Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PETA Employee Accused of Neglecting Animals

Attorney: PETA Worker Neglected Snakes in His Care
Attorney says PETA worker neglected job with exotic animal dealer in effort to shut it down
ARLINGTON, Texas December 29, 2009 (AP)

Attorneys for an exotic animal dealer have accused an employee of intentionally neglecting animals to further his work as an undercover investigator for an animal rights group.

Howard Goldman could have done more to provide food, water and care for the animals that he said were being mistreated, said Lance Evans, an attorney for Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, the owners of U.S. Global Exotics.

Instead, Goldman secretly took photos and made daily reports to send to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Evans said.

"He was more concerned about helping PETA achieve its goal of putting U.S. Global out of business than actually aiding any animals that he felt were in distress," Evans said. Goldman worked at the Arlington facility for seven months.

Goldman testified last week that PETA asked him to apply for a job at U.S. Global Exotics to investigate conditions. PETA paid him $135 for each day he turned in a report while working as snake caretaker. Read More

I have talked about this before. If an employer hires someone to do a job and they are busy filming instead of doing the job they were hired for, aren’t they part of the problem? These people are hired to help prevent problems. When they don’t do their job, they create problems, and then film them. Remember, this guy didn’t get paid unless he turned in a report. How long do you think PETA is going to pay out if the reports come back clean every time? If your employment depends on finding problems, you will probably make sure problems are found.

Antibiotic Article Gets Facts Wrong

Pressure rises to stop antibiotics in agriculture; animals fed 70 percent of US antibiotics

By: MARGIE MASON AND MARTHA MENDOZA Associated Press12/29/09 12:19 AM EST

FRANKENSTEIN, MO. — The mystery started the day farmer Russ Kremer got between a jealous boar and a sow in heat.

The boar gored Kremer in the knee with a razor-sharp tusk. The burly pig farmer shrugged it off, figuring: "You pour the blood out of your boot and go on."

But Kremer's red-hot leg ballooned to double its size. A strep infection spread, threatening his life and baffling doctors. Two months of multiple antibiotics did virtually nothing.

The answer was flowing in the veins of the boar. The animal had been fed low doses of penicillin, spawning a strain of strep that was resistant to other antibiotics. That drug-resistant germ passed to Kremer.

Like Kremer, more and more Americans — many of them living far from barns and pastures — are at risk from the widespread practice of feeding livestock antibiotics. These animals grow faster, but they can also develop drug-resistant infections that are passed on to people. The issue is now gaining attention because of interest from a new White House administration and a flurry of new research tying antibiotic use in animals to drug resistance in people.

Researchers say the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals has led to a plague of drug-resistant infections that killed more than 65,000 people in the U.S. last year — more than prostate and breast cancer combined. And in a nation that used about 35 million pounds of antibiotics last year, 70 percent of the drugs — 28 million pounds — went to pigs, chickens and cows. Worldwide, it's 50 percent. Read More

Efforts to restrict the ability to use antibiotics as an animal health tool have been going on for awhile now. As with many news article lately, this one didn’t stand up to the first “fact-check” I did. According to the story, there were 65,000 deaths from drug-resistant infections. We have no idea where this number came from since the reporters didn’t tell us. They claim that’s more deaths than breast and prostate cancer combined. But one trip to the American Cancer Society website proved that wrong. So what else in this article is wrong? Was this done to make the story more dramatic? I doubt we will ever know for sure, but I continue to be amazed at the lack of integrity and professionalism of some journalists.

Along with that, to claim that it's all the fault of agriculture is insane. Any plan to regulate the use of antibiotics would need to address how humans regularly abuse the drugs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HSUS Wants To Restrict Dog Ownership In Missouri

MO ballot proposal approved for circulation
December 28, 2009 by Julie Harker
Brownfield Ag News

The HSUS ballot initiative cracking down on dog breeders in Missouri, which is seen as a threat to all of animal agriculture in the state, has been approved for circulation by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. While the Missouri Department of Agriculture is not able to take a stand on the proposal – which would limit operators to 50 or fewer female breeding dogs – Ag Director Jon Hagler tells Brownfield they’re well aware of the intentions behind it, “HSUS has made no secret about the fact that they’re not for ANY animal agriculture.”

Hagler says the department’s role is that of public education, “And we want to reach out and let folks know that there are no better stewards of animal welfare, no better stewards of the land than farmers and Missouri farmers have always been at the forefront of that.”

Hagler says the bad actors of dog breeding are unlicensed and that the department has and will continue to crack down on those operators, “They’re giving a bad name to not only the legitimate, professional, licensed breeders in Missouri but also to all of agriculture.”

Meanwhile, Missouri ag groups (Missouri Animal Ag Coalition) and lawmakers are coming up with strategies to meet the threat head-on. Just under 100-thousand certified signatures are needed on the so-called “Puppy Mill Cruelty Protection Act” proposal to put it before Missouri voters next November. The group called Missouri for the Protection of Dogs – supported by both the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) – has until May 2nd to collect signatures. The state legislature has the power to overturn ballot proposals that are approved by voters. Link

It’s been exciting to see family farmers and ranchers and the agriculture groups they belong to working together to protect their ability to raise animals. Look at this bill for what it really is, its intention is to restrict how many dogs you can own. The next bill that HSUS put’s forward could be to restrict how many cows, pigs or acres you can own. This proposal has nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with control.

Nutrient Management

December 29, 2009
Down on the Farm, an Endless Cycle of Waste

GUSTINE, Tex. — Day and night, a huge contraption prowls the grounds at Frank Volleman’s dairy in Central Texas. It has a 3,000-gallon tank, a heavy-duty vacuum pump and hoses and, underneath, adjustable blades that scrape the surface as it passes along.

In function it is something like a Zamboni, but one that has crossed over to the dark side. This is no hockey rink, and it’s not loose ice being scraped up. It’s cow manure.

Lots of cow manure. A typical lactating Holstein produces about 150 pounds of waste — by weight, about two-thirds wet feces, one-third urine — each day. Mr. Volleman has 3,000 lactating Holsteins and another 1,000 that are temporarily “dry.” Do the math: his Wildcat Dairy produces about 200 million pounds of manure every year.

Proper handling of this material is one of the most important tasks faced by a dairy operator, or by a cattle feedlot owner, hog producer or other farmer with large numbers of livestock. Manure has to be handled in an environmentally acceptable way and at an acceptable cost. In most cases, that means using it, fresh or composted, as fertilizer. “It’s a great resource, if used properly,” said Saqib Mukhtar, an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A & M University and an expert on what is politely called manure management. Read More

Most people don’t realize how much effort is put in to correctly handling the valuable nutrients that are obtained from livestock. It seems many get the impression that farmers and ranchers haphazardly handle the manure. The fact of the matter is that the system’s being used have been designed by engineers and approved by various government agencies. Along with that, the operators have every incentive to make sure everything is being done right. If you haven’t been around a nutrient handling system, I would encourage you to do so. It really helps you understand the full relationship of plants, livestock and food.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Trial Lawyers Join Forces to Sue Farmers in Indiana

December 26, 2009
Lawyers targeting pig, dairy farms
Attorneys seek justice for neighbors allegedly injured by large operations
By Seth Slabaugh
Muncie Star Press

WINCHESTER, Ind. -- Neighbors who are fed up living next door to factory farms have found three high-powered trial lawyers who vow to make Randolph County "ground zero" in a legal food fight over how Indiana produces pork and milk.

Highly aggressive flies, harmful odors, stacks of dead animals and mismanagement of millions of gallons of manure are among the complaints of neighbors suing pork and dairy producers.
The trial lawyers are bringing multiple lawsuits challenging Indiana's industrial or factory model of producing milk and pork in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) promoted by Gov. Mitch Daniels' agriculture department.

It's a system that produces odors so intense that neighbors are suffering skin irritations, nausea, headaches, breathing difficulties, tightness of the chest, sinus infection, stress, burning eyes, noses and throats and other ailments, the lawsuits allege.

"There is a lot of discontent," said Indianapolis attorney Rich Hailey, a former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, now known as the American Association for Justice (AAJ). "We anticipate the potential filing of a dozen more cases in a short period of time."

Read More

It’s too bad there won’t be anyone to sue when the grocery store shelves are empty or we become dependent on another country for our food supply. Suing family farmers because of smells that come from the production of food animals will be the first step to that happening. These are the same people that are also pushing to regulate crop farmers from ever having dust blow off their fields. Growing food isn’t an easy job. Getting sued for doing it will only lead to fewer families on the land.

Farming Detroit

Investors see farms as way to grow Detroit
Acres of vacant land are eyed for urban agriculture under an ambitious plan that aims to turn the struggling Rust Belt city into a green mecca.
By P.J. Huffstutter
December 27, 2009

Reporting from Detroit - On the city's east side, where auto workers once assembled cars by the millions, nature is taking back the land.

Cottonwood trees grow through the collapsed roofs of homes stripped clean for scrap metal. Wild grasses carpet the rusty shells of empty factories, now home to pheasants and wild turkeys.

This green veil is proof of how far this city has fallen from its industrial heyday and, to a small group of investors, a clear sign. Detroit, they say, needs to get back to what it was before Henry Ford moved to town: farmland.

"There's so much land available and it's begging to be used," said Michael Score, president of the Hantz Farms, which is buying up abandoned sections of the city's 139-square-mile landscape and plans to transform them into a large-scale commercial farm enterprise.

"Farming is how Detroit started," Score said, "and farming is how Detroit can be saved."

Read More

One thing that is absolutely right about this idea is that the origin of wealth is the land. So if you want to rebuild wealth, using the land is the best way to do it. Even though it’s sound in principle, there are a lot of hurdles to jump over in order for this to be successful. If their goal is for this land to provide locally grown food, then their biggest challenge will be producing and selling it at a price that is affordable for an economically challenged area.

Feral Horses Damaging Rangelands

December 26, 2009
Ranchers, activists at odds over mustang roundup
By Frank X. Mullen Jr.

Bob Depauli, whose family has been ranching in Nevada for four generations, remembers a wild horse he saw in the Nevada desert one drought-parched year in the late 1970s.

“The herds were really poor that year, starved,” he said. “I saw (a mustang carcass) whose two hind legs had quit working and it had use of only its forelegs. It had walked in circles and dug a hole in the ground with its hindquarters.”

It dug its own grave.

Depauli runs cattle on federal allotments, including one about 30 miles north of Gerlach in the area where the federal government plans to start Monday rounding up 2,500 wild horses of the more than 3,000 in the area.

The government says the roundup is necessary to check overpopulation. Opponents say the land mangers exaggerate the number of mustangs and the damage they do to the range and that gathering horses using helicopters traumatizes, injures or kills the animals.

About 32,000 wild horses are in government holding pens waiting for adoptions that, for most, will never come. Range managers plan to remove another 10,000 from ranges in Nevada and elsewhere in the West next year.

The government, Depauli and others see the wild horse gathers as necessary to ensure the health of the rangeland, water supplies and native species. Opponents say the horses are a symbol of America and are being swept aside for the benefit of cattlemen like Depauli.

“I’m basing my position on years of experience,” said Depauli, who runs about 300 head a year.

“I’m in business to stay in business, not to overgraze. I move my cattle around. Horses stay in the same areas 24, seven, 365 days a year. Right now, we’ve got four to five times the number of wild horses that the land can support. Cattle are manageable. We need to manage the horses, too.

“Overpopulation of horses impacts everything: cows, wildlife, the horses themselves, everything. If this continues, we’ll all be in a mess.” Read More

The destruction being caused by the overpopulation of feral horses is significant to say the least. It’s interesting that they debate turns basically turns into those who are stewards of the rangeland versus those who want an unchecked population of horses. When activists do simple comparisons of the numbers of cattle versus horses and use that as their reasoning to stop the roundups, they show their ignorance of the issue. There is so much more to the issue. Ranchers spend a lifetime caring for the land, it’s unfortunate that more people don’t care as much.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Repercussions From OSU President's Decision

Lawmaker and veterinarian blasts Oklahoma State for study cancellation

Oklahoma City, Okla. -- Oklahoma State Representative, veterinarian and farmer Phil Richardson is not keeping quiet about Oklahoma State University's recent cancellation of an anthrax study that would have required testing and euthanasia on primates.

"I bleed Orange as much as anyone, but I am deeply concerned by the actions of Oklahoma State University officials, which appear designed to cater to animal-rights fanatics instead of providing sound education in agricultural sciences," Richardson says in a Dec. 17 statement on his Web site. Richardson earned his DVM from Oklahoma State in 1967 and is a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, the Oklahoma Pork Council, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association and the Oklahoma State Alumni Board.

The college embarked on a plan to establish itself as a leader in infectious disease research in the 1990s by developing laboratories and other research facilities with the full knowledge of university administrators, Richardson contends. Yet, the recent cancellation of a study on anthrax that would have required the euthanasia of primates involved in the research undermines that plan, he says.

"The decision is consistent with several made in the past year to curry favor with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the wife of the university's major donor, an avowed animal-rights activist," Richardson says. "The HSUS spends millions of dollars on programs that seek to economically cripple meat and dairy producers, eliminate the use of animals in biomedical research and eliminate hunting. It is impossible to follow all the tentacles of the organization, but its underlying goal is to destroy animal agriculture."

Richardson's accusations follow Oklahoma State president’s controversial decision to terminate a federally funded research project that would have studied the effects of anthrax on live baboons at the school's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. Read More

The story about the Oklahoma State President nixing an approved animal research project because of pressure from billionaire donor Madeline Pickens and animal rights activists isn’t silently fading away. Not only is this giving a black eye to the university, the knowledge lost by killing this project is unnecessarily putting human lives at risk. The lack of leadership being shown by OSU President Burns Hargis is embarrassing for a land grant university of this caliber.

Something Dies For A Vegan Meal Too

Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too
Published: December 21, 2009

I stopped eating pork about eight years ago, after a scientist happened to mention that the animal whose teeth most closely resemble our own is the pig. Unable to shake the image of a perky little pig flashing me a brilliant George Clooney smile, I decided it was easier to forgo the Christmas ham. A couple of years later, I gave up on all mammalian meat, period. I still eat fish and poultry, however and pour eggnog in my coffee. My dietary decisions are arbitrary and inconsistent, and when friends ask why I’m willing to try the duck but not the lamb, I don’t have a good answer. Food choices are often like that: difficult to articulate yet strongly held. And lately, debates over food choices have flared with particular vehemence.

In his new book, “Eating Animals,” the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer describes his gradual transformation from omnivorous, oblivious slacker who “waffled among any number of diets” to “committed vegetarian.” Last month, Gary Steiner, a philosopher at Bucknell University, argued on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times that people should strive to be “strict ethical vegans” like himself, avoiding all products derived from animals, including wool and silk. Killing animals for human food and finery is nothing less than “outright murder,” he said, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “eternal Treblinka.”

But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.

“Plants are not static or silly,” said Monika Hilker of the Institute of Biology at the Free University of Berlin. “They respond to tactile cues, they recognize different wavelengths of light, they listen to chemical signals, they can even talk” through chemical signals. Touch, sight, hearing, speech. “These are sensory modalities and abilities we normally think of as only being in animals,” Dr. Hilker said. Read More

When vegetarians or vegans try telling you that nothing had to die for their meal, you might mention that everything they will ever eat was once alive and then died. It drives them nuts when you do it, but that’s usually the case when logic is applied against an emotional argument. More than likely, they will use the tired argument that plants don’t have a central nervous system. It might not be like ours, but they can and do respond to stimuli. I have been accused of speciesism because I choose to eat meat, but a vegan diet isn’t any different. ~Troy

Thinking Outside the Ag Promotion Box

Here's a plan to promote agriculture
Dec 21, 2009 3:41 PM, By Roy Roberson, Farm Press Editorial Staff

A few weeks back I had an opportunity to visit the farm home of Chris and Lori Stancill. Chris is a fourth generation North Carolina farmer, who along with his brother, farms 4,000-5,000 acres of grain crops, peanuts, and cotton.

Chris and Lori have two sons, John 17 and Ben 20. Both are local race car legends, with hundreds of trophies and ribbons to prove it. Ben is the race car equivalent of the pitcher in the old Robert Redford baseball movie, The Natural.

When he was seven years old, Ben’s grandfather — Lori’s father — introduced him to go-kart racing. Since that first race he has dominated the sport at every level, except for NASCAR. He currently drives in the NASCAR truck series and has driven in Nationwide events.

Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, soft-spoken, and articulate, Ben Stancill doesn’t aspire to be the next NASCAR superstar, though he has the talent to be. He wants to be a successful NASCAR driver who competes for the cup championship for the next 20 years or so and use the vast audience of racing to promote agriculture.

Ben Stancill isn’t just a clean cut, nice looking, articulate country boy who grew up on a farm. He drives the tractors, sprays the crops, harvests the crops — even has his own 200 acres of peanuts. Ben Stancill is a farmer. Read More

When it comes to ideas for promoting and educating about agriculture, we need to be looking at all different kinds. We want consumers to see ag messages in places they wouldn’t expect. But, in order to make any campaign truly successful, it needs to be backed up with the efforts of real farmers and ranchers making themselves available to the consumer as a resource. When that happens, we start developing the relationships that will keep farmers and ranchers as a very trusted group of people. ~Troy

Monday, December 21, 2009

Displacing Ag Land

Agriculture chief disputes USDA climate bill study
By Jerry Hagstrom
CongressDaily December 18, 2009

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Friday took issue with a report his own agency has issued on the impact of the House-passed climate change bill, which concluded there will be a large-scale conversion of cropland to forestland.

The study, authored by USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber, said the bill would help the agriculture sector overall. But it also said if the price of carbon allowances increases to $70 per ton of carbon dioxide by 2050, almost 60 million more acres of land would be converted to forest, 35 million acres of which would come from cropland.

That would be a 14 percent decline in cropland from the current level and take away 24 million acres from pasture -- an almost 9 percent decline.

The analysis was based on the Forest and Agricultural Sector Optimization Model by researchers at Texas A&M University, which EPA has used to study climate legislation.

Glauber's testimony on the study before a House Agriculture subcommittee Dec. 6 had led some farm leaders and Republicans to warn such a shift would lead to much higher food production and consumer food costs. Vilsack echoed those concerns Friday, saying that the scenario would be "disruptive to agriculture in some regions of the country."

But Vilsack added that he took away from his talks with Glauber that the economist does not believe the increased forest forecast is "necessarily an accurate depiction of the impacts of climate legislation."

Vilsack said the model could be updated and noted that Glauber testified that careful design of an offsets program could avoid "unintended consequences." Link

When we are at a time when we need to be doubling food production, our society can’t afford to have government policies that will reduce available farm land. This will make it more difficult to keep affordable food available to families. Along with that, it will make it more difficult for farming families to stay in business. Land availability is an issue already in most areas. Remember, all of this is supposed to solve a problem that might not even exist. Is it worth more hungry people?

Defending and Promoting Agriculture

Capture the hearts and minds of consumers
High Plains Journal

Trade, antibiotics, food safety and the estate tax were some of the issues that Forrest Roberts, chief executive officer of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) touched on during his address at the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) Convention, Dec. 3 to 4 in Wichita, Kan. Of all the issues he discussed, Roberts said the one with the most energy is animal welfare.

"It does not take a rocket scientist to see what has happened in our industry, starting all the way back with the book "Omnivores Dilemma" to the recent film "Food, Inc." and articles in Time magazine and the New York Times, to understand how much pressure our industry is under when you think about animal welfare," Roberts said.

Roberts said this is about capturing the hearts and minds of the consumer. It is about defending, sustaining, and advancing modern beef production.

Pack of wolves

Dr. Dan Thomson, K-State Beef Cattle Institute, compared the attack on the beef industry like "a pack of wolves attacking a moose." As soon as the industry turns to face one activist group, another one attacks from the other side.

"They keep attacking and their goal is to kill the moose," Thomson said. "Their goal is to abolish animal agriculture." Click here to read the rest of the article, which includes a short section about Jody Donahue's social media efforts and other info from the KLA convention.

There is no doubt that farmers and ranchers are under attack in this country, and we tend to focus on those problems quite a bit. However, there are still many reasons that we should be optimistic. While the radical try making farmers and ranchers out to be evil, greedy, animal abusing people, it’s not working very well. Farmers and ranchers are still considered to be very trustworthy people. We need to build on that trusting relationship by talking to consumers face to face and introducing ourselves. We don’t have a lot of money to fight back but we have great people with great stories. That’s something money can’t buy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Showing Their Committment

December 17, 2009
GUEST COMMENTAY: Rosendale Dairy: It’s a commitment
By Jim Ostrom

When Rosendale Dairy’s three partners — John Vosters, Todd Willer and I — were boys on Wisconsin dairy farms, we imagined little beyond waking early, milking, feeding and caring for cows.

When my grandfather was 19, there were 140,000 Wisconsin dairy farms. Now there are 14,000.

The 20-to-50 cow farms of the past several generations disappeared as many children of dairy farms followed other careers. The 1.9 million dairy cows that at one time supplied milk in Wisconsin now number about 1.2 million.

But we remain committed to the dairy industry and to producing wholesome food for our nation. We are also committed to the environment and to our Wisconsin roots. We are committed to doing what is right — and taking pride in it.

Complete and detailed project plans were submitted and county and state statutory approvals were obtained. The dairy has received more than 30 permits and approvals and invested millions of dollars to ensure the health and comfort of its herd, using technology and personal herd management practices maximizing the well-being of the cows and the environment.

Two people who spoke against the modification at the DNR hearing called the morning after and asked for a dairy tour before heading home to Illinois. After the tour, one told operations manager Bill Eberle, “Someone asked me if there are any good CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). Now I can tell them there is one.”

The other visitor e-mailed Eberlee after getting home to Illinois, writing, “Thanks for guiding (us) through Rosendale Dairy yesterday. You clearly are professional in what you do, and in the operations of the farm. While it’s difficult to see small family farms being replaced by CAFOs, clearly you run your operation efficiently, and successfully.” Read More

This article mirrors my experiences. When given the chance to really show and tell about how our farms and ranches operate, people become very comfortable with the great job we do in raising food in this country. It seems easy for consumers to hate the farm down the road that they think is doing bad things, even though they don’t know who lives there or what exactly they do. Taking the initiative to introduce yourself and build a relationship with consumers is absolutely what we need to be doing in agriculture.

Lesson Learned In Ohio

Ohio leader describes how to beat HSUS at ballot
Sharp says Ohio Farm Bureau took a proactive approach
By MITCH LIESCapital Press

HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Ohio farmers were "put in a box," according to an Ohio Farm Bureau executive, after the Humane Society of the U.S. called for the state's farmers to change animal housing practices.

Adam Sharp, senior regulatory affairs director for the Ohio Farm Bureau, said HSUS wasn't prepared for what happened next.

"They are not used to being on the defensive and being uncomfortable in their position," Sharp said.

Rather than wait for HSUS to follow through on a threat to ban gestation stalls, veal stalls and chicken cages, Ohio farmers earlier this year launched a campaign that has gained national attention.

In November, when 64 percent of the state's voters agreed to form a livestock board to regulate animal agriculture practices in Ohio, the state's agriculture scored a victory that could serve as a template for other states to follow.

Sharp said farmers decided to be proactive in an attempt to fend off the restrictions. The farmers crafted a ballot measure that formed a livestock board to establish standards governing animal agriculture. Read More

There certainly has been a lot of interest in Ohio’s successful efforts to pass Issue 2, which will allow their own citizens to determine the best practices for raising livestock. There are certainly a lot of lessons to be learned from this experience. Hopefully they can be used in the future. The members of this board will undoubtedly focus on what’s best for the livestock. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens when HSUS pushes through legislation.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

HSUS, PETA Attack Food Donation Program

Animal groups' criticism bounces off hunters who feed hungry
By Courtland Milloy
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

During a recent deer hunt in Southern Maryland, Blaise Higgs killed a doe and then took it to a butcher shop for dressing. After setting aside several pounds of venison for his family, he donated the rest to an organization that helps feed the hungry.

"A lot of people are having a difficult time putting food on the table, so if you can help them, why not?" said Higgs, 38, a resident of Mechanicsville and a hunter since he was 6.

In the long-running dispute with animal rights advocates over the ethics of deer hunting, Higgs and other sportsmen have found what they believe to be the moral high ground: stocking food banks and soup kitchens with their kills.

One day last week, about 50 people dined on venison chili at the Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen, which operates out of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Leonardtown.

"We call it 'Bambi chili,' " said Shirley Morton, a volunteer cook.

Higgs's bounty was distributed through Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, a national outreach ministry headquartered in Williamsport, Md. Steve White, a coordinator for the group, said participants in Maryland provided enough food for 497,800 meals between June 2008 and this past July.

Animal rights activists are not impressed.

"I find it offensive that people would try to justify immoral behavior by claiming that something good comes out of it," said Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "They can't defend ruthlessly blowing away animals for fun, so they come up with these ancillary benefits."

The controversy over deer hunting has heated up in the Washington area in recent months, with several jurisdictions approving deer hunts in public parks as a way to control the herds.

But groups including PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have expressed strong opposition to the hunts, calling them cruel to animals and dangerous for human beings.

Read More

How sad is it that PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, who have combined resources in the neighborhood of one-quarter of a billion dollars, would rather complain about deer hunting than help out hungry families. While farmers, ranchers and hunters work to help feed the families in their communities, PETA and HSUS work to stop their efforts. Why Bruce Friedrich and Wayne Pacelle would let their organizations actively work towards causing more people to go hungry is beyond me.

Animal Terrorists Destroy Property in Mexico

Mexico links animal activists to car burnings
The Associated Press

Investigators have found evidence linking an animal rights group to homemade bombs that burned seven vehicles in Mexico City, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The symbol of a local version of the Animal Liberation Front was found painted near the attacks in a residential neighborhood on the city's south side, assistant city prosecutor Luis Genaro Vasquez told the Televisa news network. An anarchist symbol was also found.

The assailants apparently tossed bottles filled with flammable liquids at cars and trucks.

Jerry Vlasak, a press officer for the U.S.-based North American Animal Liberation Press Office, said his organization receives anonymous news statements from the Mexican group but does not know who its members are because they operate secretly.

He said he had not received any statement about the car burnings, but added it would be typical of the Mexican's group actions.

"They are not vandals. They're not doing this for personal gain. They do this because they love animals," Vlasak said. Read More

They are destroying private property and endangering the lives of people because they love animals? So are the animals in Mexico now better off because they burned these cars? This is another example of how radical Jerry Vlasak and his band of terrorists are. They actively promote the use of civil disobedience and violence against other human beings. Even if someone dies as a result of their actions, they see it as justified. Anyone that would endorse this type of activity is no friend of animals or people.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Using Critical Thinking Skills

GM corn health risks identified
16 Dec, 2009 04:45 PM

AN INTERNATIONAL study of three Monsanto genetically manipulated maize (corn) varieties shows clear evidence of health risks, according to anti-GM lobby group Gene Ethics.

It says that the study analysed data from 90-day rat feeding trials of: insecticide-producing Mon 810 and Mon 863 GM maize; and Roundup herbicide tolerant NK 603 GM maize.

Adverse impacts were found on the kidneys, livers and the dietary detoxifying organs of experimental rats, and also some damage to heart, adrenal glands, spleen and the haematopoietic system.

The research was conducted by French scientists from the universities of Caen and Rouen and is published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences.

According to Gene Ethics, the report shows the GM maize events contained novel pesticide residues that will also be present in human food and animal feed where they may pose grave health risks.

As a result of the findings, the scientists are calling for an immediate prohibition on the import and cultivation of this GM maize and have strongly recommended more long-term and multi-generational animal feeding studies.

Million Meals Program

Indiana Pork Producers Make Timely Donation of Pork
Hoosier Ag Today

As the holidays and the economy conspire to drive the need for emergency food assistance, Gleaners is struggling to meet the needs of local families. Holiday meals with candles are a pretty vision, but not the reality for thousands of hungry Hoosiers. Right now Gleaners is struggling to keep up with its charities requests for more food. That‘s why donations, like the one made Tuesday by the Indiana Pork Producers, are critical at this time.

Indiana Pork, in partnership with Feeding Indiana‘s Hungry, Inc. and the Indiana Soybean Alliance, donated 5,000 pounds of ground pork to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc. on Tuesday. The donation was part of approximately 250,000 pounds of pork earmarked for Indiana through an ongoing campaign for Indiana pork producers and industry partners to fund a program to donate pork products to Hoosiers experiencing hunger.

The Million Meals program is designed to help thousands of Hoosier families with one of their most essential needs - high quality protein. The lofty goal of the campaign is to provide one million ground pork meals per year, throughout the year, to those in need. These pork meals will be distributed statewide through the nine food bank members of Feeding Indiana‘s Hungry, Inc., Indiana‘s statewide network of food banks.

"Indiana donations of pork products have been in place for decades, however, 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. "We are excited about the partnership with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on this particular donation as it highlights the important connection between Indiana‘s livestock and grain farmers."

"Indiana pork producers saw the need in the state and they came to us with a plan to provide one million pork meals per year," said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana‘s Hungry. "They‘ve always been generous but this really couldn‘t have come at a better time for our member food banks. We couldn‘t be prouder of our association with Indiana Pork and its partners in delivering the Million Meals program." Read More

I had the good fortune to be part of a group that volunteered some time at the Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis while we were there for the National FFA Convention. Having been to several food banks in large cities, it never ceases to amaze me how much these groups accomplish with so few resources. Along with that, they are so grateful for any help. The demands being place on food banks by hungry families have increased dramatically with the downturn of the economy. Farmers and ranchers not only care about their livestock, but they also care about their neighbors. Please donate time or any other resources you can.

Hosting Farm Visits

USA - Animal rights citing Hallmarks is like calling all American KKK
16 Dec 2009

Animal agriculture has come under increasing attack by animal rights groups for everything from management practices to their very existence. The most visible action has been by the Humane Society of the United States and their state-by-state crusade to outlaw the use of gestation stalls, calf crates and battery cages. While those in animal agriculture see these as management tools designed for the health and protection of the animal, animal activists see them differently.

Charlie Arnot is CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, a non-profit organization which works to build consumer trust and confidence in the U.S. food system. He says this is going to be an on-going challenge because with each generation, consumers are further removed from the farm. “So everybody has to take a personal responsibility, whether it’s education your neighbor, being involved in a spokesperson program or participating in a more formal program to help tell the story who we are and what we do today in a way that is compelling and meaningful for consumers.”

In a case such as the Westland-Hallmark animal abuse video, Arnot says animal agriculture needs to be the first voice those consumers hear saying; “That is not acceptable, that is not consistent with our standards, we won’t accept it, we won’t tolerate it.” Read More

One area that Charlie Arnot hit on that I think is really important for all producers to think about is hosting tours of their farms and ranches. It’s especially important to give kids the chance to get out on a farm and experience the things we do for a living. Putting a smile on a kid’s face is as simple as putting them in the seat of a tractor or letting them get a close up look at some livestock. We always say in our presentations that if the school won’t let you bring the kids out to the farm, then take the farm to the school. I guarantee that you will be exhausted after it’s all over, but you will probably have just as much fun as the kids will.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Turning Poultry Fat Into Fuel

Company wants to turn fat into fuel at Iowa plant
By AMY LORENTZEN (AP) – 23 hours ago

DES MOINES, Iowa — A central Iowa plant could soon begin producing jet fuel from poultry fat.
Bolingbrook, Ill.-based Elevance Renewable Sciences plans to build a $15 million plant in Newton, adding onto an existing biodiesel operation.

The experimental operation plans to use plant oils and poultry fat as building blocks to replace petroleum-based chemicals used to make myriad products, including jet fuel, lubricants, adhesives and even cosmetics and candles.

"It allows us to make a very interesting slate of products, which is different and somewhat in contrast to how poultry fat is used today," said K'Lynne Johnson, Elevance's chief executive. "We are taking a waste stream of products ... and using it in a higher value manner."

Using Elevance's technology, that fat could produce about 250 million gallons of products including diesel fuel, jet fuel and specialty chemicals that can replace petroleum products, Johnson said. A biofuels processor needs the fat from about 50 chickens to make one gallon of fuel. Read More

It’s exciting to see how many uses can be found for the co-products of livestock production. Not only can we accomplish our main goal of providing a safe nutritious food source, but on top of that many other products are being developed, including energy. Homegrown food and energy are two of the most important things our country needs in order to remain successful.

Be Ready to Educate About Ag

Cattle producers told to fight myths
By Lori Potter World-Herald News Service

KEARNEY, Neb. — Lana Slaten is proud that her Cullman County is Alabama’s top cattle producer. The registered nurse and cow-calf producer was thrilled to recently read in Beef magazine that it also ranks as the 130th largest U.S. beef county.

“Yet I have friends who actually believe beef is not safe to eat,” said Slaten, who is president-elect of American National Cattlewomen.

Slaten and Tom Field, executive director of producer education for the Denver office of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, were featured speakers this week at the opening session of the 2009 Nebraska Cattlemen and Cattlewomen Convention in Kearney.

Both talked about the mission to fight myths and misconceptions used to attack the cattle industry on such issues as hormone and antibiotic use, global warming and animal welfare.

Misinformation is spread person-to-person by schoolchildren, adult consumers and some of the media’s biggest stars. Slaten said one negative comment about beef from Oprah Winfrey can send markets down in just one afternoon.

“Our job is to arm ourselves with facts, science-based facts, and educate those who blindly believe what they hear in a 30-second sound bite on the news,” she said. “We have to tell the rest of the story.” Read More

It’s easy to know when and where you should be educating people about agriculture. You should be doing it everywhere all the time. Seeking opportunities to tell your story and educate about what you do on your farm or ranch needs to be on your chore list. The best place to start doing it is right in your hometown. Even if you live in a rural community, not everyone there understands what it takes for you to get food on their table. The things you do off the farm and ranch to promote and educate can and will have as much impact on your ability to continue in agriculture as the things you do on the place.

Wolf Hunt Successful

Official: Wolf hunt was effective
MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 11:45 pm

An examination of Montana’s first public gray-wolf hunt showed at least nine of the animals were killed in an area prone to livestock attacks — a finding that could blunt criticism that the hunt was ineffective.

Confident state wildlife officials said they could increase the quota on the predators next year. They want to zero in on a number that would strike a balance between protecting the wolf population and stopping increasing attacks on livestock and big-game herds.

However, the hunt in Montana and a wolf season in neighboring Idaho must first pass muster with a federal judge in Missoula. About 1,350 gray wolves in the Northern Rockies were removed from the endangered list in the spring. About 300 wolves in Wyoming remain on the list.

At least nine of the 72 wolves killed were in the Big Hole Valley — site of frequent wolf attacks on livestock. Just two breeding female wolves were killed among an estimated 34 statewide.

There were about 500 wolves in Montana last year. Even with the 72 killed by hunters — and another 127 killed by wildlife control agents, poachers, ranchers and other causes — that figure was projected to grow during the last year. If that happens, it could defuse arguments that hunting is harming the broader population. Read More

While the hunt may have created quite a bit of controversy, it’s clear that the intended results were achieved. In order to have a healthy population of wolves, and to keep the livestock and human interactions to a minimum, a hunt was necessary. There seems to be too many people that think the best way to manage wildlife is to no manage them. They would rather see disease and starvation cause unnecessary suffering for these animals. It doesn’t matter if it’s wolves, mountain lions, feral horses or anything else, population management needs to occur.

Monday, December 14, 2009

HSUS Using Religion

Animal welfare organization finds religion
High Plains Journal

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has discovered religion and that is not necessarily a good thing for animal agriculture, according to Wes Jamison.

Jamison, an associate professor of communication at Palm Beach Atlantic University, was a featured speaker at the Nebraska Ag Classic held Dec. 1 and 2 in Lincoln, Neb. His presentation was entitled "Ready for Combustion: Animals, Religion, Politics & the HSUS."

Jamison has studied HSUS for the last 20 years and has outlined their five main strategies for animal welfare. The first is to change the legal standing of animals. As it stands now, animals are considered property, but HSUS would like to change that standing so that animal owners are considered legal custodians. Jamison said under state law this would make it possible for outside entities to sue on behalf of the animals.

Jamison recently completed a research project, partly funded by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, looking at the message HSUS is using with consumers and what messages the animal industry can use to counter them.

HSUS is targeting pet owners. The wedge issue is that pet owners have one animal at the center of their lives and another animal at the center of their plate. If HSUS wants to win more state initiatives, they must win over pet owners.

"Consumers view animal agriculture through pet owners' eyes," Jamison said.

Their message is that animals have individual worth and God knows each and every one of them by name, while we in agriculture treat them like property with economic value. Read More

Dr. Jamison is one of my favorite speakers to hear on this topic. Having studied these animal rights groups for so long, it’s interesting to see him show the progression of their tactics over time. Their recent efforts to use religion as a way of making people feel guilty about what they eat are particularly disturbing. Humans aren’t just another species of animal that was created by God. We were made in his image and given dominion over the animals. It’s also interesting to me that the animal rights activists that have argued religion with me the most were atheists.

Corn Genome Possibilities

300-bushel averages by 2030?
Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009 9:25 am
By LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer 0 comments

KEARNEY — Scientists who recently completed sequencing the corn genome may have ensured success for crop breeders and farmers racing to double 2000 world corn production by 2030.
That means Nebraska farmers who are harvesting a 2009 crop averaging 200 bushels or more per acre in many fields soon could see 300-bushel yields, said Chandler Mazour, manager of Monsanto’s Water Utilization Learning Center south of Gothenburg.

“It’s big on a global scale,” he said about the importance of the genome mapping, because doubling production while using fewer inputs is vital to feeding a world population expected to grow from 6 billion to 9 billion by 2050.

Craig Wietjes of Riverdale, who has been a Pioneer seed representative for 20 years, said, “We are becoming very limited on obtaining or developing more acres for the products to be produced. We now must focus on making our products — mainly corn and soybeans — produce more per acre.”

He described the gene mapping as “a pivotal industry-changing movement.”

Smithfield farmer Dennis Gengenbach, who is vice president of the Nebraska Corn Board and serves on the National Corn Growers Association Research Committee, said, “It’s gonna take a few years to determine what changes we want to make and how. But it’s limited only by your imagination.” Read More

Several of our food crops have been sequenced now, including some of our livestock. Knowing this information will make it much easier for plant and livestock breeders to bring more favorable genes to the forefront and eliminate those that cause problems. Humans have been genetically enhancing their food crops for 10,000 years now and that continues today with new and better technology that will help us grow more food.

A Food Police Review

Food activists are all jeer, no cheer
Published: 01:00 a.m., Friday, December 11, 2009
By J. Justin Wilson

'Tis the season -- for eating. But while the holiday season offers us an excuse to indulge in our favorite culinary fantasies, some activist groups are killing the joy with doomsday proclamations about our food. It's time to carve up their myth-making and set the record straight about which dietary do-gooders deserve to be on Santa's "Naughty" list.

Just in time for holiday feasts, a new report spotlights spinach, eggs, cheese, tuna and even tomatoes as some of the supposed top 10 "riskiest" foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The report's author is the notorious Center for Science in the Public Interest, commonly known as the self-anointed "food police" for its overzealous prosecution of any food, drink, or ingredient that might possibly be bad for us.

Interestingly, some of the foods CSPI now deems "risky" were previously featured by CSPI in a top 10 list of "Super Foods for Better Health." So a food is good for us until CSPI decides it's actually bad for us and can breathlessly fuel a media scare campaign saying so. Flip-flopping CSPI surely will find coal in its stockings.

It's not the first time CSPI has been a dietary Scrooge. In the mid-1980s, CSPI launched an all-out assault on fast-food restaurants and encouraged them to drop saturated fat-laden oil and replace it with partially hydrogenated oil containing trans fats. Not long after, however, CSPI's executive director, Michael Jacobson, was calling for restaurants to dump them.

PCRM shares the vegan agenda with PETA, meaning no cheese, no dairy and definitely no hot dogs or grilled chicken.

In reality, however, PCRM is only dressed up as a respectable group of doctors: Less than 4 percent of the "Physicians Committee" members graduated from medical school. PCRM president Neal Barnard ridiculously writes that "to give a child animal products is a form of child abuse" and has hysterically argued that cheese is tantamount to "morphine on a cracker." (If these vegans had a little eggnog, they might not be such Grinches.) Read More

There is no doubt that the groups mentioned in this article have a goal to change the way we produce and eat food in our society. The article correctly points out how these food police regularly flip-flop on their recommendations. That’s why the most simple nutritional advice is still the best. If you eat a balanced diet that includes meat and dairy products in the proper amounts, you will be just fine. Every fad in eating that comes along tells us we should shun certain food groups. That lasts for a few years and then the next fad comes along. Eating a balanced diet is not a fad. That’s the lesson all of us need to learn and teach to our children.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Uniting Agriculture

Last week, Stacy and I had the opportunity to present at the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Casper, WY. It's a three day meeting that occurs every other year and is one of the best informational meetings dealing with beef cattle that you can attend.

The message we shared was simple. It's important for producers to be talking to consumers, educating them about what they do and letting them know that their are great family farmers and ranchers in this country that are growing their food. We also tell them how important it is for all of us in agriculture to start working together. With less than 2% of the population involved in production agriculture, we can't afford to be divided. Certainly we need to promote our own products, but it shouldn't be done by trashing another commodity or production method. All of us rely on each other in some fashion in agriculture. The biggest challenges we face are a commonality amongst us and we need to work on them in a cooperative manner.

Unfortunately, the speaker that presented after us had a much different view. He told the beef cattle producers in attendance at the meeting that people who use modern production methods to raise pigs, chickens and dairy cattle are immoral and unethical. In fact he even suggested that beef producers use that as a marketing tool. While he is saying this, he continues to brag about how he is a friend to agriculture.

This person continually talked about how much he admired the cowboy culture and was happy to be part of it, even though he grew up in Brooklyn, NY. It was obvious that he knows nothing about the cowboy culture, at least not the culture I was raised in. You see, if he knew anything about our culture, he wouldn't suggest we try stepping on the throats of our neighbors to promote ourselves.

He also went on to say that we should accept the demands of animal rights groups like HSUS rather than doing what Ohio did with their Issue 2. If he were truly a friend of agriculture, he would trust livestock producers to care for them rather than thinking that an animal rights lobbying group out of Washington DC knows better.

I have a lot of great friends that raise pigs, chickens and dairy cattle. I have been on several of these operations all over the United States. While all of them are different, they all have one thing in common, and that is the fact that they care about their livestock. They are using certain production techniques because they DO care about them, not because they don't. And if any of these folks were immoral or unethical, they wouldn't work so hard to care for their animals.

I'm proud to be in agriculture and I'm proud to be associated with these other livestock commodities. I suppose when you sit at a desk for a career, never worrying about where your next meal is going to come from that it's easy to chastise what these people do.

He claimed that a beef producer once told him that if he had to raise his cows the way pig producers raise their animals that he would quit. Here's what I think as a beef producer. If my industry starts listening to people like this that want to drive a wedge between neighbors, that will be the day I quit.

I'm not an ethicist with a Ph. D. behind my name like this guy, but I am a fifth generation United States rancher. I don't need a person like this telling me what's right and wrong. The cowboy culture that he so admires is the one I grew up in and that experience tells me what he is suggesting is wrong.

Carrie Underwood Consider a Hero of HSUS

Carrie Underwood a hero for the Humane Society of the United States
December 10, 5:45 PM
West Palm Beach Pet Rescue Examiner
Sasha Muzzarelli

Carrie Underwood isn't just a country crooner whose singles are consistently at the top of the charts - she's also a friend to the animals. The winner of Season 4 of American Idol donated charitable proceeds from her digital single "Home Sweet Home" to a very worthy cause.

Together with 19 Recordings and Sony Music Nashville, Underwood gave a $200,000 check to the Humane Society of the United States on December 3rd. Underwood has made no secret of her love for animals, toting around her miniature pinscher Ace from city to city. He even has his own fan club! Says Underwood: “I’ve always loved this song, and besides being very fitting for Idol, to me, the title is also very fitting with animal rescue and finding animals their own homes. So we felt it was important to tie the release into an amazing animal charity like the HSUS.”

When celebrities lend their name and likeness to a worthy cause such as spay and neuter campaigns or animal welfare legislation, they bring awareness to the general public and hopefully, inspire people to get involved and volunteer at their local shelter. Stars such as Jenna Elfman, Alec Baldwin and Barbara Streisand have all spoken out and taken a stand to be the voice of homeless and abused animals. Link

Just think of all the great charities that could have benefitted from a gift of $200,000. Instead of donating that money to charities that could help people, especially during the Christmas season, she gave it to the richest animal right organization on the planet. She gave it to a group that uses more than 95% of it’s budget for travel and lobbying against family farmers and ranchers. She may play country music, but she forgot long ago about the country she grew up in. ~TH

Betting On Green Costs Sierra Club

Risky 'green' investments could put Sierra Club in the red
By: David Freddoso
Commentary Staff Writer
12/10/09 11:28 AM EST

High electrical bills this winter? You don't have to look far for someone to blame. The Sierra Club volunteers to take the blame with this gleeful announcement that it has killed 100 coal-fired power plants nationwide.

But if green energy is such a great investment, then why is a hundred-million-dollar donor to the Sierra Club Foundation informing his favorite charities that they might have cost him his shirt, and that therefore he will be curtailing his gifts for the time being?

David Gelbaum, a major donor to the Sierra Club Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and an organization that provides services to military personnel, said he would cut donations next year because investments in alternative-energy firms have "placed me in a highly illiquid position."

Gelbaum, who had been an anonymous donor, revealed himself so that his beneficiaries would know to seek new sources of funding this year. Link

It’s more than a little ironic that one of the Sierra Club’s biggest donors will not be able to give them money this year because of the person’s investments in renewable energy. The Sierra Club recklessly advocates polices that will cost hard working families a lot of money in increased energy costs. This time, however, it seems that it has come back to bite them. ~TH

Thursday, December 10, 2009

OSU Bows To Activist Threat

Animal rights vs. research: OSU halts anthrax study
By Sharon Schmickle Published Wed, Dec 9 2009 9:49 am

Worried about stepped up activity by militant animal-rights groups, administrators at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater abruptly cancelled an anthrax vaccine study that would have killed dozens of baboons.

"There are regrettably some violent acts committed by animal-rights groups, and the president felt we should take our breath here and not do this project just yet," OSU vice-president of research, Stephen McKeever, told the journal Nature.

In Oklahoma, the project, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by Shinichiro Kurosawa of Boston University School of Medicine, had been approved by the OSU animal-care committee in September and was awaiting review by the biosafety committee when OSU President Burns Hargis vetoed it, calling the study "controversial," Nature reported.

Kurosawa had hoped to use the OSU animal facility because it has the required level of biosafety containment for anthrax. Along with collaborators, he had planned to investigate the biochemical pathways that lead to death following anthrax infection, and to test an anthrax vaccine.

Read More

The real controversy here is the fact that the OSU President felt that a potential vaccine for anthrax that could save untold millions of lives wasn’t worth it. The lives of the baboons and the threats from animal rights activists won out over the greater good. The threat of an anthrax attack is very real in today’s world. It’s unfortunate that this decision will perpetuate that threat rather than end it.

Making Electricity From Manure

Project in southwest Kansas will turn cattle manure into electricity by early next year
By Associated Press
8:53 AM CST, December 9, 2009

ANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The cattle manure in a feedlot in southwest Kansas may soon be providing electricity to nearby homes.

Gene Pflughoft is the economic development director for Grant County. He says that early next year, equipment at a cattle feedlot will begin turning manure into fuel that could make electricity for 30 homes.

If the project is successful, larger units could be placed at other feedlots to start making use of the ample supply of cattle manure in Kansas.

A Bipartisan Policy Conference in Washington recently issued a study that said 50,000 cows could provide enough dung to power 24,000 homes.

The report said Kansas, which has two cows for every human, could use more cattle manure by mixing it with coal. Link

Too many times I see people refer to manure as a waste product. Some even refer to it as toxic waste. If you hear those things, you can feel free to assume that whoever said it doesn’t know anything about the subject. It’s not a waste product, it’s a valuable nutrient. It can be used for organic fertilizer, thus reducing the need for fossil fuel based fertilizers. And, it can also be used to generate energy. Manure gets a bad rap when in fact we couldn’t do well without it.

Eat Globally For Efficiency

The 100-mile myth
Kevin Libin, National Post

At the annual convention of the North American Farmers' Direct Marketing Association in Calgary a couple of years ago, organizers offered a seminar entitled "The New Classic: Creating an upscale urban farmers' market with down-home country Chutzpah." For years, local farmers' markets weren't anything you'd hazard to call "upscale," but the rise of the local food movement and the best-selling environmental-soul books, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The 100-Mile Diet, has made buying locally grown, rather than well-travelled food, as trendy these days among the eco-yuppie crowd as hybrid Lexuses and Baby Planet strollers. "Farmers have been involved with selling local product for decades. What's happening now is that the consumer side is catching on," says Charlie Touchette, executive director of the marketing association.

In part, farmer vendors charge more because they've been suddenly blessed with customers willing to pay more. But locally grown food, in many cases, is also more costly to produce, because Canadian labour and, often, land is worth more than in Brazil or China. Above all, though, local growing conditions for most foods are less productive than elsewhere. Every climate, obviously, has its strengths and weaknesses, and frequently, locally grown food is less efficiently produced than the imported stuff. Accounting for "food miles" -- the key measure used by locavores (local produce eaters) -- tells you how far food travels. It doesn't tell you how much energy -- and greenhouse gas emissions -- went into growing it. When you add that in, and if your aim is to conserve fossil fuels and emissions, the best way is actually to skip the farmers' market and eat global.

"If you are concerned about the carbon footprint of your diet, focusing on transportation is kind of like worrying about the air pressure in your tires of your car rather than whether you have a fuel-efficient car or not," says James McWilliams, an environmental and agricultural historian at Texas State University, author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, and a former part-time locavore. "What matters so much more than how far it travels from farm to fork is what kind of methods were used to produce it."

"What I really do see ... is that buying local is a political act. It's a gesture that, in essence, thumbs its nose at globalization," he says. If left-wing posturing and green-posing is your priority, then stick with your 100-mile diet. Leave it to average consumers, buying the globally sourced groceries at their local, corporate, big-box retailer, to do genuine good for the planet.

Read More

This article focuses on the fact that efficiency in production is the key in determining a food’s impact on the environment. And no where in the world is modern agriculture more efficient than here in the United States. We are producing more food with fewer inputs than at any other time in the history of this planet. I think buying local is a great way to support local farmers and ranchers, and I hope that people continue to do so. However, if people think buying everything local is going to save the planet from some impending doom, they are sorely mistaken.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't Blame Cows

Don’t Blame Cows for Climate Change
December 7, 2009
UC Davis

Despite oft-repeated claims by sources ranging from the United Nations to music star Paul McCartney, it is simply not true that consuming less meat and dairy products will help stop climate change, says a University of California authority on farming and greenhouse gases.

UC Davis Associate Professor and Air Quality Specialist Frank Mitloehner says that McCartney and the chair of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ignored science last week when they launched a European campaign called "Less Meat = Less Heat." The launch came on the eve of a major international climate summit, which runs today through Dec. 18 in Copenhagen.

McCartney and others, such as the promoters of "meatless Mondays," seem to be well-intentioned but not well-schooled in the complex relationships among human activities, animal digestion, food production and atmospheric chemistry, says Mitloehner.

"Smarter animal farming, not less farming, will equal less heat," Mitloehner said. "Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries." Read More

Continued research on the impact of livestock production on our climate shows us once again that removing meat from your diet won’t have any affect. It’s just been another attempt to scare people away from eating a balanced diet. Since they don’t have any facts to back up their claim, anti-meat advocates have plotted a purely emotional campaign to make people feel guilty about what they eat. More than ever, we need to be basing our decisions about things like this on facts, not fear.

The Real Story on Food Safety

The unusual suspects
As food production and preparation moves farther afield, tainted items become hard to avoid
By Arthur Allen
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If you were planning to serve shrimp during the holidays, you might not want to talk to Michael Doyle, director of the Food Safety Center at the University of Georgia. You see, most of the shrimp sold in the United States, as well as the tilapia and some other fish, are grown in ponds on small farms in China and Southeast Asia. Doyle has visited those farms. What they feed the fish doesn't belong in a family newspaper.

Most of us have long been aware that raw meat is crawling with pathogenic microbes. For most Americans, avoiding it is common sense. Undercooked chicken? Send it back. Steak tartare? Non, merci.

But shrimp? Tilapia? Spinach? Peanut butter? Cookie dough? And how about apple juice?

The increasing number of front-page outbreaks and the high-profile critiques of the food system by such writers as Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma") and Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation") can give the impression that the U.S. food supply is spiraling out of control. But is Americans' food, in fact, more dangerous that it was in the day of home-cooked meals? People who have studied the numbers aren't convinced. The food supply is certainly safer than it was 100 years ago, experts agree, and probably a bit safer than it was even two decades ago, according to CDC food safety expert Robert Tauxe. That said, it could be a lot safer -- and there are real reasons to worry.

With improved surveillance, more outbreaks are identified, which can make things seem worse than they were in the past. The CDC tracks food-borne outbreaks primarily through two networks, called FoodNet and PulseNet. FoodNet uses hospital records and microbial testing programs to trace the spread of pathogens, while PulseNet uses genetic fingerprinting to link cases of illness. Read More

I have to give credit to a reporter when a balanced, informational piece is written about food. It’s interesting that he even counters some widely held beliefs, such as the myth that e. coli was created by modern livestock production methods. I also really appreciate that he emphasized the fact that properly handling and cooking meat will eliminate the risk of any food related illnesses. Our food safety system isn’t perfect, but I wouldn't trade it for any other system in the world. Unfortunately, since humans aren’t perfect, our food safety system never will be either, but we will never quit trying to make it better. And it only helps when we get reporters who write informational pieces rather than creating fear about food.

EPA Ruling Could Devastate Ag

NCBA: EPA Greenhouse Gas Ruling Could Be Devastating To Agriculture
12/08/2009 01:59PM

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is extremely concerned about the potential impacts that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent greenhouse gas (GHG) ruling could have on agriculture operations. EPA’s decision, announced yesterday, claims that GHG emissions are an endangerment to public health and the environment. This sets the stage for greenhouse regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and would give the EPA unprecedented control over every sector of the U.S. economy.

“It’s premature to issue this kind of finding, especially given the recent controversy surrounding the scientific validity of alleged human contributions to climate change,” said Tamara Thies, NCBA chief environmental counsel. “Regulation of greenhouse gases should be based on science, and it should be thoughtfully considered and voted on by Congress through a democratic process, not dictated by the EPA.”

The endangerment finding does not itself regulate GHGs; but unless Congress acts, it sets in motion EPA regulation of GHGs from stationary sources and the setting of new source performance standards for GHGs. On October 27, 2009, EPA proposed a rule designed to regulate GHG emissions from sources that emit 25,000 tons per year or more, instead of the statutory 250 tons per year threshold for pollutants which is included in the Clean Air Act. The extent to which EPA can change statutory permitting requirements, however, is unclear. Only time will tell how our federal courts will address citizen suits to force regulation of all sources that emit GHGs in excess of the statutory thresholds. EPA indicated that it also would be developing an approach to regulate GHGs from hundreds of thousands of small operations, including farms and buildings. Read More

The regulation of greenhouse gasses and specifically carbon dioxide, could deal a devastating blow to American agriculture. And for what benefit?? Not only would it affect our ability to grow our food, it would unfairly target rural Americans who depend on affordable energy for transportation. If you have never been involved in the political process before, now is the time to start. Everyone needs to let their elected officials know that we aren’t willing to give away our sovereignty for a plan that won’t solve a problem that might not even exist.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More Studying Ag

December 5, 2009
Delaware education: The new hot major? Agriculture Program offers diverse job opportunities for grads
The News Journal

Kishana Williamson loves dolphins and, strangely enough, the marine mammals are the reason the University of Delaware senior spends her days studying chickens.

Williamson expected to study marine science in college. But once she got there, she realized that "marine science was more about the ocean than the animals." The programs that best fit her interests were animal science and wildlife conservation, both of which are part of the school's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

"When I got into college, I had no idea I'd end up in agriculture," said Williamson, 21, who is working on research related to avian influenza and other diseases that can be passed from animals to humans and vice versa. "When I got here I was like 'Ag? No wait. ...' "

In Delaware and across the country, enrollments in agriculture schools are on the rise. Nationally, enrollment in bachelor's degree programs in agriculture jumped 21.8 percent between 2005 and 2008, from about 58,300 students to nearly 71,000, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Many of the students have stories similar to Williamson's. She grew up in the decidedly nonrural New York City suburb of Teaneck, N.J., and, although she and fellow agriculture students spend class and research time on the school's working farm, she has no plans to become a farmer.

Students are drawn to agriculture school by an interest in science, but many are drawn to the fact that, even in this economy, companies working on such things as developing renewable fuels from organic material are still hiring. Read More

It’s fun and exciting to see how many young people get excited about agriculture when they finally realize that it’s more than Old MacDonald’s Farm. Many people have never thought to themselves that their very survival is dependent on agriculture. Humankind’s biggest challenge moving forward is trying to figure out how to feed everyone. We are going to need the best and brightest we have to offer working on the solutions if we want to be successful.

Barbi Twins Talk About Feral Horse Issue

The Barbi Twins speak out against BLM wild horse roundup
December 5, 11:53 PM Animal Welfare Examiner Reedu Taha

The Barbi Twins are joining others such as Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson, in calling on the federal government to halt roundups of wild horses in the West, insisting they are cruel and unnecessary.

The identical twin models turned animal rights activists have asked President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to permanently stop the roundup of over 2,500 wild horses in northwestern Nevada.

“We grew up on a ranch with thoroughbred horses that we raised, and before we rose to fame in the 90’s, we used to train horses and teach riding at Malibu Riding Club,” said Shane and Sia Barbi, talking about their infinite love for the animal. “Horses have been native to the wild west for 10,000 years. It is so important that people be proactive and call the Interior State Department and tell them we want the land back for what it was intended for, the wild horses.”

According to In Defense of Animals, a non-profit animal rights organization founded by a veterinarian, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the government agency within the Department of the Interior responsible for administering and enforcing the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. Read More

It seems as though the Barbi twins are a little confused about the story they are trying to tell here. The horses we are dealing with are not wild horses, they are feral horses. Horses did not exist here until humans brought them. Anytime you hear the term “wild horses” that is an incorrect description. The idea that we can just leave these feral horses alone and everything will be fine is naïve at best. Their populations are way too high for their environment. Either we will be seeing thousands of starving horses very soon, or a massive disease will knock the population way down. That is how Mother Nature will manage them if we don’t.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

CHS New Leaders Institute

We had a great morning presenting to the New Leaders Institute at the CHS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. It was a diverse group that represented many different states, but there was the common bond of agriculture that certainly made us feel right at home and excited to share our message.

My favorite part of getting to present to groups like this is when we have the chance to visit with so many of the audience members afterwards. All of them have great questions to ask and stories of their own to share. It's always exciting to hear so many of them tell us that we have inspired them and given them the tools to become advocates for agriculture.

There is no doubt that this group will be doing some fantastic things from here on out and we can't wait to hear about them.

I hope everyone has a great day and that you find an opportunity to share your story with someone today.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

MO Livestock Owners Working Together

Cattlemen react to HSUS “puppy mill” proposal
December 1, 2009 by Julie Harker Brownfield Ag News

The Missouri State Director of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) has filed two proposed initiative petitions cracking down on so-called “puppy mills” in the state. The petitions, filed by Barbara Schmitz of St. Louis, are under review by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. The proposed “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act” proposes limiting to 50 the number of covered dogs a breeder can own and the offspring of which they could sell as pets.

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association executive director Jeff Windett tells Brownfield it’s an attempt by HSUS to eventually try and restrict animal agriculture in the state…

“As most people know, once they initiate something like this and get it into law, it’s very easy to go back and change the wording to include livestock.”

Windett says Missouri isn’t going to let that happen, “I think we have demonstrated over the past couple of years at least that we’ve beat back HSUS and several of their initiatives within the legislative session.”

Windett says all the ag commodity groups and major farm organizations in the state have formed the Missouri Animal Ag Coalition – which will fight any efforts by HSUS to limit animal agriculture production, “We recognize the fact that we have to stick together. It’s going to take all of our talents and resources to be able to mount a public relations campaign with the public.”

Windett wouldn’t say whether Missouri would pursue a measure similar to Ohio’s successful Issue Two, but he did say the coalition has meetings planned right away to work on their strategy.

HSUS tells Brownfield the organization has “no comments to offer on the ballot initiative” at this time. Link

Congratulations to the livestock owners of Missouri realizing the need to get involved in this issue. It’s naïve of folks to assume that HSUS will do anything other than try including livestock in a bill like this in the future. While some people try to scoff at the slippery slope argument, I’m not willing the bet my family’s future that it won’t happen. Taking action together and doing it right away is absolutely the best course of action.

Complete Picture of Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic Resistance: A Complete Picture
By Pork news staff Monday, November 30, 2009

It’s almost popular to point to antibiotic use in animal agriculture as the primary driver behind the antibiotic resistance phenomenon, but that’s falling short of the complete picture. According to a report by the American Academy of Microbiology, the causes of antibiotic resistance are varied and complex.

Suggesting that antibiotic resistance occurs mainly as a result of antibiotic abuse or misuse doesn’t accurately portray the complete picture. In a report called “Antibiotic Resistance: An Ecological Perspective on an Old Problem,” AAM indicates that even appropriate antibiotic use can contribute to the spread of resistance, underscoring the complexity of explaining its causes and the error in focusing on any one area.

According to the report, “There are no scapegoats.” The report is based on a colloquium that AAM brought together in October 2008.

“Responsibility is partly due to medical practice, including patient demand; veterinary practice; industrial practices; politics; and the antibiotics themselves. Ultimately, resistance development is founded in the inevitability of microbial evolution,” the report states.

It also states that antibiotic resistance is essentially uncontrollable. “Antibiotic resistance is an international pandemic that compromises the treatment of all infectious diseases,” it outlines.


When it comes to the discussion of antibiotic resistance, the low hanging fruit to attack is the use of antibiotics in livestock. For most of my life, anytime I have seen a situation like this where one particular use of a product is being singled out as the “problem”, it’s never worked out that way. And that’s what this report is confirming for us. It’s not just the fact that the farmers and ranchers use antibiotics for animal health, it’s every way that antibiotics have been used that is contributing to this emerging problem.