Friday, May 29, 2009

GM Food Needed

Earth population 'exceeds limits'
By Steven Duke Editor, One Planet, BBC World Service

There are already too many people living on Planet Earth, according to one of most influential science advisors in the US government.

Nina Fedoroff told the BBC One Planet programme that humans had exceeded the Earth's "limits of sustainability".

Dr Fedoroff has been the science and technology advisor to the US secretary of state since 2007, initially working with Condoleezza Rice.

Under the new Obama administration, she now advises Hillary Clinton.

Pressed on whether she thought the world population was simply too high, Dr Fedoroff replied: "There are probably already too many people on the planet."

A National Medal of Science laureate (America's highest science award), the professor of molecular biology believes part of that better land management must include the use of genetically modified foods.

"We accept exactly the same technology (as GM food) in medicine, and yet in producing food we want to go back to the 19th Century."

Dr Fedoroff, who wrote a book about GM Foods in 2004, believes critics of genetically modified maize (corn) and rice are living in bygone times.

"We wouldn't think of going to our doctor and saying 'Treat me the way doctors treated people in the 19th Century', and yet that's what we're demanding in food production." Read More

I have said many times that agriculture is the only industry that is being asked to eliminate the use of technology and raise food “the way we used to do it”. This article does a great job of comparing it to another industry that has made tremendous strides in the past one hundred years, human medicine. I think people need to realize that the good old days only exist in your mind.

Anti-Livestock Piece in Detroit News

With CAFOs, farms have many animals -- even more waste
Concentrated farms affect water, ground safety, critics say
Jim Lynch / The Detroit News

Most of them, if not all, smell and smell bad. Some pollute Michigan's air and water and increase human health risks. One of their main byproducts is, to put it politely, excrement -- and lots of it. And for better or worse, they might be a big part of Michigan's farming future.

The practice of crowding more livestock onto fewer acres, known as concentrated animal feeding operations, has helped many Michigan farms survive and even thrive in an era when many midsize farms are being squeezed out of business.

An average Michigan farm spreads 170 cows across 340 acres, while CAFO operations have as many as 3,000 cows contained on fewer than six acres. Put that many Holsteins or hogs together, and one thing is certain, you'll get plenty of waste. The average CAFO can generate up to 38,000 gallons of animal waste a day, and that manure, opponents say, is a major threat to the environment.

Attempts to regulate these large operations have farmers and environmentalists at odds. The need to police discharges of toxic chemicals created by CAFOs has run up against the ability of farmers to do the work they've done for generations. And the failure to reach a compromise could lead to the creation of more mega-farms -- bringing with it the smells and headaches that seem to go with them. Read More

I’m not sure why the media is trying to disguise these opinion pieces as legitimate journalism but it’s getting old. This is another fine example of a reporter having an agenda against animal agriculture and using terms like “toxic”, “pollution”, and “human health risks” when describing these family run farms. The truth is that America’s family farmers are more efficient and better stewards of the land than they ever have been. Our system of food production is a role model for the rest of the world that struggle to feed themselves.

Pig Hearts Saving Human Lives

Beating, dripping pig heart: It's gross, but it saves lives
Jay Price, Raleigh News & Observer

RALEIGH, N.C. — The sight of a dripping-fresh, human-sized heart, it turns out, is both repulsive and attractive. Especially when it's suspended in the open among an elaborate array of tubes, pumps and valves. And when it's pulsing as though alive.

"There are basically two reactions," Andrew Richards, a North Carolina State University graduate student, said of the macabre wheeled contraption he calls the Heart Cart.

"'Ewww, gross' or 'Ewww, cool.'"

Pig hearts are so similar to humans' that the valves are often used to replace defective human hearts. The Dynamic Heart System — its real name — pushes saltwater through recently removed pig hearts to make the valves move in a natural way. It can be programmed to simulate a range of heart rates and blood pressures to mimic specific defects or healthy hearts. The idea is to use $5 pig hearts from a slaughterhouse to speed research, trim costs and reduce the number of live animals used in the tests. Read More

Agriculture has always been closely tied to human medicine and now medical researchers are able to utilize pig hearts more efficiently. The ability to use organs from pigs for transplant into humans is right around the corner. That is as long as we can stop groups like HSUS and PETA from eliminating animal agriculture before it happens. For the thousands of people that are on the donor lists, these breakthroughs will be a welcome relief. Hopefully our children or grandchildren will not remember what the donor list was.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fear, Misunderstanding of H1N1 Continues

Online campaigners seize on swine flu in pig farm petition

GENEVA (AFP) — Online campaigners delivered a petition with 225,000 signatures to the World Health Organisation Wednesday to protest at industrial farming methods they blame for increasing the risk of diseases like swine flu.

With the help of about 100 cardboard cutout pigs, the online citizen's movement Avaaz, or "voice", called on the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to ensure factory farming meets public health standards.

The group's campaign was prompted by the controversy surrounding an industrial scale pig farm near the Mexican village of La Gloria, where some of the first cases of A(H1N1) influenza were reported.

Avaaz Campaign Director Ricken Patel said: "There have been warnings for years that these dirty warehouses crammed with pigs are increasing the risk of development and transmission of disease epidemics." Read More

Anti-animal agriculture groups continue to use the fear and misunderstanding over the H1N1 virus to attack livestock production. Even though there is absolutely no tie between any type of production system and this virus, these groups continue to link them. There is no excuse for this behavior and in my mind it’s the equivalent yelling fire in a crowded theatre. If your cause is reliant on using fear, rather than the truth to accomplish it’s goals, then probably you should find a new cause to advocate.

Telling Our Story Online

Animal Abuse Pictures Easy to Find on Internet
Pictures of pigs treated right tougher to find.
By: Tom Bechman
Published: May 26, 2009

My son told me a disturbing story the other day, not long before he graduated form our local high school here near Franklin. It seems that students were doing projects where they were asked to take one side or the other on the animal welfare debate, either that groups like PETA have a point, or that they don't, and farmers treat animals humanely. What disturbed him and me both was that one team started out to take the side that animals aren't abused. In the end , they decided to make their presentation on how animals are abused.

What swung their decision? It wasn't because of what they truly believe. At least one is a farm girl, showing purebred cattle, and to her credit, made it through the project unscathed in her belief that farmers and true cattlemen who raise and show animals don't abuse them. But the problem they encountered was that when they Googled anything they could think of that should have led them to animals being treated properly in search engines on the internet, they got very little. However, type 'animal abuse' in the Google site and they discovered all sorts of images of grotesque treatment of animals, plus all kinds of facts, popped up form a plethora of sources.

Read More

This is very telling of the situation we as farmers and ranchers face in trying to educate the public about how we raise livestock. People that know nothing of the subject will usually turn to the internet, and with the entering of a couple choice keywords, they will have near limitless amounts of information. The problem is that most of it won’t be true. Not only that, but these lies are then used as leverage against us. In order to solve this problem we need to have a bigger presence on the web and at social networking site shouting the truth as loudly as possible.

UN's Version of Animal Welfare

The United Nations and animal welfare
By Drovers news staff Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has launched a new Web portal devoted to livestock welfare. Billed as a “one-stop shop for individuals and organizations searching for the latest information about the welfare of livestock,” the Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare is “designed to provide a reliable information conduit on legislation and research findings in the sector, as well as on animal-welfare standards, practices and policies.”

According to an FAO press release, expected users are farmers and government officials, lawmakers, researchers, the livestock and food industry and non-governmental organizations. The board members include a wide variety of individuals including Joyce D’Silva, who is former chief executive of Compassion in World Farming and is currently “co-editing a book on the adverse global impacts of high meat consumption.” Link

Read the news release.

Without ever having seen this website, I can about tell you what it will say. The United Nations is against modern agricultural methods, and animal agriculture. They have tried to convince people that livestock is responsible for global warming and encouraging people not to eat meat. So after that, we are supposed to believe that they know how best to raise them? Farmers and ranchers have generations of experience behind them. If consumers are interested in learning about animal welfare, they should ask the real experts.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wendy's Starts Using a Few Cage-Free Egg, Why?

Wendy's to begin using eggs from cage-free chickens
26 May 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After lengthy discussions with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Wendy's has announced that it is starting to use eggs from cage-free hens. The new policy marks a significant advancement in The HSUS' national campaign against cruel and inhumane confinement of egg-laying hens.

Previously, all eggs that Wendy's used came from hens confined in "battery cages." Now the chain is using a minimum of 2 percent of cage-free eggs.

Retailers such as Quizno's, Burger King, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. also use eggs from cage-fee hens. McDonald's announced last week that it is entering a study to examine housing alternatives for egg-laying hens in the United States, including cage-free housing.

At the McDonald's annual meeting May 27, a HSUS representative will urge shareholders to approve its resolution asking the company to start switching to eggs laid by cage-free hens. Link

For several years, Wendy’s rightfully saw no benefit to using cage-free eggs. Even after HSUS took out full page ads in newspapers urging people to call Wendy’s, they got as many calls against using cage free eggs as were in support of the switch. So after all that, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that during the same week McDonalds is under fire for wanting to study the issue, that Wendy’s finally agrees to purchase a tiny amount of cage-free eggs. Politics trumps policy every time and apparently that is what happened here.

Meat Doesn't Cause Breast Cancer

Study debunks link between meat and breast cancer
By Ann Bagel Storck on 5/26/2009

There is no link between eating meat and developing breast cancer, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health and the American Association of Retired Persons.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, followed 120,755 postmenopausal women who provided information about what they ate during 1995 and 1996, when the research took place. The study also included detailed information about meat preparation methods. Over the next eight years, 3,818 of the women developed breast cancer.

The researchers, led by Geoffrey C. Kabat at Albert Einstein College in New York, concluded that their findings "do not support the hypothesis that a high intake of meat, red meat, processed meat, meat cooked at high temperatures or meat mutagens is associated with increased risk of breast cancer." Link

Another study has been released that finds no link between eating meat and cancer. In this case, breast cancer, in particular was studied. Consumers continue getting bombarded with studies that produce conflicting results. This can only lead to one conclusion for me, and that is to eat in moderation and make sure that your diet does include meat and dairy products.

Climate Bill Can't Harm Food Producers

Groups seeking ag-friendly changes to climate bill
Dan Looker
Successful Farming magazine Business Editor
5/26/2009, 3:44 PM CDT

Farm groups reacted negatively to last week's passage if a climate change bill by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but some are waiting to see if the bill can be improved before deciding to support it or work against it.

Mark Gaede, a lobbyist for the National Association of Wheat Growers, wants to see trading of agricultural offsets added to the climate change bill, but he thinks other farm groups may be making too much of the fact that agriculture isnt mentioned in the bill yet.

"Because there's been one markup of the bill in one committee does not mean we should be running around saying the sky is falling," Gaede told Agriculture Online.

Gaede said that he didn't expect to see agriculture in a bill coming out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. And that those involved in writing the bill have said their goal of capturing 2.2 billion tons of carbon a year requires including carbon trading of carbon credits from farms and forests.

"The only way you can get there is if you have agricultural and forestry offsets," Gaede said.

Read More

Agriculture has to keep an incredibly close eye on this bill. It has the potential to cripple food production if it is written poorly. On the other hand, there is the potential for agriculture to continue leading the way as true environmentalists. Your elected officials in Washington really need to hear from farmers and ranchers on this issue. Let them know that a safe domestically grown food supply is essential to the future success of this country.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

HSUS Harming Local Shelters

Animal welfare vs. animal rights in Vail Valley
Eagle Valley Humane Society director explains the difference for Vail Valley readers
Char QuinnSpecial to the DailyVail, CO Colorado,

VAIL, Colorado — I was speaking to a friend who has volunteered for humane societies in several states, as well as Colorado. We were discussing animal welfare, animal rights, and animal control. I was surprised at her lack of understanding concerning these groups differences and I realized that many people probably have the same confusion.

A dog with a collar and leash is a great example to use to show the difference between animal welfare and animal rights. Animal rights activists do not believe that your dog should have to wear a collar; they believe the dog should have the right not to be restrained by having to wear a collar and leash — even if it puts their welfare in danger. Animal welfare groups promote the use of collar and leash to ensure a dog's safety.

The Eagle Valley Humane Society is an animal welfare organization. We have a variety of programs to help with animal welfare, as well as an agent to enforce state animal cruelty and neglect laws. We work closely with Mountain Valley Horse Rescue in Eagle — also an animal welfare organization dealing with abused, neglected and abandoned horses.

Many people are under the impression that local humane societies and rescue groups are under some of the national humane society headquarters. Local groups are not.

National organizations vary greatly. Many of the national organizations for animals are about animal rights, not animal welfare. Some are for both, and some are just for animal welfare. It is important to understand what these national animal groups stand for when looking at the big picture — this is critical when it comes to making a donation. Read More

Many of our local dog and cat shelters are suffering because of the Humane Society of the United States. The reason is that HSUS is deliberately trying to confuse donors as to who they really are. Many people give them money thinking that it will be used to help local facilities, when in fact it only four cents out of every dollar will be used to help animals. Your cash strapped local shelters are the ones that are the boots on the ground doing the work. In the last month, I have had two phone calls from people that were skeptical of helping their local shelters for fear of their association with HSUS. Even though HSUS has no affiliation with local shelters, I urged the callers to visit with the directors of the facilities about the issue. This is another example of how HSUS is doing more harm than good for animals.

Prairie Dogs and Planes

Longmont airport purges prairie dogs
Activists criticize the killing of hundreds of the critters, but officials cite safety rules.
By John AguilarDaily Camera

LONGMONT — Animal activists are steamed that the city of Longmont decided to go ahead with the killing of several hundred prairie dogs Friday at Vance Brand Municipal Airport, an extermination officials said was necessary to comply with federal aviation safety directives.

Alison Collins, interim director of the Boulder-based Prairie Dog Coalition, said Longmont didn't take the time to seriously consider nonlethal ways of removing the animals from the vicinity of the airport's runway and parachute drop zone.

"There's always the option to work with other communities and cities to find relocation sites," she said. "It's not a mystery to look up and see what you can do instead of killing an animal."

But Don Bessler, Longmont's director of parks, open space and public facilities, said the city "exhausted all of those efforts," including fortifying a fence at a nearby prairie dog containment area and attempting to passively relocate the animals away from the runway and drop zone over the winter. Read More

I would imagine that everyone that is a member of the Prairie Dog Coalition probably lives in house with a small yard. So why didn’t each and every one of them offer to take a few dogs and put them in their yard? They suggested that the airport could have easily found a place to relocate them and what better place than the front yards of those trying to save them. Animal rights advocates continue to promote animals over the safety and welfare of human beings.

The Real Environmentalists

Meet Grand County’s environmentalists: Ranchers
By Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado,

The Whitmer Ranch in Kremmling is welcoming to nature. Ducks and geese are making homes out of four new irrigation ponds constructed last year.

They purposefully have shallow ends where water fowl can easily forage.

Eventually, riparian habitats around the ponds will create more wildlife benefits.

Temporary fencing that can be removed in the spring when sage grouse are present on nearby breeding grounds keeps grazing cattle from disturbing the new habitat.

The fencing, which takes a half day to take down, also is designed to have limited places for eagles and hawks to perch — predators of sage grouse.

These new improvements on the ranch “really makes irrigating a pleasure,” said ranch owner Kent Whitmer. To divert water out of the draw before, Whitmer said he had to dig a trench. Having the water in ponds makes irrigation easier.

“And we wanted to provide habitat for water fowl because that’s something that is important to me personally. And if we can get some fish in there, that’s good, too.” Read More

Farmers and ranchers were the first environmentalists and continue to be the most effective. Even though there is public money to help with these projects, the landowners still put in many thousands of dollars of their own money and many hours of their own time to make them successful. They not only talk to the talk, but they walk the walk, which is more than most people can say.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Putting A Value on Pets

Lawyer: Courts should recognize pets as 'family'

By Peter Hirschfeld VERMONT PRESS BUREAU - Published: May 21, 2009

When Susan Goodby lost two beloved "members of the family" to alleged medical malpractice in 2002, the Craftsbury woman and her husband asked a superior court judge to award them damages for loss of companionship and emotional distress.

Vermont's civil courts have long awarded monetary damages to families affected by doctor error. Goodby's case, however, warranted no such recompense, according to a Lamoille County judge, whose ruling was upheld recently by the Vermont Supreme Court.

That's because the "family members" in question were cats, not humans. And Vermont laws, the unanimous Supreme Court ruling said, do not permit financial compensation for loss of companionship or emotional distress brought on by the negligent death of an animal, however well loved.

Pet owners are free to sue for damages in the negligent or intentional killing of a pet, but courts now assess the animal's economic value as they would a piece of inanimate property. The Goodby decision spotlights the latest development in a burgeoning effort to redefine the legal status of domestic pets.

Steve Wise, an animal-rights lawyer who represented the Goodbys, said the time has come for courts to recognize the intrinsic value of pets in modern society.

"When you act in a negligent way, and you kill someone's companion animal, the loss the person has suffered is not the market value of the animal," said Wise, a Florida lawyer who teaches animal-rights law at Vermont Law School. "… What you've lost is the relationship between you and the animal, and that's not simply like losing inanimate property." Read More

The unintended consequences of this could be enormous. First of all, the price of veterinary care would drastically increase, which would result in decreased veterinary care for many pets. Next, this could drastically affect the duty of care that is would be expected by pet owners, including making the issue of euthanizing animals a very sticky subject. Finally, how would you define pet? Will a cow or a pig be considered pets? I realize that people get emotionally attached to pets, that’s quite natural. But people also get emotionally attached to houses, cars and other objects as well. Do we really want to go down this road?

McDonald's To Study Egg Issues

McDonald's to study hen housing options
But key animal welfare proponent says the study only will delay the fast-food giant's move into the U.S. "cage-free" market

By Mike Hughlett Tribune reporter
4:10 PM CDT, May 21, 2009

Seeking to buy eggs produced in a potentially more humane way, Oak Brook-based McDonald's Corp. Thursday announced it will undertake a large-scale study involving tens of thousands of hens.

But the Humane Society of the United States said the study will likely delay any significant move by McDonald's into the U.S. "cage-free" egg market – an animal welfare step some of its rivals have taken.

Most eggs produced in the U.S. come from chickens housed in so-called "battery cages": pens shared by several birds, each of which gets just less than 70 square inches of living space.

While the egg industry has voluntarily increased cage space in recent years, some animal welfare groups have continued to criticize the battery system for cramped conditions. In a referendum last November, California voters outlawed battery cages.

McDonald's is teaming up with one of its primary egg suppliers, Cargill, and several animal-welfare scientists to conduct a commercial-scale study of housing alternatives for hens, including cage-free and so-called "enriched housing." The latter involves cages, but includes nests and perches.

But Paul Shapiro, head of the Humane Society's factory farming initiative, said that since the study will take two years, McDonald's will be kept from making the "same modest reforms its competitors have already adopted." Read More

When reading this article, I got the impression that HSUS is scared of the results that may be released from McDonald’s study of the issue. If HSUS was truly interested in what is best for the livestock, they would have no reason to disparage the fast food chain for wanting to do a comprehensive study. This is another example of the bully mentality that HSUS has and the juvenile fit they throw in the media when they don’t get their way. They know that there is no good research to support cage free hens and the truth is what they fear.

Gallup Poll on Fur & Animal Testing

New Poll -- Americans Support Animal Testing, Wearing Fur
By Wesley J. Smith , Senior Fellow in Bioethics - 7 Hours Ago

Human exceptionalism is not only about human rights, but also human duties, including never using human beings as mere objects and the need to treat animals properly and humanely. The new Gallup Poll about what Americans consider morally acceptable behavior is interesting in both regards, and thus worth our pondering. (Part of the poll measured matters beyond our scope here at SHS, and these issues will not be addressed. The poll was also promoted by Gallup as showing Republicans growing increasingly "conservative." We don't do partisan politics here, and moreover, what some call conservative, I think of as liberal--such as opposing assisted suicide. So, let's ignore those matters, too.)

From the poll:Buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur: 61% to 35% think it is morally acceptable--with the "acceptable" figure up from 54% last year

Fur is the most publicly controversial use of animals, what with the seal clubbing and the scent of luxury it implies. I think that animal rights and welfare activists should actually be quite proud that 35% of the people believe that what was once seemed unremarkable is now considered morally unacceptable. But the increase in the "acceptable" category might reflect animal rights exhaustion, that is, people are tired of the preaching:

Medical testing on animals--57% think it is right and 36%wrong. This figure is basically unchanged from last year.

Medical testing is probably the use of animals that provides humans the greatest benefit. That 36% of the people think it is wrong, is an alarming indication that the research community has not done a good job of educating the public of the importance of their work and the lengths to which researchers go to treat the animals in their care humanely.I also think it is notable that the numbers who consider fur and animal research to be morally improper are nearly identical. If this is an increased sensitivity based on animal welfare thinking, I am cool with that, with the understanding that one can have great concern for animals and support research and fur. But if it reflects an acceptance of the ideology, values, and beliefs of "animal rights," it is cause for great concern. Read More

So many times we hear animal rights groups say things that suggest that everyone is against using animals for fur or that no one wants animals to be used for testing. This however is not the case. According to this Gallup poll most Americans support using animals for fur and medical testing. Not only that but the number of people that support it is on the rise. These are interesting numbers to keep in the back of your mind.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Animal Rights Infiltrating Religion

Animal Rights Groups Focus on Religion
By Pork news staff Friday, May 15, 2009

"Animal rights activists are using religious messages to recruit a segment of the millennial generation that has little doctrinal anchor in order to advance their vegetarian agenda", said Wes Jamison, an ordained Baptist Minister and associate professor of communications at Palm Beach Atlantic University, addressing participants at the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 8th Annual Stakeholders Summit, held this week in Alexandria, Va.

Jamison explained that two major factors are driving animal rights groups' attempts to engage people of faith. The first is that people motivated by religion tend to give generously, which is an important factor to the $400 million a year animal rights industry. The second reason is that people motivated by religious zeal tend to have sustained intensity over time. This is a critical feature lacking from the current animal rights movement, since many vegans and vegetarians tend to eventually return to an omnivorous diet.

He indicated that animal rights groups are carefully selecting religious passages that appeal to targeted individuals' sense of compassion, self-denial and guilt. He then pointed to Biblical stories that directly refute the messages and went on to label animal rights groups engaging in this tactic as "meaning entrepreneurs."

"We caution people against buying into such messages and encourage people to do their own review of Biblical scripture and literature," said Kay Johnson Smith, executive vice President of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. "Farmers and ranchers are among the most compassionate people in the world and are committed to the care of their animals as a top priority." Link

The interesting thing about radical animal rights groups trying to use religion is that many of the radical ones that I have dealt with are atheist. It seems as though they prefer to worship at the alter of animal rights. The sad part is that many denominations in this country have been infiltrated by some of this radical thinking. Apparently, the story of the golden calf is as relevant today as it has ever been.

It's Grilling Time!

Affordable Steaks That Make the Cut
By Tony Rosenfeld
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This is the summer for affordable grilling, and that does not mean steak eaters are out of luck. They just need to bone up on cuts that can impress a crowd without straining the budget.

There are bargains to be had in the meat case, for $5 to $7 per pound. Affordable cuts of beef tend to fall into three groups: hanger and flatiron steaks, long prized by chefs; flank, flap, tri-tip and skirt steaks, which used to be even cheaper when they were less popular; and gems such as chuck eye, chuck shoulder and top sirloin steaks, which are, for the moment, the least expensive of the lot (less than $5 per pound).

One thing they all have in common is their tough texture. They come from well-exercised muscles of the animal, which tend to be the most flavorful. There are other cheap cuts to consider, but they suffer from a lack of beefy flavor or from lots of gristle and bones. Attentive prep work, intense marinades and closely watched grill time can do wonders for the bargain cuts we're focusing on here. Read More

With Memorial Day weekend approaching, millions will be firing up their grills. And with that comes a fantastic opportunity to explain to consumers how that meat got on their grill. I challenge everyone to not only remember the reason for Memorial Day, but to also educate friends and neighbors about livestock production.

Cap & Trade Debated in House

Cap-and-Trade Debate Drags On in House Energy Committee
By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

After lawmakers consumed all of Monday afternoon with opening statements, debate over a bill that would cap U.S. greenhouse gas emissions finally got underway in a House committee yesterday.

But it has not gotten far.

The Energy and Commerce Committee spent its first eight hours yesterday considering six amendments to the mammoth bill, which would create a "cap-and-trade" system that forces polluters to amass credits equal to their emissions.

That leaves a lot of work to do, if the committee is to meet Chairman Henry A. Waxman's goal of passing the bill out of the committee by the end of the week. Rep. Joe Barton (Tex.), the ranking Republican, said his side could submit as many as 400 amendments.

In general, Democrats have praised the bill as a long-overdue solution to the problem of climate change. Republicans said that it would add both cost and complications to electricity, gasoline and other sources of fossil-fuel energy. One Republican said the bill would lead to a "permanent recession." Read More

There is a good chance that this will cost American consumers millions, if not billions of dollars. There is a good chance that it will stifle American production and cost American jobs. There is a good chance that this plan could severely restrict American agriculture’s ability to feed ourselves. And there is a good chance that climate change isn’t man made and all of this will be for nothing. Congress owes the American public an honest debate about climate change before they spend more of our grandkids’ money on another problem that may or may not exist.

Cap & Trade Will Cost Rural Americans

Frankly Speaking
By Rep. Frank Lucas

Cap & Trade = Higher Costs for Rural America

This week, members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce are expected to consider The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass) introduced the bill. A major component of this legislation is cap and trade.

As a lifelong rancher, as a student of Agriculture economics, and as the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, I have very serious concerns about cap and trade and its impact on rural economies.

Cap and trade is nothing more than a national energy tax, and the effects will be far-reaching to businesses, consumers, and even more so to rural America. We are looking at the most amazing tax increase of all times. If you like being cool in the summer, you’re going to be affected. If you like being warm in the winter, you’re going to be affected. If you want to go anywhere, you’re going to be affected. This is going to affect all of us. Chairman Waxman understands that the best way to force you to change your business habits, to change your lifestyle, is to tax you to the point where you have to change your lifestyle. Read More

Here is an interesting article by Rep Frank Lucas about how cap and trade could affect rural versus urban residents. This is a bill that could drastically change how we live in this country. It deserves some very serious and careful consideration.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ohio Ag Not Backing Down to HSUS

Humane Society: Give Ohio farm animals some space
By TERRY KINNEY , 05.19.09, 04:06 PM EDT

The Ohio farm lobby and the Humane Society of the United States are girding for a fight over the confinement of farm animals, with the Washington-based society saying it is confident voters will side with animals and farmers saying the group's real goal is to reduce consumption of animal products.

The Humane Society met with Ohio Farm Bureau Federation leaders, the Ohio Cattlemen's Association, the Ohio Pork Producers Council and the Ohio Poultry Association in February to deliver this message: Ohio farmers must agree to change their animal husbandry practices or have the practices changed for them via the ballot box.

"When we met with those industry leaders, we suggested we come to a meeting of the minds with a plan to phase out confinement systems in the state," Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle said Tuesday. "My suggestion to agricultural leaders in Ohio was not to squander money on a campaign that was likely to fail."

The farm bureau has served notice that it is not going to roll over.

"They make what sound like simple demands regarding animals when in reality their true goal is to give animals status equal to humans," said Jack Fisher, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

The federation sounded a fundraising alarm on its Web site last week. And in its newsletter, the organization asks if the Humane Society is making an honest attempt to improve animal care, "or is it part of a broader effort to disrupt livestock farms, artificially drive up the cost of animal products and restrict consumer choice?" Read More

Ohio’s livestock producers have refused to lay down and be run over by the new bully on the block. We have learned from the situation in California that the “prop 2” legislation is just the beginning of a series of laws animal rights groups will continue proposing in order to eliminate animal agriculture. If we don’t stand up and challenge these proposals today, there may not be a livestock industry tomorrow.

Blame Those Who Blamed Pigs

Egypt criticized for 'inhumane' killing of pigs
By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF – 1 day ago

CAIRO (AP) — A leading animal rights group criticized Egypt on Monday for using "shocking and cruel" methods to slaughter the country's pigs over swine flu fears, responding to a YouTube video that showed men skewering squealing piglets with large kitchen knives and hitting others with crowbars.

The controversy was the latest swirling around Egypt's decision to kill all the country's 300,000 pigs out of concerns they will spread swine flu. But the World Health Organization has said it is entirely unnecessary because the illness is being spread through humans.

The government decision also brought accusations that Muslims are attacking minority Christians, who breed the animals. Most Muslims consider pigs unclean and do not eat pork.

The latest troubles started after the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper posted the video showing men standing in the backs of trucks, killing pigs with knives and crowbars and tossing them in front of a bulldozer. The piles of bleeding bodies, some of them still moving, were then transferred to larger trucks, which took them to the desert to be buried in Qalyoubiya province, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Cairo. Read More

The responsibility for the deaths of these pigs should fall squarely on the shoulders of the animal rights groups that advanced the theory that pigs were to blame for the flu. For a solid week or two, animal rights groups and the media desperately tried to tie the H1N1 virus to pigs and pig farming. This led to panic in countries like Egypt who irrationally order the destruction of their pig population. Animal rights groups have a goal to put livestock producers out of business by any means necessary. This is what happens when they get their wish.

More Colonies Surviving

Survey finds slower decline of honeybee colonies
By GARANCE BURKE – 14 hours ago

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The decline of honeybee colonies has slowed slightly since last fall, but a mysterious combination of ailments is still decimating the insect's population, federal researchers say.

U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers found that honeybee colonies declined by 29 percent between September 2008 and early April. That's an improvement over the last two years, when researchers found that 32 percent and 36 percent of all beekeepers surveyed lost hives.

Domestic honeybee stocks have been waning since 2004 because of a puzzling illness scientists called colony collapse disorder, which causes adult bees to inexplicably forsake their broods. Bees now appear also to be suffering from other ailments. Read More

One thing that we can conclude from the reduced colony death is that it can’t caused by a pesticide or GMO crop. If it were, the death rates would be the same or higher. You would have to assume that the theory of a parasite or some other disease would be the cause since the numbers being provided to us would mirror that of any other animal population that was battling such a problem.

HSUS & Vick Become Friends?

Animal-rights activist meets with Michael Vick
The disgraced quarterback might join the Humane Society in its campaign against dogfighting.
By Sam FarmerMay 20, 2009

As one of the country's leading animal-rights advocates, Wayne Pacelle never imagined he would be here -- eye to eye with Michael Vick, engaged in a heartfelt and productive conversation with the disgraced quarterback.

But Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, made two trips in the last month to meet with Vick in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. Vick, who has served 23 months for his involvement in a dogfighting conspiracy, is expected to be released as soon as today to begin serving two months of home confinement.

"Nobody was tougher on Michael Vick than we were," Pacelle said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I did not imagine 23 months ago that I would be sitting opposite from Michael Vick at a small table and contemplating the idea of him joining our campaign against dogfighting."

Read More

Michael Vick was rightly punished for his role in dog fighting. However, isn’t it strange that he know wants to work with HSUS on anti-dog fighting programs. I say that because HSUS’s solution to handling the dogs that were confiscated was to kill them. Fortunately there were some people there that were actually there to help the dogs rather than pose for the cameras and most of them were saved. So even though Vick was involved with dog fighting, it’s tough to say that HSUS much more of a friend to the dog’s than he was.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Climate Change Legislation

NCGA concerned agriculture not mentioned in climate change bill
Monday, May 18, 2009, 3:02 PM
by Ken Anderson

Climate change legislation introduced into the House of Representatives last week does not specifically mention agriculture’s role in a market based cap-and-trade system.

That’s a major concern to the National Corn Growers Association. In a letter to Henry Waxman, chair of the House energy committee and chief sponsor of the bill, NCGA says it cannot support the legislation unless it clearly provides a mechanism by which corn growers can sell carbon credits on the market. NCGA believes the bill will increase farmers’ input costs, without specific opportunities to offset those added expenses.

According to a story on DTN, the fact that agriculture’s role is not outlined in the bill doesn’t necessarily mean Waxman sees no role for agriculture. It says Waxman may leave it up to the House Agriculture Committee to add agriculture’s role to the legislation. It’s also possible an amendment for agricultural offsets could come up in Waxman’s full committee debate next week. Link

There are definitely more questions than answers when it comes to the impact that the climate change bill will have on agriculture. One thing we know for sure is that it will be affected. Hopefully our lawmakers will realize all of the good work that farmers and ranchers do to sequester greenhouse gasses and provides a mechanism to be fairly rewarded for our efforts.

Rancher Wins Survivor

The tribe speaks, a new `Survivor' wins big money
By ERIN CARLSON – 18 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — The tribe has spoken, naming cattle rancher James "J.T." Thomas Jr. the sole "Survivor."

The 24-year-old country boy prevailed over New Yorker Stephen Fishbach on Sunday's season finale, claiming the $1 million check and bragging rights.

Thomas, who operates a cattle-ranching business in Samson, Ala., wept tears of joy after hearing the result.

"I can't help it," he said at the post-game special, aired live from New York. "I'm happy — it's probably the happiest I've ever been in my life, obviously." Read More

We know that ranchers have always been survivors in life, but now a rancher has shown that he is the ultimate survivor in reality TV. Hopefully Thomas can use some of his new found fame to promote agriculture along the way.

The Ag Economy

Farms Start to Feel Credit Pinch
Cash Shortage Hits Once-Thriving Sector as Downturn Saps Rural Lenders

The credit crunch is trickling down to the farm as agricultural lenders tighten credit standards, leaving some farmers short of money to feed their animals or put in crops as the planting season nears its end.

Deepening slumps in the livestock, dairy and ethanol industries have contributed to mounting troubles for rural lenders. That is making it harder for some growers to borrow money they need to buy seed, fertilizer, equipment and animal feed.

Direct loans outstanding made to farmers for operations by the Farm Service Agency have hit their highest level since the Farm Crisis of the 1980s.

"It's tough," said Bruce Drinkman, a 46-year-old dairy farmer in Glenwood City, Wis., who recently had his credit line drastically reduced. "My whole lifetime of work could be destroyed."

Read More

Operating capital is essential for our country to continue enjoying the world’s best food supply. Many times, it seems that the ag economy is on a different track compared to other industries, but we are not immune to the effects of a global recession. Several ag commodities have experienced very low prices for quite some time now and hopefully that turns around soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Busy Time of Year

I have to apologize for not posting on the blog at the end of last week. This time of year is always extremely busy for us. Thousands of head of beef cattle are being artificially bred around this time. Decisions being made by cattlemen today will determine the quality of the beef that consumers are eating two years from now.

This next week promises to be just as busy, but hopefully I can keep up a little better. If not, stay tuned because I will be back full speed next week. I hope spring is going well for everyone. After a shot of snow this past week, spring may finally be here for good. The trees are starting to show signs that they will finally leaf out and the weatherman says temps in the 80's tomorrow.

Have a good week!

HSUS Exposed

Atlanta Investigation Uncovers Deceptive 'Humane Society' Agenda

ABC News in Atlanta is taking a cue from us and following the money donated to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). And the results aren’t pretty. The animal rights industry leader with the misleading name gives less than 4 cents of every dollar of its budget to support local animal shelters. The rest of the money, as WSB-TV Channel 2 News confirmed? It funds the group’s activist projects and lobbying for vegetarian-minded legislation.

Reporter Amanda Rosseter spoke with staff members from Atlanta-area animal shelters. She discovered that while HSUS talks a big game about stopping puppy mills, the heavy lifting required to care for rescued puppies falls on the shoulders of local humane societies – most of whom see nary a cent from HSUS to support their work.

Rosseter also attended a meeting of the local HSUS chapter to see for herself what was discussed. The agenda was just as we’d expect:

The two hour discussion was about activist plans and lobbying. The Georgia director for the HSUS agrees that's mostly what she does. Read More

Click Here To Watch The Video

For the first time that I am aware of, a media outlet has taken HSUS to task. Of course they have unleashed their own attack dogs to go after the reporter who put this piece together. It’s important to spread the word about what HSUS is really about and remind people to donate to their local shelters if they really want to help animals.

Flu Death Lawsuit

Husband of Swine Flu Victim Sues US Pig Farmer Smithfield Foods for Wrongful Death
Posted by Camryn HansenWednesday, May 13, 2009 8:12 PM EST

The husband of 33 year-old Judy Trunnell, the first US resident to die from the swine flu, or H1N1 virus, has filed a lawsuit against the Smithfield Foods, the American owner of the Mexican pig farm thought to be the virus’ birthplace.

Contradicting health officials’ reports that Trunnell had “chronic” health problems which contributed to her death, Trunnell’s husband Steven claims she was always in excellent health. She had delivered a baby girl by C-section only a few days before her May 5 death, after being admitted to the hospital with flu symptoms and slipping into a coma shortly afterward.

The petition filed Monday in state district court in Cameron County seeks permission to conduct depositions for a possible wrongful death claim against the $12 billion company. Read More

This is obviously a very tragic situation. None of us can imagine what this man is going through right now. However, this seems like an incredibly far-fetched claim, especially given the fact that 30,000 people die from the flu every year in this country. The panic and fear that the media spread about H1N1 was hard to believe. If this virus had been properly named in the first place I doubt that Smithfield would be getting sued right now.

FL Elected Officials Learn About Ag

County leaders learn about agriculture first-hand
By Joe VanHoose Staff Writer
Published: Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 6:28 p.m.

A bus-full of Marion County, FL leaders picked blueberries at the B&G Blueberry Farm in Fort McCoy under the rising sun and temperatures Friday morning.

The sweet and tart berries served as dessert after the morning's main course - orchestrated by the Marion County Farm Bureau - to let community leaders know what the county's farmers are doing.

The bus stopped at Seminole Feed in downtown Ocala, at a timber business north of Anthony, and at the blueberry farm. County commissioners, School Board members and state representatives opened their minds to learn about producing equine feed, thinning out forests and differentiating between rabbit eye and high bush blueberries.

They also got a taste of what county farmers are going through and how important their survival is. Read More

I’ve said before that there are everyday opportunities to promote agriculture if we look for them. That is why I try to highlight what some people are doing. Hopefully these stories will spur some ideas that you can use in your own communities. Congratulations to the Marion County Farm Bureau in Florida for showing their local leaders the importance of agriculture.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Animal Ag Alliance

Animal Agriculture Alliance summit underway in D.C.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 3:43 PM
by Ken Anderson

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is holding its 8th annual Stakeholders Summit in Washington D.C.

One of the speakers is Aaron Putze, executive director of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers. Putze says he continues to stress the importance of ag groups working together to grow the livestock sector.

“We don’t have the luxury in agriculture to be duplicating efforts—to be recreating wheels,” Putze says. “We don’t have enough time, we don’t have enough resources, we don’t have enough people.”

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2009. Putze says the key to Iowa’s success has been maintaining focus.

“We’re not out talking about a new issue every other week, or following a different path every other month,” he says. “We’ve stayed focused and I think that’s why the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers has been a real bright spot and has been modeled by other organizations in other states.” Link

I would like to tweak one of Mr Putze’s comments here. He says that we don’t have enough people but I would say that we don’t have enough people actively engaging in promoting and defending our industry. Groups like Mr. Putze’s Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers have done a great job of organizing efforts to promote our industry, but they need the support of the producers. And by that I mean active support. We all need to find spare minutes in our days to make these efforts even stronger.

Modern Farming In Nigeria

Research shows maize production in Nigeria can be doubled

Scientists working on maize research have demonstrated the ability of local farmers to double maize yield in Nigeria from 1.5 tons per hectare to 3 tons per hectare using improved seeds and agronomic practices.

Pastor O.A Adenola, President, Maize Association of Nigeria, in an interview, says farmers in the project harvested about 3 tons per hectare of maize.

“The good news is that doubling maize production in Nigeria is practicable. The research also proved that we can be better farmers and make more money if we use appropriate technologies,” he says.

Scientists say results from the two and a half-year project, which was funded by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and started in 2006 indicated that Nigeria can double her current maize production of about 7 million tons to 14 million tons. Read More

It will be interesting to see if the same groups that protest the use of modern technology here in the United States will go to Nigeria and try telling them that they should use it. Or do you think that the residents of that country will be protesting the fact that these modern food production techniques could double their output. My guess is no. People that are hungry seldom complain about increasing food production.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Only Cage-Free Eggs May Be Available to CA Consumers

Bill would apply caged hen rules to out-of-state eggs

03:28 PM PDT on Monday, May 11, 2009
By JIM MILLER Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO - California's upcoming ban on small cages for egg-laying hens would be extended to out-of-state egg producers if a bill moving through the Legislature becomes law.

The state's $648 million egg industry so far is neutral on the legislation, which is championed by the same groups that backed Prop. 2, the successful November ballot initiative that requires more room for chickens and other farm animals.

The bill, though, already has received support from legislators who opposed Prop. 2. They say it will help California's egg industry compete with out-of-state egg producers who, under current law, will not need to comply with Prop. 2 when its rules take effect in 2015.

"I think there's a general consensus out there that if our industries have to do certain things for the housing of poultry, then we don't think it's too much to ask the rest of the country to adhere to the same rules that we do, just to keep our folks competitive," said Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, a co-author of AB 1437. He opposed Prop. 2. Read More

Here is why HSUS is sponsoring this bill. They are using the same theory as is used to curb social behavior. The “sin tax” is used to tax products in order to make them expensive and curb their use. If California is only allowed to raise and sell eggs that have been raised cage free, this will drastically increase the price of eggs, thus lowering demand and forcing egg farmers out of business. HSUS has stated that they want to abolish animal agriculture and this is just one of the not-so-obvious ways that they are doing it.

Giving Animals Human Qualities

Animals just want to have fun, survey finds
From tickling to playing catch, animals do some things simply for enjoyment
By Jennifer Viegas

Mon., May 11, 2009

From tickling to playing catch, animals engage in certain behaviors just for fun, even enjoying sensations that are unknown to humans, concludes an extensive new survey on pleasure in the animal kingdom.

The findings, published in the latest Applied Animal Behavior Science, hold moral significance, argues author Jonathan Balcombe. He believes scientists, conservationists and other animal rights activists should not overlook animal joy.

"The capacity for pleasure means that an animal's life has intrinsic value, that is, value to the individual independent of his or her value to anyone else, including humans," Balcombe, a senior research scientist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, explained to Discovery News. Read More

Whenever any type of research is published, I always think it’s important to look at the source of the information. In this case, a researcher from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) wrote this newly published research. The other source used to write this article was the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). These two groups represent two of the three wealthiest animal rights, anti-animal agriculture groups in the country. They continue trying to portray livestock and other animals as having human like qualities in order to push their vegan agenda. The bottom line is still this, we need to utilize livestock as a food source or the human race will have people starving.

Consumer Choice Under Attack

More than agriculture, it's a consumer issue
Korre Boyer is the Organization Director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Additionally, Boyer operates a beef farm with his wife and three children in Lucas, Ohio.

The Humane Society of the United States, or HSUS as commonly referred to, is an organization that has recently set its eye on Ohio agriculture. To really understand what this means for Ohio, we must look at some of the other states that HSUS has targeted. Most recently, California has fallen victim to untruthful propaganda and misleading information in the form of what was called Proposition 2. Proposition 2 basically outlawed the use of several modern animal agriculture practices. These are gestation crates for female pigs, veal stalls for calves, and cages for laying hens. I will admit that the terminology of these individual housing units may not paint a pretty picture in one's mind but they do serve many purposes for livestock and humans alike.

Individual housing units for livestock are a critical production method for livestock not only in California and Ohio, but across our country. They provide 1) a safe work environment for farm operators to work around animals; 2) operators to more closely monitor an individual animal's health and dietary needs; 3) protect animals from injuring one another; and 4) control the spread of disease. Without such practices, it would be a challenge for America's farmers to produce the safe, healthy, and affordable food supply for the world. Let's not overlook the fact that the world relies heavily on the U.S. to fulfill their food needs. In today's global markets our ability to feed the masses is one of our strongest assets.

I don't want to cloud the issue of food production by saying that individual housing units are the only way Ohioans raise livestock because that would simply be untrue. However, individual housing units are the best way to raise some types of livestock so that the American farmer can meet consumer demand and produce an affordable product.

You may choose to buy "free range" eggs or "organic" foods. These are examples of the product choices you, the consumer, have at the grocery store or local farm market. These choices may be one of the most fundamental rights stripped away by this so-called, "animal welfare" group. By eliminating or blocking the use of fundamental, science-based, modern farming practices, we stand to lose the choice of what we would like to purchase for our families to consume. Read More

There are a lot of choices that consumers should have in this country that are under attack, especially in food production. Since the free market system hasn’t been working in the favor of animal rights activists, they must use the ballot box and propaganda to take away food choices from our consumers. The reason that so many of these issues have passed during elections is that so far there has been very little consequence for consumers to force production changes on farmers and ranchers. That however is about to change. They will soon be feeling the effects of their vote and chances are that they aren’t going to like what they see. There will be reduced choice and higher prices at the grocery store. This isn’t what hard working families that are trying to feed themselves need.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Leading by Example

Students learn they can’t get swine flu from eating pork

JAMESTOWN, OH — The recent outbreak of the swine flu turned into a “teachable moment” and a delicious treat for some Greeneview High School students Friday.

Craig Corry, who teaches agriculture at the school, organized the “Salute the Pig — Stick it to the Swine Flu Barbecue” to educate his students about the fact that you can’t get the swine flu from eating pork.

“The idea came from the fact that some of the students had concerns about catching H1N1 from eating pork products,” Corry said.“We want to get the word out that pork products are fine to eat,” Corry said. “It’s been a big financial issue for some families, and we need to get education and positive information out there.”

“Anytime you give the consumer a doubt, it affects the bottom line,” said Janelle Mead of the Ohio Farm Bureau, who sponsored the event and provided the tasty pork loins.

Corry told his students that the care, quality and inspection standards in the United States are better than anywhere else in the world and that pork is safe to eat if cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.

“This is great,” said sophomore Wayne Harlow, who was on his second pork sandwich. “You can’t get swine flu from eating pork, but pork is delicious and you should keep eating it.” Link

Feeding America

17 percent of US children under 5 may face hunger

WASHINGTON (AP) — An estimated 3.5 million children younger than 5 are at risk of hunger in the United States, according to government numbers provided by an anti-hunger group.

That's more than 17 percent of children who could suffer cognitive and developmental damage if they are not properly fed.

The not-for-profit advocacy group Feeding America based its findings on 2005-2007 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Agriculture Department. The study, released Thursday, is the first to look at these numbers for children under the age of 5, according to the group. Feeding America runs food banks and feeding centers around the country.

The study also shows that in 11 states, more than 20 percent of children under 5 are at risk of going hungry. Louisiana has the highest rate, with just under a quarter of children at risk, followed by North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho and Arkansas.

According to the Agriculture Department, 11 percent of households lacked enough food for an active, healthy life before the economy worsened late last year. Read More

For most of us, it’s hard to imagine not having the resources to feed ourselves. But for many young children, lack of food is a reality. While the cause of hunger today isn’t due to a lack of food, the growing world population will change that if agriculture isn’t allowed to continue pursuing and utilizing technological advances in food production. It will be an incredible disservice to our future generations if we decide for them that we aren’t willing to invest in agriculture. In the meantime, supporting worthwhile causes like Feeding America will help alleviate hunger today.

Seeds of Peace

Purdue-trained Guard unit helps Afghan farmers
By The Associated Press
3:55 PM CDT, May 10, 2009

After decades of turmoil, some farmers in Afghanistan are getting a helping hand from an Indiana National Guard unit specially trained to help them boost their farms' productivity.

The 60-member unit trained at Purdue University arrived in March in Afghanistan's Khost province, along the border with Pakistan.

The unit's mission is to help farmers there regain the knowledge lost in the years since the former Soviet Union's 1979 invasion, the subsequent civil war and the 2001 U.S. invasion that ended years of harsh Taliban rule.

"A lot of generational knowledge that gets passed down from father to son on different ways and successful ways to do agriculture has really been severed," said Maj. Shawn Gardner, the 1-19th Agribusiness Development Team's operations officer. Read More

One of the first requirements for a peaceful society is to have a reliable food supply. We saw food riots last year when supplies tightened up. Not only do we have the best military in the world, but we also have the best farmers and ranchers. Using both of these resources, hopefully we can bring peace to this region.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tauscher Family Farm Tour

May 7, 2009
Tauscher farm gives kids a taste of rural life
Tours a tradition at farm near Pittsfield, WI

By Nathan Phelps

PITTSFIELD — A group of about two dozen fourth-grade students stood in a semicircle around Al Tauscher, a pair of bare metal bulk tanks for milk behind them.

After explaining how the milk is collected, analyzed and eventually taken to market, he took a few questions from the students — including how the controls for the equipment in the milk house work, what components make up milk and how farmers are paid for their product.

These types of tours — on Wednesday it was a group from McAuliffe Elementary School in Bellevue — have been the norm on the Tauscher farm for the last four decades or so.

That firsthand look is a piece of the education puzzle used by educators and the dairy industry alike to give students — and adults — an up-close look at the dairy business.

"We just want people to know," said Ray Tauscher, one of the brothers that make up family farm milking about 250 cows. "We want to give them the information so when they go out and something confronts them they can say, 'Hey, I was on a farm that's not really how it is.'

Read More

Inviting school kids out to your operation to teach them about agriculture is an incredible way to leave a lasting impression. There is no better way to promote ag than to let these kids see, touch and smell it. Congratulations to the Tauscher family for taking the time to tell their story and give these kids this fantastic opportunity.

NY's Cage-Free Legislation

New York State Ponders Better Conditions for Farm Animals
(Press Release from Farm Sanctuary)
May 7, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. - (Business Wire) The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary, headquartered in New York, announced enthusiastic support for legislation introduced in the New York State Assembly to provide more room for farm animals.

The bill, A08163, introduced Tuesday by Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, prohibits confining breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in cages that prevent them from turning around or extending their limbs.

“This modest measure would make a world of difference to animals subjected to the terrible pain, discomfort and abuse of extreme confinement for months on end. Common sense and an abundance of scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that animals suffer when forced to remain immobile nearly all of their lives,” said Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The HSUS.

Read More

New York will now be dealing with a Prop 2 type bill in their state legislature. The bill was introduced this week and was referred to the Agriculture Committee. Backed by the Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary, it would force farmers to raise all of their livestock cage free. The good news is that agriculture has had some success in state legislatures, more so than at the ballot box, with these issues. In order for that success to happen though, it requires producers to be actively involved in the process.

Assistance for Pork Industry

USDA may help ailing pork industry hit by H1N1
Thu May 7, 2009 2:23pm EDT

By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. pork industry, battered by import bans by nearly two dozen countries worried about the H1N1 flu outbreak, could soon receive some help from the government, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday.

"Clearly pork producers have suffered and will continue to do so until we get this turned around," Vilsack told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. "We are looking at ways we can be of assistance or help," he said.

Vilsack did not go into details on what type of aid the industry might receive or when it would occur.

In a letter to the USDA earlier this week, the National Pork Producers Council said low prices have compounded a slump in the pork industry. It suggested USDA buy $50 million in pork products for donation to food pantries and hunger relief to bolster hog prices. Read More

Because consumers really don’t understand where their food comes from or how it is produced, issues like having a flu virus named after a farm animal are doomed to continue haunting agriculture. That is unless all of us take everyday opportunities to educate people about agriculture. Sometimes its easy to think we don’t have time to promote ag, but look at how much money this flu virus cost the pork industry.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beef-Less Thursday

Dining halls begin to go beef-less on Thursdays
In an effort to provide a more sustainable and healthy menu, UCLA Dining Services goes without beef one day a week.

By Greg Swartz Originally published in The Daily Bruin

UCLA Dining Services recently announced a new decision to remove all beef from the dining halls every Thursday beginning today for the duration of this quarter.

The move toward “Beef-less Thursdays” is meant to advance UCLA’s sustainability and wellness goals, said Robert Gilbert, the sustainability coordinator for Housing and Hospitality Services.

Beef is an environmentally unfriendly food item because cows require a great deal of water to raise and they produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas, Gilbert said.

In fact, the methane that cows naturally produce is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, he added. This means that the raising of beef contributes about twice as much to global warming as the equivalent amount of other meats.

Beyond environmental concerns, beef is high in saturated fats, which have negative implications on health.

By removing beef from the menu, the dining halls hope to save about 1,000 pounds of beef every Thursday, Gilbert said. Since every pound of beef demands approximately 1,500 gallons of water to produce, this sustainable action could save 1,500,000 gallons of water, he added.

Read More

There are so many things that need correcting in this article. They claim they will save 1.5 million gallons of water every Thursday because they are taking beef off the menu. What they fail to think about is the food that will replace beef took water to grow as well, so common sense tells you that you won’t save that much water. And while cattle do produce methane as a result of their natural rumination process, the fact that they harvest grass that grows naturally and would otherwise be useless to humans isn’t taken into account. And finally, one-half of the fatty acid in beef is mono-unsaturated. It’s unfortunate that a university can’t do a little research and use a little common sense in order to make an informed decision.

US Beef Headed to EU

Beef deal a gleam of hope for US-EU trade tensions
Wed May 6, 2009 6:03pm EDT
By Roberta Rampton - Analysis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and European Union have agreed to temporarily put aside a 20-year fight over beef and do some business -- a new pragmatic stage in a testy trade relationship that experts say could bode well for other bilateral fights.

The four-year provisional deal on beef does not solve the fundamental divide over food safety regulations that has kept most U.S. beef out of the EU market since the late 1980s.

But it shows a willingness on both sides to try to start to find ways to work through thorny food issues, observers said.

"The significance of this deal is the fact that it is an attempt by both sides to see if we can overcome the lack of trust," said Gregg Doud, chief economist of the U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association, in an interview.

"There is such a low level of trust between the two sides on trade issues at the moment, in particular on agriculture." Read More

US beef will finally start heading into the European Union after an agreement was announced yesterday. Situations like this arise when sound science is thrown out the window in favor of emotional arguments. In this case, the situation has lasted for 20 years and has cost the industry an incredible amount of money. Using safe technology, like growth promotants, has allowed us to greatly increase our efficiency. It takes less water, less feed and less land to raise cattle than it would otherwise.

H1N1 Vaccine for Pigs

ISU Researcher Develops H1N1 Vaccine For Pigs
POSTED: 4:18 pm CDT May 6, 2009UPDATED: 5:24 pm CDT May 6, 2009

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University officials said Wednesday that one of their researchers has developed a vaccine to protect pigs from the H1N1 flu virus.

Dr. Hank Harris developed the vaccine after a Canadian swine herd was found to be infected with the H1N1 virus. He's a professor in animal science and veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at ISU.

"Now that H1N1 virus is in pigs, we're seeking funding to conduct a proof-of-concept study to demonstrate how rapidly we can produce an effective and safe vaccine for pigs," said Harris, in a statement released by ISU on Wednesday.

Harris owns a start-up company at the ISU Research Park called Harrisvaccines, Inc., which uses a technology to help produce vaccines faster than older techniques.

Harris said that his new vaccines are waiting for governmental approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Approval could come as early as 2011. Read More

Even though there has only been one isolated case of any pigs actually contracting H1N1, a vaccine may be available soon. This vaccine would hopefully protect the pigs from us humans. Even thoughyou can’t get H1N1 from eating pork, this could add another level of protection to our food supply by keeping our pigs healthy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Survey of Consumer Views

Overall Consumers Have a Favorable View of Agriculture
Survey results of agricultural image are released.
Farm Futures Staff

Results of the 2009 National Agricultural Image Survey have been released. The survey was conducted with funding from the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff. The results provide insights into seven main issues, including: the image of U.S. poultry and livestock producers; a farmer attribute analysis; and consumer attitudes on confinement, food prices, confinement legislation, biobased products and biodiesel.

Some of the key findings from the study include:

Individuals who are somewhat or very favorable toward U.S. poultry and livestock producers rose from 69% in 2008 to 78% in 2009.

Top positive farmer attributes among consumers are that farm families know about protecting air and water quality and that most farmers take good care of their animals.

Nearly 90% of consumers do not see farmers as a major reason for increases in food prices.

Most consumers agree that it's important to subsidize farmers to ensure a safe food supply.

After hearing that anti-confinement legislation could force Americans to get their milk, eggs and meat from foreign producers, 78% of consumers are against the legislation.

Consumers see energy security as the most important benefit of biobased products. Link

Survey after survey shows that farmers and ranchers are a very trusted bunch in the eyes of consumers. We need to build on this great foundation when telling the story of food production in this country. It is important that consumers realize the “American Gothic” image won’t feed this country. But that doesn’t mean that we are polluting the environment or raising bad food either.

Blaming Livestock Housing

Disease Risk Reduced By Modern Livestock Housing

The head of the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) has criticized animal activist groups for using the H1N1 virus in an attempt to advance the anti-animal agriculture agenda. AAA Executive Vice President Kay Johnson Smith said while activists are blaming modern livestock systems, the disease has not been found in a U.S. animal.

Smith explained modern housing protects food animals from predators, disease and weather stress. She said the structures are clean and scientifically designed to meet the animal’s specific needs, including temperature and light.

“These facilities are better for controlling and reducing diseases than allowing animals to have uncontrolled interactions with wild animals and other potential disease vectors,” said Smith.

She said attempting to connect modern animal production to the current flu outbreak is “a huge stretch and is completely irresponsible.” Link

It wouldn’t matter what type of housing or non-housing system we were using when H1N1 came on to the scene. The anti-animal agriculture groups want to abolish our industry. They have learned that fear is the best way to force their agenda on our society since it leads to irrational reasoning. So no matter what crisis they create or comes along on its own, they will find a way to connect it to modern animal production.

Water Myths

The Water to Grow Beef 5/5/09

In the water world there is growing interest in measuring and reporting how much water is needed to produce "things" -- goods and services that humans desire. See the table "The Water Content of Things" from the new volume of The World's Water 2008-2009 (Peter Gleick, editor, Island Press, Washington D.C.). Several different tools and approaches have been developed and described, including "virtual water" (most people, including me, credit this concept to Professor Tony Allen of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London); the "water footprint"; and "embedded water." All of these are based on the same idea: it takes water to do things. One of the most remarkable, and most remarked on, numbers to come out of these efforts is the water to produce beef, and so that is my "water number" for today's post:

Water Number: It takes around 16,000 liters (or kilograms) of water (and sometimes up to 70,000 kilograms) to make a single kilogram of beef.

For those of you who have no basis for comparison, this is a VERY BIG NUMBER. It takes only around 1000 kilograms of water to make a kilogram of grain, which partly explains why it is so big for beef -- it take a lot of grain, forage, and roughage to feed a cow, as well as water to drink and service the cow. When all of this is added up, it comes to around 16,000 kg water/kg meat produced. In comparison, other meats like chicken, lamb, and goat also require substantial amounts of water, but typically far less than beef. Read More

According to the Journal of Animal Science, livestock production only accounts for 11% of the total US water use. The other thing that the author didn’t do was to do a nutritional comparison between foods. It may take more water to raise some food, but you also need to look at the energy return as well. The fact of the matter is that it takes water to do everything. Everything with life requires it, but humans are still the biggest culprit of wasting water.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

CO Lawmaker Educates Colleagues About Ag

Colorado lawmakers mount up to see effects of laws
By STEVEN K. PAULSON – 1 day ago

GRANADA, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado lawmaker says he got tired of his colleagues passing bills that would hurt his rural constituents, like the one requiring ranchers to take care of wild cats or another requiring butchering animals to be kept in bigger pens.

So last weekend state Rep. Wes McKinley invited fellow lawmakers to see part of the real West: the southeastern plains. A half dozen took him up on the offer, riding the range and helping with a cattle drive.

"I told them if they're going to vote on western issues, they need to understand western issues," said McKinley, a rancher and former outfitter from Walsh, an agricultural town of 4,000 about 220 miles southeast of Denver.

McKinley, a Democrat, said many laws passed in Denver have unintended consequences on the range.

"They wanted to pass a law saying you couldn't keep a veal calf in a pen so small he couldn't lay down and turn around," he told farmers and ranchers at a campfire meeting after the trail ride.

"I asked them 'What's a veal calf?' and nobody knew. They said 'Don't worry about it because there was no veal industry in Colorado.' I said this could be my favorite bill, because we passed a law on a subject they knew nothing about for something we can't define," McKinley recalled.

Read More

This is becoming such an issue for agriculture. The people that are voting on these issues have no knowledge of the subject, nor can they grasp the consequences of their actions. But thanks to Rep. Wes McKinley from Colorado, a few of them know a little more about food and fiber production in this country. Those of us in ag can’t sit around waiting for someone to do things like this for us. We have to take the time and make the effort to educate politicians and consumers alike about this country’s most important industry.

Ag Blamed for Pollution

Farm Air Quality Talks Get Underway Amidst New Pollution Findings
Mon May 4, 2009 5:25am EDT

By GreenBiz Staff

The EPA next week will convene an Agricultural Air Quality Task Force this week in the town that, according to a new study by the American Lung Association, is among the 10 most-polluted cities in the nation.

The Task Force will look into ways that farm operations can minimize air pollution and toxic emissions -- including how to use funding from a $10.9 million assistance package to help achieve those goals.

"This is a pivotal time for agriculture and air quality," says Ed Burton, State Conservationist of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in California. "The focus on energy and climate is creating more challenges -- and more opportunities -- for agriculture than ever before. At this meeting we will address technical issues associated with agriculture and forestry."

The full details of the report are online at The findings of best and worst overall cities for air quality is as follows:

Ten Most Polluted U.S. Cities
1. Bakersfield, Calif.
2. Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pa.
3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.
4. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
5. Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Ala.
6. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif.
7. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
8. Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.
9. Detroit-Warren-Flint, Mich.
10. Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, Ohio

Ten Cleanest U.S. Cities
1. Cheyenne, Wyo.
2. Santa Fe-Espanola, N.M.
3. Honolulu, Hawaii
4. Great Falls, Mont.
4. Flagstaff, Ariz.
6. Farmington, N.M.
6. Anchorage, Alaska
8. Tucson, Ariz.
9. Bismarck, N.D.
9. Salinas, Calif.

Read More

It seems somewhat hypocritical to blame agriculture for the problems of the worst polluted cities in this country when the cleanest cities have just as much agriculture around them. So why is it that ag gets the blame? Its because it easier to get the masses behind regulations that affect someone else. If they were to restrict automobile use, that wouldn’t go over well at all, but floating the idea to restrict tractor use, that might gain legs. Because of the small number of people involved in agriculture, we have to speak out that much louder when we are being unfairly targeted.

The Clean Water Land Grab

Cattlemen’s Capitol Concerns: Land Grab, Death Tax, Food Safety

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) are actively working to prevent passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA). The bill, which is scheduled for markup in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 7th, would significantly expand federal jurisdiction over private farms and ranches.

"This bill is a dangerous infringement on private property rights and amounts to nothing less than a giant land grab on the part of the federal government," said Tamara Thies, NCBA chief environmental counsel.

Currently, waters under the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) are defined as "navigable waters of the United States." Other waters are subject to regulation by individual states, which are better equipped to manage their own unique geographical concerns. The Clean Water Restoration Act would remove the word "navigable" from the definition, expanding federal regulatory control to unprecedented levels- putting road ditches, drainage ditches, and other wet areas on private farms and ranches under the regulatory strong-arm of the federal government. Farmers and ranchers could be required to obtain permits for common, everyday operations, like driving a tractor near an irrigation ditch or grazing cattle near a mud hole. Read More

This bill is being described by some as the biggest land grab in the history of our country. Waters on private property would be controlled by the federal government if this passes. Besides the taking of the land that the water is on, they will also dictate how you utilize the surrounding land. If your land ever has a mud puddle on it, you will be affected. Contact your elected officials in Washington DC and let them know how this bill will affect your ability to produce the food and fiber our country depends on.

Monday, May 4, 2009

CA's Food & Ag Cmte

New Senate Food and Ag Committee not following the herd
By Malcolm Maclachlan 05/04/09 12:00 AM PST

One of the first things you'll see upon entering the office of Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, is a big stack of books by authors such as Michael Pollan, the Berkeley writer known for his opposition to large-scale agribusiness. Along the far wall is a poster for Proposition 2, the 2008 Farm Animal Protection Act.

"It looks a little different that most Ag committee chair's libraries," Florez said. He chuckled, then added, "I think the Ag industry comes in and looks at this and goes, ‘Oh.'"

They're also saying similar things about the bills coming out of his committee, Florez said. In January, he and Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, held a press conference announcing that Florez was taking over the committee and adding the word "Food" to its name.

This signaled a new direction for a committee that, according to many, has traditionally represented the interests of the agriculture industry. The committee held a hearing last week and passed out three Florez bills opposed by agribusiness groups. His SB 135 would ban the practice of cutting off cow's tails, while his SB 416 would bar antibiotics from meat served in school lunches. SB 173 imposes stricter responsibilities around food-borne pathogens. Florez is also carrying bills that would restrict agricultural crop burning and impose new requirements for food safety.

Jennifer Fearing, a lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and one of the chief strategists behind last year's Prop. 2, said this was a big part of the reason for the revamping of the committee. She and her boss, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, sat down with Florez in December to talk strategy.

"Twenty years of attempting to pass modest reforms on animal welfare have gotten us nowhere," Fearing said. "Does it really have to be this way? We posed that question to Senator Florez as someone who had really supported Prop. 2." Read More

This new Food and Ag Committee in the California Senate appears to have been the brainchild of the Humane Society of the US. Their meeting with Dean Florez is apparently where this new committee was born. Between that and Florez’s agreement with Michael Pollan on food production ideas, California agriculture is in trouble. So far, many of the bills that are coming out of this committee have been detrimental to not only our ability to produce food, but also have been detrimental to animal welfare. These are feel good ideas that will not fill anyone’s stomach.