Friday, July 31, 2009

The Omnivore's Delusion

The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals
By Blake Hurst Thursday, July 30, 2009

I’m dozing, as I often do on airplanes, but the guy behind me has been broadcasting nonstop for nearly three hours. I finally admit defeat and start some serious eavesdropping. He’s talking about food, damning farming, particularly livestock farming, compensating for his lack of knowledge with volume.

I’m so tired of people who wouldn’t visit a doctor who used a stethoscope instead of an MRI demanding that farmers like me use 1930s technology to raise food. Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is.

But now we have to listen to self-appointed experts on airplanes frightening their seatmates about the profession I have practiced for more than 30 years. I’d had enough. I turned around and politely told the lecturer that he ought not believe everything he reads. He quieted and asked me what kind of farming I do. I told him, and when he asked if I used organic farming, I said no, and left it at that. I didn’t answer with the first thought that came to mind, which is simply this: I deal in the real world, not superstitions, and unless the consumer absolutely forces my hand, I am about as likely to adopt organic methods as the Wall Street Journal is to publish their next edition by setting the type by hand.

Young turkeys aren't smart enough to come in out of the rain, and will stand outside in a downpour, with beaks open and eyes skyward, until they drown.

He was a businessman, and I’m sure spends his days with spreadsheets, projections, and marketing studies. He hasn’t used a slide rule in his career and wouldn’t make projections with tea leaves or soothsayers. He does not blame witchcraft for a bad quarter, or expect the factory that makes his product to use steam power instead of electricity, or horses and wagons to deliver his products instead of trucks and trains. But he expects me to farm like my grandfather, and not incidentally, I suppose, to live like him as well. He thinks farmers are too stupid to farm sustainably, too cruel to treat their animals well, and too careless to worry about their communities, their health, and their families. I would not presume to criticize his car, or the size of his house, or the way he runs his business. But he is an expert about me, on the strength of one book, and is sharing that expertise with captive audiences every time he gets the chance. Enough, enough, enough. Read More

So many people that I talk to that have read Pollan’s books continue to tell me that his ideas sound very reasonable. But as the old saying goes, if it sounds to good to be true then it probably is. As I have said many times before, Pollan’s plan to feed the world would fall woefully short. It’s easy to be a farmer when you are writing a book, but it’s a much different story when you have 9 billion people looking to you to supply them with life-sustaining food. The worst part is that Pollan knows better but his quest to sell books has overwritten the things I taught him several years ago. He continues to sensationalize his story for his own personal gain.

Pacelle Says Go Veg To Save Planet

Ignoring the Cow in the Room
By Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, 7/30/09

Washington Post writer Ezra Klein has a large following of readers interested in his take on politics. The Economist even named him one of the “minds of the moment.” But it’s his views on animal agriculture’s substantial contribution to the climate change problem that caught my attention this week. I’ve blogged about the issue, and The HSUS even has an advertising campaign on the subject, but it’s still a matter far removed from the thoughts of most policy makers and even many environmental organizations.

In a Washington Post print edition column published yesterday, Klein reminds readers, or in many respects provides primary information to readers, about the connection between our societal demand for meat, egg, and dairy products and climate change. He notes that if we’re really concerned about climate change, “there's no reason to ignore the impact of what we put on our plates.” And, like The HSUS, he doesn’t demand all or nothing. Klein makes it clear: “Going vegetarian might not be as effective as going vegan, but it's better than eating meat, and eating meat less is better than eating meat more.”

If you want to take action on a personal level, there’s no better way to get engaged than to eat lower on the food chain, at least on a periodic basis. And as a matter of policy, we can no longer give a free pass to animal agribusiness if we are going to take a comprehensive look at the climate change problem.

For free recipes to get you started on trying meatless meals once in awhile or with whatever frequency you choose, check out Link

Yesterday I highlighted the misinformation that was included in an article which was advocating for eating less meat in order to halt global warming. Well, Wayne Pacelle didn’t miss this chance to forward on an article that was advocating vegetarianism. So even though he continues to say they aren’t advocating for the end of animal agriculture, their actions, and his blog, continue to say otherwise. Regardless of what he says where, there is no doubt that the Humane Society of the United States and Wayne Pacelle are trying to put family livestock operations out of business.

Consumer Survey

Consumers Positive Toward Farmers
By Pork news staff Thursday, July 30, 2009

There’s more insight on what consumers think about America’s farmers thanks to a survey of consumer views on U.S. agriculture conducted with funding from the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff. Called the 2009 National Agricultural Image Survey, the study took place in February and surveyed a random sample of 1,000 registered voters with characteristics representative of the U.S. population. 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 livestock production, food prices, ag-related legislation, biobased products and biodiesel.

Some of the study’s key findings include:

Individuals who are somewhat or very favorable toward U.S. poultry and livestock producers rose from 69 percent in 2008 to 78 percent 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 percent of consumers do not see farmers as a major reason for increases in retail food prices.

Most consumers agree that it is important to subsidize farmers to ensure that there is a safe food supply.

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

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

“It was great to see from the 2009 agricultural survey that overall, consumers have a very positive attitude toward agriculture,” says Vanessa Kummer, a USB director and soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D. “The survey is an important tool that helps USB develop effective messages to promote soy-based, environmentally safe products and the importance of maintaining animal agriculture.” Link

Survey after survey continues to show that consumers appreciate farmers and ranchers when they are supplied with accurate information to make an informed decision. This should reinforce to everyone why it’s so important for farmers and ranchers to talk to consumers and tell your story. You can have a great impact, one that will really benefit your industry.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blaming Livestock for Global Warming

The Meat of the Problem
By Ezra Klein
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The debate over climate change has reached a rarefied level of policy abstraction in recent months. Carbon tax or cap-and-trade? Upstream or downstream? Should we auction permits? Head-scratching is, at this point, permitted. But at base, these policies aim to do a simple thing, in a simple way: persuade us to undertake fewer activities that are bad for the atmosphere by making those activities more expensive. Driving an SUV would become pricier. So would heating a giant house with coal and buying electricity from an inefficient power plant. But there's one activity that's not on the list and should be: eating a hamburger.

If it's any consolation, I didn't like writing that sentence any more than you liked reading it. But the evidence is strong. It's not simply that meat is a contributor to global warming; it's that it is a huge contributor. Larger, by a significant margin, than the global transportation sector.

According to a 2006 United Nations report, livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Some of meat's contribution to climate change is intuitive. It's more energy efficient to grow grain and feed it to people than it is to grow grain and turn it into feed that we give to calves until they become adults that we then slaughter to feed to people. Some of the contribution is gross. "Manure lagoons," for instance, is the oddly evocative name for the acres of animal excrement that sit in the sun steaming nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. And some of it would make Bart Simpson chuckle. Cow gas -- interestingly, it's mainly burps, not farts -- is a real player. Read More

It continues to be frustrating as these so-called journalists do not do any research before they write a story. You see, if he had done some research, he would’ve found that the United States Environmental Protection Agency says that animal agriculture in this country is only responsible for 2.6% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is incredibly less than the transportation sector. It’s these types of stories that the consumer continues to read and begins to believe. If you are waiting for someone to correct this misinformation, why not spend that time posting a comment or writing a letter to the editor on this issue.

The California Drought

Calif. farmers say feds make drought worse
By William M. Welch, USA TODAY

FIREBAUGH, Calif. — The road to Todd Allen's farm wends past irrigation canals filled with the water that California's hot Central Valley depends on to produce vegetables and fruit for the nation. Yet not a drop will make it to his barren fields.

Three years into a drought that evokes fears of a modern-day dust bowl, Allen and others here say the culprit now isn't Mother Nature so much as the federal government. Court and regulatory rulings protecting endangered fish have choked the annual flow of water from California's Sierra mountains down to its people and irrigated fields, compounding a natural dry spell.

"This is a regulatory drought, is what it is," Allen says. "It just doesn't seem fair."

For those like Allen at the end of the water-rights line, the flow has slowed to a trickle: His water district is receiving just 10% of the normal allocation of water from federal Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs. He says he's been forced to lay off all his workers and watch the crops die on his 300 acres while bills for an irrigation system he put in are due.

"My payments don't stop when they cut my water off," Allen says. Read More

No natural disasters are ever fun, but I think going through a drought is one of the worst. It’s like death by a thousand cuts. And to make it more frustrating, the California drought is being caused more by government policies than it is by Mother Nature. Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of the fact that humans are important too. Rather than trying to strike a balance to accommodate everyone and everything, regulations like the Endangered Species Act require humans take a back seat and accommodate these animals at any cost. Unless you enjoy eating sunshine and scenery, we are going to have to bring some common sense back to policies that affect our food supply.

Organic Food Not More Nutritious

Organic food no more nutritious than conventionally grown, review finds
9:11 AM, July 29, 2009
-- Melissa Healy

A comprehensive review of research comparing the nutritional content of food that was organically raised with food produced with the use of synthetic pesticides has found no significant differences between the two. Conducted by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the study is the first to bring a heated debate over the value of organic food to a rigorous conclusion. It is published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Our review indicates there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organic over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority," said Alan Dangour of the London School's Public Health Intervention Research Unit.

Surveying 50,000 studies conducted over 50 years, the authors focused on 55 that met their standards of scientific rigor. The studies that led to the group's controversial conclusions covered a wide range of crops and livestock that are raised and marketed under organic standards. For 10 out of 13 food crops studied, the researchers found no significant differences. Where they did find differences, those were attributed to differences in fertilizer use (say, the use of nitrogen vs. phosphorus) and the ripeness level at which the crops were harvested. The authors judged the differences observed "unlikely" to "provide any health benefit" to consumers. Read More

There are many claims that organic food likes to make. One of them is that their food is more nutritious. It turns out that isn’t true. I get accused of being anti-organic but the truth is that I don’t care what type of food you eat, I just care that consumers aren’t being fooled into spending a bunch of extra money on something that isn’t any better. And that is the case with organic in my opinion. I don’t think it’s better, it’s just different. It has drawbacks that must be seriously considered by consumers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I've had a quick but fun trip to Long Beach, California. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to a group of employees from Farm Credit Associations from across the country. There is a great new online educational program in the works that I have had a chance to test. So I was there yesterday to share my experiences going through it as a young producer on the Young Farmer and Rancher Committee.

I'm getting ready to jump in the car and drive back to Los Angeles. I probably won't have much time to post anything else on the blog today, but tomorrow I will be back up and running.

Have a great day and remember to take advantage of the everyday opportunities to promote agriculture.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

PETA Suggests Insurance Breaks for Vegans

Monday, July 27, 2009, 1:37pm PDT
PETA to UnitedHealth: Promote vegetarianism
Los Angeles Business from bizjournals - by Chris Newmarker of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal

Animal rights activists are urging one of the nation’s largest health insurers to wage war against hamburgers.

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, said Monday that it had sent a letter to UnitedHealth Group Inc. CEO Stephen Hemsley that calls for the insurer to promote vegetarianism.

The group is suggesting that UnitedHealth lower rates for vegetarians, and raise them for nonvegetarians. A PETA spokeswoman said the insurer would optimally reward people who don’t even eat fish, eggs or dairy products.

PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a news release that the “range of serious diseases linked to eating meat and dairy products adds up to a huge financial toll.”

“By encouraging policyholders to go vegetarian, UnitedHealth Group would save on claims, employers would see less absenteeism because of illnesses related to the consumption of meat and dairy products, and policyholders would avoid high premiums,” Reiman said. Read More

Add this to the list of outrageous letters that PETA has sent out. Eating a vegetarian diet is not healthier for you. How can it be healthy to leave out entire food groups from your diet? If PETA wants to encourage something, maybe it should be eating a balanced diet along with proper exercise. They continue to endanger human health through the promotion of their agenda.

GMO Crops Discussed in Boulder County, CO

Activists cite film in Boulder County beet battle
Boulder debates whether it should OK farming the genetically altered crop.
By Monte Whaley The Denver Post
Posted: 07/28/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT

Activists hope a film that attacks agricultural and biotechnical giant Monsanto will persuade public officials to block the cultivation of genetically modified sugar beets on Boulder County open space.

"The World According to Monsanto" will premier tonight at the Nomad Theater, 1410 Quince Ave. in Boulder.

Transition Colorado, which promotes self-reliance in energy and food, and Chelsea Green Publishing are sponsoring the showing.

The groups say the documentary provides important context as the county debates whether to allow six local farmers to grow Monsanto's Roundup-Ready sugar beets on 960 acres of county-owned land.

But county officials say using the Monsanto product reduces toxicity from herbicide applications, lowers energy and fuel consumption and increases soil and water conservation. The county also needs to keep the six farmers — whose families have worked the county soil for generations — economically viable. They are competing in a market where 95 percent of the country's sugar beet crops are genetically modified. Link

The people that continue to degrade modern agriculture techniques, such as the use of GMO’s, live by the Precautionary Principle. That states that you shouldn’t do something if there is any chance that a negative outcome could occur. I don’t know how they manage to leave their house in the morning since they could get hit by a car. GMO’s have been proven safe using the best available science. If consumers don’t want to eat them, they have that choice. But many people on this planet are concerned about if they will have food to eat today, not the production practices used to grow it.

US Cattle Numbers At Lowest Levels

Cattle inventory smallest since surveys began in 1973

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 7/27/2009

USDA on Friday released its monthly Cattle on Feed report as well as it Cattle Inventory report, which were generally in line with market expectations and provided further evidence of a shrinking cattle herd.

The total cattle inventory on July 1, at 101.8 million head, was 1.5 percent lower than a year ago and indicated the smallest herd since USDA started tracking the inventory in 1973.

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 9.8 million head on July 1, 2009. The inventory was 5 percent below July 1, 2008.

Placements in feedlots during June totaled 1.39 million, 8 percent below 2008, USDA reported, the second lowest placements for the month of June since the series began in 1996. Market analysts were looking for about a 7 percent drop, according to Dow Jones.

Cattle on feed July 1, 2009, from all feedlots in the United States, totaled 11.6 million, down 5 percent from the 12.2 million on July 1, 2008.

Marketings of fed cattle during June totaled 1.99 million, 1 percent above 2008. This is the second-lowest fed cattle marketings for the month of June since the series began in 1996.

"This suggests higher than expected cattle prices over the near and medium term, which all else equal could be mildly negative for packers such as Tyson," J.P.Morgan analyst Ken Goldman wrote in a note to investors.

The CME's Daily Livestock Report summed up the report like this: "Overall, the take away from this report is that the U.S. cattle industry continues to contract and cattle numbers will remain smaller for the next two years, possibly even longer." Link

It’s incredible to think that we have the smallest herd size on record right now, but total beef production continues to meet demand. The efficiency of today’s beef production chain is astounding. We are producing more with less each and every day. The level at which we are doing this would have seemed impossible just a few generations ago. It’s amazing to think about, and it is thanks to the American cattleman.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Advice for HSUS

OSU Specialist Offer Animal Welfare Advice
Education, not regulation, and changing attitudes, not facilities, are the keys to improving animal well-being on the farm.
By: Compiled by staff
Published: Jul 24, 2009

James Kinder, chair of Ohio State University's Department of Animal Sciences, says that the approach taken by the Humane Society of the United States to push for animal welfare legislation in Ohio is not an effective means of change.

"They are looking at it from the wrong perspective," Kinder says. "Improvements in animal welfare have to be done through education instead of regulation. It's changing the attitudes and behaviors of the producers and the animal handlers that, at the end of the day, will have the greatest impact on animal wellbeing in agricultural production."

"The bottom line is that if change would occur, it would make the cost of production prohibitive in Ohio," Kinder says.

He added that there is more at stake than Ohio's agriculture that is not being factored in.

Read More

HSUS isn’t worried about education. They are worried about using a campaign as a fund raising vehicle for themselves and taking away choice from consumers. They rely on causing controversy in order to spur donations. Animal welfare isn’t even on their list. If it was, they wouldn’t be blindly supporting cage-free systems. Their actions are the true indicators of their agenda. Their words mean nothing.

Misconceptions About H1N1

Baxter Black: You won't catch the flu from pulled pork

Baxter Black

When the Asian flu hit the country in 2003, were people warned to stay away from Chinese restaurants and Japanese cars? When the West Nile virus was diagnosed in humans, did the Health Department tell us to avoid going to Egypt? How 'bout smallpox? Were dwarf warnings posted? Does riding Tennessee walkers give you a charley horse? Do you catch the swine flu by eating barbecued spare ribs?

The answer to all those questions is "no."

So why has the demand for pork in supermarkets and restaurants plummeted? Because it is easy for a logical but simple mind to say, "I've got the blues. I better quit eating blueberries!"
Just connect the dots, they think. It's easy to explain to a child that the tooth fairy gives them teeth, the stork gives them a little sister and smoking regular instead of king size will stunt their growth.

Truly, somewhere, sometime in a land far, far away, a human may have contracted the virus from a pig. But how many people that have been subsequently diagnosed with swine flu have been within 10 miles of a pig in the last 10 days or 10 years? Read More

As crazy as it sounds, there are still people out there that have reservations about eating pork because of the H1N1 flu virus which was incorrectly named the swine flu. While the idea that the name of a virus can impact your family’s livelihood, that is exactly the case for many swine producers today. Our consumers today do not have enough experience with food production to make sound decisions about issues like this. And, no one is going to teach them if we don’t. It’s important that everyone take the everyday opportunities we have to teach about agriculture.

Former Vegan Celebrity Cooks Chicken

Gwyneth Paltrow's got blood on her hands!
Former vegan debones chicken in cooking video
Friday, July 24th 2009, 1:36 PM

Gwyneth Paltrow is a real meat and potatoes kind of girl. Or so she'd like you to believe.

The one-time vegan vigilante -- who in 2008 said she hadn't eaten meat in 15 years -- is now teaching her fans how to cook chicken.

The latest post on, the actress' often out-of-touch blog, is a video of Paltrow whipping up roast chicken and potatoes, with a farmers' market salad on the side.

In the video, she shows off her mastery of complicated cooking skills like tossing a potato peeler a few inches in the air and catching it. Nice job, Gwyneth! She later does the same with a dish towel.

Once on a strict macrobiotic regimen – eating mainly grains, veggies, and beans - Paltrow dumped the extreme diet after getting pregnant with her first child in 2003. Read More

The only reason that I included this article was to show you how celebrities are more worried about which cause is trendy rather than the cause itself. Paltrow was an outspoken vegan for 15 years and is now cooking chicken. The article even suggests that she stopped being a vegan earlier when she became pregnant. Now why would she stop when she got pregnant if she wasn’t worried about the effects of this diet on herself and her baby. It just goes to show that a balanced diet which includes meat and dairy is still the best way to go.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chicago Field Museum's Anti-Beef Display

As many of you know, Stacy and I were in Chicago this past week attending a Young Farmers and Ranchers committee meeting. We went in a day early so that we could see some of the sights in town. Only one other time had we been to the Windy City, but on that first trip we visited the Chicago Field Museum. I really enjoy visiting museums and so we decided that was going to be the first stop of the day. The other reason that we liked this place is because it houses one of South Dakota’s most famous and oldest residents. Sue the T. Rex is one of the most complete dinosaurs of her type that has ever been discovered. She was found about 80 miles northeast of where we live so we always figure that she wouldn’t mind having some visitors from back home.

The museum regularly features some traveling exhibits and one of them right now is an exhibit about water. So we bought our tickets and that was our first stop. Part way through the exhibit it talks about water usage for agriculture. Some of it was worded a little strange but nothing totally out of line. But then I came across a display that was hard not to notice. The title on the display board was “The Thirstiest Crop of All…Beef”.

I stood there stunned at what I was reading. There was plenty of misinformation being touted as the truth at a very respected museum. Among the many claims were things like it takes 1800 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef, it talks about grain feeding our cows, and that industrial beef waste easily spills and pollutes ground and surface water. Of course the answer to all of these problems is to grass feed cattle.

As I was trying to soak this all in, a family walks by with two teenage girls. One of the girls mentioned to her parents that this is why she doesn’t eat beef. Hearing something like that, I jumped at the chance to tell them the truth about beef production. Unfortunately, they walked away from me without giving me a chance to hear my story, but the next several people that stopped by know a lot more about beef production now. After talking to several visitors about why this exhibit was wrong, I decided that I needed to talk to a museum official about this issue. Come to find out, that’s harder than it should be.

Everyone that works on the floor of the museum is a volunteer. And to boot, none of them could offer me anything other than filling out a comment card. There was a phone number on their brochure that I finally called. When answered they run you through a maze of options, but none of them was one that I needed. I wanted to speak to a real person. Well, one of the options was to push 3 if you want to make a donation. I know that money talks, so I figured when that button gets pushed it gets somebody’s attention. And it did. They transferred me to guest relations where all I could do was leave a message.

I didn’t hear back from them until yesterday. I actually visited with a very nice lady who explained to me that the exhibit originates from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. After listening to all of my concerns she seemed eager to take my case to the next level. She sent an email to her contact at the musem in New York and they are looking into it. However, she feels that it would help if they actually heard from me directly. This exhibit is scheduled to travel around North America for at least the next year. So there is still plenty of time to get this corrected. However, they are going to need to hear from more people than just me.

Follow this link to see exactly what the exhibit says about beef production.

I have no doubt that we can get this changed, but it will take a group effort as usual. I know that everyone is busy but we must always ask ourselves if we can afford not to act.

Have a great weekend.



If you wish to contact the American Museum of Natural History about this, please send an email to Charles McClean He is handling this now. I was supposed to hear something from them after Labor Day and after emails and call since then, they still aren't responding to my requests to visit about this subject. Please let them know that this discussion needs to take place. Thanks.


NYT Editorial about Antibiotics

Farms and Antibiotics
NY Times Ediorial
Published: July 23, 2009

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are fed to farm animals. These animals do not receive these drugs the way humans do — as discrete short-term doses. Agricultural antibiotics are a regular feed supplement intended to increase growth and lessen the chance of infection in crowded, industrial farms.

These practices are putting both humans and animals increasingly at risk. In an environment where antibiotics are omnipresent, as they are in industrial agriculture, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases quickly develop, reducing the effectiveness of common drugs like penicillin and tetracycline.

Despite that danger, the Food and Drug Administration had been reluctant to restrict routine agricultural use of antibiotics. The F.D.A.’s principal deputy commissioner, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, signaled a welcome change in direction recently, testifying on behalf of a new bill, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. It would allow veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics to treat individual animals or prevent disease, but it would sharply restrict the routine feeding of antibiotics to farm animals — the practice most closely associated with the development of drug-resistant pathogens.

The legislation is drawing strong opposition from the farm lobby since the restrictions would make it much harder for industrial farms to crowd thousands of animals together in confined, inhumane and unhealthy quarters. But the current practice is dangerously self-defeating: treating more and more animals with less and less effective drugs and in turn creating resistant strains of disease that persist in the soil and water. Congress should stop this now before an entire class of drugs becomes useless. Link

I sound like a broken record talking about antibiotic use on this blog, but we have a lot of educating to do on this issue. Trying to prevent livestock from getting sick is a basic and necessar animal husbandry skill. Trying to nurse livestock back to health after the fact will require the usage of not only more antibiotics, but more poserful ones as well. Please take the time to write a letter to the editor to the New York Times and tell them how this will affect the health of your livestock.

Senate Ag Cmte Talks Global Warming

Senate Ag Committee Hearing on Global Warming
Hoosier Ag Today

With the words - our American way of buying and consuming energy is not only unsustainable but dangerous to our future - Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin opened the ag committee hearing on legislation addressing the role of agriculture and forestry in global warming. Harkin focused on the importation of about 70 percent of the oil we use, much of that from nations that are unfriendly or politically unstable, and our extraction and use of coal which permanently alters landscapes and pollutes too many of our lakes and streams.

Panel member Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation asked the Senate Agriculture Committee to take an active and aggressive role in the climate change debate, but cautioned committee members that rushing to pass such sweeping legislation would be a fundamental mistake. Stallman encouraged members to analyze the issue closely, carefully and thoroughly. He also recommended that the committee improve climate change legislation so that it is as beneficial as possible for the agriculture industry.

Chambliss Wants More Hearings

Senator Saxby Chambliss, Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has asked committee chairman Tom Harkin to consider holding more hearings to better understand the climate change issue and its effects on agriculture, forestry and rural America. He also recommended careful review of the role of the Commodity futures Trading Commission under a cap and trade program.

During his opening statement, Senator Chambliss outlined several concerns he has with the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act and - the tremendous costs associated with its provisions. Chambliss said the cap and trade program will undoubtedly raise production costs for farmers and ranchers. USDA and Texas A&M University are conducting economic analyses of the Waxman-Markey and Boxer bills, with special attention to the effects at the farm gate level and to consumers. Chambliss says - what we have seen of preliminary study results is that no farm will escape the effect of this bill. Read More

The intent of this bill is pretty simple. The federal government wants to tell you how and when you will use energy and at what price. All in the name of what? Not a single natural disaster we have experienced in the past several years was some odd, never before seen event. Tree ring records paint a picture that we have actually been experiencing a very mild weather pattern lately. In our area it appears that we have finally emerged from seven years of extreme drought, but the tree rings show us that it wasn’t uncommon to have 20-30 year periods of drought. The fact is that climate change always has been and always will be occurring on this planet. There are certainly things we can do better, but to suggest that we can tax our way into changing the climate is insane.

Nevada Ranchers Permits in Jeopardy

County supports cattlemen's fight
By Christy Lattin
LVN Community News Editor

Churchill County Commissioners agreed to support the Nevada Cattlemen's Association's in its legal battle against an environmental group that is challenging Nevada grazing permits.

Ron Torell, an NCA board member, read a statement from NCA President Dan Gralian at the commission's recent meeting. In it, Gralian explained the Western Watersheds Project filed a lawsuit against the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management regarding grazing allotments in Idaho and Nevada.

“The protection of sage-grouse and sage-grouse habitat is Western Watershed's stated purpose behind this suit, but it is common knowledge that their primary agenda is to drive us ranchers off of our public lands,” Gralian's letter states.

He further claimed Western Watersheds Project “challenges the validity of almost all 10-year grazing permit renewals” in the Elko BLM district and estimated the suit affects more than 300 permits in Nevada.

The case is being heard by Idaho District court Judge Lynn Winmill, “a judge that has a history of being friendly to Western Watersheds and in most cases has ruled in their favor,” Gralian stated. Read More

The sage grouse issue is one that is starting to fester in the west. With so much public land in this half of the country, activist groups are going to do what they can to eliminate ranchers from that land in favor of letting it sit empty. The problem that ranchers face is that many people not familiar with grazing and land management wrongly believe that it damages the land. The truth of the matter is that when done properly, grazing will improve the quality and quantity of the forages on the range. It’s a win-win situation because when we utilize this resource, it also makes the resource better.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

PCRM Pushing for Hot Dog Warning Label

Hot dogs should carry a warning label, lawsuit says
Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

The suit, by a group that promotes a meat-free diet, seeks to require cancer-risk labels on processed meats. Nutrition experts say foods that go along with the hot dog may be more dangerous.
By Jerry Hirsch July 23, 2009

"Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."

That's the label that a vegan advocacy group wants a New Jersey court to order Oscar Mayer, Hebrew National and other food companies to slap on hot dog packages.

The nonprofit Cancer Project filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of three New Jersey plaintiffs asking the Essex County Superior Court to compel the companies to place cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey.

"Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer," said Neal Barnard, president of the Cancer Project and an adjunct professor at the George Washington University medical school in Washington, D.C.

"Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information."

The defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, include Nathan's Famous Inc., Oscar Mayer owner Kraft Foods Inc., Sara Lee Corp., Marathon Enterprises Inc. and ConAgra Foods Inc., which owns Hebrew National.

Efforts to put warning labels on hot dog packages are "crazy," said Josh Urdang, 27, as he stood in line to buy two franks at Pink's hot dog stand in Hollywood on Tuesday.

"It wouldn't change how many hot dogs I eat. Not at all," said Urdang, an information technology consultant from Hollywood.

His friend Joe Di Lauro, 31, called such a move "overpolicing. . . . At what point do you stop breaking things down? Unless we're going to put a warning label on every single food and say what's bad in it."

Other consumers were skeptical of the Cancer Project's agenda.

"Vegans complaining about hot dogs is like the Amish complaining about gas prices," said Susan Thatcher of Irvine. Read More

When the public just won’t believe you that hot dogs are poisonous and give you cancer then sue them into accepting your agenda. At least that is the methodology being used by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Does it sound responsible to compare hot dogs to cigarettes? And that’s the problem with their radical agenda aimed at deciding what you can and can’t eat. It obviously doesn’t resonate well with reasonable people who don’t wish to have their dietary choices being decided for the.

Article about Advocates for Agriculture

Cattle ranching couple speaks out for production agriculture
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
By Jeannine Otto

STURGIS, S.D. — Even in the constrained say-it-in-140-character environment of Twitter, Troy Hadrick can describe why he and wife Stacy travel the country speaking out on behalf of U.S. agriculture, farmers and ranchers.

“I think we just need to do a better job of showing people who we are and what we do,” he said.

Hadrick and his wife are the faces and voices behind Advocates for Ag.

The South Dakota couple, the product of farming and ranching families, are some of the newest voices speaking out on behalf of their chosen profession.

They are doing that with face-to-face presentations and by using the tools of their generation, a Web log and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to spread their message to thousands about farming and agriculture.

Under the Twitter name of TroyHadrick and on Facebook as Advocates for Agriculture, Troy addresses a variety of topics related to agriculture and farming and current topics.

He’s been doing the blog for 15 months and only recently started a Facebook fan page and using Twitter to get his message out.The success is in the numbers — He has more than 2,700 fans on the Facebook page and an ever-growing number of followers on Twitter, and on his blog,, the Hadricks’ message is getting out. Read More

I wanted to feature this article about Advocates for Agriculture because it’s all of you that made this possible. If we didn’t have such loyal readers on the blog and engaging fans on Facebook we couldn’t do what we are doing. It’s the passion for agriculture that all of you exhibit on a daily basis that keeps us striving to do a better job for you. There is no possible way that Stacy and I can tell the story of agriculture all by ourselves. It has to be a team effort that requires the hard work and dedication of all of us. Thanks for all that you do. We are making a difference.

Okla Poultry Case Development

Judge: Okla. can't seek damages in poultry suit

TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma can't pursue monetary damages in its environmental lawsuit against a dozen Arkansas poultry companies because it didn't name the Cherokee Nation as a plaintiff, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in a major blow to the state.

Oklahoma had hoped to collect more than $611 million from companies it claims polluted the Illinois River watershed with bird waste.

But the 1-million-acre river valley lies in an area set aside by the federal government for the Cherokee Nation, and Oklahoma doesn't have the authority to seek damages on the nation's behalf, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory K. Frizzell ruled.

He said the state could continue to pursue the lawsuit to stop poultry companies from disposing of what Oklahoma claims are excessive amounts of chicken waste on farmland in the watershed.
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who filed the lawsuit in 2005, said it was never about the money but protecting the watershed from pollution.

"If we prevail ... at trial, we accomplish our goal of stopping these companies' reckless waste dumping practices," he said. Read More

Drew Edmondson keeps running into roadblocks in his quest to eliminate chicken production in Arkansas. Some speculated that his original intent was to make a name for himself so he could run for Governor anyhow. While he has made a name for himself, it’s not one that has necessarily been good. He seemed willing to put over 55,000 farmers out of business for his own personal gain. Not exactly the type of person you would want running a state. The fact of the matter is that these chicken houses follow the strict guidelines and regulations that go along with operating a chicken house. These measures are meant to protect the environment and the farmers themselves. Edmondson was simply looking for some low hanging fruit to munch down.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

HSUS v. Family Farmers

Humane Society, farmers prepare for war
Battle lines are forming over proposal to change Ohio rules on methods of confining livestock
By Bob Downing Beacon Journal staff writer

Published on Sunday, Jul 19, 2009

Ohio farmers are fighting back against a proposal by the Humane Society of the United States to change how chickens, pigs and calves are confined.

The two sides already are scrapping over what is expected to become a heated, emotional and costly statewide ballot issue in November and perhaps again in 2010.

What's happening is ''tremendously scary to Ohio farmers . . . and what's happening will impact everyone in Ohio,'' Stark County farmer Frank Burkett III said.

The outcome could cost farm jobs in Ohio and affect prices, opponents contend.

In 2008, the Humane Society played a key role in a California vote that changed the way farmers there must care for and shelter farm animals. Ohio became its next target, largely because of the state's 30 million egg-laying hens.

Battle lines formed this February with the Humane Society pitted against the powerful Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Ohio Cattlemen's Association, Ohio Pork Producers Council and Ohio Poultry Association.

The message from the Humane Society was clear: Change your animal-husbandry practices or have them changed foryou at the ballot box. Read More

This article really does a nice job of summing up what has happened and what might unfold in the months to come in Ohio. Agriculture has definitely seen some success so far, but we can’t take our eye off the ball yet. As the livestock care board continues it’s journey onto the ballot this fall, it will need the support from people across the country. Pacelle and Shapiro’s goal is to convince Ohioans that farmers and ranchers don’t know how to take care of their livestock. The truth is that farmers and ranchers have knowledge of animal welfare that runs generations deep.

The Vegan Streaker

Vegan streaker 'planned to attack queen'
Tuesday 21 July 2009

An animal rights activist known as the vegan streaker has been arrested on suspicion of planning to attack queen Beatrix, his lawyer Gerard Spong told the Volkskrant on Tuesday.

The public prosecution department said earlier that Peter Janssen is suspected of preparing an attack and possessing a gun. Two computers were taken from homes in Wissekerke and Vught, where the 24-year-old's mother lives.

Later the department said Janssen was suspected of planning to attack the queen because she regularly wears fur in public. The arrest followed 'extensive' testimony, the department said.

'We think the police took action on the basis of an anonymous, vague tip,' Spong told the paper.

He pointed out that no gun was found during the search of the properties.

Janssen will appear in court on Wednesday.


Janssen, who was arrested earlier this year for releasing 2,500 mink on a fur farm, first hit the headlines a year ago when he disrupted filming of the Paul de Leeuw tv show, wearing only underpants.

He has also been caught streaking at the ABN Amro tennis tournament, a Champions Trophy hockey match and the Tilburg Ten Mile road race. Link

I’m sure that for most of you the burning question you have is where would a vegan streaker hide his gun? But the more important question is why do these vegan animal rights activists feel that violence against their fellow human beings will help their cause? Even though many of them continue to say that their movement is based on peace and valuing life, their actions continue to show their true violent tendencies.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sued by Nature

Sued by the forest
Should nature be able to take you to court?
(Boston Globe / Steve Wacksman)
By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow
July 19, 2009

Last February, the town of Shapleigh, Maine, population 2,326, passed an unusual ordinance. Like nearby towns, Shapleigh sought to protect its aquifers from the Nestle Corporation, which draws heavily on the region for its Poland Spring bottled water. Some Maine towns had acquiesced, others had protested, and one was locked in a protracted legal battle.

Shapleigh tried something new - a move at once humble in its method and audacious in its ambition. At a town meeting, residents voted, 114-66, to endow all of the town’s natural assets with legal rights: “Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist, flourish and naturally evolve within the Town of Shapleigh.” It further decreed that any town resident had “standing” to seek relief for damages caused to nature - permitting, for example, a lawsuit on behalf of a stream.

Shapleigh is one of about a dozen US municipalities to have passed measures declaring that nature itself has rights under the law. And in 2008, when Ecuador adopted a new constitution, it recognized nature’s “right to exist, persist, maintain itself and regenerate its own vital cycles, structure, functions and its evolutionary processes.” A campaign is also underway in Europe for a UN Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights, which would attempt to enshrine such principles in international law, following the model of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

These developments are part of a small but growing movement that aims to reorient the relationship between the earth and the law. Advocates argue that natural objects should not be treated as mere property, vulnerable to exploitation or destruction as owners see fit, but as rights-bearing entities with intrinsic value. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit, works with communities such as Shapleigh to protect local ecosystems, and more towns are considering ordinances in the same vein. The Center for Earth Jurisprudence, established in 2006, works with two Florida law schools, developing a legal philosophy based on respect for the planet, and seeking avenues in current law to advance that goal.

“Someone needs to be able to represent the rivers,” says Patricia Siemen, director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence. “Someone needs to be able to represent the forests.”

Of course, the notion will strike skeptics as preposterous. Would we need to worry about offending litigious shrubs? With a boulder, or a swamp, as a witness in the proceedings? Critics dismiss the idea as grandstanding that could clog the courts with frivolous cases.

But proponents see it as part of an ongoing progression, an expansion of rights that slowly brings about an increasingly just society. After all, not so long ago, slaves and women were in some legal regimes deemed property, just as nature is today. Now we all accept universal human rights. The concept of animal rights has also become familiar, if much more contested. Advocates of this agenda see the extension of rights to ecosystems as the natural next step. And they believe it could spark a profound shift in our relations with nature, leading to more effective environmental protections.

“The language of rights has a great deal of currency. It’s the most powerful of our ethical terms,” says John Baird Callicott, a philosophy professor at the University of North Texas. “Rights shift the burden of proof from those who are defending nature to those who want to exploit it.”

Read More

So my question to this idea that nature has rights would be centered around the responsibilities that go with rights. The rights that humans have been granted also come with a responsibility. If nature can sue us, does nature also have a responsibility to us. Is Mother Nature going to pay us back for the damage she causes? I think it’s a fair question to ask. The next time a tornado tears up a town, maybe nature can reimburse those that were affected.

And did you also notice that they are trying to classify people into two categories now? You are either someone that will defend nature or you are someone who exploits it. What about our need to utilize what nature gives us?

Oregon Tribes Looking At Horse Processing Facility

Groups push to slaughter horses for meat, possibly starting in Oregon
by Richard Cockle, The Oregonian
Saturday July 18, 2009, 3:00 PM

Ranchers, Native Americans and others are pushing for the renewed slaughter of horses in the U.S. -- possibly starting in Oregon -- and processing them into meat.

Groups are lobbying Congress to introduce a bill this summer to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to resume inspecting horse meat for human consumption. That would reopen the door to foreign exports.

In addition, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are considering building a slaughter and processing facility -- possibly for pet food -- on their reservation north of Madras, as recommended last spring by a coalition of Northwest tribes.

The success of either proposal is far from certain. A congressional spokesman said bills that favor slaughtering horses face a chilly reception, and a tribal spokesman said it's too early to say much about the Warm Springs idea.

Yet the efforts, in addition to riling animal-rights advocates, underscore a rural-urban divide and the desperate state of America's horse industry.

Supporters say they need a way to deal with tens of thousands of unwanted horses. The glut was caused by factors such as uncontrolled breeding, closure of the last U.S. horse-processing plants two years ago and an economy that has left many owners unable to pay for feed and care.
The situation has led to a steep decline in horse prices, overgrazing on Native American reservations, and incidents of horse abandonment and neglect, among other problems.

"We think it is very fair and accurate to say there are probably 100,000 horses that would go to processing today" if a plant were available, said Wyoming state Rep. Sue Wallis, a rancher emerging as a national leader in pushing to reinstate horse slaughtering.

Jenny Edwards, who runs the nonprofit Hope for Horses rescue outfit in Woodinville, Wash., dislikes slaughtering but says something must be done. "Everybody who has open land is getting horses dumped on it right now," she said.

Native Americans say herds of horses are trampling berries and roots -- an important part of Native feasts -- and damaging habitat for salmon and steelhead. An estimated 4,000 ownerless horses roam the 640,000-acre Warm Springs Reservation, for example, and 12,000 live on the 1.4 million-acre Yakama Reservation in Washington, said Arlen Washines, Yakama tribal spokesman, at a meeting of tribes in May. The problem remains even though both tribes corral and sterilize wild stallions.

Reports of abandoned, starving horses are increasing. Glenn tells of a Wyoming rancher he spoke with "who just acquired seven horses he didn't buy and didn't know he had until he went out and counted his horses." Malheur County Sheriff Andrew Bentz said a horse found abandoned in Nevada had its brand cut off so it couldn't be traced. Read More

This article contains a lot of good information in it as to the scope of this issue. There are an incredible amount of unwanted horses that are causing a lot of devastation to the land and costing land owners and taxpayers untold amounts of money. If the feral horse population continues to grow unchecked, disease or starvation will eventually correct the situation. There is no reason we shouldn’t be utilizing this resource rather than wasting it. We should be doing this in a US based plant.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Stacy and I got into Chicago last night for a meeting that will keep us here until next Tuesday. As we arrived at our hotel, it's pretty much impossible not to notice how many people live and work in the relatively small area of downtown. I couldn't help but think to myself that it is only because of the hard work that farmers and ranchers do in raising a safe, affordable, abundant food supply that make this city life possible. The very existence of large cities depends on the rural America to sustain it.

There are basics in life that can't be ignored but are largely forgotten by many. The very foundation of our society hinges on our ability to grow food, and that is thanks to you.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anti-Animal Rights Billboards

Animal rights, writ too large?
The nuances of the issues involved in the spaying and neutering of pets just don't fit on a billboard.

Meghan Daum July 16, 2009

Have you seen the billboards around town that say "Protect Your Right to Own a Pet"? They show a child hugging a puppy and provide a website,, flanked by international "no" symbols(a circle with a slash though it) containing the initials PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States).

When I first passed one a couple of weeks ago, I was confused. Are we supposed to imagine that a PETA activist is about to snatch the puppy from the boy's hands because it's his "pet" and not his "animal companion"? Or -- and I admit this reaction is the result of living in a neighborhood with, shall we say, "conflicting" philosophies about pet care -- was something else afoot? Was "protect your right to own a pet" code for "protect your sleazy right to keep your dog chained up in the yard all day"?

Admittedly, I can be a ridiculous softy when it comes to animals. Nothing riles me up more than the thought of animal abuse, and I personally don't think it's everyone's "right" to own a pet. But I'm no radical either. I eat meat, I wear leather and I occasionally pay to let my dog herd sheep, which I have a feeling PETA wouldn't appreciate (for the sheep's sake).

So although I was pretty sure I wasn't for this sign, was I necessarily against it? To find out, I had to call Kathy Grayson, a professional dog handler in Riverside County who is behind the signs. She said she was fed up with what she considers unfair legislation -- primarily mandatory spay and neutering laws -- furthered by what are in her view manipulative messages from PETA, the Humane Society and others. Spay and neutering laws punish those who responsibly breed and show dogs, she said. True, you can pay for exemptions, but Grayson maintains that it's too easy for exemptions to be revoked. "I'd drive home from dog shows and pass all these empty billboards on the interstate," she said. "I started to think how great it would be to put a sign in the middle of Hollywood telling people the truth about extremist groups." Read More

I would say that the questions and knowledge of this columnist is pretty typical of many consumers. They think they understand an issue until they are forced to think about it. And even then, they struggle to see the big picture. It’s great that she see thru PETA’s game, but it’s usually harder for them to do that with HSUS. For example, when she called Pacelle to ask their position on pet ownership, he’s not going to tell her what they really want to accomplish there. He claims to support responsible breeders, but he never says what one of those is. Does he think there are any responsible breeders out there? I have talked to animal rights people before that say there is no such thing. It’s important for consumers to look at the actions of HSUS and PETA rather than their words. Congratulations to Patti Strand and her group for helping make these billboards a reality. She runs a great group and is a fantastic friend of animal agriculture.

CEO's See Value of Ag Education

Indiana's Agricultural Competitiveness Built and Dependent on Quality Education

By: Inside INdiana Business

Agriculture's value to all of us is undeniable. It is an industry that satisfies our most basic needs for human life and further enhances our quality of living. At no other time in history has agriculture been charged with so many additional responsibilities. It is the industry the world looks to when faced with extreme hunger, searching for new sources of energy, developing new foods to improve human health, and addressing climate change, among others.

Agriculture is poised to offer new solutions to these modern-day challenges, simultaneously creating enormous opportunities for the industry. It will be forced, however, to rely even more heavily on the ingenuity of its producers and businesses and the development of more groundbreaking technologies.

The third Indiana CEO Survey, conducted and presented by Inside INdiana Business, Ice Miller LLP and Butler University, captures the opinions of over 350 Indiana chief executives from all areas of the state and from a wide range of manufacturing, service, and not-for-profit organizations. Asked about the strength of education in Indiana focused on specific industries, agriculture rated highest – ahead of life sciences, advanced manufacturing, information technology and alternative energy sources. Read More

It’s always nice to read some encouraging articles in the news. Like the article says, agriculture continues to have more responsibilities thrust upon us, and the importance of this has not been missed by the CEO’s that took this survey. Without a solid agricultural foundation, many other industries, along with the sovereignty of our nation, are in jeopardy. So even though this looks like some great news for us, we still have a lot of work to do in educating our consumers on the importance of modern agriculture.

Beef Checkoff Study Results

Beef Checkoff Posting Return Of $5.55
By Cattle Network

The Beef Checkoff Program returned about $5.55 in value to beef producers for every dollar they invested into it between 2003 and 2008. That’s the overall conclusion of a new economic study completed by Dr. Ron Ward, professor emeritus for the Food and Resource Economics Department of the University of Florida.

“Is the beef checkoff a demand driver? This was the most fundamental question of the entire study, and the answer is an overwhelming ‘yes,’ the generic promotion of beef has shifted beef demand,” Ward noted in his research conclusions. “The marginal rate-of-return is large enough to provide overwhelming evidence that the programs are achieving positive impacts (on) the U.S. demand for beef,” he said.

“The Beef Checkoff Programs and Their Impact on U.S. Beef Demand” evaluates the effectiveness of checkoff-funded programs in reaching their overarching goal of growing beef demand. To complete this, Ward employs statistical models that measure the effects of major beef demand drivers overall, then specifically, of the Beef Checkoff Program itself as a demand driver. It is a comprehensive study that is peer-reviewed by respected economists versed in commodity promotions and the beef industry, and is a follow-up to similar beef checkoff evaluations conducted regularly since 1989. Read More

While it’s always great to hear that the beef checkoff is returning a healthy margin, I think we also have to look at one of the other benefits it has. In today’s world, there aren’t a line of people breaking down our industry’s doors looking for opportunities to show consumers that eating beef is good for you. We have many vocal critics of meat in general that are trying to tell the public that they should be vegetarians, and then list a variety of misleading reasons. There a wide margin of our consumers that just want to be reassured that beef is a safe, wholesome and nutritious product. And that is something that the beef checkoff does very well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heading Home

I'm sitting in the Denver International Airport right now about to get on a plane back to South Dakota. We had a great time yesterday at the Masters of Beef Advocacy commencement. There was a fanstatic and enthusiastic group of beef industry advocates that are now even more excited about telling their story and the story of beef production.

Since I'm about to get on a plane, this will be the only post on my blog this morning, but hopefully this afternoon I can get back on and post some stories that I think you might be interested in. Until then, have a great day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MBA Commencement

We are in Denver today participating and presenting at the Masters of Beef Advocacy commencement being held in conjunction with the NCBA Summer Conference. It's gonna be a fun day.

Antibiotic Use Being Challenged Again

Administration Seeks to Restrict Antibiotics in Livestock

Published: July 13, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Monday that it would seek to ban many routine uses of antibiotics in farm animals in hopes of reducing the spread of dangerous bacteria in humans.

In written testimony to the House Rules Committee, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, said feeding antibiotics to healthy chickens, pigs and cattle — done to encourage rapid growth — should cease. And Dr. Sharfstein said farmers should no longer be able to use antibiotics in animals without the supervision of a veterinarian.
Both practices lead to the development of bacteria that are immune to many treatments, he said.

The hearing was held to discuss a measure proposed by Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York and chairwoman of the Rules Committee. It would ban seven classes of antibiotics important to human health from being used in animals, and would restrict other antibiotics to therapeutic and some preventive uses. Read More

The use of antibiotics as a health tool in livestock continues to receive a lot of criticism. The problem is that no one seems to want to talk about the consequences of ending the practice. An ounce of cure is worth a pound of prevention. Countries that have banned the practice have found that they are now using more antibiotics than ever before. The health of our livestock shouldn’t be jeopardized.

Anti-Terrorism Law Being Challenged

Federal judge weighs legal challenge to animal rights anti-terrorism law

By Howard Mintz
Posted: 07/13/2009 04:23:11 PM PDT
Updated: 07/14/2009 03:41:30 AM PDT

A federal judge in San Jose on Monday sent mixed signals over the fate of a new law designed to target violent animal-rights protests, indicating he will rule later in the nation's first direct legal challenge to Congress' attempt to protect animal researchers and scientists from serious safety threats.

During an hourlong hearing, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte suggested that the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act may be legally vulnerable, but he also left doubts about whether the current lawsuit is the right path to take on the law in its entirety.

Federal prosecutors invoked the law for the first time earlier this year, indicting four activists accused of threats and vandalism against University of California medical researchers in Santa Cruz and Berkeley.

Lawyers for the defendants, backed by civil liberties groups, argue that the animal terrorism law is unconstitutional. They say it's too broad, vague and tramples on the free speech rights of animal rights advocates who protest and boycott for their cause. In moving to dismiss the indictment, they maintain the law targets animal rights groups so broadly that it would criminalize a boycott or protest outside a fur store. Read More

This important legislation was designed to protect animal enterprises, specifically researchers that utilize animals. Attacks on these people because of their work is really no different than the hate crime laws that protect against attacking people for their race or religion. It is not free speech to firebomb someone’s house, that is terrorism.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Michigan Rejecting Animal Rights Agenda

Farmers, activists at odds over animal treatment
By DAVID EGGERT Associated Press Writer
12:00 AM CDT, July 12, 2009

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan farmers and animal rights advocates are fighting over the treatment of farm animals, a conflict that ultimately may be taken to voters.

The farm lobby is backing bipartisan legislation that would put into law the agriculture industry's guidelines for farm animals' health and welfare, and require audits of livestock farms. A 10-member council would review and possibly update animal care standards at least every five years and local governments would be pre-empted from setting their own rules.

Upset by what it calls the industry's "blatant power grab" in the debate, the Humane Society of the United States is threatening a 2010 ballot initiative to give farm animals in confined spaces more room. Voters passed similar proposals in Arizona, California and Florida. Governors and lawmakers also enacted measures in Colorado, Maine and Oregon.

Supporters of the Michigan bills say people want to know more about where their food comes from, particularly in the wake of food recalls. Workers at a since-closed California slaughterhouse were caught on videotape abusing weak cattle to force them to slaughter, leading to the country's biggest beef recall last year.

"It really is about consumer confidence, protecting the food chain and safety of the food chain," said House Agriculture Chairman Mike Simpson, D-Jackson, who wants his committee to approve the legislation by month's end. The first committee hearing on the bills held last month drew so many people wanting to speak that it was extended another day.

"This is Michigan, not California. We're not going to allow an outside group to come into Michigan and give chickens the right to drive cars," said Simpson, a sponsor of the House bills with Rep. Jeff Mayes, D-Bay City. Sens. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and Gerald Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores, have introduced identical Senate bills. Read More

Oddly, Paul Shapiro claims that HSUS is only trying to eliminate the most extreme forms of confinement but what he doesn’t tell you is that they consider all forms of confinement to be extreme. Nothing less than total animal liberation is their goal. There is nothing moderate about their proposals. And the fact that two states have stood up to them and declared that they were more than capable of taking care of their own livestock, has become an incredible threat. Mostly it has become a threat to their donations and their egos.

Cows Are Effecient Fuel Producers

Ag Engineer: Animal manure management could go 'green'
Manure has the potential to make dairies energy self-sufficient
July 10, 2009 Writer(s): Robert Burns, 903-834-6191,

COLLEGE STATION -- A recent Texas AgriLife Research survey of Texas and California dairies found that cows, like people, are big energy users.

That's the bad news. The good news is there's enough potential energy within the manure dairy cows produce to pay their electrical bill and more -- a lot more, according to Dr. Cady Engler, AgriLife Research agricultural engineer.

"Total energy usage ranged from as low as 464 kilowatt hour per year per animal for a pasture dairy in Northeast Texas to as high as 1,637 kilowatt hour for a hybrid facility in Central Texas," Engler said.

"The estimated daily potential energy availability from manure – 25 kilowatt hours per day per cow – is much greater than the average daily on-farm energy requirement of 3.2 kilowatt hours per day per cow," he said.

Engler will be presenting a paper, "Energy Usage Survey of Dairies in the Southwestern United States" at the upcoming Texas Animal Manure Management Issues, scheduled Sept. 29-30 at the Austin Marriott North in Round Rock. More information can be found at the conference's Web site at Read More

One of the things that is very aggravating for me is to hear people refer to manure as waste. It’s far from it. This is not only a valuable nutrient that vastly improves the ability of plants to grow and produce, but it could also become a very valuable source of energy. This concept is nothing new. Dried manure was often used as heating fuel by our ancestors as they attempted to settle this country. It wasn’t considered a waste product then and it shouldn’t be now. The efficiencies of cattle and their ruminant digestive system have always been a marvel and they are proving it again to us.

Promoting Healthy Meat At All Star Game

All-Star Game attendees encouragedto eat ‘Cured Meats for Healthy Heartbeat’
By Trent Loos

Medical research shows hot dogs and other cured meats offer health benefits

Nothing goes together like baseball and hot dogs, and with a growing body of medical evidence that suggests dietary nitrates - like those commonly found in hot dogs - are vital to the prevention of heart disease, attendees at the 2009 Major League Baseball All Star Game July 14 in St. Louis, MO, are being encouraged to enjoy both.

“Those attending this year’s All-Star game should enjoy a hot dog during the game knowing that it takes cured meats for healthy heartbeats,” said Trent Loos, a sixth generation farmer/rancher and founder of the Faces Of Agriculture.

For the past 10 years, Dr. Nathan Bryan, a medical researcher at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, The University of Texas, Houston Health Sciences Center, has been working to determine the importance of dietary nitrite and nitrate consumption as a means to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease and other diseases associated with nitric oxide insufficiency in the diet. In the process, he also has examined long-standing claims that the compounds cause certain cancers and found that indeed those risks do not exist.

To tell the story of the health benefits associated with cured meats, Loos has hired a mobile media truck to drive around St. Louis on the day of the All-Star game with a billboard that simply reads, “Cured Meats for Healthy Heartbeats”. The mobile billboard will feature a young consumer enjoying a tasty and “healthy” hot dog, he said. Read More

Two of the things that make summer so great is baseball and grilling brats and hot dogs on the grill. This year’s midsummer classic is being played in St. Louis and our friend Trent Loos is taking this opportunity to show these baseball fans that cured meats are good for your heart. It’s unfortunate that consumers are normally showered with anti-meat messages by groups with hidden agendas. Livestock producers everywhere need to be educating themselves on the health benefits of a diet that includes meat and dairy products and then share it with everyone. Thanks for your hard work Trent.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Six Principles of Animal Rights

New animal rights book on its way
July 8, 12:31 PM

While I was promising one free affectionate jab to the chin every hour for one person using the "#vegansgetiton" tag on Twitter, animal rights law professor Gary L. Francione not only started a long-awaited twitter account but announced the release of his newest book, "The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation". Click the above image to retweet on Twitter.

Professor Francione is best known for pioneering the Abolitionist Approach which is best explained by the six principles of the animal rights movement:

The Six Principles of the Animal Rights Position

1. The animal rights position maintains that all sentient beings, humans or nonhumans, have one right: the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.

2. Our recognition of the one basic right means that we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation—because it assumes that animals are the property of humans.

3. Just as we reject racism, sexism, ageism, and heterosexism, we reject speciesism. The species of a sentient being is no more reason to deny the protection of this basic right than race, sex, age, or sexual orientation is a reason to deny membership in the human moral community to other humans.

4. We recognize that we will not abolish overnight the property status of nonhumans, but we will support only those campaigns and positions that explicitly promote the abolitionist agenda. We will not support positions that call for supposedly “improved” regulation of animal exploitation. We reject any campaign that promotes sexism, racism, heterosexism or other forms of discrimination against humans.

5. We recognize that the most important step that any of us can take toward abolition is to adopt the vegan lifestyle and to educate others about veganism. Veganism is the principle of abolition applied to one’s personal life and the consumption of any meat, fowl, fish, or dairy product, or the wearing or use of animal products, is inconsistent with the abolitionist perspective.

6. We recognize the principle of nonviolence as the guiding principle of the animal rights movement.

Read More

This pattern of thinking is the same one that suggests that the life of your child is of no more value than that of an ant. Francione advocates that just as our society should look past gender and race, we should also look past what type of species something is. Not only is this completely ridiculous, but it is also very sad that Francione values humans so little. If he was forced to decide whether to save a mouse or a child from a burning building, it’s scary to think what he might choose.

Sierra Club's War On Affordable Electricity

Utah coal plant scuttled, 100th in U.S. since 2002
Thu Jul 9, 2009 11:23am EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Intermountain Power Agency said on Thursday it will not continue efforts to seek an air permit for a third 900-megawatt coal-fired power unit at its plant in Utah.

The Sierra Club said the once-proposed Unit 3 at the Intermountain power station 120 miles southwest of Salt Lake City is the 100th coal-fired power plant to be scuttled since 2002.

IPA spokesman John Ward said allowing an application for an air permit to expire was a formality as plans for the plant have not been viable since 2007 when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) pulled out of the project.

There are no plans to stop production of the existing two units at Intermountain, which produce 1,800 MW of power.

"More than 400 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution, a main cause of global warming, have been kept out of the air annually as a result of stopping these 100 plants," said a Sierra Club statement issued Thursday. Read More

The Sierra Club continues their war on affordable electricity. It’s interesting that they endlessly brag about stopping coal plants from being built, but I never see the progress they are making to replace them. Where is our electricity going to come from? With their plans, electricity may very well become a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. They continue to say they want renewable energy, but that’s as far as it goes. It must be a hard way to go through life being against everything. The sad part is that hard working families will be the ones that suffer for the Sierra Club’s actions. Remember, a tree doesn't think CO2 is a poison.

Hunting is Green

Thursday, July 09, 2009
By Jason Gurskis

Killing wild animals doesn't seem so eco-friendly at first.

History shows us that hunters were the ones who decimated the bison population across North America and made the passenger pigeon extinct. Lead ammunition left behind after a hunt can cause waterfowl to become sick.

And in many cases, the hunting of predator species such as grizzly bears and wolves has left prey species dangerously overpopulated.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were more than 12.5 million active hunters over the age of 16 in the United States as of 2006. They definitely have to have a large impact on the environment -- but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

"Hunters are the most conservation-friendly people out there. They are good stewards of the environment," said Joe Hosmer, vice president of the Safari Club International, a foundation recognized as a worldwide leader in wildlife-conservation and education programs.

And some environmentalists agree.

"Done properly, with proper regulation and wildlife management, hunting can be very 'green,'" says Douglas Inkley, a wildlife biologist who holds the position of senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. Read More

Hunting and proper wildlife management is the reason that wildlife populations continue to stay healthy. To advocate for the end of hunting, like PETA and HSUS do, is to advocate for disease and starvation as a management tool. That’s what happens to species that become overpopulated. For life to be successful on this planet, it requires death to occur.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chemicals Improve Sweet Corn's Nutrition

First Evidence That Weed Killers Improve Nutritional Value Of A Key Food Crop

ScienceDaily (July 9, 2009) — Scientists are reporting for the first time that the use of weed killers in farmers' fields boosts the nutritional value of an important food a crop. Application of two common herbicides to several varieties of sweet corn significantly increased the amount of key nutrients termed carotenoids in the corn kernels, according to a new study.

In the new study, Dean Kopsell and colleagues note that farmers grow about 240,000 acres of sweet corn in the United States each year, making it an important food crop. Corn is among only a few vegetable crops that are good sources of zeaxanthin carotenoids. Consuming carotenoid-rich vegetables may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of vision loss among older people), heart disease, and cancer, the study notes.

The scientists exposed several varieties of sweet corn plants to the herbicide mesotrione or a combination of mesotrione and atrazine, another commonly used weed killer, and harvested mature corn 45 days later. Herbicide applications made the corn an even-better source of carotenoids, boosting levels in the mature kernels of some varieties by up to 15 percent. It specifically increased levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, the major carotenoids in sweet corn kernels, which studies have linked to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.


Journal reference:
Kopsell et al. Increase in Nutritionally Important Sweet Corn Kernel Carotenoids following Mesotrione and Atrazine Applications. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 090619124509017 DOI: 10.1021/jf9013313

We are constantly told by detractors of modern agriculture that the use of chemicals is dangerous to our health and the environment. While it may be fun for some people to spread doom and gloom, the truth is a much different story. Chemicals have been an extremely safe and useful tool for producing food. Now it appears that it can also improve the nutrition of the food we are eating. Sweet corn is everyone's favorite food and now thanks to these weed killing chemicals, it's even better for you too.

Prop 2 Clarification Bill Dropped

Lawmaker to drop California bill on hen cages
By Jim Downing
Published: Thursday, Jul. 9, 2009 - 12:00 am Page 6B

A legislative attempt to make peace in the state's chicken-house wars is fizzling, meaning the dispute between California egg farmers and the Humane Society of the United States over the interpretation of Proposition 2 is unlikely to be resolved this year.

This week, both sides announced their opposition to Assembly Bill 1437, which would assign the state Department of Public Health to write rules specifying what living quarters are acceptable for the state's egg-laying hens.

"It appears that I have found the sour spot that both sides don't like," said Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, the bill's author. Huffman's district includes large egg producers as well as an electorate that overwhelmingly supported Proposition 2.

The measure passed by a 27-point margin in November, making California the first state to guarantee its hens enough space to spread their wings.

The measure, which takes effect in 2015, likely prohibits today's standard housing practices, in which eight birds share a cage with roughly 4 square feet of floor space. But it doesn't explicitly ban all hen cages, and egg farmers have been pushing for legislation that would give them the right to use larger enclosures, such as the roughly 60-square-foot structures used on some European farms. Read More

The debacle that is Prop 2 in California continues. The voters passed this proposition without knowing what it says. No one can agree on what the language requires farmers to do. If you think this happened by accident, think again. The language was very intentional on the part of HSUS. The uncertainty will force these family farmers to exit the business, which is exactly what they want. Their ultimate goal of eliminating animal agriculture is being achieved in California.

Chef Claims Knowledge of Beef Production

Flip for a new American burger
by Channon Mondoux Special to BE Healthy
Wednesday July 08, 2009, 10:00 AM

The hamburger has become, unquestionably, the icon of American food. But is our icon today the delicious, fresh beef burger that got the tradition started?

If we could go back to the birth of the burger in 1885, we'd find beef from cattle raised on grass, most likely living in a pasture. In the 1950s the advent of chemical fertilizer began a significant change in the way cattle were raised. Surplus grain made it more economical to raise cattle in feedlots than on a pasture. In large Confined Animal Feeding Operations, crowded cattle often stand in their own waste, are fed antibiotics to fend off infection and eat mainly a grain-based diet that compromises their ability to fight illness.

Today, one pound of beef can contain meat from hundreds of different carcasses. Concern is spreading not only for the health and well-being of the cattle, but also for the people who ingest their meat. It's time to reclaim our right to a delicious and healthy burger! Read More

It’s very apparent that for today’s critics of modern agriculture, they are only interested in regurgitating someone else’s words rather than do their own research. This article is a perfect example of that. Obviously the author has just tried to repeat someone else’s unresearched information. She states that a cattle on a mainly grain based diet have their ability to fight illness compromised. I would like to see her cite a source for this. Their diet is not causing their immune system to fail. Also, if the beef industry went back to the 1950’s production methods, we would need an additional 165 million acres of land. Finally, to suggest that beef from a grass-fed system is more delicious and healthy would only be an opinion, and one that I would disagree with. She claims that concern for the well-being of the cattle is growing. Maybe so for her, but my family has been concerned with their well-being for the past five generations.

More Cap & Tax Discussion

Agriculture lobby blew it on cap and trade
Mark Hillman, guest editorial
Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Once climate-change regulators strangle the economy and carbon-counters turn gas, oil and electricity into expensive luxuries, perhaps American farmers will recognize how “our friends” in Washington, D.C., sold us out in the name of political compromise.

Recently, Capitol Hill’s agriculture lobby had a choice: withhold support from the Waxman-Markey climate control bill or agree to a compromise that provides cover to rural district Democrats who support it.

Without those rural votes, Waxman-Markey was bound for the shredder. With those votes, it garnered just one more vote than the bare minimum needed for passage.

However, the economic illiteracy of agriculture lobby is embarrassing. Waxman-Markey’s threat to farmers and ranchers isn’t limited to the carbon emissions of trucks, tractors and flatulent livestock.

In March, a dozen ag lobbying organizations — including National Association of Wheat Growers and National Farmers Union — agreed on nine “Principles for Greenhouse Gas Legislation.”
Not one of those principles addressed fuel or energy costs. Yet Waxman-Markey will increase electricity rates by an estimated 90 percent and fuel prices by 58 percent, according to Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. The analysis projects cap-and-trade will reduce net farm income by 28 percent by 2012 and 94 percent by 2035, That’s in addition to $1,241 per year that cap-and-tax will add to the average household’s energy bill. Read More

It’s nearly treasonous that the House of Representatives would pass a bill that will affect every aspect of our society without even reading what it says. There are times to compromise and then there are times when we need to stand by our convictions and try preventing this ruinous bill from being passed. Nobody even knows what the goal of the bill is? Are we trying to stop climate change or global warming? Can either of them be stopped? Are people causing either to occur? Leave it to Congress to pass a bill that attempts to fix a problem that might not exist. Just because people like me are urging the Senate to vote no on this bill, doesn’t mean we aren’t at the table on this process.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Defining Sustainable Agriculture

Defining ‘Sustainable Agriculture’
By Jared Flesher
Bloomberg News

Agreeing on a definition of “sustainable agriculture” is easier said than done.

Conventional farmers, organic farmers, giant agribusiness companies, environmentalists — all have varying views on what “sustainable agriculture” really means.

Perhaps not for long.

The Leonardo Academy, an environmental think tank in Madison, Wis., is busy refereeing a debate over a new “National Sustainable Agriculture Standard,” under the guidelines of the American National Standards Institute.

One outcome of this effort could be a new “sustainable agriculture” label stamped on food — similar to the way some food is now marketed as organic. It could also create a system that rewards farmers for doing things like reducing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer they use.

In late May, members of the 58-member standards committee met in St. Charles, Ill., to make the first decisions about the scope of the voluntary standards they hope to create. The committee includes a variety of stakeholders like the National Corn Growers Association, General Mills, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and American Farmland Trust.

One early point of contention has been genetically modified crops. Read More

The word sustainable is defined as using a resource in a way so that the resource isn’t depleted. So if the resource in question is food, then it shouldn’t matter if the crop in question has been genetically modified. Sustainable agriculture should be defined as the ability to grow enough food to feed everyone and to make enough profit so the farmer can continue in business. Putting the emphasis on anything less becomes insignificant.