Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Great Example of Telling Your Story

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bea Elliott said...

Hello - I just did a two day health seminar... because my group consists of vegans our table had all relevant information. To my surprise - it is not how animals are being raised that disturbed most people... but that the animals are being killed. You will NEVER get around this offensive part. And this is what disturbs people most... the "unnecessary" killing, as we are learning more each day that we don't "need" to do such to live quite fine "without".
Good day :)

Troy Hadrick said...

That makes no sense why you are vegans then. If that is the only problem, why don't you drink milk and eat eggs and cheese? Or wear wool sweaters? Your stories never make sense Bea. Death with a purpose gives meaning to life. The circle of life requires death. That is how nature works. And no matter how hard you try, you can't change that fact.

Bea Elliott said...

Hello Troy - thanks for addressing my comment. As you know, billions of (undesirable) male chicks in the egg industry are killed - they are not productive right? And then there are the boy dairy calves - they pretty much get wiped out before they are technically "weaned". That's infantcide. I really don't know that anyone can call these practices within the "circle of life".

To raise animals (that we know we don't "need" for eggs, wool, milk or meat) perpetuates a circle of killing not "life".

That in nature, some predatory animals must kill to live, I agree. They do so because of "survival". They have no choice, their systems cannot live without meat. We can. They also cannot reason (to find a better way than the killing) - we can.

And many will offer the example of plant killing - I know you are far too intelligent to go there as plants are not "sentient", unlike animals who are.

Does this make "sense"?

Troy Hadrick said...

So animals can't reason, but yet you say they have emotions like fear, happy, sad, etc. Here again you contradict yourself.

Actually we do need eggs, wool, meat and milk to survive. If everyone switched to a vegan diet, there wouldn't be enough food in the world. And you will say that we are feeding grain to animals that people could eat. But you never account for all of the grazing that puts weight on animals before they are fed any grain. 3 out of 4 acres of ag land in the world are used for grazing and can't be used to raise vegetables.

Veal calves are not harvested as infants. You obviously don't really know how that type of meat production works.

You ideas for food production will not feed the world. So are you willing to put more value on the life of an animal than other human beings?

Bea Elliott said...

Yes indeed. Even your own Temple Grandin says animals have emotions - They experience fear, happiness, boredom, contentment, etc. One need not "reason" to know pleasure or pain. Certainly an infant cannot "reason" yet feels good or bad.

I do believe that the process to eliminate eggs, meat and milk will be a slow one - rather than an overnight affair. I think it will be a gradual phase out through the course of time. And wool - honestly... we will not "die" without wool.

The acreage that you say cannot be used to raise vegetables - I'm assuming it's also never been cultivated for such either? And what of the pigs? They are eating plant based foods from birth to "finishing" - correct? And chickens, turkeys and dairy cows - they are not "grazing" either right?

And the calves... "The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) reported in a 1996 survey that the average weaning age of beef calves in the U.S. was 221 days of age or a little over seven months of age."
However - Bob" Veal: About fifteen percent of veal calves are marketed up to 3 weeks of age.
"Special-Fed" Veal: A veal calf for market is raised until about 18 - 21 weeks of age.

I'd say "3 weeks" is an infant... and so is 21 weeks, when one considers natures timing to be more like 7 months...
Come on Troy - these calves are definately, in all truth still "infants".

Finally, new concepts in food production require a whole ecological and economic system of "change". As I mentioned - they will no doubt be gradual. I have all hopes that animal agriculture will shift (perhaps with societal and government incentive?) to other more sustainable (and globally just) enterprises.