Lead Bullet Debate

Hearing to focus on hunting bullets
Lead fragments' health effects at issue
By Chris Niskanen
Updated: 01/08/2009 12:28:32 AM CST

The chairman of the Minnesota Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee plans to hold a hearing on the human and wildlife health risks posed by lead bullet fragments in venison.

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, said he wants lawmakers to review recent research on lead fragments found in Minnesota's food-shelf venison before acting on any legislation restricting lead hunting bullets.

"If there is a reasonable issue, we will address it, but it will be based on the facts," he said. "I want to go over all studies that are out there."

This fall, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, after finding tiny lead fragments in food-shelf venison, required that any deer meat donated to food pantries undergo X-ray testing and more stringent processing guidelines.

State Rep. Sandy Masin, DFL-Eagan, has said she plans to introduce legislation to ban or severely curtail the use of lead bullets for hunting to address the venison contamination and eagle poisoning problem. Read More

HSUS is always looking to create a crisis to further their agenda, and it seems they have done it again. Always looking for ways to stop hunting, they have taken on the issue of lead bullets. Throw out the words lead poisoning and people get excited. The real shame is that hunters have donated thousands of pounds to those who need food and now that program is in jeopardy. Other than that, only the hunters themselves will be eating this venison and I highly doubt any of them are very concerned. But nonetheless, government is deciding they need to get involved and and hearing on the subject will be in held in Minnesota.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Educating About Livestock

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009
Jefferson farmer spreads awareness of farming through calves' births

by Connor Adams Sheets Staff Writer

An average of two calves are born on Charles Brandenburg's 600-cow farm in Jefferson every day.

And each September since 2003, people who attend the Great Frederick Fair have had the opportunity to witness the miracle of life firsthand at the cow birthing center, which is supplied about 15 pregnant cows each year by the farm.

On the Brandenburg farm all pregnancies are natural — no artificial insemination techniques are used — so any cows that happened to conceive in mid-December will be likely candidates for the 2009 fair.

Becky Brashear, the Great Frederick Fair's executive assistant, said the birthing center is one of the most popular of the fair's attractions, and that it offers significant opportunities to generate public awareness of, and interest in, agriculture.

"That's the only reason for it, really: to educate people about agriculture," Charles Brandenburg said while driving his white pick-up truck through his farm's dirt roads on Tuesday. "I think people need to know where the milk and meat is coming from." Read More

These types of articles are my favorite ones to post. I wish I could find more of them. Congratulations to the Brandenburg family for stepping up when the opportunity arose to educate the public about livestock production. I would hope that all of us in production agriculture would take advantage of an opportunity like this. And if you haven’t been asked to do something like this, create you own ways of sharing the incredible story of agriculture.

Amercian Beef Production

LOCAL BEEF... it's what's for dinner somewhere else

EVEN NOW, LATE IN THE FIRST DECADE OF THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU CAN still see them on the edges of our lives, often where a few acres lie open with some grass — beef cattle, known generically as cows whether they're heifers, steers or bulls.

Although few people now living along the Gulf coast ever lay hands on a cow, or build the fence necessary to contain one, or do the calving, raising, sorting, marking, branding, or selling of cows, we remain wedded to them.

But the labyrinthine market maze now means most of us are unlikely ever to eat beef raised nearby, or at least finished and butchered nearby. Read More

There are a couple things to discuss about this article. First, the article starts off talking about the fact that if you buy beef in the grocery store, it probably isn’t locally raised. That’s probably true unless otherwise posted at the meat counter. However, in most areas locally raised beef is available through a local producer. The other thing that was touched on was urban encroachment of agriculture land. This is a major problem for many producers all over the US. Just look at the cattle numbers in Florida and think of the amount of food that is now NOT being produced because of this issue.

Promoting Meatless Monday

Trim the fat on Meatless Monday
January 7, 2009

Ready to go meatless?

In association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Meatless Monday national public health campaign is designed to help Americans prevent four of the leading causes of premature death -- heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

Meatless Monday encourages Americans to move toward a more balanced approach to healthy eating by limiting their intake of meat and artery-clogging saturated fat, and adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the diet.

Americans consume too much saturated fat. Going meatless once a week is a simple way to lower saturated fat intake.

The campaign, which defines "going meatless" as abstaining from red meat, poultry and high-fat dairy products, provides guidelines for safe fish consumption for women and children. If you're searching for meatless recipes, shopping lists or advice from nutrition experts, check out

And if you want a great meatless meal to serve on Monday, or any day of the week, try our Black Bean and Brown Rice Burritos. Link

Isn’t it interesting that there is an effort to eliminate meat from people’s diet for a day but no mention of cutting back on things that really aren’t good for you like all of the junk food that people tend to eat. Also, why don’t they promote an exercise program? To read this article at face value you would assume that just giving up meat one day a week will solve their list of health problems. The truth is that there are many cuts of meat that are very lean and will fit into any type of diet.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Global Warming Facts

Falsifying the Global Warming Hypothesis
By Michael R. Fox Ph.D.
1/6/2009 2:01:57 AM

Consider the working hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). It states "man-made CO2 causes global warming". The question now is does this hypothesis work? Is it true? Is it valid? Does it explain the climate observations and the data that are found in the real world?

First we need some crucial evidence. The Earth’s climate has always been warming and cooling. Singer and Avery discuss this in their book “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years”. Over the past one million years there have been a nominal 600 periods of warming. We can surmise that there also have been 600 periods of cooling in between them. Why wouldn’t we expect these obviously natural cycles to continue? Obviously these warming periods result from variations in natural forces having little to do with human activities.

Atmospheric CO2 has varied as well during these times. The periods between the many ice ages were “interglacial periods”, when natural warming took place. We are currently in one of those interglacial periods and should expect slight warming. We also know that humans are currently putting about 8 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually. What is not widely known is that there are a nominal 40,000 billion tons of CO2 dissolved in sea water and captured in the biomass. The human contribution is negligible relative to what is available from natural sources.

Read More

Isn’t it the pits when the facts get in the way of the greatest con job man has ever seen, the theory of global warming. Al Gore and his band of fear-mongering scientists are trying so hard to convince everyone that global warming is occurring but then those pesky facts keep rearing their head. The weather on this planet is not static. It never has been, it never will be. In fact, the weather at my house changes on nearly a daily basis. And you should see how much it changes in the matter of just one year. I’m afraid that information like this is an inconvenient truth for the global warming advocates.

Talking About Soil

A 50-Year Farm Bill
Published: January 4, 2009

THE extraordinary rainstorms last June caused catastrophic soil erosion in the grain lands of Iowa, where there were gullies 200 feet wide. But even worse damage is done over the long term under normal rainfall — by the little rills and sheets of erosion on incompletely covered or denuded cropland, and by various degradations resulting from industrial procedures and technologies alien to both agriculture and nature.

Soil that is used and abused in this way is as nonrenewable as (and far more valuable than) oil. Unlike oil, it has no technological substitute — and no powerful friends in the halls of government.

Agriculture has too often involved an insupportable abuse and waste of soil, ever since the first farmers took away the soil-saving cover and roots of perennial plants. Civilizations have destroyed themselves by destroying their farmland. This irremediable loss, never enough noticed, has been made worse by the huge monocultures and continuous soil-exposure of the agriculture we now practice. Read More

This should draw the criticisms from all of the animal rights groups. To suggest that we plant more hay so we can feed more cattle, flies right in the face of their goals to eliminate animal agriculture in the United States. Overall, this article is about 70 years late. Incredible amounts of soil erosion took place in the 1930’s. Since that time, farmers have been improving their techniques and utilizing technology to reduce the amount of erosion and lessen the use of oil and chemicals.

To hear an interview with Wes Jackson on Rural Route Radio about this article click here.

Attacking Food Production

Farm law underwrites nauseous, large-scale pollution
By Larry Beahan
Updated: 01/05/09 6:26 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a well-deserved tax on the greenhouse gas methane, produced by New York State’s 146,600 dairy cows. Industrial farm lobbyists seem to have gotten to Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N. Y., because he calls such control “absurd.” The senator has stepped into something that smells.

We all favored “Right to Farm Laws.” Then corporations invented Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, known as CAFOs. These polluting profit machines flew in under the radar. Now they produce 80 percent of our milk and meat. We have 14 of them in Erie County. Wyoming County has the highest concentration of them in the state.

In 2003, 1,000 small New York farms closed, unable to compete with expensive, federally subsidized CAFOs. These factory farms can feed 7,500 cows jammed into tiny lots. The manure drains into lagoons to evaporate into the air and seep into the water. Read More

The pure hatred for modern livestock facilities is quite apparent from the Sierra Club. It’s the same old song and dance though that Sierra Club normally puts out. They tell people how unbearable the smell is, how the environmental damage will be worse than dumping nuclear waste on the ground, etc. I have been around much, much bigger operations than the ones mentioned here and have never run into these smells that I always read about. The fact of the matter is that there is no sound science ever utilized by groups like these. The UN study has been debunked several times. This article only uses the Sierra Club’s only weapon, and that is emotion.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Food Production

Agriculture's next big challenge
By George McGovern and Marshall Matz
January 4, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Iowa's former Gov. Tom Vilsack to be his secretary of agriculture. Vilsack was an excellent choice, but some have criticized the appointment because he supports agricultural biotechnology and commercial agriculture. The critics assume that anyone who holds these views is an enemy of organic farming and sustainable agriculture. We disagree.

Norman Borlaug, a Nobel laureate and father of the Green Revolution, has concluded that the world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than it has in the last 10,000. That is an extraordinary challenge. How does the world do it?

First, we must recognize that organic, sustainable and commercial agriculture play a part in feeding the world. There is an important role for organic agriculture and, indeed, some consumers are willing to pay a premium for foods that are certified as organic. Sustainable agriculture, defined generally as farming that adheres to practices more sensitive to the environment, is also of great importance. Commercial agriculture is still the backbone of the economy in most rural counties across the nation. And commercial agriculture is a big factor in offsetting our unfavorable balance of international trade.

We do not yet see the yields with organic agriculture that would feed a hungry planet of almost 7 billion people. During the recent presidential campaign, Obama, to his credit, often talked of supporting American agriculture, from the small sustainable farms that market to the community to the large commercial farms that feed the world. He was exactly correct. The Department of Agriculture should be supporting research into organic and sustainable agriculture. Clearly, we must be more sensitive to the relationship between agriculture and the environment. But to criticize someone for supporting all sectors of agriculture seems shortsighted. Read More

I have had to read this article a couple of times just to see what I am missing. We don’t normally see someone come out and say that the primary goal of agriculture is to feed people. It’s incredible that we need to say that, but it’s apparent that many people don’t realize this fact. The other line from this story that every consumer needs to understand is that we need to get beyond ideology and use science. We can either spend the next several decades arguing about food and then not have enough, or our society can choose to get down to business and utilize technology, science, and America’s ag producers and double our food production by 2050.


Saving Lives with Coal
Paul Driessen
Saturday, January 03, 2009

There is no such thing as “clean coal,” environmentalists insist. Burning coal to generate electricity emits soot particles that cause respiratory problems, lung cancer and heart disease, killing 24,000 Americans annually.

It’s the kind of claim that eco-activist Bruce Hamilton says “builds the Sierra Club,” by generating cash and lobbying clout for his and similar groups.

It’s also disingenuous, unethical and harmful.

Since 1970, unhealthy power plant pollutants have been reduced by almost 95% per unit of energy produced. Particulate emissions (soot) decreased 90% below 1970 levels, even as coal use tripled, and new technologies and regulations will nearly eliminate most coal-related pollution by 2020, notes air quality expert Joel Schwartz.

Moreover, the vast bulk of modern power plant particulates are ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate. “Neither substance is harmful, even at levels tens of times greater than are ever found in the air Americans breathe,” Schwartz says. Read More

If you follow coal stories in the media, you will see it being cussed and discussed, but rarely appreciated. The fact of the matter is that we need electricity and more of it all the time. With a growing population, demand continues to rise. There are alternative sources for electricity, but they all have their drawbacks as well. Meanwhile, we have several hundred years worth of coal at our disposal. It’s a great natural resource that can be used responsibly.

A Cold Winter

Livestock producer learns to keep his cattle warm

HAWARDEN, Iowa (KTIV) - It's that time of year when temperatures can fall well below zero.

But, for Siouxland livestock producers that doesn't mean they get to stay inside where it's warm. They still have to go out and brave the frigid weather.

Not much stops him. He's out rain or shine, in the scorching heat and now in the freezing cold. But that's his job. For Wayne Dekkers of rural Hawarden, Iowa it is a passion that has been passed down from generation to generation. Wayne Dekkers says, "Well I guess in my situation I was born and raised that way. my grandfather fed cattle my dad fed cattle."

The Dekkers have about 3000 cattle on their farm. Wayne Dekkers says, "We start first thing in the morning and feed the cattle, we get that done first. And then the cattle are all checked the pens are walked, and checking the health of the cattle." Read More

While the calendar says winter has only been here for a couple of weeks, in many places people and livestock have been dealing with harsh winter weather for the past couple months. Without a doubt, the cold and snow makes every task more difficult. But for livestock producers, caring for their animals in this weather is a priority. There are no “snow days” for America’s food producers.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Improving Water Use Efficiency

Laser experiment hopes to save farm water

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seventy-six years after the invention of the modern sprinkler helped revolutionize farming, lasers may revolutionize it again.

Jan Kleissl and a handful of his students at the University of California at San Diego think technology using laser beams might lead to a better way to conserve the millions of gallons of water sprayed each year on thirsty crops.

He and his team are using a large aperture scintillometer to study how much water crops lose to evaporation and the peak times that water disappears.

The hope is to give farmers a more accurate, up-to-date reading of how efficiently their crops are using water than current technology allows. Read More

I always enjoy featuring new technology that continues to improve agriculture’s ability to become more efficient and feed more people. Water is a valuable resource. Any farmer or rancher will tell you that if you don’t have water, you don’t have much. With more people demanding more water, we need to remind everyone that watering your lawn isn’t quite as important as watering crops and livestock.

More Activists Going To Jail

Man who hounded UCSF researchers day and night pleads no contest
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008
(12-17) 10:58 PST REDWOOD CITY --

A Capitola man has pleaded no contest to making threatening phone calls to two UCSF scientists who use animals for research, prosecutors said today.

Justin Bhagat Thind, 33, repeatedly called the researchers at their homes in Belmont and San Mateo over a four-day span in September 2007, phoning as late as 1 a.m., said Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County chief deputy district attorney.

Thind made "vile threats," telling the scientists they would die the same way they made the animals suffer, Wagstaffe said. Read More

Animal rights activists that feel the need to threaten people’s lives continued to be rounded up and thrown in jail. For groups that claims to be against abusing “sentient beings” they sure don’t practice what they preach.

Redefining Family Farms

Group says program benefits industrial farms
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER – 1 day ago

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A federal conservation program originally designed to help small farmers is now disproportionately benefiting industrial livestock operations, according to a new report by a family farm advocacy group.

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment examined five years worth of payments through the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program, known as EQIP.

Nationally, industrial hog operations accounted for 37 percent of all EQIP payments, the group determined, even though such businesses account for less than 11 percent of that industry. Industrial dairies received 54 percent of all EQIP dairy contracts. Such businesses represent only 3.9 percent of all dairy operations.

The study found similar disparities on the state level in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri.

"This report demonstrates what family farmers have known for years: This corporate-controlled, industrial model of livestock production can't survive without taxpayer support," said Rhonda Perry, a Howard County livestock farmer and program director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. Read More

The majority of these so-called industrial farms are actually family farms. They usually include a number of family members in the operation. Everyone has opportunities to apply for EQIP funding. For this report to have any meaning it would have had to shown that smaller operations were denied funding rather than just saying what it does. Groups like those in the article that basically think family farms shouldn’t have very many livestock, actually hurt family farms that are working to incorporate the next generation.