Friday, February 27, 2009

States Brace For HSUS

California chicken proposition draws criticism from ISU dean
Thursday, February 26, 2009, 8:55 AM
By O.Kay Henderson

The dean of Iowa State University's College of Agriculture is critical of a new California proposition which requires larger cages for chickens that are laying eggs in a confinement setting. I.S.U.'s Wendy Wintersteen testified before the Ag Committees in the Iowa House and Senate on Wednesday.

"The difficulty with the Humane Society of the United States is that they really are not about helping people understand the science of the issue. They are about, really, building to the rhetoric involved and so you have a set of people in California that are very uninformed about the issue that voted to make a decision that will, in fact, have tremendous consequences across the United States," Wintersteen said.

"We will end up, if we're not careful, having more restrictive regulations than Europe does related to animals." Wintersteen suggests an "uninformed electorate" can be convinced of anything. "For us, the issue is that the Humane Society of the United States has effectively convinced the public that there are a set of problems, when in fact that argument is not based on science," Wintersteen said. Read More

Many states are trying to prepare themselves from an attack by HSUS. Some are rewriting the rules so that HSUS can’t use ballot initiatives, and others are just trying to educate their lawmakers so when the day comes, they are informed. Whatever the strategy, everyone in agriculture should be involved in doing something to prepare. It’s time to stop being reactive and go on the offensive for a change.

Raising Vegetarians on MisInformation

Daddy Eats Dead Cows
Can a meat-loving father raise vegetarian children?
By Mark Oppenheimer Posted Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009, at 6:46 AM ET

My wife, Cyd, is an unlikely vegetarian. Her mother is a genius with a chicken or a pot roast, and their small apartment in New York remains a kosher carnivore's delight. For nights out, her family could walk to temples of meat like Sammy's Roumanian Steak House and the Second Avenue Deli. But as a young girl, Cyd decided that eating meat was unethical, and she resolved that someday she would become a vegetarian. The summer before college, she worked to acquire a taste for eggplant, chickpeas, and other staples of the meat-free diet. She became a fine vegetarian cook; today she can do indescribable things with lentils.

From the time we met, I admired Cyd's commitment to vegetarianism. I had taken baby-steps toward vegetarianism myself: After reading Peter Singer's Animal Liberation in my mid-20s, I had given up chicken, which seemed to me the most cruelly abused of all the factory-farmed animals. Yet when, during our courtship, Cyd said that having a vegetarian household, and doing our best to raise vegetarian children, was important to her, I hesitated (or, rather, picked a long, loud fight). I didn't object to the meat-free household, and she was not asking me to abstain from meat in restaurants or at friends' houses. But trying to raise vegetarian children seemed to be buying trouble. I immediately generated a list of potential problems: Would it be healthy? What would our parents think when we asked them not to serve the grandchildren tuna fish? Would our children feel left out, abstaining from hot dogs at ballgames and birthday parties? Most important: Would they seem like freaks? Read More

There are several things about this article that are upsetting to me. First, when the author talks about factory farms, he doesn’t tell us what one is and makes a blanket inference that all meat comes from a horrible place where they were abused during their lifetime. Second, it seems as though the information off which they made their decision to be vegetarians was based off a book written by a radical animal rights activist in the 1970’s. If they want to learn about where their food comes from, maybe they should talk to someone who grows it. And finally, the terminology used is quite juvenile and really does a disservice to readers. Animals aren’t murdered, they are harvested in a respectful manner so that humans may live.

Pickens Spreads Lies

OSU veterinary students: Cruelty allegations by Pickens are erroneous
By Bridget Nash, Staff Writer

A Waukomis graduate at-tending Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is defending her school from allegations its research methods are cruel to animals.

Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, had said she was planning to give $5 million to the center but has changed her mind. She said she received information from a student OSU’s veterinary school practices “barbaric” methods, according to an article in the student newspaper, The Daily O’Collegian.

“Right now, when they buy these dogs, they bring them in and they do a surgery, put them to sleep, do the surgery, wake them up, next day, put them to sleep again, maybe take out a kidney, wake them up again, put them to sleep again, maybe break a leg, fix it, wake them up again and then they kill them,” Pickens said.

Shana Watkins, an OSU veterinary student and Waukomis High School graduate, said that’s not true.“We get into this profession because of our love for animals,” she said.

Watkins said if claims of barbarism were true, vet students would be the first to protest.

“The biggest deal to us is the quote Ms. Pickens said about breaking legs and removing kidneys,” said Matt Woodington, a fourth-year vet student. “None of that is true.” Read More

Attacks on the Rise

Report Quantifies Animal Agriculture Attacks

The Arlington, Virginia-based Animal Agriculture Alliance reports that during 2008, attacks on the global food chain from animal rights and environmental extremists jumped 42% - from 155 in 2007 to 220 last year. Much of the increase came from the Animal Liberation Front. Those attacks exploded 377 percent. Information compiled by the Alliance indicated there were 640 acts of sabotage, vandalism and arson in 2008, up from 467 the previous year.

The overall level of animal rights extremist attacks in the USA on businesses that use animals - including medical research, consumer product safety, pets, circuses, rodeos, fur shops, hunting stores, farmers, ranchers, food retailers - surged nearly 40%. Destruction or defacement of property were the most frequently used techniques in their attempts to intimidate food chain businesses to shut down.

Also, extremists claimed responsibility for the "liberation" of thousands of animals during the year, and millions of dollars in damage. Still, Mexico appears to be an emerging center for animal rights terrorism. In 2008, extremist groups in Mexico claimed more than double the number of attacks than were claimed in the USA. Link

Attacks from animal rights extremists is a very real and scary problem that happens all over the country and world. It seems as though their attacks have stepped up because their successes have diminished. More and more people are seeing them for what they really are, domestic terrorists. The FBI has also been more successful at catching and convicting these criminals. I guess when your message doesn’t resonate with people, you have to turn to violence and bully the public into believing you, but it’s not working.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Livestock Legislation in Indiana

Livestock bills move to Senate
Efforts to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations get bipartisan support in House

Two bills that will regulate concentrated animal feeding operations have passed the Indiana House with bipartisan support and advance to the Indiana Senate.

House Bill 1075, which restricts the location of new CAFOs and confined feeding operations to two miles from state park and reservoir boundaries, passed on its third reading Tuesday morning by a 51-47 vote.

Area state representatives Phil Pflum, a Democrat, and Republicans Tom Saunders and Tom Knollman supported the setback bill. The bill was amended to allow existing livestock operations within the two-mile perimeter to expand, which was an issue for some representatives, Saunders said.

"If they are good neighbors, there's no reason not to allow expansion," Saunders said. Read More

I wrote an article about this subject last fall called “Peak Ag”. I talked about how agriculture is continually being told where they are no longer welcome. And this new bill in Indiana is a great example. Regardless of the science, soil type, topography, etc, if this bill passes you couldn’t build a modern livestock facility within two miles of a state park. The biggest problem with this is that society has decided that science is not good enough to make these decisions anymore, but rather we should make them with our emotions. That’s find and dandy, but think about what state your emotions will be in when we can no longer produce enough food in this country to feed ourselves. Food has to be grown somewhere.

Regulating Dust

NPPC: Court Upholds EPA ‘Dust Rule’ For Farms

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 24, 2009 – The National Pork Producers Council expressed disappointment with today’s ruling by a federal court to uphold a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to regulate farms for dust.

NPPC had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington to review EPA’s decision to regulate emissions of coarse particulate matter (PM), or dust, in rural areas. The organization had argued that while EPA identified problems with coarse PM in urban areas – where it is mostly the byproduct of engine combustion – it failed to show any health effects associated with rural dust, which comes mostly from naturally occurring organic materials such as plants, sand and soil. While recognizing the distinctions between urban and rural PM sources, EPA nonetheless decided to regulate agricultural operations for coarse PM. A 2002 National Academy of Sciences report found that there were no scientifically credible methodologies for estimating emissions from animal feeding operations.

The appeals court accepted EPA’s decision as “reasonable.” In rejecting arguments from NPPC and other livestock organizations, the court adopted the so-called precautionary principle, placing the burden on the livestock industry to prove that its operations are not harming the public or the environment. Said the court: “In assessing the scientific evidence, the [livestock organizations] have mistakenly equated an absence of certainty about dangerousness with the existence of certainty about safety.” Read More

The Precautionary Principle will no doubt cripple this country. Instead of working to solve a problem, the EPA has implemented a solution and agriculture will have to prove that there isn’t a problem. Any type of dust that is created from any activity, including driving down the dirt road leading into your operation, can now be regulated. This will be a huge issue for agriculture, mostly because we make our living from the dirt.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Group opposed to large livestock operations seeks demotion of legislator
Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 8:40 PM
By O.Kay Henderson

A group that's opposed to large-scale hog confinements has filed an ethics complaint against the woman who leads the Agriculture Committee in the Iowa House. The group "Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement" accuses Representative Dolores Mertz, a Democrat from Ottosen, of having a conflict of interest because her sons operate a 4000 head hog operation in Kossuth County.

Barb Kalbach, the group's president, says Mertz should not be House Ag Committee chairwoman. "Her record shows her bias towards the factory farm industry and that's supported by her family ties and her financial ties," Kalbach says. "I mean she seriously should not be in a place where bills can be immediately killed and not at least debated before the committee."

Read More

The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) is an interesting group that everyone should be aware of. While they try giving the appearance that they support agriculture, they do not. Hugh Espy, their executive director, was asked by the Des Moines Register if he had ever even been inside one of the hog barns, that he is so adamantly against, to see how they function. His answer was no, but he said he had driven by them before. And when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made his now infamous comparison between hog farmers and Osama Bin Laden, ICCI Board Member Garry Klicker said he was happy to support that statement and it was exactly on target. This is a group that is trying to regulate livestock out of Iowa.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Deputy Secy. Announced

Tufts Prof. Merrigan tapped for No 2 USDA post
Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:28pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama chose Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University who helped develop U.S. organic food labeling rules, for the Agriculture Department's No 2 job, the White House said on Monday.

Merrigan, tapped for deputy secretary of Agriculture, was head of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999-2001 during the Clinton era and helped develop USDA's rules on what can be sold as organic food. As a Senate aide, she worked on the 1990 law that recognized organic farming.

"Sustainable and organic farmers are excited ... that someone who has been associated with these issues her whole career is going to be at that level in the department," said Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Hoefner encouraged the Senate to confirm Merrigan for the post.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was confirmed on Jan 20. The deputy agriculture secretary usually oversees day-to-day operations of USDA.

Merrigan, who went to work at Tufts in Boston after serving at USDA, has worked at the Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture and as a consultant for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization from 1994-99. She worked on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee from 1987-92. She has a doctoral degree in environmental planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Earlier this month, Vilsack said he submitted several suggestions to the White House to fill slots at USDA. Read More

Merrigan is an avid organic food promoter. She literally wrote the federal rules on organic food. It will be interesting to see how she handles her position. Will she use it to promote all types of food production or will she throw conventional producers under the bus in order to promote her own social agenda. For the foodies that were hoping to see Michael Pollan at USDA, it appears as though you got the female version. His unsustainable vision for food production has a voice in the building now.

Global Problems With ALF

Dutch minister to deal with animal rights activists

THE NETHERLANDS – An investigation by the public broadcasting organisation NOS reveals that a significant proportion of the pharmaceutical industry in the Netherlands is permanently under threat from animal rights activists.

The investigation also shows financial companies who have business dealings with the industry are also targeted.

Over the last five years, Dierenbevrijdingsfront or the Animal Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for over 40 serious threats against the staff of pharmaceutical companies in the Netherlands. The incidents include arson and damage to cars and homes. Read More

The Animal Liberation Front is a world wide terrorist shadow group. Figuring out how to afford more protection to their victims is a challenge for most governments. One thing is clear though, this group is capable of just about anything. They have blown up building, beaten people nearly to death and send threatening messages to not only the employees of their target company, but also the employees’ family.

Buyer's Remorse?

Some call for rethinking horse-slaughtering ban
February 22, 2009
By Eric Naing, GateHouse News Service

SPRINGFIELD - Horse slaughtering was banned in Illinois two years ago as inhumane. But now some state lawmakers and horse enthusiasts want to lift the ban, hoping to improve treatment for animals they say face even worse circumstances now.

Springfield horse owner Dean Large supports the efforts behind House Bill 583, which would repeal the ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption.

"People have no way to get rid of their horses, so they just turn them loose or let them starve," said Large, a co-owner of the horse carriage rental service Feed Corral. "We never had this problem when we had the slaughter market."

Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica) is pushing the repeal. He adds that the slaughter ban now sends horses to foreign countries for slaughter "where their end-of-life issue is anything other than humane." He said it is better for horses to be slaughtered here, under U.S. Department of Agriculture supervision, than in countries like Mexico.

Dr. Temple Grandin, an associate professor of animal science at Colorado State University, called conditions at Mexican horse-slaughtering plants, where horses are subdued by being stabbed in the neck, "hideous."

"I'm not saying that our horse-slaughter plants are problem-free, but even a poorly run slaughter plant in the U.S. would be preferable to horses going down to Mexico," she said.

Read More

Apparently there is a little buyer’s remorse happening in the state of Illinois. There are some in the state legislature that are going to be pushing for a repeal of the law which banned horse processing in the state. You can also add Kansas to the list of states that is now considering passing legislation in support of domestic horse processing facilities.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Drought in CA

Feds may cut water to California farms
If drought deepens, state to make drastic move; revenue, jobs affected staff and news service reports
updated 2:06 p.m. MT, Fri., Feb. 20, 2009

SACRAMENTO - Federal water managers said they may have to cut off all water to some of California’s largest farms as a result of the deepening drought affecting the state.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Friday that parched reservoirs and patchy snow and rainfall this year would likely force them to cut surface water deliveries completely. It would be the first time in more than 15 years such a move was taken.

The move would be a blow to farmers, who say the price of some crops would likely rise if they have to rely only on well water. The state estimates it would cause $1 billion in lost revenue and cost 40,000 jobs. Read More

In visiting with several friends in agriculture from California, they have said that California doesn’t have a water problem, they have a water storage problem. The state has an incredible system of catching water for future use, however, an expansion is overdue. It will be interesting to see who does get to use the available water. Because watering a golf course or filling a swimming pool is not the best us of a scarce resource when food could be grown with it.

Sustainability and Profitability

Niman Ranch founder challenges new owners
Stacy Finz, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, February 22, 2009

(02-21) 20:05 PST Bolinas - -- Bill Niman built a $65 million empire on a simple idea that revolutionized the food world - that meat could be more than just what's for dinner. It could be raised naturally, humanely and sustainably, better for people and the planet. Niman knew success would take time, but believed his methods would prove profitable.

But in nearly 30 years of existence, despite becoming the darling of high-end chefs and turning the brand into a household name, Niman Ranch never did turn a profit. In fact, it was broke. To save it from Bankruptcy Court, the East Bay company merged last month with its chief investor, Chicago's Natural Food Holdings LLC, and Niman was officially out.

The 64-year-old Bolinas man said he can live with losing the business he built from scratch. But he can't stand quietly by, he says, while the new owners fundamentally change the brand that influenced an entire food movement. He refuses to eat their products. Read More

The reason that I am including this article is because of Niman’s involvement in the Proposition 2 debate in California. They came out and supported this bill which will force people to raise livestock more in line with their thinking. However, is a business really sustainable if they were around for over 30 years and couldn’t turn a profit? Their support of HSUS was also indicative of their ability to run a business because it is quite obvious that HSUS will eventually try to eliminate all animal agriculture. After all, their own people have said that is their goal.

RFK Jr. Wins Award

Hogwash: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wins New York Knucklehead Award
Friday, February 6th 2009, 4:00 AM

Perhaps global warming has fried the brain of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Anyway, that's how it looks after Kennedy's YouTube-worthy appearance Wednesday at a House hearing on environmental regulation.

A passionate environmentalist and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, his causes have included the pollutive impacts of hog farming.

Which didn't sit well with Republican Rep. Steve King of pork-producing Iowa. He went to the Des Moines Register's files and found this 2002 Kennedy quote: "Large-scale hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and U.S. democracy than Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist network."

Queried King: "Is that an accurate quote?"

Answered Kennedy: "I don't know if that's an accurate quote, but I believe it and I support it."

Like in the old anti-drug TV ads: This is his brain. This is his brain cooked by greenhouse gases. This is his New York Knucklehead Award. Link

Finally, they have found an award worthy enough for RFK Jr. The Knucklehead Award couldn’t fit him any better.

FBI Arrests Suspected Terrrorists

Four Animal Rights Activists Are Arrested
Published: February 21, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal authorities say they have arrested four animal rights activists in connection with incidents involving University of California researchers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday announced the arrests of the four on suspicion of violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Those arrested were Nathan Pope, 26, of Oceanside; Adriana Stumpo, 23, of Long Beach; Maryam Khajavi, 20, of Pinole; and Joseph Buddenberg, 25, of Berkeley.

The agency says Mr. Pope, Ms. Stumpo and Ms. Khajavi tried last February to break into the home of a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Federal investigators say Mr. Pope, Ms. Stumpo and Mr. Buddenberg put out fliers focusing on researchers at Santa Cruz days before the homes of two university scientists were firebombed.

The four activists are also accused of harassing and intimidating researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, at their homes. Link

Last fall, there were several attempts to intimidate and even kill researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz. The FBI considers these terrorist activities and became involved in finding the responsible parties. Four animal rights activists have now been arrested and hopefully we won’t have to worry about them for awhile.

Friday, February 20, 2009

PETA Endangers Soldiers

PETA Hits DoD Use of Pigs in Training
February 19, 2009
Northwest Florida Daily News

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The base is among several military installations that have been singled out by PETA for using live animals when training medics for traumatic combat injuries.

Through reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has confirmed that Hurlburt Field operated as a temporary site for training that simulated combat injuries on pigs.

"Typically, these exercises involve killing, stabbing and shooting these animals," said Shalin Gala, senior researcher at PETA.

The training has its defenders.

"I would much rather that an animal be used to do this than an animal end up as a pork chop in a supermarket," said John Hagmann, medical director and owner of Operational and Emergency Medical Support Group, a civilian organization that trains medics at Hurlburt and provides the pigs.

"For the first time in the history of U.S. military, we're actually saving lives long before they get to the surgeons because our people are actually experienced and trained in doing that," Hagmann added.

Former Navy medic Victor Everett of Crestview received his live-tissue training from the FBI at Camp Lejeune.

"It was the best training anybody could ever receive," he said. "It definitely saved lives. If you've seen something similar, it gives you the ability to react quick instead of stopping and being in shock." Read More

We shouldn’t have to even ask this question, but wouldn’t you rather have a pig make this sacrifice than a US Soldier die in the field. PETA can be radical all they want and we can take it with a grain of sand, but when their actions are endangering the lives of the men and women that are protecting me, my family and my country, that’s where I draw the line. This story needs to be shared with everyone. If anything PETA has ever done should be considered offensive, this is it.

CA Law Falls

Meat groups win round in food safety case
Pigs unable to stand can be slaughtered for human consumption, Fresno federal judge rules.
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009
By John Ellis / The Fresno Bee

Pigs that can't stand up on their own may still be butchered and their meat sold for human consumption despite a state law designed to prevent that, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Fresno.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, made it illegal for anyone to butcher and sell animals too sick to stand. But slaughterhouses argued that the law was too broad and caused meat from healthy animals to go to waste.

At issue was whether the state law could take precedence over a 102-year-old federal law also designed to protect food safety. U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill ruled that it couldn't.

In his 21-page ruling, O'Neill stopped the state from enforcing the law against swine slaughterhouses. Read More

This law that HSUS pushed for did nothing except waste resources. It did nothing to improve food safety. Thankfully Judge O’Neill was able to use common sense and realize that a tired pig doesn’t pose a food safety threat. The worst part was that HSUS made the sacrifice of the animal worthless. But then again, HSUS has never showed a lot of compassion towards animals, only making money.

The List Grows

List of States Introducing Slaughter Legislation Grows
by: Pat Raia February 19 2009, Article # 13639

Twelve state legislatures are now considering measures to express their support of or actively encourage the reestablishment of U.S. horse processing plants.

Resolutions indicating opposition to HR 503, the federal Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which would eliminate horse slaughter nationwide and prohibit the export of horses to slaughter are either under consideration or have already passed in:

Arizona (SCM 1001)
Kansas (HCR 5004)
Minnesota (SF 133)
North Dakota (HB 1496)
South Dakota (SCR 2)
Utah (HJR 7)
Wyoming (HJR 8)

Bills amending state laws to promote private investor plant development are pending in:

Arkansas (HCR 1004)
Illinois (HB 0583)
Missouri (House, HCR 19 House; Senate, SCR 8)
Montana (HB 418)
Tennessee (HB 1361)

Read More

This has been receiving a lot of attention in the states. Some are looking at opening processing facilities and some are petitioning Congress to vote against HR 503. Either way, it’s clear that this is a problem that is being taken seriously.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Being Proactive

Animal enthusiasts challenge Humane Society agenda
The Wendover Times

CARSON CITY -- A group of animal enthusiasts from around the state visited Carson City last Monday to meet with lawmakers as a preemptive measure against the Humane Society of the United States' schedule to lobby for its animal rights agenda in Nevada this past Saturday.

Tim Stoffel from Reno, organizer of the group's efforts, Chris Vaught from Washoe Valley, Zuzana Kukol and Scott Shoemaker from Pahrump and Deanna Croasmun from Wendover registered as non-paid lobbyists and spoke with various assembly members and senators.

They explained the difference between the animal rights movement and animal welfare, and asked legislators to look into the Humane Society agenda and its connections to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other animal rights groups.

The group, speaking in support of animal welfare, pointed out that the Humane Society is a national lobbying group, is not affiliated with any of the humane societies or shelters in Nevada and does not represent the interests of Nevada voters. Read More

Many states are dealing with HSUS backed legislation right now. Any pre-emptive work you can do in your own states will only be beneficial. It is important that agriculture lay the groundwork on these issues. It’s easier to educate legislators than it is to re-educate them.

Meet Dr. Dave

Jolley: Five Minutes With Dr. Dave Sjeklocha, DVM, Animal Ag Activist

Dr. Dave Sjeklocha operates a thriving large animal clinic in Sublette, Kansas. That’s his main business. He’s also an animal ag activist but you should read that phrase carefully. He’s pro animal agriculture and a little annoyed at the way we’ve all been portrayed by special interest groups like PETA and HSUS.

As a member of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, he took action. Not content to do what we all do so well – complain about the situation over a cup of coffee with friends who will always agree with us – he decided to help rally the troops and defend the ramparts.

And he makes an unassailable point. If the meat and poultry industries don’t grab the bull by the horns and tell the whole story, those special interest groups will own the stage and continue to frame a one-sided debate in their own well-known terms. Never mind if their arguments aren’t based on even half-truths and their logic is usually as shaky and structurally unsound as an old barn in an Oklahoma windstorm, if it’s repeated often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth.

During the NCBA Convention in Phoenix, Dr. Dave was the moderator of what promises to be a gathering coalition of people and organizations dedicated to telling the general public the real story of animal agriculture. With most people several generations removed from any relationship with farming, there comes a disconnect that anti-ag groups have skillfully exploited.

Read More

We had the opportunity to meet Dr. Dave in Phoenix at this meeting and present at it. He is very passionate about animal agriculture and is working hard to bring a lot of people together on this issue. Stay tuned for more updates from this working group.

HSUS in Illinois

Sow Stall Ban Initiated in Illinois Senate
USAgNet - 02/17/2009

Last week, legislation that would ban the use of gestation stalls in Illinois was introduced in the Illinois Senate.

The way it is drafted, it appears that the legislation would include farrowing stalls, as well.

Senate Bill 1337 was introduced by Sen. James DeLeo (D-10, Chicago). The bill has been initiated by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and was introduced as part of the group's lobby day on Feb. 10.

The legislation is similar to the ballot initiatives banning the use of gestation stalls, stalls for veal calves and battery cages for egg laying hens that have passed in California, Arizona and Florida. The proposed legislation would become effective January 1, 2010.

DeLeo has agreed to hold the bill until all information can be brought forward, including comments from the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Pork Producers Association. Link

HSUS is running full throttle in the states right now. Everything from banning gestation stalls to redefining animal cruelty. If you disagree with what HSUS is trying to do, then you need to be getting involved in your state politics. Be in contact with your representatives, work with your ag groups that you are involved with, and if you don’t belong to some sort of trade group, you should. Now is not the time to be sitting back and thinking that someone will take care of this for you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Local Food Challenge Over

Effort to eat only local foods called off
Man ends his quest after eight months, with a banana
By Beth Casper
Statesman Journal

Justin Rothboeck ended his yearlong attempt to eat only local food at the end of January.

With four months to go, Rothboeck quit trying to eat only food grown, processed and sold in Oregon and Washington.

Bananas were the first food in his grocery cart.

"I felt like I was doing it for the wrong reasons in the end," the former vegan said. "I was doing it more out of a sense of guilt than actually enjoying it."

Rothboeck said he realized that by driving all over the Willamette Valley to find local food, he likely spewed more carbon than his local diet was preventing. Read More

It is interesting to me to read about the difficulties that Rothbeck had sticking to a local diet, when he lives in a very agriculturally diverse area. I have always said that I have no problem with people that want to eat local, I just think that in our area of the world, it would get really boring after awhile if we had to eat locally. These niche markets can work really well for some in ag, but we have to realize that farmer’s markets don’t work everywhere.

Animal Rights Terrorist Jailed

Animal rights fanatic behind terror campaign on Oxford research lab jailed for 10 years
By Neil Sears
Last updated at 2:54 AM on 14th February 2009

A notorious animal rights fanatic behind a firebomb campaign against a research laboratory at Oxford University has been jailed for ten years.

Mel Broughton, 48, was described as an 'ardent and determined' activist.

He planned and possibly carried out arson attacks using homemade petrol bombs on college buildings at the university.

In 2006, two improvised devices, constructed with fuel and a fuse made from sparklers, exploded on Queen's College grounds, causing almost £14,000 damage.

Months later, two similar bombs - designed to stop the building of the new animal lab - failed to explode when they were planted under Templeton College as part of the same 'ruthless conspiracy'.

Shaven-headed Broughton, of Northampton, was yesterday found guilty by a jury of one count of conspiracy to commit arson, following a retrial at Oxford Crown Court. Read More

This is just the latest of several violent animal rights activists that have been jailed in the United Kingdom. In an attempt to stop the building of a research facility, Broughton found himself 10 years in jail. The out-of-control emotions of some of these activists are laughable at best and scary at worst. Intimidation is tried by these people at all levels, including against me when I post on this blog. However, it never does their side any good. In the end, it costs them more than it pays.

Nebraska's Ag Promotion

Livestock promotion efforts are working in Nebraska
Friday, February 13, 2009, 3:22 PM
by Ken Anderson

Efforts to better educate politicians and the general public, about the importance of the livestock industry in Nebraska, are having an impact. So says Roger Berry, field director for A-FAN, the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska.

“Agriculture has not done a good job of putting that word out in the last 20 years,” Berry says. “Now we’re starting to get that word out and people are starting to realize just how important agriculture is—and it is getting easier to locate a livestock operation, or to do something in agriculture today.”

In addition to educational programs, A-FAN works directly with those who want to get started in the livestock business or expand their current livestock operation. Berry says that phone calls have picked up in recent weeks, with the most interest in dairy and poultry.

“I often have people ask me, ‘How can you be promoting livestock at a time like this?’”, says Berry. “My answer to that always is, ‘You know, agriculture is a cyclical business—it always has been, it always will be—maybe this is the time to be getting in.’”

A-FAN is producing a series of internet-based videos on modern livestock operations in the state. The videos are available for viewing on the A-FAN web site, and can also been seen on the popular video site YouTube. Link

Many states have a groups set up like Nebraska has and they are all doing some great things. It’s important that they continue to receive the support they deserve in promoting agriculture in our states. I have personally seen the difference these groups make, and unfortunately, they are a necessary part of doing business in today’s world.

Friday, February 13, 2009

FB's Consumer Website

New Farm Bureau Educational Web Site Introduced
A new educational web site is being offered to consumers by the American Farm Bureau Federation. This site, is aimed at educating the non-farming public about agriculture issues, farmers and ranchers and the food, fiber and fuel they grow.

AFBF Director of Public Relations Don Lipton says, "We hope this new website will help us engage in conversation with consumers about modern agricultural production.

"The Your Agriculture site includes a “Meet the Farmer” section; a consumer’s guide to farm policy and ag issues; farm facts…and a chance to test their farm IQ and determine if they are smarter that a 5th grade farm kid.

The Your Agriculture website can be found at Article Link

This is a great new website that gives consumers the opportunity to hear from real farmers and ranchers. You can also take a virtual tour of modern hog production facility. Putting a face on American agriculture is important since most consumers are several generations removed from food production.

Interview with Vilsack

Tom Vilsack, The New Face Of Agriculture
Wednesday, February 11, 2009; F01

Sustainable-food and farming activists in Washington have long felt they were on the outside looking in. New Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says he wants to change that. In an interview with staff writer Jane Black, the former Iowa governor, 58, talked about his personal struggles with food and about his vision of how to transform the department -- maybe even rename it -- to serve a broader range of interests. Edited excerpts follow:

Some in the sustainable-food community have worried that you are too closely identified with ethanol and agribusiness. Is that fair?
First, I would ask for the opportunity for people to get to know me and judge me by the actions I take in this office. I'm not sure the full nature of the record was understood.

Will local foods play a part?
In a perfect world, everything that was sold, everything that was purchased and consumed would be local, so the economy would receive the benefit of that. But sometimes that stresses the capacity: the production capacity or the distribution capacity. Especially since we don't have yet a very sophisticated distribution system for locally grown food. One thing we can do is work on strategies to make that happen. It can be grant programs, loan programs, it can be technical assistance. Read More

Any time there is a new administration in Washington DC, people are searching for clues as to how things will be ran. There has been considerable interest in the Department of Agriculture this time around. Regardless of what the name on the building is or who they work for, at the end of the day our government must create an environment that allows producers to do what they do best, and that is feeding and clothing this country.

And one other thing, do we really need a sophisticated distribution system for local food? I thought that was the point of the local food movement.

Utah Supports Horse Processing

Resolution supporting horse slaughter passes
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Posted:02/12/2009 05:49:01 PM MST

HJR7 » A nonbinding resolution to allow the transport of horses to Mexico or Canada for slaughter passed the Utah Senate on Thursday 19-8 and soon will cross the governor's desk.

Sponsors of the resolution -- Rep. Brad Winn, R-Ephraim and Sen. Dennis Stowell, R-Parowan -- intended to send a message to the federal government about states rights. Legislation at the federal level would outlaw horse slaughter in the United States and also ban their transport across borders for that purpose.

The controversial butchering of horses for food stirred debate about whether such practices are humane. Link

Here is an update on one of the states that is trying to deal with the closing of our three horse processing facilities. Utah has been experiencing a lot of problems with unwanted horses either being turned loose on public lands or private ranches. It’s sorry state of affairs when you have to lock your stock trailer so someone doesn’t leave a horse in it. You can’t make this stuff up. I talked to some friend from Utah last week that told me the story.

No Guidance On EPA Rules

Livestock farmers: New EPA rules confusing
Many don't know how or what to report; Pork Producers sue

MADISON, Wis. -- The Environmental Protection Agency imposed air emission reporting requirements on large livestock producers last month but didn't tell them how or what to report, according a federal lawsuit filed Friday by the National Pork Producers Council.

The suit seeks to have the new EPA reporting rule not apply to large livestock producers where animal waste is used only in routine farming operations.

"I've gotten a lot of calls from confused farmers in Grant County about their reporting requirements and I've received absolutely no guidance as to how the program is to be working," said Steve Braun, Grant County's Emergency Management and Disaster director.

The rules were formulated in December and announced Jan. 16, just days before they went into effect on Jan. 20, leaving "everyone in the dark," said Braun. Read More

This seems to be a typical bureaucratic mess. Pass a regulation with no guidance on how to conform to it. The livestock industry is producing fewer emissions than ever, yet people insist on placing more regulations on us. What these reports will accomplish is unknown, other than the fact it will create more paperwork.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

CA Looks At More Livestock Regulations

State lawmakers to push animal welfare
With new mission, Senate panel seen as 'game-changer'
By Michael Gardner
2:00 a.m. February 12, 2009

SACRAMENTO — From family pets to farm livestock, state lawmakers are crafting a broad and aggressive animal welfare agenda this year.

Legislation has already been introduced to regulate puppy mills, stiffen penalties for watching dog fighting and provide tax deductions for adopting pets.

Significantly, the state Senate also has redefined the mission of the former Agriculture Committee – now called the Food and Agriculture Committee. The panel now has a chairman who supports animal rights and consumer causes – a blow to agriculture, which for years has counted on the panel to thwart unfriendly bills.

Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, the new chairman, has a history of tangling with agriculture over food safety. He plans an oversight hearing next week to explore livestock welfare issues. Read More

California producers will continue to feel the effects of Prop 2 as animal rights activists build on the momentum from it’s passage. The state seems to be more concerned about animals than they are about where their food will come from. And that is very short-sighted.

OK Tries To Protect Producers

Regulations for livestock could become Oklahoma duty
Published: February 10, 2009

Allowing livestock in the city limits could create major problems, city leaders say, but under a bill passed out of a Senate committee Monday, only the state could rule on the conditions under which livestock live.

Under Senate Bill 452 filed by Sen. Mike Schulz, R-Altus, all local livestock rules would be overturned, and the state would regulate livestock. If the bill becomes law, it would take effect immediately. The bill passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development committee in an 11-0 vote Monday, despite protest from the U.S. Humane Society, which said the bill limited local entities’ power to address the treatment of livestock in their areas. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Schulz said the bill was filed at the request of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, which wanted to protect the state’s agriculture industry from sweeping provisions on livestock treatment. Schulz cited California’s voter-approved Proposition 2, which outlines farm animals treatment, including requirement for ample room for caged and pinned animals.

"I understand the concerns about this bill,” Schulz said. "But I’m concerned about cities annexing into rural property and telling me how I’m going to farm my livestock.” Read More

This may be what ag states need to resort to in order to protect producers from HSUS, and protect Americans from eliminating their food supply. So far, the consequences to the consumer for voting for something like Prop 2 have been little to none. However, that can’t continue to happen when more states fall for the mis-guided attempts at animal welfare.

Considering Horse Harvesting

Montana Legislator Sponsors 'Butcher Bill' to Allow Horse Slaughterhouses
Tuesday , February 10, 2009
HELENA, Mont. —

A Montana legislator is sponsoring a bill that would clear the way for a horse slaughterhouse in the state, if investors want to build one.

The United States no longer has a slaughterhouse where horses are processed, but there are facilities in Canada and Mexico that receive U.S. horses.

Republican legislator Ed Butcher of Lewistown says doing the work stateside makes more sense. He says that would help people who need to dispose of horses, and would strengthen Montana's economy. Read More

Many states are feeling the impact of our horse harvesting capabilities being eliminated in the US. Because of that several states have tried to help by looking at opening new harvesting facilities. Wyoming is also considering sending a resolution to Congress to urge them not to pass a bill banning horses being used for human consumption.
Europe seeks animal welfare standards in global trade agreements
By Janie Gabbett on 2/11/2009

Global animal rights groups pushed for animal welfare provisions to become part of every international trade negotiation at last month's Conference on Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare in Brussels, Belgium.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association Chief Veterinarian Elizabeth Parker attended the meeting and shared her impressions with Meatingplace.

What did you hear at the conference that was new?

Animal welfare groups and some European Commission members want animal welfare standards to become part of every trade negotiation. Several European Commission-member parliamentarians spoke. They were very bold about what they wanted. They have problems within their member states because the cost of animal production in Europe has gotten so high due to non-science-based restrictions. The EU can import meat cheaper than they can raise it in Europe. So they are calling for equivalency. They have done this already in biotech and some other areas. I was interested in how open and upfront they are about it.

What are some examples of the types of welfare provisions they are looking to include in trade agreements?

There was a lot of talk about swine and chickens. For example, on the swine side, many European countries have banned castration or mandated anesthesia and pain medication. On the poultry side, there was a lot of talk about battery cages. The Humane Society of the United States was represented at the conference and made a presentation.

How do you see the United States stacking up against European countries on humane handling?

Our approach is quite different. We don't regulate our industry to death based on non-scientific standards. In Europe they base policies on public opinion through the use of the Eurobarometer surveys. We take good care of our animals. At NCBA we update our Beef Quality Assurance Program every year as new research emerges. We haven't been touting what we do because it is part of our everyday business practices. I think we need to do a better job of talking about what we do. The ultimate goal is to make sure we take care of our animals and produce safe and affordable beef supply and we do that. It is hard to see how the European regulations have improved animal handling.

Will you be making any recommendations to NCBA based on any best practices presented at the conference?

No. There was nothing scientifically based that was presented there. There was an interesting presentation from the [Food and Agriculture Organization] about the need to improve human conditions in developing countries so that they can improve conditions for their animals. From Europe, it was all animal rights groups. We can learn from what they are doing about what might be coming to this country — they pay 40 percent of their wages on food.

What do you see as the priority this year for meatpackers and producers in the area of animal welfare?

We need to do a better job of educating Congress, administrative officials and consumers about all the things we currently do, why we do them and how we developed them. People don't know the science that has gone into our policies. We have left a void for groups to come in and fill with misinformation. Our challenge is to educate. Link

If we want to know what is coming down the line as far as animal welfare and livestock production regulations, we need only look across the pond at Europe. They have continued to regulate the agriculture out of business. As a consequence, their food costs are four times as high as ours and they import about 40% of it. That will happen in this country if we continue down this path.

Indiana in the Cross Hairs

Hoosiers lobby for animal rights in Indianapolis
Updated: Tuesday, 10 Feb 2009, 6:29 PM
Jane Santucci

TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTHI) - On Tuesday, Hoosiers headed to the statehouse to lobby for animal rights.

On Wednesday, Indiana lawmakers will make a decision that may start to give animals the right to live a humane life.

Dead chicken, sheep, a horse, a dog with no nutrients, a horse with a broken leg and one without an eye. All these animals victims of neglect within the past year.

Now, there is new legislation to fight for the animals that can not speak for themselves.
Last October, a puppy mill was raided in Sullivan County. Veteraniarian Miacheal Staub saw it first hand.

"Not seeking veterinary care for a seriously injuered animal in this bill would be considered neglect, right now it's not," said Staub. Read More

Indiana, along with Ohio and Illinois, have been placed in the HSUS bulls eye for the next round of legislative attacks on agriculture. The interesting thing about this particular article is the last sentence. They want to force people to take animals to a vet if they need medical attention, yet we don’t have to do that with our own children. This makes it quite obvious that groups like HSUS and PETA put the lives of animals over humans.

Quiznos Folds Their Hand

Quiznos to implement new animal-welfare policy
By Tom Johnston on 2/11/2009

Denver-based sandwich chain Quiznos has adopted a new animal-welfare policy regarding its purchases of eggs, pork and turkey, a company spokesman confirmed to Meatingplace.

Quiznos developed the plan in conjunction with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Under the new program, Quiznos will favor suppliers of cage-free chickens, crate-free hogs and turkeys killed by way of controlled atmosphere stunning.


The phased-in plan has Quiznos buying 4 percent of its eggs in 2009 from cage-free producers, and as much as 10 percent in five years. The company also eliminated eggs from three of its four cookies.

Quiznos will source 1 percent of its pork from crate-free environments, with a goal of reaching 15 percent in 2012.

The company also agreed to buy 5 percent of its turkeys by 2010 from suppliers who use controlled atmosphere stunning.

Quiznos operates some 5,000 stores in the United States. Link

Quizno’s is the latest to fall in lock-step with the radical group PETA over the issue of where they source their food. There is no science that will back anything they are changing here. It’s important that at the end of the day we realize that we need to produce enough food for everyone to eat, and some of these production methods that are being championed take us the other direction.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Update For The Week

I have to apologize for not posting anything this week. We have been on the road again. This time we are in Sacramento, California. The American Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmer and Rancher Conference is taking place. Over 800 of this country's most talented and energetic young leaders will be taking part in the activities. If you have never been to one of these and you are a young farmer or rancher, you really need to consider attending. The networking opportunities her are fantastic. There is also an impressive line up of speakers.

A lot has been happening in agriculture this week. First off, everyone needs to take a look at this youtube video. At the beginning of the week, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was testifying at a House Judiciary committee hearing. Rep. Steve King of Iowa started off asking him about his statement from several years ago when he said that hog farmers were more of a threat to this country than Osama Bin Laden. He reaffirmed that he totally agrees with this statement. Rep. King really let him have it and it was very obvious that RFK Jr. was flustered by the confrontation. These are the types of things being said agout ag.

Also, there has been a lot of things going on across the country about the issue of horse slaughter. Rep. Conyers introduced another bill to make it illegal to sell a horse going for human consumption. Also, North Dakota is looking at the possibility of opening a horse harvesting facility.

Last week while we were in Phoenix attending the Cattle Industry Convention, the International Poultry Expo was also going on in Atlanta. There were some protesters there that dressed in chicken costumes protesting the event. Apparently they had a little incident with some nearby construction workers.

Finally, there was an important victory for livestock producers in Illinois this week when a jury sided with the producers over a nuisance lawsuit filed against them.

Have a great weekend. I will be back on schedule with daily updates by the middle of next week.

Monday, February 2, 2009

White House Farmer

Huber nominated to be White House farmer
By Diane Urbani de la PazPeninsula Daily News

SEQUIM -- Nash Huber, the Dungeness Valley organic-farming pioneer, has been nominated to become the nation's first White House farmer.

At, an election is under way for the man or woman who would turn 5 acres of south-facing White House lawn into an organic fruit and vegetable garden -- and set a crisp, leafy example for the country.

Huber, the 67-year-old owner of Nash's Organic Produce, is one of more than 100 nominees nationwide.

The idea for the position sprang from Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and The Omnivore's Dilemma.Believing the country hungry for real nourishment, Pollan penned a memo to the presidential candidates last October and published it in the New York Times Magazine.

He called for a collaborator for the White House chef, a grower who could show the American people how fresh, chemical-free, delicious food can come straight from backyard garden to kitchen. Read More

Pollan is using his un-earned influence to push our society into an agricultural system that will cause starvation across the planet. His ideas sound wonderful on the surface, but impractical for feeding the world. Suggesting that we can return agriculture to 19th century technology will not work.

Talking to Consumers

Communication of animal welfare key to consumer trust
By Lori Weddle-Schott, University of Minnesota Beef Team
Saturday, January 31, 2009 3:39 PM CST

After spending time at the 2009 National Western Stock Show (NWSS) and Rodeo in Denver my hat is off to the NWSS staff, volunteers, cattle producers and industry representatives who communicate and educate the image and lifestyle of our great American cattle industry.

Growing up in the cattle business, I have a deep seeded devotion to protect our lifestyle and a passion for our industry and people I trust. But what about our urban consumers, who are void of agricultural backgrounds, who lack the understanding of our industry and management practices? What level of trust do they have for our industry and the products we produce?

Read More

It’s always encouraging to see more and more people realizing how important it is for agriculture to stand up and tell it’s story. With animal rights activists currently doing it for us, we can no longer stand on the sidelines and hope for the best. All of agriculture standing united is where success will be found for us.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Humanizing Horses

Tempers flare in New York horse war

NEW YORK (AFP) — Foes of Central Park's horse-drawn carriages galloped into action Friday with a divisive new drive to have the popular tourist attraction banned.

Hundreds of people crammed into City Hall to join a public debate on a bill seeking to outlaw the horse and buggies on the grounds of cruelty.

No vote was set on the proposed law, which experts on New York politics predict will fail since Mayor Michael Bloomberg is opposed.

But that did not stop New Yorkers whipping themselves into an angry frenzy over one of the city's favorite obsessions.

Animal rights activists and a smattering of theater types engaged in a shouting match outside City Hall with carriage drivers, beefy transport union workers and even a Franciscan monk.

"End the suffering of the poor, worn-down animals," called out Michael McGraw of the PETA animal rights activists, as supporters waved placards showing morose horses and slogans like: "Set Me Free!" Read More

It’s no coincidence that we are seeing more protests against using horses to pull carriages. The animal rights groups know that horses are the easiest species of livestock to humanize and they are taking full advantage of that. This is foot in the door to eliminating animal agriculture in this country.