Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Second Verse Same As the First

Is a sustainable food strategy on Obama's menu?
December 30, 2008
By Derrick Z. Jackson
Boston Globe Editorial

A PRIUS in every garage and a farmers market in every neighborhood! This is our moment! This is our time for slow food! Or so, people hope from President-elect Obama.

Obama has raised hopes he will inspire Americans away from fool's gold-en arches and toward farmers markets and community supported agriculture (where people buy a share in a farm's annual harvest). Obama is the most healthy eater to enter the White House in a long time, unlike George H.W. Bush who castigated broccoli as he craved pork rinds, unlike ravenous Bill Clinton, who gained 30 pounds in his first presidential campaign, and unlike the junior George W. Bush, who, pun intended, butchered the meat of his message on food. He once said, "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."

The grass-roots cavalry as well as wealthy food gurus want to see Barack and Michelle Obama become American Gothic, even creating a symbolic White House farm. Michael Pollan, author of the best-selling "In Defense of Food," wrote an open letter to the next president in The New York Times magazine decrying fossil-fuel-sucking, disease-promoting agribusiness, and calling for more support of local foods and farming that relies more on the sun than "Sunoco."

Read More

Apparently, there is very little creativity in the world of journalism these days. Now we have another one that has come out to tell their readers that you should support your local farmers, but not the bigger operations farther down the road that are “clinging to their corn and combines”. Writing in the shadow of Kristof’s “Secy. Of Food” piece, he also goes on to repeat that America’s food producers are responsible for such things as obesity and diabetes. I would imagine that agriculture must be responsible for people getting older too. People like Pollan, Kristof and this author need to be honest with their readers and ask for what they really want, not a Secretary of Food but rather, the Food Police.

Banning Carriage Rides

Animal rights group wants FI to end its carriage rides
PETA says holiday trips are rife with dangers for the horses

Animal rights activists petitioned Fountain Inn to ban horse-drawn carriage rides after two cars collided into carriages during the city's recent Spirit of Christmas Past festival.

In each incident, cars hit carriages that were carrying passengers on a tour of homes decorated for Christmas. Car drivers were ticketed in each case.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it sent a letter via e-mail to Fountain Inn Mayor Gary Long that asks Long to push for legislation that would ban horse-drawn carriages in the city. Such a ban would protect the horses and prevent another accident, PETA said.

Long last week said neither he nor City Administrator Eddie Case had seen the letter.

In the letter, PETA states that "horses work in extreme weather conditions while walking on hard pavement, inhaling exhaust fumes, and dodging traffic, which can be terrifying to them. In addition, the dangerous element of having cumbersome carriages pulled by terrified, unpredictable animals on sometimes slippery, wet streets puts local cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists in harm's way."

In the first collision, Dec. 6, a driver of a Ford Mustang was ticketed for having an open container of beer and driving too close to the vehicle in front, according to a police report. Read More

It would seem to me that if the vehicles are responsible for these accidents, that maybe they should take these cars and their drivers off the road. It wasn’t the horse or carriage driver’s fault that someone was drinking and driving behind them. Why does PETA want to protect the people who are breaking the law by punishing those who are abiding by it. This is simply another stunt to stop people from being able to use animals for their intended purpose. Horses were not meant to be lawn ornaments. They are a natural resource meant for people to utilize.

Bio-Tech Is Working

Plenty of advancements in agricultural biotechnology worldwide in 2008
Dec 29, 2008 10:56 AM

Despite heavy spring rains and flooding that delayed the growing season in the United States, USDA is estimating increased production of corn and soybeans this year. This is due in part to the contribution of agricultural biotechnology which has helped improve farm yields since it was introduced in the U.S. in 1995.

This year’s corn crop is on target to be the second largest ever, behind only last year's record haul. The U.S. soybean crop is expected to be the fourth largest ever.

Reacting to concerns regarding crop shortages that sparked unrest in some countries and high prices for food in markets around the globe, many nations this year began to acknowledge the benefits that biotechnology offers agriculture.

In July, the United Kingdom’s former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, stated, “There is only one technology likely to deliver the yield increases needed and that is agricultural biotechnology."

In October, Italy's Welfare and Health Minister, Maurizio Sacconi, called on the country to lift a ban on growing genetically modified crops. Read More

Technology, combined with ingenuity and work ethic of the American Farmer and Rancher, will be the key to doubling food production by the middle of this century. Technology in agriculture has been utilized for thousands of years. That is how a grass called corn looks like it does today. Why have we been able to utilize improvements in ag technology for centuries, but now it is evil? Agriculture shouldn’t be the one industry that isn’t allowed to enter the 21st century.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Food Producers First To Be Eyed

Budget-cutters eye measure that protects ag industry
updated 6:56 p.m. MT, Sun., Dec. 28, 2008

California's ongoing budget battle could put both the agricultural industry and Butte County's coffers in the cross-hairs.

The actual target of the possible budget attack is a program referred to as the "Williamson Act."
Passed on the state level in 1965 and adopted by Butte County in 1968, the act is designed to encourage agricultural activities throughout California by offering farmers and ranchers property tax cuts.

In order to qualify for the tax break, growers and ranchers must sign a 10-year contract that guarantees the land will remain in agricultural production. Unless something happens, the contract is automatically renewed.

In essence, the Williamson Act does for the agricultural industry what the homeowners' property tax exemption does for households.

However, with the Legislature and the governor are scrambling to find ways to close a budget deficit that has grown to $42 billion, the Williamson Act subventions are on the block. Read More

Whether it’s on the county, state or federal level, it seems that when money gets tight, politicians start looking for a place to steal money from. Normally, money devoted to agriculture gets the first look. It’s partly because agriculture is a victim of it’s own success. In spite of government interference, the American Farmer and Rancher continues to feed this growing world and very few people can appreciate that fact.

Messing With The Bible's Message

'Green Bible' controversial
Published: Dec. 29, 2008 at 4:33 PM

PHOENIX, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. evangelicals say they are divided over a new "Green Bible" which embraces environmentalism and a need to protect the Earth.

The Green Bible, which has been endorsed by secular groups such as the Humane Society and the Sierra Club, shows people that "God is calling us to care for the world around us," said Rusty Pritchard, editor of Creation Care Magazine, a publication for evangelicals.

Other evangelicals are concerned the Green Bible will mislead Christians because it does not interpret Scripture literally, said James Taylor, a founding elder at Living Water Christian Fellowship in Palmetto, Fla.

"These groups don't have a religious focus; they have a desire to spread their environmental message," Taylor said of the essayists who contributed to the Green Bible, which contains a foreword from Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

An estimated 25,000 copies have been sold by HarperOne since the book's release in October, The Arizona Republic reported Monday. Link

Why do you suppose that secular groups such as HSUS and Sierra Club endorse this “green” bible? It’s because it helps further their agenda of a controlling what people eat and how they live. These groups don’t care about people going to church, they are only looking for donations to keep spreading their messages of veganism and environmental doom.

Temporary Ban Nearly Resolved

Mexico Meat Importers Say Ban On US Plants 'Only Temporary'

MEXICO CITY --A Mexican suspension of U.S. meat imports is "only temporary" and occurred for technical reasons, not food-safety issues or retaliatory reasons, Mexican meat importers said Friday.

Meat importers and other industry officials told Dow Jones Newswires that U.S. fears that the decision to ban imports from about 30 U.S. meat plants was in retaliation against a new U.S. country-of-origin labeling law, which Mexico has objected to, were ungrounded.

"The Mexican government has temporarily issued a ban on imports from these plants because they were shipping meat in bulk of over 50 kilograms, and that's against the Mexican regulations for meat shipments," said a person close to the Mexican Meat Industry Council. Read More

Anytime you hear that one of your largest customers isn’t happy, you should be concerned. That is exactly why Mexico’s suspension of meat imports caught everyone’s attention. I’m glad to see that it was mostly a technical issue and had nothing to do with food safety or the COOL laws.

Monday, December 29, 2008

How Will Agriculture Fare in the Next Four Years

EPA nominee to face important decisions related to agriculture

Farmers should take notice. Lisa Jackson, President-elect Barack Obama's pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, is "not shy about enforcement and regulation."

That's the assessment of Peter Furey, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau.
Jackson ran New Jersey's state environmental agency until recently becoming the governor's chief of staff. Before that, she was at the EPA for 16 years in Washington and New York. Under Obama, she would be part of a three-person team who will oversee environmental policy.

The others are Carol Browner, who directed the EPA under the Clinton administration and will oversee climate-change policy out of Obama's White House; and Nancy Sutley, a deputy Los Angeles mayor who will run the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Jackson pushed for new regulations on land use that affected farms, including restrictions near rivers. She grew up in New Orleans, has a master's degree in chemical engineering and knew little about farms when she took the state job. But Furey applauded her willingness to listen to business interests and said the Farm Bureau made headway with her by taking her on a farm tour. Read More

There is always a lot of uncertainty as to how regulations and policies may change when our country elects swears in a new President. In about three weeks, we will start finding out. Being involved in the political process isn’t fun for a lot of people in our industry, but it is a necessary evil. The world is run by those who show up and in today’s political climate, agriculture can’t afford to take a day off.

Protecting Livestock Owners

Controversial animal bill at top of agenda
Chad Livengood • News-Leader • December 26, 2008

State Rep. Jim Viebrock plans to resurrect a controversial bill requiring a veterinarian to inspect farm animals suspected of being abused before authorities can impound the animal.

This will be the fourth straight year Viebrock has pursued reforms to the way state and local government authorities can seize animals from an owner when there are allegations of abuse.

Viebrock, R-Republic, said he intends to file the bill for the 2009 legislation session, which begins Jan. 7.

By bringing in an impartial state veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture to inspect an animal, Viebrock's bill aims to curtail abuse of the system by some animal rescue groups that reportedly inject themselves into alleged abuse cases for the chance to sell and profit from the animals. Read More

In instances of alleged abuse of livestock, there needs to be some common sense involved in determining if it’s true. Seizing someone’s livelihood based on nothing more than a “concerned citizen’s” uneducated opinion is definitely something that needs to change. Common sense legislation usually has trouble getting passed into law, but things like this should be a no-brainer.

I Love Prime Rib For the Holidays

Good deeds stained with animal blood

"So while you're home today eating your sweet, sweet holiday turkey, I hope you'll all choke ... just a little bit."

-Kent Brockman, Channel 6 News

That charming little quote is from The Simpson's, and while I consider it to be one of the funniest shows on television, I honestly have no desire to see anyone suffer ... not even a little bit.

I would, however, like people to think about the choices they make and why they do the things they do, especially when it comes to the way we treat others in the pursuit of own individual interests.

Christmas easily comes to mind. It's a time of sharing, family gatherings and being thankful for what we have.

We spend the days and weeks leading up to Christmas looking for just the right gifts for family and friends, feeling all good inside about how nice and thoughtful we are. Perhaps we even do some volunteer work to ease the suffering of those less fortunate.

Then on Christmas Day, after all the presents are exchanged and the smell of homecooking fills the house, we take our places at the dinner table, say a little prayer, and feast on the slaughtered remains of some defenceless turkey, goose or pig.

In the name of peace, love and goodwill towards others we cause or sanction the unnecessary suffering and violent deaths of other animals, and think nothing of it. Read More

I’m always slightly amused when someone writes an article and manages to fit in every buzz word and sound bite that the animal rights crowd has to offer. This is the mentality that we are up against. Trying to give human qualities to animals is a very dangerous road for our society to go down. No one is more qualified to educate our country about the importance of using our natural resources than those of us in agriculture.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Attacking the Amercian Food Producer

Not the cream of the crop
December 22, 2008
Boston Globe Editorial

CORPORATE farming is so politically muscular that the industry has its own pet Cabinet department. In tapping former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack this week to run the US Department of Agriculture, President-elect Barack Obama made a conventional choice. But what's needed is radical reform.

Vilsack's record gives little indication that he will take on the farm lobby, which has supported bloated subsidies and price supports for industrial-scale agriculture.

Family farmers were once the backbone of the US economy. Today, the interests of agribusiness diverge from the needs of the eating public. The department is charged with recommending a healthful diet, but that duty conflicts with the department's usual role of promoting what US farmers produce. An ever-pudgier populace needs to eat more fresh vegetables, but federal policy promotes massive production of a small number of grains. Read More

Almost unbelievably, this opinion piece in the Boston Globe suggests in the margins that agriculture isn’t really necessary anymore. With comments like “its own pet Cabinet department” and “were once the backbone of the US economy”, the author has no appreciation for the unprecedented food production ability of the American farmer and rancher. Is there any other country on this planet that you would trade food production abilities with?

The Hormone Debate

EU Wants Sanctions Justified in WTO Beef Hormone Case
By Jennifer M. Freedman

Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union wants the U.S. and Canada to drop sanctions stemming from EU restrictions on imports of hormone-treated beef, saying the 27-nation bloc’s laws are now “fully in line” with World Trade Organization rules.

Today’s request for consultations comes two months after WTO appellate judges reversed most conclusions reached by a panel on the legality of the EU’s ban on hormone-treated beef and dismissed a finding suggesting that the bloc’s policies violate global trade rules.

“We are convinced that our legislation on hormones is fully in line with WTO law,” European Commission spokesman Peter Power said in a statement issued from Geneva. “The restrictions on hormone-treated beef are based on solid scientific evidence showing risks for human health.”

The WTO said in February 1998 that the EU moratorium on hormone-treated beef -- in place since 1989 -- wasn’t justified because the bloc hadn’t scientifically proven a cancer risk to consumers. When the EU failed to end the moratorium after a 15- month deadline, the U.S. and Canada were authorized to levy duties on European imports including Roquefort cheese, textiles, onions and dried carrots. Read More

In our travels speaking to groups across the country, one of the most requested pieces of information that we get is on hormones. In order for a person to get as much estrogen as there is in a birth control pill, they would have to eat over 3000 pounds of conventionally raised beef every day. The fact of the matter is that many vegetables have more estrogen in them than beef does. There is no such thing as hormone free in life. Hormones are required for life to function. Any food labeled as hormone free is a farce.

AR's Lose in Court

Court rejects animal-rights appeal
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Animal-rights advocates who accused UCSF of illegally spending state money on painful animal experiments have been rebuffed by a state appeals court, which said Congress has assigned oversight of the research to federal regulators, not state courts.

The federal Animal Welfare Act, which requires humane treatment of animals in federally funded research, can be enforced only by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said the First District Court of Appeal in a ruling Friday. The court upheld a San Francisco judge's November 2007 dismissal of a suit by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The USDA's job is to strike a "somewhat delicate balance" between animal protection and the independence of research scientists, the court said. Allowing judges and juries to interfere with federally regulated experiments "might inject inconsistency and unpredictability into laboratory research" and discourage scientists from entering the field, Justice Timothy Reardon said in the 3-0 decision. Read More

Animal research that is done in a scientific manner and follows all the regulations in place benefits society immensely. Many of the diseases that are only seen in a history book are there because of our ability to first test on animals. This research has also allowed us to keep a healthier animal population as well. Allowing the courts to interfere with the rules already established for animal testing would only set us back in our efforts to continue making our planet healthier.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Buzz on Sec. of Food

New administration: Secretary of food
Seattle PI Opinion Page

President-elect Barack Obama took a big step when he gave former Sen. Tom Daschle, his nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, a broader mandate to coordinate health reform. For whatever reasons, the incoming administration has shied away from such a sweeping, intelligent approach to food policy.

We liked the call of columnist Nicholas Kristof for a secretary of food. We need a reformer charged with transcending the 19th- and 20th-century idea of a Cabinet officer serving the needs of farmers. With that perspective, it would be possible to unite producers, consumers and government in delivering diets that are healthy for the people, the land and the economy.

Talking to NPR's Renee Montagne, Pollan summed up why it is so important to get out of the limited mind-set favoring promotion of big agricultural-related corporations: "The food system is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gases. It is responsible for the catastrophic American diet that is leading 50 percent of us to suffer from chronic disease, and that drives up health care costs." Read More

There has been a lot of talk created by Kristof’s article calling for a Secretary of Food. This article quotes Michael Pollan and shows his true colors. He blames ag for producing a third of the greenhouse gasses and the chronic diseases. He is blaming you. His socialist tendencies also come out as he seems to want to scrap the idea of consumers being responsible for their food choices. People like Pollan and Kristof are telling the story of agriculture for you. If you disagree with them, you need to let consumers and politicians hear your views.

Netherlands Deals With Activists

Netherlands to crack down on animal rights extremism

BRUSSELS, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands will set up a special police unit to address radical actions against individuals and companies by animal rights activists, the Home Affairs Ministry said.

The special team, which also includes members from the public prosecution department and the Dutch intelligence service, will try to prevent dangerous intimidation practices by extreme animal rights organizations, Home Affairs Minister Guusje ter Horst was quoted by local newspaper De Telegraaf as saying Sunday.

The decision followed repeated attacks on company or individual properties in the Netherlands by animal rights activists.

The latest one occurred early Saturday morning when two cars of a top executive of NYSE Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange, which were parked in front of his home in the western Dutch town of Wassenaar, were set on fire. Read More

We aren’t the only country in the world that are dealing with animal rights activists that are trying to kill people to convey their message. These criminals continue to threaten and intimidate executives and researchers that are engaged in animal testing that could eventually save your life someday. My challenge to these groups would be to only use products, including medical treatments that haven’t come about through the use of animals. There is no doubt their life span would be drastically shortened.

Oprah's Award

PETA Names Oprah Its "Person of the Year"

Continuing her way toward total world domination, talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey has been named "Person of the Year" by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Winfrey was selected for using her talk show to bring light to issues important to the Norfolk, Va.-based animal rights group's mission, with episodes that have, for example, focused on puppy mills and the treatment of chickens and other animals in factory farms. Winfrey also went on a vegan diet for a week, and in April, dedicated an episode of her show to her late cocker spaniel Sophie, who died at age 13.

Winfrey has "used her powerful voice to defend those without one," PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statemement. Winfrey, who was unavailable for comment, according to The Associated Press, will receive a plaque and a letter of appreciation.

Previous winners of the PETA award include U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia in 2007 and the founders of the San Francisco-based cleaning product company Method in 2006. Link

Even though Oprah realized that a vegan diet was impractical, all of her other activities won her PETA’s Person of the Year. And why wouldn’t PETA want to throw accolades at one of the most influential people in America. She is against American agriculture and likes dogs, what more could PETA want.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I had an interesting thing happen to me this week. Once in a while I read Wayne Pacelle’s blog on the HSUS website. It often times gives you a glimpse into their outrageous thinking and lack of knowledge about production agriculture.

The posting I read was about the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) and Wayne was trying to deflect the criticism of his organization that was published in a full page ad in the New York Times on December 11 by the CCF. CCF also launched a new website that chronicles the agenda and tactics of the HSUS. Apparently he couldn’t dispute the claims very well since he spent most of the time attacking CCF. He claims that there is no disclosure on CCF’s funding. I knew enough that CCF is a 501 c (3) which means they have to file financial reports with the IRS and those reports are available for public inspection. Keep in mind that these are the same reports that HSUS is required to file. No more, no less.

So I left a comment that said CCF had to file these reports and they were available for anyone to see. I also asked if Wayne wasn’t telling truth about this, what else should we be wondering about. After a day, my comment still wasn’t posted but I received an email from Bernie Unti, a Senior Policy Advisor at HSUS and Wayne’s special assistant.

His page long response was quite interesting, especially when he questioned my ability to think critically. After reading his email, it is quite apparent that their biggest fear is people who can think for themselves rather than falling in step with their group. It is also apparent that HSUS will not print or acknowledge on their blog when they receive comments contrary to their opinion.

If anyone ever tries to post a comment and has a similar situation, please let me know so we can post it on this blog. It’s probably your only chance of getting on the web.

Below is the response I received from Bernie.
Your Friend in Ag,

Hello, Troy,

The blog editor passed on your short comment to me for reply, and I am glad to provide one. There's a lot that could be said about CCF and its operations, but here's a useful link that says a lot of it: <> . You can find other sites to learn more about the group and its unusual history.

As you point out, the CCF has 501(c)(3) status, and files a 990. But as someone who reads it each year, I have never found it very enlightening. Who gets the salaries? What is the precise relationship to Rick Berman's corporate PR firm? What is the CCF's specific charitable purpose? Does Berman's company just collect money from big companies and channel it into the (c)(3) to carry out PR wars under the guise of being a charity, like the Boys Clubs or the Girl Scouts of America? Do you think that's really legitimate? I don't.

I would assume that as a rancher you have strong convictions about animal agriculture and the reforms that The HSUS has been trying to introduce since 1954. That's right, 1954, when the organization first formed to push for passage of the Humane Slaughter Act. There is nothing -- nothing -- new about our working on farm animals, something I hope that you will take care to point out when you write about us or go out and talk in public. In the same vein, there is nothing -- nothing -- new about our criticisms of intensive confinement agriculture. The HSUS has been critical of such methods since the 1970s. What's different now is that the broader society is coming to recognize the validity of our position, and the environmental, animal welfare, public health, and national security dimensions of food production are coming under greater scrutiny. Those who would oppose the reforms under way, and we must count the CCF among them, are swimming against the tide, and doing the nation harm in the longer run.

I'm deeply sorry that an apparently decent and rational person as yourself would accept without scrutiny the fast and loose approach to the facts taken by the CCF. Do you really believe, on the basis of the six degrees from Kevin Bacon game that CCF played in its recent NYT advert, that I am a terrorist or employed by a terrorist organization? That's an unbelievably coarse and malicious perspective to take in the post-September 11 era. They're scrambled up on the basics in respect to all seven of the seven "facts" in their latest fact sheet.

Personally, I think that the traditional producer has little to fear and much to gain from the reforms under consideration. I'm personally hopeful that we'll see the incoming administration appoint a Secretary of Agriculture who supports, humane, sustainable, and organic method of production throughout our national agricultural system.


Bernard Unti, Ph.D.

Senior Policy Adviser

Special Assistant to the CEO

Exposing the True Agenda

Exposed: Activists’ Attacks on Meat Production Intensify
Written By: Alan Caruba

In 2006 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” that was so full of absurd claims, dressed up to look like science, that I made a mental note to revisit the issue.

An ominous new angle to the issue of livestock production came with the FAO report, however, because activists claim worldwide beef production is a major contributor to present and future global warming harms asserted by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As Krystle Russin noted in the September 2008 issue of of Environment & Climate News, “Global warming activists are putting agriculture firmly in their crosshairs, launching new efforts to restrict meat production and consumption.” The article noted, “Global warming activists say keeping livestock at a farm uses too much energy,” and observed, “the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations attributed 18 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions to livestock.”

The FAO complaint ignores an extremely important consideration, however, as the Pacific Research Institute reports: “Worldwide, livestock production provides livelihoods for 1.3 billion people, and particularly in developing countries, livestock are also a source of renewable energy for farming activities, and a source of organic fertilizer.” Read More

It’s always refreshing to see someone look at the blatant, baseless attacks on agriculture with a critical eye. Blaming the American Farmer and Rancher for global warming is absolutely ridiculous. We can barely grow a tree where I live, let alone have to cut down a rain forest in order to raise cattle. Marlo Lewis’ quote was dead on when he said that the global warming campaign is only meant to control people’s lives.
No honeymoon for Vilsack with animal rights group
By Janie Gabbett on 12/19/2008

President-elect Obama's appointment of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack was met with a round of congratulatory statements from the agricultural community, but at least one animal rights group decided to forgo the honeymoon.

"Vilsack has an uneven track record when it comes to farm animals and fighting factory farming," said Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, a self-described farm animal protection organization, in a statement.

"He has supported some animal protection measures and has at times stood up to Big Ag, yet he has also taken actions that are not in the best interest of farm animals and rural communities," Baur added, noting that during his tenure as governor of Iowa, the state saw a proliferation of massive hog farms.

"This is not a time for us to be complacent, but a time to remind Vilsack that USDA was founded as the people's department, not the factory farmers' department," he added. Link

As was to be expected, Vilsack is already taking heat from the animal rights crowd. I mentioned earlier this week when his name was announced that the new Secretary would be under a lot of pressure from people that want to eliminate production agriculture, and particularly animal agriculture. Two days after being announced, it has started.

EU Wants More Labels

Increasing consumer awareness of welfare
News 19 December, 2008
By Jack Davies

(Note: This story is from the European Union)

ANIMAL welfare labels should be introduced across all meat and dairy products to help improve standards on the farm, a Government advisory panel claimed this week.

Publishing its opinion on Government policy instruments, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) recommended a new labelling system would encourage farmers to pay greater attention to animal welfare.

Overall, the report concluded Government instruments to protect animal welfare are appropriate, but advises more work could be done at a consumer level to promote welfare.

Read More

Any type of labeling system like this will only result in higher priced food. And with the European Union already unable to feed itself, this new recommendation has the potential to increase the problem. HSUS continues trying to convince Americans that we need to follow the European model of food production. And that model consists of higher priced food, more imported food, and a devastated farming economy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vilsack Selected

Obama to Pick Tom Vilsack To Lead USDA
By Philip Rucker and Dan Morgan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; A15

Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, a strong proponent of ethanol who made a brief bid for the presidency in 2007, will be named today as President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for agriculture secretary, a senior Democratic official said.

Obama is expected to announce Vilsack and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), his pick for interior secretary, at a news conference in Chicago, as he races to round out his Cabinet before a Christmas vacation. Vilsack, 58, will lead a sprawling federal bureaucracy charged with overseeing farm subsidies, land conservation, food safety and hunger programs.

Both environmentalists and food industry leaders reacted positively to the choice of Vilsack, a political centrist.

"We're encouraged by it," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "He thinks we need to reform the subsidy system, he recognizes the importance of the food programs, and he's very good on conservation." Read More

We can finally lay all the speculation on who our new Ag Secretary will be. Gov. Vilsack appears to be the pick and he will be under a lot of pressure to oversee major reforms in the department. Many people would like to see USDA leave it’s original purpose, which was to make sure farmers and ranchers in this country were given the tools to provide enough food and fiber to support our population, to one that forces producers into unrealistic production practices. Be prepared to get involved in this argument.

Reporting Livestock Emissions

EPA Won't Exempt CAFO's in Livestock Air Emissions Rule
Matt Kaye

EPA has bowed to environmentalists and decided not to completely exempt major livestock operations from toxic air emission reporting requirements. American Farm Bureau’s Tyler Wegmeyer says EPA will not exempt big livestock operations from all emission reporting, even though it originally proposed to.

According to Wegmeyer, “There was a compromise, because of environmental concerns from the environmental community, that made large CAFOs, Confined Animal Feeding Operations, they still have to report to the local and state authorities.”

Small operations are still exempt and, under the new rule that takes effect 30-days from last Friday, all operations are exempt from federal reporting. EPA says federal responders deal with train wrecks, explosions and fires, not farms.

But environmentalists and state air quality agencies blame ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from manure pits for the deaths of some 2-dozen people near Midwest operations over the past 30-years. Farm Bureau argues no reporting is justified, based on normal air emissions from animal waste. Read More

The exact details on who has to report and how are yet to be seen but this does set a rather dangerous precedent for livestock producers. Currently, larger feeding operations already have a nutrient management plan in place. The fear should be that even if you are following your approved plan can this new regulation throw that out the window and suddenly you are now non-compliant. It’s important to remember that most of these regulations continue to be pushed not to benefit the environment, but rather to cause harm to the livestock industry.

Poultry Litter Case Appeal

Oklahoma files appeal in poultry litter case

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma is again hoping to stop 13 Arkansas-based poultry companies from disposing of bird waste in the Illinois River watershed.

The state's 61-page appeal of an earlier judge's ruling was filed late Monday with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Oklahoma had tried to get an injunction to halt a practice thousands of farmers have employed for decades in the 1 million-acre watershed, which occupies parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma: Taking the ammonia-reeking chicken waste — clumped bird droppings, bedding and feathers — and spreading it on their land as a low-cost fertilizer.

But in September, U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell ruled that Oklahoma "has not yet met its burden of proving that bacteria in the waters" are "caused by the application of poultry litter rather than by other sources, including cattle manure and human septic systems." Read More

Edmondson is continuing his attacks on agriculture by appealing the judge’s ruling that said he had not met his burden of proof. Poultry farmers in the area need to dispose of the waste that is produced and farmers in the area need this affordable source of nutrients for their cropland. Using poultry litter as fertilizer is the original “green technology” and was designed that way by Mother Nature herself.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

EU Considers Pesticide Ban

The Future of Food: Farming without Pesticides?

Are European policy makers about to inadvertently deal a blow to food production and retail security?

This looks like a highly possible outcome, as European Union (EU) regulators go through the process of formulating new legislation that will limit the availability of pesticides on the European market.

In an effort to purportedly create safer food and a cleaner environment, policy makers in Brussels are in danger of ignoring the importance of pesticides for the sustainability of a continuous, Europe-produced supply of fresh foods.

In farms across the UK and Europe, alarm bells are ringing. If the proposals become law, European crop yields will fall dramatically and retail prices will rise significantly.

A report by ADAS, a British environmental consultancy, states that if the regulations are adopted, the UK could face a 25% reduction of the production of wheat, potatoes and green vegetables. Read More

With the European Union already importing around 40% of the food supply, dealing a blow like this to their ag community would only increase that number. These technologies are essential tools that will help us double food production in the next 50 years. While I am sure there are good intentions by the people pushing for this ban, the unintended consequences would be dire.

Humane Watch

HSUS? Fundraising For a Terror Group? Believe It.

If you subscribe to The New York Times, take a peek at our ad on page A13 today. We’ve uncovered some serious stuff. On Saturday, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Senior Vice President Heidi Prescott will deliver a keynote speech at the holiday fundraiser for a group called “The Humane League of Philadelphia.” Which sounds good. But it’s not. The Humane League of Philadelphia got its start as “SHAC Philly”—the largest and most active cell of a violent animal-rights group convicted on federal terrorism charges in 2006. And today we’re telling the media all about it.

Are you with us so far? The worst of the worst in America's bunny-hugger movement merely changed its name and suddenly became “The Humane League.” (Oddly, it was also known as “Hugs For Puppies” for a few years.) Its own president has been convicted of making terroristic threats against the children of a pharmaceutical company employee. HSUS apparently believes it’s appropriate to help this group collect up to $1,000 per ticket for its future “programs.”
We’ve compiled nearly 70 pages of documents supporting what we’re saying in this ad. These materials are housed on a new website that we’re calling HumaneWatch. Read More

Because of their name, the Humane Society of the United States normally gets an undeserving free pass because most people think they are related to local dog and cat shelters. Nothing could be further from the truth. HSUS is the richest animal rights group in the world and they do relatively little to help dog and cats. This group is currently working to eliminate animal agriculture in this country. And so far they have been very effective. Those of us in the ag industry need to get educated about this group and let everyone else know exactly who they are.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Farmers Aren't The Problem

Farmers make case for the bay
On the Farm
By Ted Shelsby
Special to The Baltimore Sun

December 14, 2008

There are good reasons why people at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation say that, given a choice, they would rather see farmland stay farmland than be turned into residential development. That's because farms create less pollution for the bay than homes and commercial development, foundation officials say.

This is the primary reason for the warming of relationships between officials of the foundation and farmers, and it can be traced back to early 2006.

For years, the foundation blamed farmers for the bay's declining health. The environmental group acknowledges that that was a mistake. It is now working with farm organizations to improve the profitability of farms so that farmers can continue to work the land.

Unfortunately, the farmers' voice was not as loud at legislative hearings in the General Assembly in past years. And farmers were not being given fair credit for their conservation achievements.

Read More

After years of denigrating farmers around the Chesapeake Bay, environmentalists have finally come to realize that farmers are their best friends when it comes to cleaning up the bay. Keeping producers on the land preserves these open spaces and, amazingly, farmland filters water much better than streets and parking lots. Ag producers were the original environmentalists and the newcomers are finally starting to realize that.
‘Cow tax’ legislation likely on its way
Korrie Wenzel The Daily Republic - 12/12/2008

Congressional legislation is in the works that will seek to exempt livestock from the Clean Air Act, U.S. Sen. John Thune said Thursday.

With approval, the legislation would effectively eliminate the possibility that cattle and other livestock will be taxed as a way to cut down on the animals’ alleged contribution to air pollution. Such a tax could cost even small livestock producers large amounts of money, said Thune, R-S.D.
Under draft rules written by the EPA, livestock operations would be subject to the Clean Air Act, which is enforced by the EPA. The EPA was instructed to regulate green house gases by the Supreme Court in a 2007 case.

“It’s clear that the Clean Air Act was designed to target smokestacks in industrial America and not livestock on South Dakota farms and ranches,” Thune said. “I hopefully will get support for this legislation in Congress and then we can end talk once and for all of a cattle tax in its early stages.” Read More

I have seen more than one person in the media, and even some in our industry, downplaying the fact that EPA is considering this and saying that we shouldn’t worry about it. The fact of the matter is that in today’s political climate, if you can dream up a scheme that will punish animal agriculture, it could turn into reality. We absolutely cannot assume that an idea is too ridiculous to come to fruition. If you don’t like the idea of a cow tax then you had better be involved in the process to stop it.

USA Today Condemns Animal Rights Terrorists

Our view on medical research: Violence won't save animals
USA Today Editorial Board
A small group of activists resorts to terrorism against scientists.

About 5 a.m. on a morning in August, a researcher at the University of California-Santa Cruz was awakened when a firebomb planted by animal rights extremists exploded on his porch. He, his wife and their children, ages 2 and 4, escaped down a ladder from a second-floor window.

Just last month, a firebomb exploded under what the bombers thought was a UCLA researcher's car. (They got the wrong vehicle.) A few days later, a communiqué from the bombers appeared on the North American Animal Liberation's website with a message that said they "wished (the man had been) in the car at the time the fuel ignited."

This is a taste of what it's like today to be a medical researcher whose work involves animal experimentation. A small but potent group of terrorists — there's no other word for people who argue by firebomb — has escalated its attacks from invading and destroying laboratories to targeting researchers at their homes. Some researchers have found their houses spray painted or endured hooded activists chanting outside their homes. Read More

Congratulations to the USA Today Editorial Board for coming out and calling a spade a spade. If you are using explosives and threats to advance your agenda, you are a terrorist. Medical research on animals is a heavily regulated and inspected process that has contributed countless advances in human medicine. Our society can’t allow these terrorists to determine the future of human medicine.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Point of View

This weeks New York Time’s Op-Ed piece was once again targeting agriculture. Nicholas Kristof wrote the piece and suggested that President Elect Obama should rename the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Food. His main reasoning was that only 2% of the population is involved in agriculture compared to the 100% of the population that eats food.

In the piece, he suggests that farmers and ranchers, and more specifically agricultural organizations, are responsible for a host of problems including the diabetes and obesity epidemics in our country. The reason is that USDA only supports “industrial agriculture” and not the farmers who are growing “real food”.

He feels that by renaming the institution to the Department of Food, this will signal a change in philosophy that will put more emphasis on health, climate and humanitarian problems in the ag industry.

Maybe Kristof should consider a few things. First off, how amazing is it that it only requires 2% of our population to feed not just our country but millions of people around the world. In an incredibly efficient manner, American agriculture manages to keep the grocery story shelves filled and available at the lowest cost on the planet. While there were food riots occurring across the globe earlier this year, in this country you could walk into any grocery store inside our borders and fill your cart to your liking. Our production methods and efficiency are the envy of the world.

Next, Kristof was critical of our industry for using antibiotics and indoor systems for livestock. Any person who truly cares about animal husbandry will always do whatever they can to take the very best care of their animals. This includes giving them medication when appropriate. It also means that if animals are more comfortable and better protected living indoors, then that’s what we will do. Think of the livestock diseases that have popped up throughout the world in the last several years. Avian influenza and foot and mouth disease are two devastating diseases that have been suppressed in this country even when the experts said it was a matter of when, not if. That is due to the excellent health care and production methods that we employ.

Finally, we have the safest food supply in the world. While it may never be possible to eliminate all food-borne pathogens, we have come as close as any society in history. Even when many countries in the world live with the constant possibility of contaminated food, most of us never give that a second thought.

Agriculture is the backbone of any successful society. In the United States, we have redefined what a successful agriculture industry looks like. We are the envy of the world. And while Mr. Kristof works at putting up a new sign on the lawn at 1400 Independence Avenue, the American Farmer and Rancher will continue to feed the world.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Watson's Insult

Animal Rights Pirates Insult Inuit
By Matthew Vadum Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Paul Watson of the criminal Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recently compared a government-ordered cull of doomed narwhals to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. The narwhals had become trapped without food and were in the process of starving to death.

The Canadian government allowed local Inuit to slaughter the animals.

Watson described the hunters are “ruthless Inuit killers” who “laughed barbarously” as they shot narwhal.

Canadian fisheries minister Gail Shea and health minister Leona Aglukkaq condemned Watson’s remarks. ”Inuit strongly believe animals should be respected and should never suffer as in this case,” the two Canadian officials said in a joint statement. “Mr. Watson’s comments demonstrate a deep ignorance of Inuit society, and seek to demonize their culture and traditions.”

Watson is the former co-founder of Greenpeace who abandoned the group after denouncing it for being insufficiently radical. The noted eco-terrorist previously called his former Greenpeace comrades the “Avon ladies of the environmental movement.” Link

Livestock Antibiotics

FDA retracts ban on poultry antibiotics
10 Dec 2008

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to allow the widespread use of a class of powerful antibiotics in food-producing animals, including chickens and other poultry.

This come in a last-minute reversal since calling the practice a public-health risk in July.

This summer the agency's bid to ban many uses of cephalosporin drugs in cows, swine, chickens and other animals came under fire from the industry. Agriculture groups and animal-drug makers, including Pfizer Inc., said the antibiotics are needed to prevent many infectious diseases in animals.

Cephalosporins treat respiratory diseases in cattle and swine but are also often given "off-label" for uses not approved by the FDA to poultry or more generally in livestock for non-approved infectious diseases.

On 3 July, the FDA announced a planned crackdown on off-label uses in animals, citing "the importance of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans". Five days before the ban was to take effect, on 25 November, the FDA quietly revoked it with a notice in the Federal Register.

The FDA's statement said the agency received many comments and needed more time to review them. Link

It is essential that farmers and ranchers are able to utilize antibiotics when necessary to take care of livestock. When you care about your livestock, you will always want to do whatever you can to maintain their good health. A healthy livestock population is required for a healthy human population.

Arrow Rock Update

Arrow Rock Decision Announced but Concerns Remain

"The ruling yesterday by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce regarding concentrated animal feeding operations improves upon her original decision however serious concerns remain," said Charles Kruse, president of Missouri Farm Bureau. "We are pleased the Judge modified her August ruling by clarifying it applies only to the proposed Gessling operation near Arrow Rock, Missouri; however, the fact is there remains no demonstrated need to impose a buffer over and above what is already required by state law, and this ruling could set a needless and harmful precedent."

The Gessling family has raised hogs in Saline County for many years. They decided to expand their farm operation and in doing so complied with all applicable laws and regulations. The amended ruling by Judge Joyce specifies that no concentrated animal feeding operation which may be proposed by the Gessling family or their successors can be located within two miles of the Village of Arrow Rock and the Sappington Cemetery State Historic Site. Link

The ruling at Arrow Rock was an incredible display of judicial activism. While the clarified ruling helped some, the fact remains that agriculture is under attack by the actions of this single judge.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interview With Steve Kopperud

Meat industry faces emboldened animal rights lobby next year
By Janie Gabbett on 12/10/2008

When California voters on Nov. 4 voted in favor of Proposition 2, a measure that phases out gestation crates for breeding pigs, veal crates for calves and battery cages for egg-laying hens, it sent a shudder up the spines of many involved in animal agriculture.

And well it should have, according to Steve Kopperud, senior vice president of Policy Directions Inc., a Washington, DC government affairs and communications firm, specializing in production agriculture and food processing and retailing.

Kopperud founded and served as the first president of what is today the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a public education organization dedicated to countering animal rights propaganda. asked him to elaborate on what is ahead on this issue.

How significant is California's passage of Prop 2 in the overall debate about what constitutes animal welfare in production agriculture? Should the meat industry be concerned?

The meat industry should most assuredly be concerned because it may redefine "welfare" in that it's an indictment of proven, science-based, producer-endorsed and well being-enhancing housing practices.

It gives the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its allies a major lever with the new Congress to try and move federal legislation based upon precedents set in Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and California even though the overall welfare of the animals is diminished and the safety of meat, poultry and dairy may be compromised.

It also demonstrates we still have a lot to learn in fighting such initiatives and getting our message of professional and consistent top-quality animal care to the public.

PETA and HSUS seem to garner the most press. Should the industry be trying to engage these groups?

The key in talking to the public is using messages that include strong, trust-building messages about producers and production practices. However, engaging PETA — whether you're a fast food chain, supermarket, meat processor or farm group — is a waste of time. You will never negotiate successfully with an animal rights group.

PETA is there to be the freak of the movement. This allows groups like HSUS to come in behind "scary" PETA, leverage their image as dog and cat protection groups, and pose as the "moderate" groups with which companies can work to make the animal rights issues go away.

This never works. It simply signals the movement your company is vulnerable. When you peel away the rhetoric and posturing of all animal rights groups, the bottom line is the same: "You have no right to be in business. Animals should not be used for food. We'll continue to fight to make it unpopular or uneconomical to be in the livestock and poultry business."

What is on your radar in Washington regarding animal rights policy or legislation in 2009?

I fully expect HSUS to leverage its political contributions in the last election to continue to push its agenda. That agenda includes:

-leveraging the California Prop 2 victory with Congress
-major rewrites of federal humane slaughter laws, with a push to include poultry
-a ban on transport of horses for export if they might be heading to slaughter in Mexico or Canada
-a ban on federal purchases of meat, poultry and dairy from farms not practicing HSUS's definition of "welfare"
-a move to federally regulate the transport of all animals to all destinations, and
-active alliances with environmental and food safety groups to attack animal biotechnology, the use of animal drugs by anyone other than a vet, and other conventional production practices.

What kind of work is there to be done so that livestock producers, processors and retailers speak with one voice on this issue?

The first step is for every producer, processor and retailer group, as well as individual companies, to understand they cannot battle the animal rights movement on their own.

Swine must and will support cattle, with cattle returning the favor; ditto for dairy. The four-leggers must and will support poultry and vice versa. All producers must stand with or in front of their processor and retailer customers, making sure they understand the consequence of ill-advised public relations gambits when animal rights attacks come.

We have many of the national producer groups in an ad hoc coalition I manage called the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition, but it needs to include every group, not just some groups.

What would you like to see the meat industry doing to engage consumers directly on this issue?

I'd like to see a cooperative consumer education campaign that sells farmers and ranchers, their expertise and the systems they use while selling the products they provide as cheaply, safely and abundantly as they do.

I'd like to see the smallest chunk of checkoff dollars dedicated to selling producer and production practice along with product.

I'd like the public to know organic and "natural" are legitimate product choices in the marketplace, but they're not better than conventionally produced, just different. I'd like to see our organic and natural brethren promote their products without bashing conventional production, because production practices notwithstanding, if the animal welfare movement's goal is no food animal production, then no one gets a pass.

But bottom line, I'd like the consumer to assume the great food they're fortunate enough to be able to buy comes from great people dedicated to what they do and how well they do it. That's the only way they'll turn a deaf ear to the animal rights noise. Link

This is a fantastic interview. Mr. Kopperud has repeated some of the same thoughts and ideas that I have been proposing lately. I feel that it is essential that we start selling ourselves. By that I mean we need to put the face of the American farmer and rancher in front of the public and tell them that we raise food. We have arrived at a point in time that will now require all of agriculture to work together in order for any of us to succeed.

Medical Research Threatened

Terrorizing medical research
by P. Michael Conn and James V. Parker - Dec. 8, 2008 10:55 AM
Special to The Washington Post

Terrorists have struck again. In the predawn hours one morning last month, they used an incendiary device to destroy two cars. You may not have heard about this, even though it followed a series of firebombings of homes and other vehicles. The attack didn't take place in Mumbai or Baghdad but in Los Angeles. Yet the news couldn't break through the reports on the holiday season and our economic woes.

The intended target of this violence, a researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles, was a scientist who uses animals in his work. But the terrorists, reportedly from an organization known as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), had bad aim. The burned cars belonged to people with no relationship to UCLA or even to animal research.

Black comedy? No, because lives hang in the balance, and not just those of the intended targets, their families and anyone who happens to reside nearby. Because of such terrorism, many medical researchers are rethinking their choice of profession, putting all of us at risk of losing out on medical advances that can dramatically improve, and save, our lives. Read More

The instances of medical researchers being the victims of domestic terrorism continue to increase. Luckily, no lives have been lost yet but that seems to be only a matter of time with the continued use of explosives by these criminals. With very strict regulations in place that dictates how animals can be used for research, groups like ALF continue to place more emphasis on the comfort of these animals than the lives of humans.

Audit Findings

Westland/Hallmark an isolated event, but better federal oversight needed: OIG
By Tom Johnston on 12/10/2008

USDA's Office of the Inspector General concluded after an audit of pre-slaughter operations at cull cow facilities stemming from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. recall in February that the violations that occurred at the Chino, Calif.-based slaughterhouse were isolated, but oversight of antemortem inspection processes needs to be improved.

OIG's findings derive from an audit of 10 of the nation's top 49 cull cow slaughter facilities from March to June 2008 and past Food Safety and Inspection Service inspections at Westland/Hallmark. The audit sought to determine whether the events that occurred at Westland/Hallmark were isolated or systemic.

OIG said the actions by employees at Westland/Hallmark — which included ramming non-ambulatory cows with a forklift to force them upright in order to pass antemortem inspection before slaughter — were deliberate efforts to circumvent required inspections. Furthermore, in-plant FSIS staff did not comply with required inspection procedures, and supervisors did not detect and/or prevent these incidents.

Among the infractions, no in-plant inspectors at Westland/Hallmark wrote noncompliance records (NRs) despite finding violations between December 2004 and February 2008, and, in some cases, inspectors shifted responsibilities to the company's employees.

'Inherent vulnerability'

OIG said it did not find systemic inhumane handling incidents at the 10 other establishments it audited, but it determined "an inherent vulnerability" that such incidents could occur at these facilities due to insufficient surveillance capabilities of FSIS and because these facilities slaughter animals that generally are in weak physical condition, increasing the chances for abuses as workers try to move the animals to slaughter.

"Although we found varying degrees of noncompliance and/or inconsistent implementation of required inspection procedures by FSIS inspectors in the other cull establishments reviewed during the audit, nothing came to our attention to indicate that unsuitable animals were passed for slaughter at these establishments. In addition, there was no single underlying reason why the noncompliances occurred," OIG states in its report.

"Therefore, we concluded that the events that occurred at Hallmark were not a systemic failure of the inspection processes/system as designed by FSIS. However, we did determine that management controls designed to provide oversight of the inspection processes, as well as organizational controls to demonstrate the sufficiency and competency of its personnel resources, can be strengthened to minimize the chance that events such as those at Hallmark could happen in the future."

In addition to the findings, OIG issued 25 recommendations along with FSIS's responses.

To view the audit, click here.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer asked OIG to conduct USDA's criminal investigation into potential violations of the Federal Meat Inspection Act. The investigation is ongoing, and a report is forthcoming. Link

Even though this thorough audit of our meat packing system concluded that Hallmark/Westland was an isolated event, this report will be dragged through the mud by HSUS and PETA. However, it concurs with our message that this isn’t a systemic problem. Even one isolated event is one too many though, and we all need to do our part to make sure they don’t happen again.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Photographing Producers

Where Have All the Good People Gone?
By Jerry Harke

“Where have all the good people gone?”

That may be a question we all ask from time to time, but New York City photographer Paul Mobley found the answer among the farm and ranch families of this nation.

About four years ago, Mobley, who had been shooting photos professionally for 15 years, found himself struggling to rekindle the creative energy and sense of purpose that had driven him throughout his career.

Mobley decided that a lazy summer of sunsets on the lake near his family’s cabin in Glen Arbor, Mich., might provide a remedy. While there, he visited with farmers at the local farmers market and, in one of those moments of sudden unmistakable realization, it occurred to Mobley that the weathered faces of the farmers he saw were the salt of the earth. In that moment, he knew he wanted to photograph those faces. Read More

The story of this photographer drives home the point of what our industry can accomplish when we take the time to tell our story. Because we are such a small percentage of the population, people are very interested to hear what we do. Just think how the outcome of this story could have been different if that first farmer hadn’t taken the time to tell his story.

Buying More Stock

PETA Increases its Holdings in Meat Companies
By Marlys Miller Thursday, December 04, 2008

Talk about trickle down economics, we're starting to see how the negative aspects of the current economy are trickling down to other sectors. Now, an unexpected development is surfacing with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and its stockholdings.

Several years ago, PETA started buying shares in publicly traded meat companies, which allowed the group to work toward influencing the companies' operational protocols. Now, as those shares slip lower, PETA has had to step up its stock purchases in meat-related companies.

Now, this can be spun two ways. On one side, if PETA wants to try to maintain its access to shareholder meetings so it can offer resolutions to generate attention and influence, it has to purchase more stock. In most cases, a shareholder must own at least $2,000 worth of stock in the company for one year prior to a resolution's submission date. If its stock holdings value dips below that minimum at any point during the year, PETA is unable to submit a resolution. That's according to federal regulations. Read More

While having to purchase a few more shares in the stock market will not force them to add any extra bake sales, the slumping economy as a whole is a cause of great concern to these activist groups. They rely chiefly on creating a crisis and watching people send them money. With disposable income getting tighter, these groups are going to see donations drop.

Another Diet Plan

Simple Till Six: An Eating Plan for Busy People
By Mark Bittman
From Reader's Digest

My route to saner eating was more or less accidental. Two years ago, I was 57 and weighed more than I ever had. When I graduated from college, I weighed 165 pounds; when I stopped smoking, about five years after that, I weighed 180. Then, when my first daughter was born and I had started writing about food and doing some serious eating and drinking, I hit 190. Over the next 20 years, I managed to gain more weight, reaching 214.

As a reporter and researcher for many years, I was writing a food column called "The Minimalist" for the New York Times and a book called How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I had (and still have) no intention of becoming a vegetarian, but I could see the writing on the wall: Industrial meat production had gone beyond distasteful and alienating to become disgusting and dangerous (its link to global warming didn't help); traditional, natural ingredients were becoming rare; and respectable scientific studies pointed toward the health benefits of eating more plant-based foods and fewer meat-based foods. Read More

There are nearly as many diet plans as there are opinions in politics. What bugs me about this one is that the author has grouped meat with junk food and also blames meat consumption for environmental damage. There is still no substitute for eating a balanced diet that contains meat and dairy products along with some physical activity in your life. Just looking at one’s diet will not give the entire health picture. It is your lifestyle that will ultimately decide how many years you will enjoy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Banning Horse Drawn Carriages

Protest targets horse carriages
By Matt Collette, Globe Correspondent December 7, 2008

Faneuil Hall bustled yesterday afternoon as tourists and shoppers roamed the stores and performers danced, played instruments, and posed for pictures. But the horse-drawn carriages, many of them covered in tinsel and Christmas decorations, stood motionless.

About two dozen protesters from the Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the humane treatment of animals, held signs and handed out fliers that called for banning horse-drawn carriages in Boston. The protesters gathered at the corner of Chatham Street and Merchants Row, where hansom cabdrivers park, waiting for business.

According to the activists, horses pulling carriages in cities face a variety of threats, including traffic, hoof deterioration, exhaustion, and the extreme temperatures of the hottest and coldest days.

"I ride a bike in Boston," said protester Jeremy Mendelson. "It saddens me that people use animals in a way like this. I choose to ride in traffic, but these animals, they don't have a choice."

Read More

For people that depend on using horses for their ranching operations or if you are a pleasure rider, the idea that people are protesting using horses to pull a carriage should alarm you. Trying to suggest that horses are only good for standing in a pasture is hard to swallow. These animals were built to do work like this and most of the time they look forward to doing what they do best. Just like people, they don’t like sitting around doing nothing either.

Pacelle's Power

Humane Society's power grows
Animal welfare gaining attention

News Messenger and Gannett News Service reports

WASHINGTON -- Federal bans on animal fighting and the importation of puppies headlined the successes of animal rights advocates in the two-year session of Congress ending this month.
In particular, the Humane Society of the United States demonstrated its growing political reach by:
· Earning congressional attention for these and several other proposals that did not pass, including a ban on the slaughter of horses for meat.

· Spending heavily in several congressional campaigns and claiming a decisive role in earning victories for candidates it supported.

· Funding successful state ballot initiatives, including Proposition 2 in California requiring that calves, hens and pregnant pigs in confinement be allowed to lie down, stand up and turn around.

· Aiding in the passage of a record 91 state laws on animal welfare in 2008.

"We've really amped things up," said society chief executive officer Wayne Pacelle, who is credited with a vast expansion of the society's lobbying power since he took over in 2004. "We are as sophisticated as the other social reform movements out there."

Pacelle estimates the group spent about $20 million this year on political activity -- by lobbying through its recently formed political wing, the Humane Society Legislative Fund; by helping fund the Humane USA Political Action Committee; and by supporting state organizations formed to push ballot initiatives. The group was spending about $1 million a year on political activity when Pacelle took over. Read More

It seems hard for many people in agriculture to fathom how powerful HSUS has become in the political world. With massive budgets and legions of lawyers, they have been very successful in the beginning stages of their attempt at abolishing animal agriculture. While we have lost some of the early battles, the war is just beginning. If you don’t agree with what HSUS is trying to accomplish, then it is imperative that you do something to help stop it. There are many things that all of us can do. You can talk to friends and relatives about agriculture, make sure you are contacting your elected officials so they know your viewpoints, join ag organizations that represent your viewpoint, and always be looking for ways to tell your story.

UN Continues Attack Against Livestock

As More Eat Meat, a Bid to Cut Emissions

STERKSEL, the Netherlands — The cows and pigs dotting these flat green plains in the southern Netherlands create a bucolic landscape. But looked at through the lens of greenhouse gas accounting, they are living smokestacks, spewing methane emissions into the air.

“It’s an area that’s been largely overlooked,” said Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He says people should eat less meat to control their carbon footprints. “We haven’t come to grips with agricultural emissions.”

Other proposals include everything from persuading consumers to eat less meat to slapping a “sin tax” on pork and beef. Next year, Sweden will start labeling food products so that shoppers can look at how much emission can be attributed to serving steak compared with, say, chicken or turkey.

“I’m not sure that the system we have for livestock can be sustainable,” said Dr. Pachauri of the United Nations. A sober scientist, he suggests that “the most attractive” near-term solution is for everyone simply to “reduce meat consumption,” a change he says would have more effect than switching to a hybrid car. Read More

The United Nations continues to push their anti-meat agenda by claiming that not eating meat will save the planet from climate change. Regardless of the fact that humans have been eating meat for thousands of years, this is the avenue they have chosen to push their agenda. This article was on the front page of the New York Times last Thursday and thousands of people read it. This is why all of us in agriculture need to be telling the true story of production agriculture that is being denied to consumers.

Friday, December 5, 2008


You may have been wondering where I have been this week since I haven't done much with the blog. Well, I was having a few computer issues. Lucky me! And I was on the road to the South Dakota Cattlemen's Convention. Stacy and I got to kick off their 60th Annual Meeting. Of course no winter convention in South Dakota is complete without a snow storm blowing through. All roads leading to Huron were snow and ice packed which obviously made it difficult to get there. Even so, the crowd that managed to get in was very enthusiastic about the message we shared. If you haven't heard us speak, invite us to your hometown. Just go to our website,, for more information about us.

Anyhow, I am back home and should have the blog back in high gear next week. Have a great weekend.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Warming or Cooling?

Scientists urge caution on global warming
By: Erika Lovley

Climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill are quietly watching a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation.

While the new Obama administration promises aggressive, forward-thinking environmental policies, Weather Channel co-founder Joseph D’Aleo and other scientists are organizing lobbying efforts to take aim at the cap-and-trade bill that Democrats plan to unveil in January.

So far, members of Congress have not been keen to publicly back the global cooling theory. But both senators from Oklahoma, Republicans Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, have often expressed doubts about how much of a role man-made emissions play.

“We want the debate to be about science, not fear and hypocrisy. We hope next year’s wave of new politics means a return to science,” said Coburn aide John Hart. “It’s the old kind of politics that doesn’t consider any dissenting opinions.”

“We’re worried that people are too focused on carbon dioxide as the culprit,” D’Aleo said. Recent warming has stopped since 1998, and we want to stop draconian measures that will hurt already spiraling downward economics. We’re environmentalists and conservationists at heart, but we don’t think that carbon is responsible for hurricanes.” Read More

There is a growing body of science that suggests the earth has been cooling for the past decade. The data is showing solar flares and our oceans have more to do with fluctuating temperatures than carbon does. Any cap and trade system that is implemented is only going to be paid by consumers through higher prices for everything. With no hard evidence to prove that carbon is the main culprit for anything, our society needs to proceed with caution before instituting any policies.

More On The Cow Tax

Farmers Panic About a ‘Cow Tax’
By Kate Galbraith

The comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s exploration of greenhouse gas regulation ended last Friday, with farmers lobbying furiously against the notion of a “cow tax” on methane, a potent greenhouse gas emitted by livestock.

The New York Farm Bureau issued a statement last week saying it feared that a tax could reach $175 per cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and upward of $20 for each hog.

Such a tax would represent a “massive hit on our industry here in New York,” said Peter Gregg, a spokesman for the farm bureau, in an interview.

“You could take all of our cows together and they probably wouldn’t have the same effect on the atmosphere than the average traffic jam on the Tappan Zee Bridge,” he added. Read More

The so-called “cow tax” really made a splash in the livestock industry. It has been the buzz since last week. The reason being is that as ridiculous as it sounds, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see it happen. The global warming camp is starting to feel pressure to get legislation passed since there is mounting evidence against global warming and they feel they have the proper people in office to finally have a chance.

Taking Land Out Of Production

Group seeks Pickens' help to save rangeland
Associated Press - November 28, 2008 8:55 PM ET

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Conservationists are looking to the wife of Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens to help push for federal reforms they say will help wild horses and save rangeland in the West.

Madeleine Pickens recently announced plans to create a massive refuge for wild horses.

WildEarth Guardians is interested in Pickens' plan and wants to take the idea a step further.

The group is advocating congressional legislation that would allow ranchers who have grazing permits on federal public land to relinquish the permits in exchange for compensation.

The idea is that livestock would be removed from the allotment, leaving a refuge for wild horses and other native animals and plants.

But the head of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, Caren Cowan, says such a plan could have negative consequences for wildlife and the nation's food supply. Link

Once again grazing on public lands is being threatened. This has been the goal of several groups that claim cattle grazing on these lands are destructive to the environment. When cattle are managed properly, the grazing they do is actually beneficial for the grasses, the land and helps minimize fire risk. The other thing to remember is that we can’t continue taking land out of food production and expect that it won’t matter.

Monday, December 1, 2008

HSUS Heading to Congress

Humane Society chief seeks animal-rights focus in D.C.
Published Friday, Nov. 28, 2008

Few political groups have been as successful in recent years at shaping state policies as the Humane Society of the United States under Wayne Pacelle.

Now that the nation's largest animal rights group has effectively banned the caging of egg-laying hens in California, it is turning its focus to Washington.

A week after voters here overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2, Pacelle called on the Humane Society's 10 million-plus members "to build on the momentum of that landmark outcome."

In e-mails, the group's executive director urged "friends" to send a message to President-elect Barack Obama urging him to "consider animal protection a priority when appointing his secretary of agriculture."

"We have the potential to be one of the most powerful forces in politics," Pacelle says.

In 2008, the Humane Society shepherded through 88 new state animal welfare laws and capped off the year with its crowning achievement, Proposition 2. Read More

As I have been sharing with you, the HSUS game plan is to build support through ballot issues in several key states and then use those gains to force their agenda through Congress. Even though issues like these have had trouble gaining traction in Washington, DC, we have a new Congress and a new administration so the attitude towards these issues might have changed.


Scientists create eco-friendly pigs
By Tom Johnston on 11/28/2008

Scientists at Guelph University in Ontario are re-writing the famous Dr. Seuss story "Green Eggs and Ham." That is, they have genetically engineered a group of 21 hogs to be green — as in environmentally friendly, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The "enviropigs" produce an enzyme in their saliva that enables them to digest phosphorus in their feed, which reduces the amount of phosphorous in manure and therefore the potential that phosphorus enters waterways.

The Guelph scientists say the genetically engineered pigs should produce pork that tastes the same as pork from naturally raised pigs. They "look like regular pigs, they act like other pigs, and they regrettably smell like other pigs," Guelph scientist Cecil Forsberg was quoted as saying.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering the university's application to be able to market the pork, although there is doubt as to whether a market for the new product exists.


I have no doubt that science can create solutions for many of the production issues that livestock producers face. In this case the genetically engineered pigs can now digest phosphorous, which would be beneficial in handling the nutrients produced by the pigs. However, what we need to remember is that the anti-animal agriculture groups main agenda is to eliminate our industry, not just improve it. Sound science has been thrown out the window. Our fights are now fought in the court of public opinion.

Oops! Bombed The Wrong Car

Anti-animal research group bombs car
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Anti-animal research activists are claiming responsibility for torching two vehicles they thought belonged to a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Activists connected to the Animal Liberation Front say they destroyed the vehicles on Nov. 20 to protest the work of Goran Lacan, a researcher who used animals while investigating treatments for morbid obesity and eating disorders. The group accidentally targeted the wrong address, according to a UCLA press release.

University police with the help of Los Angeles police, fire officials and the FBI are investigating the incident. Link

The extremist animal rights crowd are at it again, attempting to murder people. This time though, instead of attempting to murder an innocent medical researcher, they attempted to murder an innocent citizen of the community because they went to the wrong address.