Monday, November 30, 2009

What I Did On My Thanksgiving Vacation

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, our friends from PETA held a protest in downtown Rapid City. Their goal was to show people that dairy cows are being abused by the farmers that own them. In addition to this, they were going to be wastefully dumping milk and encouraging everyone else to throw out their dairy products.

With only 24 hours notice, I was able to get several area ranchers to show up for the protest to make ourselves available for media interviews to share the true story of livestock production. Along with that, several ag organizations committed to donating milk to the local food pantry in response. In fact, so far there have been over 1000 gallons of milk (updated as of 12/8/09)committed for donation to food banks in South Dakota. Even though it turned out they weren’t dumping real milk, it’s reckless and irresponsible to suggest that people should waste food when there are some right here in our community that struggle to provide food for their families.

Even though none of the ranchers at the protest were dairy producers, they still showed up to let people know that the things PETA was saying weren’t accurate. I have friends that dairy and have been luck enough to tour several dairies all across the country. I have never seen the abuse and neglect that PETA claims is running rampant at these family farms.

Besides that, the things they were claiming didn’t even make sense. In fact Virginia Fort, the PETA representative at the protest, claimed that since we lived n the 21st century, we no longer needed to utilize any resources that livestock provide us. When asked where our food would come from, she claimed we could be farming the land that cows are currently grazing. I was proud of my brother-in-law when he countered with the question, “So you want us breaking up pristine, native rangeland to start farming it?” Her response was priceless. She said, we might as well break it up because we are letting cows poop on it anyhow. I asked if I could get her on video with that comment and a look of horror crossed her face. She said absolutely not, since she was realizing that she had said something more ridiculous than the standard claims they make.

At that point she declined to visit with us anymore. But as with everything you do in life, there are lessons to be learned. The first lesson is that we have to view these types of things as opportunities to teach people about agriculture. If we hadn’t been there, all of the local media would only have talked to the PETA protesters. Instead, almost without exception, more attention was given to the local farmers and ranchers and their stories than was given to the protesters. Along with that, through the donations to the food bank, we emphasized that not only do we care about our livestock, but we also care about our neighbors that live in our rural communities in South Dakota.

The other lesson that needs to be shared is that these protesters knew nothing about dairy production other than what was printed on their handouts. When we tried to have a conversation about what they were saying, they couldn’t do it. It drives home the point that farmers and ranchers are the experts. We are the ones with the first-hand, lifetime knowledge about agriculture. With modesty to a fault, it’s hard for most of us to go out and tell people that, but we need to. Our consumers want to go to a trusted source for their information about food production. We need to make sure that everyone knows we are the trusted source.

So the next time something like this happens in your region, treat it like an opportunity to tell your story. Agriculture was a big winner last Wednesday in South Dakota and it’s because PETA helped us do it.

Click here for some video of the event.

Ag Needs "Parallel Response"

Remaking agriculture's image: Time for a 'parallel response'
30 Nov, 2009 04:15 PM

TO get their message out today, food producers need to have an entirely new sense of urgency and need to use an entirely new set of alliances and tools, according to one specialist in issues management.

This requires first a desire to actually respond, then alliances with interests that are not traditional to agriculture, then capabilities to communicate plus outreach that transmit messages consistently, continuously and rapidly, explained George Clark, director of the issues and crisis group at Burson-Marsteller in Washington, D.C.

"The (communications) landscape has changed dramatically," he said, whereby a "story" can leap from a cell phone photo or video to YouTube in seconds, and food producers need "a parallel response".

F ood producers need this response because activism is occurring on a broader frequency that's more opposed to agriculture and conventional food production than ever, he said.

Furthermore, activists are taking their agendas directly to the media and public, which agriculture tends to avoid, Clark said, noting that this process begets funding and membership and creates support for the agendas.

Activists are in the conflict industry, he said - creating conflict to raise money to create more conflict to raise more money. Read More

I would take the suggestions in this article one step further and challenge farmers and ranchers to be engaged with our consumers long before an issue arises. If we can build those relationships and teach people about what we do, then when challenges for animal rights groups arise it becomes almost a non-issue. It also makes you a source of accurate information for consumers and the media when an issue arises, which will give you a great opportunity to share your story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thank A Farmer

On Tuesday night's AgChat on Twitter a great idea was shared about how we can thank farmer and ranchers for the hard work they do growing our food. And with Thanksgiving this week, it couldn't come at a better time.

If you have a twitter account, please use the hashtag #thankafarmer on Wednesday morning and share what you are thankful for. The big effort to begin at 9am MST, but please feel free to thank a farmer all day long. Not only will this give everyone a chance to reflect on what great things farmers and ranchers produce that we should be thankful for everyday, but it will also help remind everyone else where their food comes from.

If you don't have a twitter account, please do the same thing on Facebook, or a blog if you have one. The point is we need to take the day before Thanksgiving to give thanks for all of our blessings, especially the safe, affordable, abundant food supply we enjoy in this country. It doesn't happen by accident, it happens because of the world's greatest farmers and ranchers that live in this country.

Thanks everyone and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~Troy

Wednesday Morning update:

WOW!! Thank a farmer is really catching on. Here is a long list of blogs that are already talking about it. Check them out! And please get in on the action if you can. I can't think of a better way to kick off our Thanksgiving holiday.

Love Thanksgiving? Thank a Farmer - Busy Women's Guide to Eating Better

Giving Thanks - Cut to the Paste

Be Thankful for a Lot of Things, and Don't Forget the Farmers - Texas Agriculture Talks

America’s Family Farmers – Food for thought from Monsanto

Farmers make foodie aspirations possible - Farm Bureau Blog

Don't Be a Turkey This Thanksgiving, Thank a Farmer - Beyond the Rows

Food a Plenty, Thanks to family farmers - NCGA

Giving Thanks - Marketing Newbie

A place to post your thanks - Beef from Pasture to Plate

A Farmer in Northwest Iowa - Faith, Fiction, Friends

Thanking a Farmer for Introducing Me to the World of Beef Cattle - Beef from Pasture to Plate

Fun Facts about the Food We Eat - Ag Day

Thank a Farmer - Beef From Pasture to Plate

#thank a Farmer - JB Chicago

It's Thank a Farmer Week - Tyson Foods Hunger Aid

#ThankaFarmer - Ray-Lin Dairy

Reflections on Your Thanksgiving Plate

Our Affordable Food Supply

The $4.29 Thanksgiving Dinner
Posted by Brad Tuttle TIME Magazine
Monday, November 23, 2009 at 10:48 am

We're not talking about using coupons or tricks to throw together a random cheapie meal. We're talking about the typical Thanksgiving feast, with turkey, cranberry sauce, rolls, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

The American Farm Bureau (spotted via Consuming Interests, thanks) says that because prices have come down on certain foods, including turkey and milk, Thanksgiving dinner should be 4% cheaper than last year. In 2009, the average cost for a Thanksgiving dinner that feeds ten is $42.91, or about $4.29 a person. Last year, the average meal for ten was $44.61, $1.70 more expensive.

The price decrease is nice. But what stands out to me is that the day we gorge and eat and pass out and unbuckle our belts and eat some more isn't that expensive, even before food prices dropped. All you have to do is cook at home and your meals will be reasonably priced. It's as simple as that. Even if you occasionally go all out with an expensive piece of meat, cooking at home is still way cheaper than going out to eat, even at restaurants we all consider cheap.

As Jim Sartwell, an American Farm Bureau economist, says of the home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner:

Again this year, the cost per person for this special meal is less than a typical "value meal" at a fast-food outlet.

Think about that the next time you're pulling up to the drive-thru. Link

No where else on the planet can you feed so many people such a fantastic meal at such an affordable price. This is something we should be proud of, not ashamed of like some of our famous food elitists in the country try to tell you. We continue to produce this abundant, affordable food supply all the while maintaining the safest food supply in the world, growing it on less land and with less environmental impact. It’s an incredible story to tell and one that I am proud to be part of.

The Benefits of Modern Ag For Pigs

Study shows moving pigs inside has huge benefits
Nov 23, 2009 12:09 PM MST

COLUMBIA, MO(MU release) – A study by University of Missouri Extension swine experts shows that moving pigs indoors has led to improved health for pigs and higher-quality product for consumers.

Since the shift to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), veterinarians have seen a significant decline in parasites, said Beth Young, swine veterinarian with the University of Missouri Commercial Agriculture Program. Young spoke at the 2009 Swine Institute in Columbia, Nov. 10.

The Commercial Agriculture Swine Focus Team looked at changes in the swine industry since 1945.

In the 1940s, 55-70 percent of pigs were infected with lungworms. By the 1970s lungworm outbreaks only affected about 11 percent of farms. "In the past decade, lungworms are rarely seen," Young said.

"Likewise, 78-94 percent of pigs were infected with kidney worms in the 1940s, and now infestations are rarely seen," she said. Read More

It’s more than annoying to hear the anti-agriculture crowd try claiming that modern livestock housing is unhealthy for our animals. Even without these scientific studies, farmers and ranchers can easily see what methods for raising livestock allow them to be more comfortable. But it’s studies like these that we need to combine with our own stories to share with our consumers.

New Uses For Livestock Products

Waste not, want not: Companies find uses for leftover animal parts
By Greg Latshaw, USA TODAY

A growing number of companies are turning their attention to creating renewable products — such as adhesives and plastics — from the animal parts that can't be sold on supermarket shelves.

From plastics made from feather protein to diesel fuel made from fat to organic fertilizer made from poultry litter, the USA's top meat producers are developing new uses and markets for the animal parts that humans won't eat, says Tom Cook, president of the National Renderers Association in Alexandria, Va.

For years, those parts have ended up in cosmetics, soap, pet food and animal feed. Now, meat companies are putting more resources into sustainability programs, says Paul Rutledge of the American Meat Institute's sustainability committee.

At Clemson University, such products are being tested at the South Carolina school's Animal Co-Products Research & Education Center, says center Director Annel Greene.

Greene says there are a number of uses for the leftover materials that have yet to be discovered. "It's fascinating to see everything that can be done," Greene says. Read More

Most people may not realize it, but we get so much more than just meat from our livestock. Virtually nothing is wasted and even more and better uses are being discovered. Livestock play an integral part in our lives. That’s why it is so reckless for people to advocate eliminating animal agriculture. The fail to account for all the things other than food that we need them for, especially things like life-saving medicines.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Farm-City Week

Farm/City Week Tackles Livestock Myths vs. Facts
National panel clarifies animal welfare issues.
Tom Bechman
Published: Nov 20, 2009

Anyone present in the audience at the kickoff of National Farm/City Week Thursday, Nov 19 or listening via Agri-Talk radio got the message loud and clear. Farmers and groups that work with farmers are realizing that it's time to fight back against so-called animal welfare groups who issue damaging videos and spew half-truths. And the best way to fight back is for farmers and ranchers to tell their own story.

"One of our goals is for farmers and ranchers to sit down and tell the story of agriculture whenever they can," says Roger Berry, field director for the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska. "The other goal we have as an organization is to work with farmers and ranchers who want to bring a son or daughter back home into the operation, and find a way to do it. Often that involves turning to livestock to generate more income."

"When consumers ask questions about where their food comes from or if it's safe, that's a great opportunity to talk," Berry says. That's when we need to have farmers tell their stories."

While opponents of livestock agriculture, such as PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, are good at evoking emotion by placing disturbing videos on places like YouTube, ag supporters can do the same thing, Berry says. And many already have. There are plenty of YouTube videos on line today that show farmers doing the job of animal care the right way.

"The opposition looks for a bad actor and wants the public to think that's what all of livestock agriculture is like," he continues. "There will always be bad actors in any industry. But for every bad actor, there are thousands of farmers and ranchers out there doing things right." Read More

It’s Farm-City Week and there’s probably no more appropriate time to have it than during the week prior to Thanksgiving. I hope that in your own way, you will help spread the real story of agriculture this week. Along with that, please remember all of the people that are responsible for our ability to enjoy Thanksgiving. Our military and our farmers and ranchers are the reason we will be enjoying this holiday. Don’t forget about them in your prayers.

Cattlemen Dealing With Many Issues

WINDMILL: Cattlemen bristle at EPA, USDA rules
By Jerry Lackey
Saturday, November 21, 2009

SAN ANGELO, Texas — An unbelievable number of issues confront not only the cattle business but agriculture as a whole, says Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Washington, D.C. But one of the biggest concerns is the Environmental Protection Agency’s dust rule.

“The EPA is proposing a tenfold reduction in the thresholds of what they call coarse particle matter, which is EPA talk for agricultural dust,” Woodall said in a recent interview during the 65th annual National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention.

“We’re talking about everything that comes out of the back of a cotton stripper or a combine (dust, leaves and harvest debris), cows that are milling around in the lot, even dust kicked up from pickup tires while driving down the ranch road,” Woodall said. “They would all be in violation of EPA’s clean air rules.” Read More

There certainly are many issues facing agriculture, and animal agriculture in particular. In my mind it highlights the need for producers to become involved in helping shape the solutions to these problems. It’s more important than ever to be active in an agriculture organization that represents your views. Your involvement can’t end there though, you need to be politically active as well by contacting your elected officials to share your thoughts and let them know how pending legislation might affect your ability to produce food and fiber. I was reminded again this weekend that politics is a contact sport. If you have been sitting on the sidelines, please suit up and get on the field!

Producing Affordable Food is Key

November 21st, 2009 07:32am
Who can afford $7.50 a pound for turkey?
by Inside.Opinion

Food for thought: I got a call on Friday from Arnie Riebli, a fourth-generation Sonoma County farmer and co-owner of Petaluma-based Sunrise Farms, one of the top egg producers in the state. We talked about the front-page story about the Thode family raising heritage turkeys on their Sebastopol ranch.

“I know I’m not objective about the whole thing,” he said. “But I read the news media every day. Animal agriculture is under attack. And then I read about . . . 70 turkeys selling for $7.50 a pound and in other parts of the country people are going hungry.”

His question: Are we being realistic about our expectations of food production and what people can afford?

It’s a fair concern. At $7.50 a pound, a 15-pound turkey is going to cost $112.50. Who has that kind of money? A Safeway ad this week was offering turkeys for 88 cents a pound.

Riebli doesn’t raise turkeys, and he said he has nothing against a family that wants to raise heritage turkeys as a hobby. He just gets concerned when people see stories like this as a solution to society’s food needs. Read More

As we head into Thanksgiving this week, I am certainly grateful that my family doesn’t have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. It’s not because we are extremely wealthy, it’s because America’s family farmers and ranchers are producing the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the history of the planet. It’s unfortunate though that this very food supply is under attack by elitists who are pushing to make it less affordable. There is no doubt that our family wouldn’t be enjoying our Thanksgiving turkey if it cost more than $100. I have absolutely no problems with those that are raising this more expensive food. If it’s a model that works for them and they are filling a demand that is there, then that’s great. I just don’t want people to think these type of systems are the way we will feed an ever growing planet.

Friday, November 20, 2009

MT Producers on Billboards

Montana Farm Bureau's billboard campaign: A new face for agriculture
By TERRI ADAMS, The Prairie StarWednesday, November 18, 2009 3:52 PM CST

Tired of the negative image being portrayed regarding animal agriculture, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation is fighting back - one billboard at a time.The billboards, with a photo and slogan, are part of a year-long campaign by the MFBF to put a face on agriculture and show that producers really do care for their animals.

The newest billboard was unveiled in Missoula, Mont., on Nov. 9, just in time for the MFBF Convention held there.Using funding provided by the Montana Beef Council, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation has previously posted billboards in Billings, Mont. MFB members have also posted road signs across the state on highways and byways, from Custer to Dillon and from Ronan to Glasgow.

“We're trying to combat the negative image of animal agriculture that has come up in the press lately,” said Sue Ann Streufert, director of member relations at MFBF. “We want people to know we truly care for our animals.”When they received the funding from the Beef Council, the idea to use it for billboards and road signs was already established.

“We do a lot of radio advertising already and we talk about how farmers and ranchers care for the land,” Streufert said. “With this funding we wanted to reach a different market and we wanted to plant visual images in the minds of the people. Seeing something is very different than just hearing a radio ad.”

The MFBF wanted to use photos of real producers working with their own animals. “Honestly, using a professional photograph to take photos never crossed our mind,” she said. Read More

You have probably heard me say in the past even though agriculture can’t compete dollar for dollar with these extremely wealthy, we have something that their money can’t buy. It’s our people in agriculture that are priceless and our friends in Montana are cashing in on it. We absolutely have to keep showing our consumers that there are real farmers and ranchers still out on the land. It sounds crazy to those of us that are out here, but many of those not still connected to the land don’t realize that. They continue to hear that all of agriculture is being run by large corporations and that just isn’t the truth. Congratulations to the farming and ranching families of Montana for their great efforts.

Researching Animal Welfare

Researchers ask: Are caged chickens miserable?
'Researchers ask: Are caged chickens miserable?';
By MICHAEL J. CRUMB Associated Press Writer
Published: Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 4:11 a.m. Last Modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 4:11 a.m.

DES MOINES, Iowa - Are cramped chickens crazy chickens?

Researchers are trying to answer that question through several studies that intend to take emotions out of an angry debate between animal welfare groups and producers.

At issue are small cages, typically 24 inches wide by 25 1/2 inches deep, that can be shared by up to nine hens. About 96 percent of eggs sold in the United States come from hens who live in the so-called battery cages from the day they're born until their egg-laying days end 18 to 24 months later.

Public opinion appears to side with those who oppose the cages. Voters in California approved a proposition last year that bans cramped cages for hens. And Michigan's governor signed legislation last month requiring confined animals to have enough room to turn around and fully extend their limbs.

But even as Skewes and others conduct research, some question the need to study an issue they argue was resolved long ago.

Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said banning the cages is a solution to an obvious problem.

"Think about the ... effects of not moving for up to 24 months," Friedrich said. "Their bones and muscles waste away and they go insane."

Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States' Factory Farming Campaign, agreed.

"The egg industry is trying to muddy the waters by misleading people into believing that it's possible to confine birds in barren, tiny cages and have high welfare," he said. Read More

It seems that this article really shows the true colors of those of us in agriculture and those that are pushing an animal rights agenda. I have never heard anyone in agriculture speak against research that might further our knowledge of animal care like they are hoping to accomplish with this study. The HSUS and PETA, on the other hand, are upset that this study is going to be done. It’s disappointing, but not surprising that these animal rights groups aren’t interested in it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Reckless Vegan Advocate

Drop That Burger
Matthew Herper, 11.12.09, 12:20 PM EST
Forbes Magazine dated November 30, 2009
Biotech whiz Pat Brown makes the global-warming case against animal farming.

Patrick O. Brown, a Stanford University biochemist, has changed science twice by giving stuff away. In the early 1990s Brown invented the DNA microarray, a tool that measures how cells make use of their DNA; he then showed researchers how to make their own, transforming genetic research. In 2000 he was one of three scientists who launched a free, online scientific journal called the Public Library of Science (PLOS); it has already broken the stranglehold of $200-a-year scientific publications like Science and Nature.

Now he is tackling an even bigger foe. Over the next 18 months Brown, 55, will take a break from his normal scientific work (finding out how a small number of genes are translated into a much larger number of proteins) in order to change the way the world farms and eats. He wants to put an end to animal farming, or at least put a significant dent in our global hunger for cows, pigs and chickens.

Brown, who has been a vegetarian for more than 30 years and a vegan for 5, notes that while livestock accounts for only 9% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, it accounts for 37% of human-caused methane (most of it emanating from the animals' digestive systems) and 65% of human-caused nitrous oxide, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Both are far better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, meaning that cows, chickens and their ilk have a larger greenhouse effect than all the cars, trucks and planes in the world.

The green cognoscenti are choosing animal husbandry as their new enemy. Read More

I don’t know why it’s so hard for such smart people to understand the fact that forcing a vegetarian only diet on society would be a much bigger environmental and social disaster than the one they perceive we have today. Turning your back on the resources of 3/4 of the land mass of the world that is currently used for grazing would spell doom. Not only would there not be enough food for everyone to eat, but it would also force us to try farming on land that isn’t suitable for that type of activity. Cattle turn an un-usable natural resource into something that can sustain human life. Not to mention the valuable nutrients they produce that we use to fertilize crops.

Food Safety Involves Everyone

November 19, 2009
Senate Bill Would Require E. Coli Testing

Citing public concern that meat companies and federal regulators are not doing enough to make ground beef safe, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has introduced legislation that would require companies to test for a deadly E. coli strain.

The bill, the E. Coli Eradication Act of 2009, is focused on the slaughterhouse trimmings and other meat components commonly used to make ground beef. It would require testing at the slaughterhouses and then at grinding facilities before the trimmings are mixed.

A few companies, including the retail giant Costco, already test incoming trimmings at their grinding facilities, but most of the industry relies on slaughterhouses to test their own trim. Grinders that do their own spot checks typically wait to test the finished product after the trim is mixed, which prevents identifying the source of contamination.

The testing required by the legislation would increase the cost of producing ground beef by about a penny a pound, a spokesman for the senator said. The United States Department of Agriculture, which in 1994 banned the sale of ground beef tainted by O157:H7, has encouraged meat companies to test their products for the pathogen. In the absence of such a rule, meat companies have adopted varied practices and testing protocols. Read More

Regardless of whether or not this legislation passes, it wouldn’t necessarily change the safety of our food supply. The reason is that proper handling and cooking guidelines must still be followed by the consumer. All the testing known to man won’t make a difference if the final handler of the product doesn’t do their part to keep the food safe. If you want to guarantee the safety of the meat you are eating, all you have to do is cook it to the proper temperature and you will never have anything to worry about. And that doesn’t cost anything to do. I believe that we need to do what we can at every stage of production to protect the safety of our food supply, but consumers have to hold up their end of the bargain as well. That goes for all types of food.

Biotech's Contributions

Biotech crops making important contributions to food production & sustainable farming

Wednesday, 18 November 2009 22:44
PG Economics

In the light of ongoing world food security, agricultural sustainability and climate change debates, PG Economics has released three summary documents of the yield, income and environmental effects of biotech crops . These summaries are supplemented by more detailed examinations of these impacts in the latest report on the global socio-economic and environmental impacts of the technology 1996-2007 .

The three summaries document the real contribution of biotech crops to; improving global crop yields, increasing production (and estimated contributions to food security), improving farm income and reducing the environment ‘footprint’ of agriculture.

Key impacts are:

• Biotech crops have contributed to significantly reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. In 2007, this was equivalent to removing 14.2 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing nearly 6.3 million cars from the road for one year;

• A reduction in pesticide spraying (1996-2007) of 359 million kg (equivalent to 125% of the annual volume of pesticide active ingredient applied to arable crops in the European Union);

• There have been substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $10.1 billion in 2007 and $44.1 billion for the twelve year period. The farm income gains in 2007 is equivalent to adding 4.4% to the value of global production of the four main biotech crops of soybeans, corn, canola and cotton;

• Of the total farm income benefit, 46.5% ($20.5 billion) has been due to yield gains, with the balance arising from reductions in the cost of production;

• Farmers in developing countries obtained the largest share of the farm income gains in 2007 (58%) and over the twelve year period obtained 50% of the total ($44.1 billion) gains. Developing country farmers have also seen the largest increases in farm income on a per hectare basis from using the technology;

• Since 1996, biotech traits have added 67.8 million tonnes and 62.4 million tonnes respectively to global production of soybeans and corn. The technology has also contributed an extra 6.85 million tonnes of cotton lint and 4.44 million tonnes of canola;

• The average yield gains across the global area planted to biotech insect resistant corn and cotton (1996-2007) were over 6% and 13% respectively. The highest yield gains have been experienced by developing country farmers;

• The additional production arising from biotech crops (1996-2007) has contributed enough energy (in kcal terms) to feed about 402 million people for a year (additional production in 2007 contributed enough energy to feed 88 million, similar to the annual requirement of the population of the Philippines);

• If GM technology had not been available to the (12 million) farmers using the technology in 2007, maintaining global production levels at the 2007 levels would have required additional plantings of 5.9 million ha of soybeans, 3 million ha of corn, 2.5 million ha of cotton and 0.3 million ha of canola. This total area requirement is equivalent to about 6% of the arable land in the US, or 23% of the arable land in Brazil. Link

Here are some very interesting numbers that show how much modern agricultural techniques have improved our ability to produce food and fiber. With a limited amount of natural resources, specifically land, available on this planet, we must continue to improve our efficiency and productivity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Farmers Donating Food

Big pork donation first of many
Million Meals program officially underway
Updated: Tuesday, 17 Nov 2009, 11:43 AM EST Joe Michelotti

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The Community Harvest Food Bank got a big donation, Tuesday, from Indiana's pork producers.

Indiana Pork is partnering with Feeding Indiana's Hungry, Inc ., to donate one million pork meals to Indiana food banks.

Fort Wayne's Community Harvest Food Bank will get about 90,000 lbs.

On Tuesday, the food bank accepted the first shipment of 5,000 lbs.

"They've always been generous, but this couldn't have come at a better time for us," said Jane Avery, Community Harvest Food Bank Executive Director.

With Thanksgiving coming up, Avery says she expects the pork to be gone by next Wednesday.
Indiana Pork announced the Million Meals program in August at the Indiana State Fair.

"This is the first time the Indiana Pork industry is tackling the problem of hunger on a coordinated statewide basis," said Randy Curless, Indiana Pork President.

Officials at Indiana Pork hope the donation helps Indiana lead the way when it comes to feeding the hungry.

"There's no reason anyone in our state should go without a meal," said Michael Platt, Executive Director of Indiana Pork. "We're encouraging all of our partners in agriculture to join us to help make Indiana the first hunger free state in the nation." Link

I absolutely love sharing stories like this. Farmers and ranchers have always been outstanding members of their communities and it continues today. When we see our neighbors struggling to put food on their table, we all know the right thing to do is share the blessings we enjoy. If you haven’t supported your local food bank in the past, I would really challenge you to do so now. There is a great need right now for people to donate food or your time. It’s always a very rewarding experience.

Animal Welfare In Modern Production

Speaker: Meat animals likely to stay in confinement settings
By ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 8:00 pm

Despite increasing criticism from animal rights and welfare groups, Tim Amlaw doesn't expect to see the gates thrown open in livestock confinement settings in Nebraska and other prominent livestock states.

The typical chicken is not going back to scratching his way across the barnyard and the typical hog is not going back to burying himself up to his snout in his favorite mudhole.

Amid rising worldwide demand for food, "a concentrated system of production is going to be a necessity," Amlaw, based in Colorado as director of the farm animal program for American Humane, said in Lincoln Tuesday.

He expects demand to also dictate production systems "that keep costs reasonably low."

Amlaw's appearance at the 2009 Nebraska Cattlemen Beef Industry Issues Summit comes at a time when new laws in California, Michigan and other states are taking aim at cages for laying hens, gestation crates for pregnant hogs, and other tight spaces used for food animal production.

Read More

Reassuring consumers that our livestock are well cared for is always going to be an important thing. And every farmer or rancher that I know is always trying to make the care of their livestock even better. Modern livestock facilities can offer the higher level of care to our animals. It allows for more individualized care and closer monitoring. Animal welfare is a top priority, if it becomes anything less than that you will not be able to keep the family farm going. Successful family farms depend on high quality animal care.

AR Activists Jailed For Protecting Criminals

Twin Cities activists in Iowa jail after being found in contempt
Star Tribune
Last update: November 17, 2009 - 10:18 PM

Two political activists from Minneapolis were jailed in Iowa Tuesday for refusing to answer questions before a federal grand jury apparently investigating a five-year-old animal-rights vandalism incident.

The activists, Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth, were found in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge John Jarvey and placed in custody of the U.S. Marshall's Service.

rand jury deliberations are generally secret, but the organization backing Feldman and DeMuth said they were wanted for questioning about vandalism that occurred at the University of Iowa in November 2004.

The Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for vandalizing two labs and three offices at the University of Iowa on Nov. 14, 2004. Read More

Even though we continue to hear from many vegans that they only support “legal” protests, these attacks and the refusal to cooperate with the authorities to bring the criminals to justice continue. You shouldn’t have to resort to terrorist activities in order to share your opinions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vandals Kill 3800 Pigs In Iowa

Suspected act of vandalism kills 3,800 Northwest Iowa pigs

By Dolly A. Butz Posted: Monday, November 16, 2009

HULL, Iowa -- A suspected act of vandalism at a hog confinement near Hull that caused the deaths of thousands of pigs last week has puzzled authorities.

"We have no idea why somebody would do something like this," Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena said Monday.

According to Altena, someone entered the facility, 2739 Highway 75, and intentionally turned off the confinement's airflow and alarm systems sometime during the overnight hours last Thursday, causing 3,800 pigs to suffocate.

"These confinements have an alarm system that if something goes bad with the air handling unit it telephones to a certain location," Altena said. "They shut down both of those."

At 10:30 a.m. Friday, owner Todd Hasche, of rural Rock Rapids, Iowa, called police and reported that all of the feeder pigs at the facility were dead and that someone had tampered with the confinement's airflow system. Read More

It’s almost hard to read this story. Farmers and ranchers put everything they have into taking care of their crops and livestock and then on a whim, some criminal comes along and destroys it all. Hopefully they catch whoever is responsible for this very soon. To go along with this, does anyone think HSUS will come in and offer a reward on this case? If someone intentionally killed a dog or a horse in this manner, they would have already done so. I guess I won’t hold my breath, but it shows the hypocrisy of this group.

The HSUS did finally come forward with the offer of a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of these criminals. Thanks to my friend Sarah at HSUS for sending me the information. Now if we could only get them to reverse their policy and stated goals of eliminating all animal agriculture and forcing a vegan diet on everyone.

Whackos Prefer Fish over Food & Families in CA

Radical environmentalism threatens Fresno area agriculture, shut down water supply
November 16, 6:33 AM Fresno Public Policy Examiner Jeff Crow

California's agriculture industry is facing a potential meltdown due to radicalized environmentalists who have made it clear a three inch fish is to take precedent over people.

What the environmentalists (especially the "whackos" in the movement) are doing could actually end up backfiring in their faces. It's estimated that over 24 Million California residents in 3 major areas (Silicon Valley, Central Valley/Fresno and Los Angeles) will be "shut off" from our state's water system and on top of that, we're only getting 10% of the water allotment for Agriculture, which means were going to export far less food to other states and countries, which will then cost jobs at Supermarkets, Trucking and other ancillary businesses that rely upon this water and Fresno/Clovis CA's Ag goods which rely upon this water.

But hey, what does millions of job losses factor on the overall health of the economy. This point was brought up to some extent in a recent interview I did with the Former Mayor/Current City Councilman of the City of Clovis, CA.

Accorrding to to him, its the base industry for Fresno/Clovis and that "we need to think of the dollars and cents that are in this situation" while Mario Santoyo of the California Latino Water Coalition, who I talked to also, said "if California's agricultural breadbasket in the Central Valley continues to abide by a Federal Judge's ruling, it will only be a matter of time before the price of ag goods will skyrocket, we'll probably have to further import and thus enrich a Communist China which has taken entire sectors of the US economy or the nation will become such a starving country that we will literally be storming the White House and forcing the Washington DC politicians to vastly reform the ESA, or Endangered Species Act." Read More

It really does boil down to priorities in dealing with our water supply. Is a tiny fish more important than the families that live in those communities? Well to some animal rights activists, I’m sure the answer is yes. However, the fact of the matter is that our food supply and the families that grow it and eat it should carry some weight in these discussions. Food does not magically appear. It takes water to make it happen.

Forcing Reforms Could Mean Failure

A world without roast beef: who wants that except McCartney and Stern?
Targeting meat eaters in the fight against climate change alienates ordinary people and won't save the planet on its own
Nick Herbert, Monday 16 November 2009 17.30 GMT

Sir Paul McCartney arrived in Brussels yesterday to recruit support for his "meat-free Mondays" campaign. The argument seems so easy: cut down meat consumption and the planet will be saved.

But even if a world without roast beef was one in which we all wanted to live (please count me out), we need to think a little harder about what will really work to arrest global warming. Why are Mondays to be free of meat alone? After all, dairy cattle produce greenhouse gases as well as milk. Are we meant to become part-time vegetarians or vegans? And why single out meat? Asia's rice fields emit the same amount of methane as their livestock industry. It seems doubtful that a campaign for rice-free Tuesdays will be next.

The call last month by the government's former climate change adviser, Lord Stern, to give up meat-eating altogether could almost have been calculated to reduce public support for climate change action. In fact, the people's response, according to a subsequent opinion poll, was to deliver Stern a loud raspberry. But the reputational damage to a vitally important cause may have been more serious. Read More

Forcing these reforms, which haven’t been shown will even make a difference, down the throats of people won’t work. The best way to get everyone to buy into these carbon reducing ideas is to offer common sense options that won’t sacrifice our food and energy needs. If the quality of life drops for everyone at the expense of climate change theories, then it will be resented by most and will fail.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Are You Telling Your Story?

Ranchers fight animal activists
Beef consumer study helps cattlemen tell their story, boost battered image
Capital Press

PASCO, Wash. -- Tom Field doesn't mind if consumers think a little differently, so long as they're eating beef.

In the midst of a fragmented consumer market, Field, the producer education executive director of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, presented marketing measures the beef industry needs to take during the Washington Cattlemen's Association annual convention in Pasco, Wash.

Consumers are besieged by negative messages from animal activists, said Field, a Centennial, Colo., rancher.

However, the majority of consumers do not necessarily change their beef consumption behavior, an association study showed.

"(Our) enemies want to paint us into this realm of being these unfeeling, uncaring industrialists running a chemical company," Field said. "I say to every reporter, 'On our ranch, we would love being able to control just one variable.' We react to the market, the weather, policy and our urban development neighbors. We don't have control over nothing, except our attitudes."

Field recommended that the best tactic to battle negative campaigns is to personalize the industry, promoting an image of good people with a legacy of caring for their animals, the environment and their land.

"People want to hear your story," Field said. "It's the best story you have to tell." Read More

I know that some people may be getting tired of hearing that they need to go tell their story. But unfortunately, until everyone is out doing something, we have to keep emphasizing the importance of doing so. Now I know that some folks don’t think they have the opportunities to talk to our consumers. That’s simply not true. The best place to start is in your own local communities. Even in our rural communities, there are people that don’t understand how their food is grown. If that isn’t a big enough stage for you, then take your advocacy online and share with the entire world how you grow food and fiber. It doesn’t matter so much what you are doing, so long as you are doing something to advocate for agriculture. Our consumers are asking for this so let’s deliver it.

ELF/ALF Members Considered Terrorists

Domestic crimes may be considered ‘terrorist’ acts
by David Ziemer
November 12, 2009
Wisconsin Law Journal

Radical environmentalists may not see themselves as terrorists, but asked whether a terrorism enhancement applies to their sentences for destroying government property, the Seventh Circuit found the issue clear cut.

On Nov. 9, the court affirmed application of U.S.S.G. 3A1.4 to members of the Earth Liberation Front who destroyed several research projects at a U.S. Forest Service facility in Rhinelander.

In 2000, the defendants, Katherine Christianson and Bryan Rivera, and two others entered the facility and damaged or destroyed more than 500 trees that were part of a genetic engineering experiment, either by cutting them down or girdling them. (“Girdling” consists of removing a strip of bark from around a tree’s entire circumstance, causing eventual death.)

Christianson and Rivera were implicated in 2007, when one of the other conspirators was arrested for the attempted bombing of the Michigan Tech University campus.

Before addressing the merits, Judge Manion cautioned, “ELF and its members are not to be confused with the typical environmental protestor denouncing and peacefully demonstrating against such things as nuclear power, strip coal mining, cutting old-growth timber, offshore drilling, damming wild rivers, and so on.”

Instead, Manion observed, “ELF’s members take their activism to unconscionable levels: since ELF’s inception in 1987, its members have been responsible for bombings, arson, vandalism, and a host of other crimes. In fact, between 2000 and 2005, 43 of the 57 reported terrorist attacks committed on American soil were done by ELF members or their sister organization, the Animal Liberation Front. ELF’s terror attacks have caused over fifty million dollars in damage to public and private property.” Read More

If you are going to use violence, property destruction or threaten a person’s life in the name of your environmental or animal rights cause, you are going to be labeled a terrorist and dealt with accordingly. There terrorists are finding that out and hopefully others in their groups will realize this isn’t a game.

Ex-Vegetarian Dancing Better With Balanced Diet

'Dancing's Mya 'no longer a vegetarian'
November 13 2009, 3:29pm EST
By Oli Simpson

Mya has revealed that she has turned her back on vegetarianism in a bid to stay on top form for Dancing With The Stars.

The singer claimed that a meat-free diet left her exhausted when she started rehearsing for the talent show.

She told OK: "I am eating more protein now - I used to be a vegetarian!

"So I'm eating lots of chicken and beef. I splurge on carbs like mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, rice and gravy, bagels - the list goes on!" Link

Doesn’t it seem odd that myself and others get attacked by vegan/vegetarians for advocating a diet that is balanced to contain the proper amounts of food from every food group? Yet here is someone that found out just how important that is. If you want to have a strong body and mind, you need to properly fuel it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eating Local Not Always Healthy

MIT: Eating Local Food Is the Key to Solving Our Obesity Epidemic
Posted by Tara Lohan at 7:45 AM on November 11, 2009.

Sometimes it takes more than Michael Pollan to get through to people. New research from MIT about how locally grown foods can reduce our obesity problem is welcome news. Right now Americans are getting bigger and bigger -- between 1980 and 2006 obesity among teenagers grew from 5 to 18 percent; and 7 to 17 percent for pre-teens. These gains are contributing more to the onset of diseases like type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart problems, writes Peter Dizikes of MIT News Office.

A group of MIT researchers found that what's driving our obesity epidemic is "our national-scale system of food production and distribution, which surrounds children -- especially lower-income children -- with high-calorie products." Precisely what folks in the pro-food/local foods movement have been saying for years. And it makes sense considering the shocking figure that 90 percent of American food is processed according to the USDA, Dizikes highlights.

Thankfully the researchers didn't just stop at pointing out the obvious, they offered a solution:

America should increase its regional food consumption. Each metropolitan area, the researchers say, should obtain most of its nutrition from its own "foodshed," a term akin to "watershed" meaning the area that naturally supplies its kitchens. Moreover, in a novel suggestion, the MIT and Columbia team says these local efforts should form a larger "Integrated Regional Foodshed" system, intended to lower the price and caloric content of food by lowering distances food must travel, from the farm to the dinner table. Read More

I think there are many people out there, including Michael Pollan, that think every “foodshed” can produce enough food and a variety of foods for the people that live there. But what this article advocates would translate into my family living on a mostly all beef diet. As much as I love eating beef, I don’t want it to be the only thing I eat at every meal. I want my children to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which won’t grow in our climate and soil. To advocate for eating a local-only diet is to advocate for some people to eat an unbalanced, unhealthy diet.

Climate Bill Getting Pushed Back

NOVEMBER 11, 2009, 10:35 A.M. ET
Climate Bill Likely on the Shelf For Rest of the Year
Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- Key Senate Democrats Tuesday said it is unlikely there will be any more major committee action on climate-change legislation this year, the strongest indication yet that a comprehensive bill to cut greenhouse-gas emissions won't be voted on until at least next year.

Although the Senate Environment Committee last week approved a version of the bill, the proposal will face strong revisions from moderate Democrats, particularly from senators on the Finance and Agriculture committees.

"It's common understanding that climate-change legislation will not be brought up on the Senate floor and pass the Senate this year," Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus said on the sidelines of a caucus lunch.

Mr. Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said he planned to hold a number of hearings on climate legislation and eventually mark up a bill in his panel. "But I don't know that I can get a bill put together by this year, as important as climate-change legislation is," he said.

Mr. Baucus was the lone dissenting Democratic vote on the Environment Panel last week because he wanted weaker emission-reduction targets and stronger provisions to protect energy-intensive industries and encourage clean-coal technologies. Read More

With the absolute havoc that climate change legislation could bring about our country, it’s a little refreshing to see that some of our elected officials realize that this isn’t something that should be fast-tracked through Congress. It won’t do us any good to pass a bill that maybe cuts some emissions but causes many other problems. Food and energy are two big keys to our nation’s security. We have to make sure they are protected.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PETA Says 4-H Is Cruel

4-H: Cruel to animals and kids
Chicago Tribune
By Jennifer O’Connor, PETA

November 2, 2009

Like most little girls, my stepdaughter loves animals. She joined a local 4-H club when she was 9, solely because "cows are cool." Now that the fall 4-H animal auctions are upon us, I can't help but remember Bonnie's first "assignment" a beautiful cow named Dana with long lashes and ears as soft as velvet. We all grew to love Dana, but none more so than Bonnie, who spent hours grooming her and walking her on a lead.

I had misgivings about Bonnie's decision to join 4-H: Unlike an unsuspecting 9-year-old, I knew the ultimate fate of the cows and other animals used in this program.

My fears were realized a couple years into the program when Bonnie learned that Meredith, another one of "her" cows, who was sick and unable to reproduce, had been sold to slaughter for a mere $75. To see such a deep bond so ruthlessly broken was a painful and eye-opening lesson for Bonnie. Her club leader was genuinely puzzled and irked by Bonnie's tears, dismissing her as "sentimental."

Dana, Meredith, Kath, Elise, Lola. They all had names, personalities and quirks. None was like the others except in one critical way. Like all cows used to provide milk for human consumption, these cows were treated as breeding machines and were artificially impregnated again and again.

Read More

If there were ever animals that lived the easy life, it would be 4-H calves. These animals are pampered more than most people will ever experience. The point of these projects isn’t to make pets out of these livestock, it’s to teach proper animal handling, care and responsibility. It’s also to teach the next generation about food production. With that in mind, I would actually be worried about the 4-H kid that isn’t a little sad to see their livestock go down the road at the end of their time. After all, they have spent months caring for them and they should be proud of job they did. But I also know from my experience how proud I was when the person that bought my calf told me how great the beef tasted. After all, that was my ultimate goal. If PETA wants to criticize 4-H for teaching life lessons, then 4-H should wear that as a badge of honor. I’m proud of the fact that the 4th generation of my family is now starting 4-H. The lessons I learned in 4-H have served me well in my life. ~TH

HSUS To Return To Ohio

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
HSUS trash talk? Bring it on!
by Susan Crowell
Farm and Dairy Magazine

I should have known better.

Did I really think the Humane Society of the United States would leave Ohio farmers alone after voters spoke soundly at the polls in favor of a livestock care standards board? Did I really think Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO, would admit defeat and simply turn his attention and money to a weaker farm state?

No, I guess not, and so, ready or not, here they come.

The Humane Society of the United States, I remind you, is NOT affiliated with local or county humane societies that shelter unwanted pets, or promote spay and neuter programs. It has a stated goal, one of its Three Rs, of “replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods.” In other words, the “humane” in HSUS means the activists believe there is no “humane” treatment of meat-producing animals. Period.

Unhappy with the outcome of Ohio’s Issue 2, HSUS’ Pacelle has declared the group will wage its own ballot initiative in the Buckeye State, saying the livestock care standards board was “cooked up” to block real reform (meaning the HSUS’ definition of reform). Read More

In some sort of effort to save face in Ohio and of course, to raise more money, HSUS is bragging about how they will ride in and propose a ballot initiative. It has to be really eating away at them that Issue 2 passed with just as wide of margin in Ohio as Prop 2 passed with in California. As much as he has tried to tell us that he didn’t care if Issue 2 passed, this was his first big loss. And believe me, he cares. If they didn’t care about it, he wouldn’t have been in Ohio on the day before the election campaigning. But as Susan mentions in this article, this is no time to rest. Ohio farmers will need to continue on their campaign trail to educate consumer about who they are and what they do.

PETA Says Cows Aren't Happy

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009
PETA says cows still aren't happy
Animal rights group renews effort to show milk promotion misleads
By John Holland

An animal rights group Tuesday renewed its campaign against the "happy cows" promotions by the California Milk Advisory Board.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, claimed the Modesto-based board misleads consumers by depicting cows in lush pastures.

The group said the cows live mostly in manure-filled dirt lots and suffer udder infections because of a lack of veterinary care.

"If the CMAB is to be believed, cows in the dairy industry are free to kick up their heels in rolling green fields with a handful of their peers," said Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of the Virginia-based group, in a news release.

"The truth is that conditions commonly found on California's factory dairy farms have been scientifically proven to cause cows extreme physical pain and mental distress." Read More

For the second time, PETA is attempting to shut down the California Milk Board’s “Happy Cows” advertisements. It’s a very lame attempt, but that won’t slow down PETA. However, if they don’t succeed again with this argument, be prepared for the next complaint over the ads to focus on the fact that CA’s dairy farmers are misleading the public into believing that cows can talk. ~TH

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Pollan Bandwagon

Jolley: “Fadism” Strikes Jonathon Foer & Other Anti-Ag Writers
11/09/2009 07:20AM

There is a serious case of ‘fadism’ attacking the brain cells of too many writers who presume to know something about our food supply and how it gets to market. They’re quick to pick up on the tired attacks mounted by the likes of Michael Pollan and, without doing the necessary research to validate those thoughts, quickly reword ‘boilerplate’ phrases without truly understanding the facts behind the food business.

The list of sinners is long, undistinguished and disingenuous. There is a chattering cabal of rarely-been-west-of-the-Hudson River or east-of-the-Cal-Berkeley-campus pseudo-experts who travel on the same midnight train to an eco-purgatory where all food is suspect, meat and poultry is particularly deadly, and the evils of factory farming will force us into an unsustainable, doomed lifestyle that will eventually kill our planet.

Jonathon Safran Foer is the latest to join the Pollan school of ill-literary research. He is the Brooklyn born vegetarian who first popped up on the Larry King show about ground beef. Supposedly a critically acclaimed author of several books of fiction, he’s been beating the P.R. drums to promote his new book, “Eating Animals,” which will be poorly placed in the non-fiction department of your local Barnes & Nobel.

If you see the book in the non-fiction section, please feel free to move it over to the fiction side of the aisle, no need to ask permission from the B&N clerks. Read More

I’ve talked about Foer in previous entries on this blog. He insists on repeatedly using indefinable terms that conjure up negative images to describe family farms and ranches. As easy as it would be to write this guy off since he has no real grasp of food production in this country, we still must work on teaching people that his version isn’t accurate. I’ve already had people using him as a source while discussing issues with me. He isn’t a source about food production. Farmers and ranchers are the real source. Why ask a reporter about farming when you can ask farmer? That is the message we need to be sharing with our consumers. ~TH

Animal Rights Terrorists Threaten Univ. of MN Researcher

Group targets U of MN animal scientist
By JIM SPENCER, Star Tribune
November 9, 2009

University of Minnesota police have increased patrols near the home of a Medical School animal researcher after a posting on an animal rights activist website displayed his name and photograph and noted that "... we should not be surprised when the unconscionable violence inflicted upon animals is justifiably visited upon their tormentors."

The Internet posting went up late last week on the website in reaction to a Star Tribune story about a multimillion-dollar national campaign by biomedical researchers, including U Prof. Dick Bianco, to increase lagging support for medical and scientific tests using animals.

"The university police are patrolling around my house now," said Bianco, an associate professor of surgery and director of experimental surgery. "The FBI is involved to assess the threat."

Read More

Just last week, Wayne Pacelle suggested to a crowd of HSUS supporters that the use of violence would help force their agenda across the country. Now we have vegan animal rights terrorists targeting a medical researcher at the University of Minnesota. Because university employees and their families at other campuses have been violently attacked, these threats are taken very seriously. These vegan animal rights terrorists have stated in the past that they will try to accomplish their goals by any means necessary, including life threatening violence. ~TH

HuffPo Suggests I Think Children Are Disposable

Children's Health And The Meat Industry
By Christina Perillo

When did our children become disposable?

This loaded question was posed around the conference table in Anthony Geraci's sunny office at the Baltimore School District headquarters as a group of us talked about programs designed to help our kids make healthier choices in their lives, beginning with the food they eat.
As Food Service Director, Tony has worked closely with the district's dietician to make systemic changes that have resulted in the kids in Baltimore schools trying new foods and slowly becoming more health conscious. But it has not been without controversy and therein was the question we posed.

When school began in September, the kids of Baltimore became the first in the country to adopt 'Meatless Mondays, an international program that asks people to cut meat from their diet one day a week. Their goal is simple: reducing meat consumption by a mere 15% can improve human and planetary health. Endorsed by esteemed medical institutions like the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, this seems like a no-brainer, right? Impressed with the credentials and the program, Baltimore decided to take part and see what would happen. I'm not sure anyone was ready for the firestorm of attacks being launched at them by the meat industry.

Meatless Mondays is a positive program designed to educate our children to be healthier for life and is being attacked from all sides. Troy Hadrick, a rancher, wrote on the Advocates for Agriculture website that Meatless Mondays are obviously designed to push children toward vegetarian lifestyles by telling them that 'they can't have meat on Monday because meat isn't healthy for you.' He goes on to advocate parents doing whatever it takes to keep this information from their children. Yikes! Read More

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the vegan/vegetarians would come out and try to vilify me for advocating that students in Baltimore be fed a balanced diet. Even though our good friend Trent Loos discovered that this situation may have been less of a story that we previously thought, it doesn’t take away from the fact that those of us advocating for a balanced diet which includes meat and dairy products are being targeted. It’s disappointing that since I disagreed with this writer that she thinks I believe children are disposable. I would love to teach her more about raising livestock since she considers me evil for doing it, but she would rather question my integrity than have a reasonable discussion. ~TH

What Will Feed The World

SPECIAL REPORT-The fight over the future of food
Mon Nov 9, 2009 8:24pm EST
By Claudia Parsons, Russell Blinch and Svetlana Kovalyova

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON/MILAN, Nov 10 (Reuters) - At first glance, Giuseppe Oglio's farm near Milan looks like it's suffering from neglect. Weeds run rampant amid the rice fields and clover grows unchecked around his millet crop.

Oglio, a third generation farmer eschews modern farming techniques -- chemicals, fertilizers, heavy machinery -- in favor of a purely natural approach. It is not just ecological, he says, but profitable, and he believes his system can be replicated in starving regions of the globe.

Nearly 5,000 miles (8,000 km) away, in laboratories in St. Louis, Missouri, hundreds of scientists at the world's biggest seed company, Monsanto, also want to feed the world, only their tools of choice are laser beams and petri dishes.

Monsanto, a leader in agricultural biotechnology, spends about $2 million a day on scientific research that aims to improve on Mother Nature, and is positioning itself as a key player in the fight against hunger.

The Italian farmer and the U.S. multinational represent the two extremes in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the future of food.

Everybody wants to end hunger, but just how to do so is a divisive question that pits environmentalists against anti-poverty campaigners, big business against consumers and rich countries against poor.

The food fight takes place at a time when experts on both sides agree on one thing -- the number of empty bellies around the world will only grow unless there is major intervention now.

A combination of the food crisis and the global economic downturn has catapulted the number of hungry people in the world to more than 1 billion. The United Nations says world food output must grow by 70 percent over the next four decades to feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people by 2050. Read More

It’s nice to see a somewhat balanced article in the media these days. I thought Reuters did a pretty good job here of just reporting the situation and letting their readers decide how they feel about the issue. What a novel concept for a large media company! Here is what we know for sure about this issue, we need to grow a lot more food in the future. The question is how do we get there. Some people think we need to use farming techniques from a century ago regardless of the amount of food produced. Others believe that the answers lie in using technology to grow enough food for everyone, i.e. another green revolution. ~TH

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Promoting Animal Research

Science takes case for animal research to the people
By JIM SPENCER, Star Tribune
November 4, 2009

"Ever had leprosy? Thanks to animal research, you won't."

That message, emblazoned on 15 billboards around the Twin Cities, strikes at the heart of a largely hidden but heated health care battle being waged beyond the national debate over access to medical care.

The billboards are part of a new, aggressive national push by biomedical researchers to promote and defend the use of animals to test drugs and medical devices. Across the country, the campaign is also playing out on cable TV commercials, websites, Facebook postings and Twitter tweets.

Campaign organizers say a serious drop in public support of animal research for scientific and medical reasons forced their hand. From 2000 to 2008, they say, Americans' support for that research using animals shrank from 70 percent to 54 percent. A Pew Foundation poll in July found that only 52 percent of Americans support such research.

That's why the Foundation for Biomedical Research is investing more than $1 million in its "Research Saves" campaign. Pollsters told foundation president Frankie Trull that without a widespread public education effort, Americans' support for scientific animal research will drop below 50 percent next year and could lead to legislative and regulatory research restrictions that Trull says would have huge implications on public policy and human health.

"We need a celebrity spokesperson, but can't find one," said Dick Bianco, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School, who is part of the campaign. "If we could get a celebrity, that would change everything. By nature, we're a bunch of introverted nerds."

Not anymore. Supporters of animal research believe advances in the treatment of many diseases are at stake in this campaign. The result is a full frontal assault on the emotions of average citizens and a no-holds-barred verbal attack on the violent methods of a few extreme animal rights activists. While the leprosy billboards speak unequivocally and, organizers believe, effectively, the campaign's most effective weapon so far seems to be a TV commercial featuring a physician who is a breast cancer survivor who also conducts breast cancer research using animals. In the spot, she holds and addresses a mouse. Read More

The ability to develop and test new life-saving medical procedures and drug therapies on animals is being threatened in this country. It’s mostly been an extension of the campaign that animal rights groups are waging on animal agriculture. There is no doubt that there is a right and wrong way to test on animals. None of us would advocate for anything being done to them that is needlessly painful. However, in order to achieve the best results possible from these time consuming and expensive studies, every thing needs to be done correctly, including the animal handling. Animal testing has played an important part in nearly every major medical breakthrough. To end this practice would threaten our ability to continue improving the human condition. I would suggest to those that are opposed to animal testing that if they ever require medical treatment, they request the doctor not use any type of medicine or equipment that has been tested on animals. Good luck with that.

MN Farmers Donate Food To Communities

State farmers donate pork and dairy products to Minnesota food shelves
Pine Journal
Published: 11/03/2009

SAINT PAUL, MN, October 30, 2009 – Minnesota Farmers Helping Families, a coalition of state agriculture commodity groups, announced today a donation of more than $115,000 in pork and dairy products to Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a comprehensive hunger relief organization.

At a news conference hosted by Governor Tim Pawlenty at the state capitol, representatives from the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, Minnesota Pork Board and Minnesota Milk Producers Association announced the donation of approximately 85,000 lbs of pork and more than 36,000 pounds of cheese.

"Minnesota farmers are known for their willingness to help neighbors in times of need,” Governor Pawlenty said. “It’s heartwarming to see the agricultural community lending a hand, even as it faces its own economic challenges."

In 2008, there were 2 million visits and 47 million pounds of food distributed at Minnesota’s 300 food shelves. There has been an 89 percent increase in food shelf visits since 2000. Minnesota food shelves have also seen a surge in demand this year. There were 328,468 unique visitors to food shelves in the first six months of the year. Read More

One of the favorite terms as of late to describe us evil agriculturalists is greedy. I’m not sure why they think we are greedy. After all, we produce the safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply in the world for this country. Even in the face of these insults, we continue to push forward growing food and living the values of rural America. I always enjoy sharing stories of farmers and ranchers donating food to help their friends and neighbors in the community. If you think about it, it’s one of the most basic and appreciated acts of kindness a human being can do. Congratulations to these Minnesota farming and ranching families for their donation.

The Estate Tax Relief Act, HR 3905

Cattle raisers urge Congress to pass estate tax reform
The Cherokeean
Nov 4, 2009

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) sent letters to members of Congress this week urging them to pass H.R. 3905, the Estate Tax Relief Act of 2009. This legislation would provide relief in the tax code from the estate tax, also known as the "death tax", for Texas ranchers, property owners and small business owners. Over a 10-year period, H.R. 3905 would increase the estate tax exemption to $5 million while decreasing the tax rate from 55 percent to 35 percent.

TSCRA Legislative and Tax Committee Chairman Arthur Uhl, a rancher and attorney from San Antonio, Texas, testified in Washington, D.C., today before the House Committee on Small Business on behalf of the legislation. Uhl also chairs the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's (NCBA) Tax and Credit Policy Committee.

"Tax policy is a key factor impacting American cattle producers, particularly in today's difficult business climate. In an industry where financial returns are historically small, we depend upon the ability to pass on a farm or ranch to the next generation without exhausting resources for arduous planning, or being forced to break apart economically viable operations," Uhl said.

Read More

The death tax has killed many family owned businesses, especially in agriculture. Farming and ranching are very capital intense which makes them an unfair target of the death tax. In order to keep farming and ranching families on the land, it needs to be changed. We have been dealing with issue for too many years but we need to keep working on it. Please contact your Senators and Representative and let them know how badly the estate tax needs to be reformed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ohio's Issue 2 Passes

Measure's Passage Clears Way For Farm Board
Panel Would Oversee Ohio Livestock Care
POSTED: 10:44 pm EST November 3, 2009
UPDATED: 12:31 am EST November 4, 2009

CINCINNATI -- Ohio voters approved a ballot measure Tuesday that would create a board to oversee livestock care.

Supporters said Issue 2 would give rural farmers a blueprint for battling animal welfare groups intent on outlawing cramped cages for chickens and hogs.

Agriculture industry leaders pushed the issue onto the state ballot, hoping to thwart an attempt by animal rights activists who were threatening to force farmers to change how they house livestock.

"Ohioans have spoken and clearly understand that a board of experts is the appropriate entity to make decisions on behalf of animal agriculture and food production in our state," said The Ohioans for Livestock Care Political Action Committee in a statement issued late Tuesday.

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This was a great victory for agriculture in Ohio and across the country. It showed that HSUS can’t come in and bully every state around with their agenda. It appears that it will pass with a slightly larger margin than Prop 2 had in California even. So while Wayne Pacelle licks his wounds this morning, Ohio livestock owners will continue producing a safe, affordable food supply for their neighbors. Congratulations to all of those that spent so much time and effort to ensure that this passed.

Ag's Carbon Footprint Getting Lighter and Lighter

Carbon footprint of cattle shrinks with productivity
By Drovers news source Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Discussion of the environmental impact of animal agriculture is very different when you talk in terms of productivity instead of individual animals, according to one of the newest members of the Washington State University Department of Animal Sciences.

“You can’t just talk about ‘the cow,’” said Jude Capper, assistant professor of animal science. “We have to think about it on an output basis, whether it’s milk, beef, pork or poultry. From 1944 to 2007, the carbon footprint of the cow has doubled, but during that same time period, the carbon footprint per gallon of milk has decreased by more than two-thirds.”

Capper said milk production has grown from approximately 5,000 pounds per cow in 1944, when there were approximately 25.6 million dairy cows in the United States, to approximately 20,000 pounds per cow in 2007, when there were just 9.2 million dairy cows in the nation.

She attributes this increased sufficiency to advances in nutrition, genetics and management that allow cows to perform to their fullest potential. For example, rbST, a protein hormone that increases milk production allows enough milk to be produced to fulfill demand using fewer cows.

That reduction in animals alone has had a huge environmental benefit, Capper said, especially in terms of reducing methane and carbon dioxide emissions associated with global climate change.

“For example, if we produce 10 billion pounds of milk from cows given rbST, it’s like taking 112,000 cars off the road or planting 83.5 million trees,” she said. “The bottom line is if we improve productivity, we reduce our carbon footprint per gallon of milk.” Read More

As with many topics these days, the family farmer has become the favorite target of the global warming crowd. They continually cite a UN study which clearly does not represent how small the impact US agriculture makes. Nor do they show how much agriculture has lessened their impact over the last several decades. So even though it maybe easy for some folks to claim that agriculture is a big polluter, remember this, agriculture is the single biggest source of food and fiber in the world. If you can do without either of these then by all means continue trying to force it off this planet.

The Pig's Genome Sequence

The impact of pig, cucumber genome sequencing on agriculture, medicine, lunch
Nov 3, 2009

Bacon and cucumber sandwiches, anyone?

Scientists this week announced the sequencing of both the pig and cucumber genomes, with possible implications for agriculture – though probably not better lunch foods.

The swine genome was completed by an international team of scientists and funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Pigs are not only popular meat-producers, they’re also remarkably similar to humans at the cellular level, making them prime contenders for the production of both replacement organs for people and the possible production of medicines.

The draft genetic sequence, about 98% of the full one, gives researchers and breeders information to help them enhance immunity, breed more salable pigs and possibly gain insight in to disease that affect not only swine but also humans.

The research, begun in 2006, cost $24.3 million and was shared by American, Asian and European funders. It was done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The pig was a red-haired Duroc. Read More

Genome sequencing will certainly help us in the future to learn more about our food crops and how we can improve them and protect them. Especially in the case of the pig, the potential to save so many lives is very intriguing. Science and technology continues to improve our food and medicine. We need to continue supporting these advances so that maybe one day, our descendants will only read about some of our most common diseases in the history books.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Chicken Litter: The Aerial Hunt for Poultry Manure
Ocean City, Md.

Retired Marine officer Rick Dove boarded the four-seat Cessna armed with cameras, binoculars and global positioning devices for his latest mission: chicken farmers. Or, more precisely, aerial reconnaissance of poultry droppings.

"Oh, man, that looks like a hot site," Mr. Dove said as the plane soared 1,000 feet over farms near the Chesapeake Bay. Peering through binoculars, he said, "That pile is at least two stories high." He whipped out his camera and started snapping pictures.

Mr. Dove, 70 years old, suspected the brown mound was chicken manure -- a potential pollutant of the Chesapeake Bay, the huge estuary nestled between the shores of Maryland and Virginia. Mr. Dove, a former military judge whose subsequent fishing business he believes was ruined by pollution, is among the activists who, along with federal regulators, are ratcheting up pressure on poultry farmers to clean up their litter.

Around the Chesapeake area, where poultry farming is big business, chicken farmers think they have been unfairly singled out. "The EPA seems to think that poultry farmers are Public Enemy No. 1," says Bill Satterfield, executive director of the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., which represents the area's poultry industry. Citing EPA data, he notes that bay pollution also comes from numerous nonfarm sources linked to the area's population growth, including human sewage and lawn fertilizer. Even animals such as deer and Canada geese can contaminate water, Mr. Satterfield says. But, he adds, "It appears you're guilty until you prove yourself innocent."

The EPA says agriculture, including chemical fertilizers and animal waste, is the single biggest source of pollution in the bay. Manure alone makes up about 19% of the bay's overall nitrogen pollution and 26% of the bay's phosphorus pollution. Municipal and wastewater facilities generate the same amount of nitrogen pollution, but less -- 21% -- phosphorous pollution.

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Certainly everyone is interested in having the bay be as clean as possible. The interesting thing from this article though is that pollution from human waste is very similar to the estimates coming from food production. Why don’t we ever see the Waterkeeper’s Alliance brings lawsuits against cities for their pollution? The fact of the matter is that they are mostly an anti-agriculture group as much as anything. They aren’t interested in finding better ways to handle organic fertilizer, they just want to shut these farms down. Clean water is very important to everyone, but the strategies to accomplish it need to be science based rather than agenda based.

McDonalds/Beef Internet Hoax Continues

McDonald's and Canadian cattle producers debunk persistent Internet hoax
(CP) – 13 hours ago

LANIGAN, Sask. — McDonald's Canada and the president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association are trying to counter what they say is false information being spread by an Internet hoax.

The hoax email purports to be from an Alberta cattle-feeding group and calls for a boycott of the fast-food chain because it says McDonald's has plans to buy most of its beef from South America.
Not true, association president Brad Wildeman said Monday.

He's been receiving the email in one form or another since 2003 and in the past, has tried personally emailing the sender to refute it.

Because the email has been so widely circulated, the association thought it was time to set the record straight, he said.

"We needed to take a more proactive stance and not only say it's not true and it's a hoax, but here's the real facts behind what's going on," Wildeman said. Read More

I bet I get this United States version of this email at least a few times a year. Every time I get it, I take the time to email everyone who received it to let them know it is a hoax. There is always some beef producer that forwards it to me that is mad as hell about this. What we should be mad about is the fact that the original intent of this email was to make people question the safety of our product. Yes, because there are humans involved in the food chain, mistakes are sometimes made. That goes for any type of food you eat. But the truth is that we enjoy the safest food supply on the planet. If you see this email going around, please let everyone know that it is a hoax.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ohio Decides Fate of The Agriculture Tomorrow

Issue 2 farming amendment could influence agriculture programs at OSU
By Whittney Smith
Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009

Voters will decide Tuesday whether the state will establish a board to regulate how Ohio’s farmers care for livestock, a decision that might affect Ohio State’s agriculture programs.

Ohio’s agricultural industry lobbied hard to have the amendment added to the Ohio Constitution because some farmers say that is the only way they can stop animal-rights advocates from forcing costly reforms as they have done in six states already. Labeled as Issue 2, the amendment would create a 13-member board that would set standards on how farmers care for livestock.

Issue 2 supporters are afraid the Humane Society of the United States will achieve in Ohio what they accomplished elsewhere if the issue fails. The group opposes certain animal confinement practices and has lobbied in other states for legislation that bans gestation crates for sows and restrictive cages for hens and veal calves. The group has identified Ohio as the next target for such reforms.

OSU President E. Gordon Gee and Bobby Moser, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, both support the amendment.

“I have read the issue, I have talked to a lot of people about it and I am voting for it,” Gee said during an Oct. 9 taping of Town Hall Ohio, a syndicated program by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Gee said he views Issue 2 as an important opportunity for the university to take a leadership role in animal welfare research and science.

Many agriculture students support the amendment because they fear the efforts by the Humane Society of the United States may limit their employment options if they limit how producers raise livestock.

“Agriculture is my past, present and future,” said Ryan Langenkamp, president of Buckeye Dairy Club. “As a senior in animal science this issue means a lot to me.”

Along with Buckeye Dairy Club, Sigma Alpha and Saddle and Sirloin have launched outreach campaigns on campus through rallies and campus awareness projects. Read More

Tomorrow, Ohio residents will have the opportunity to determine whether their own residents and experts in the field will determine proper livestock handling guidelines or the world’s wealthiest animal rights organization who’s stated goal is to eliminate animal agriculture. This article did a nice job of highlighting how this could impact young people who are planning on returning to production agriculture. If this bill doesn’t pass, the fate of many multi-generational family farms could truly be in jeopardy.