Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beef: More Than What's For Dinner

A lot more than ‘what’s for dinner’
By Jim Hamilton Neighbor Newspaper, Missouri
Senior writer
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 4:09 AM CDT

May is “Beef Month,” an observance started 45 years ago to salute the beef industry from pasture to plate.For many of us, that “industry” is just a part of everyday life. Mostly, we’re not ranchers or cowboys, but just folks with a few cows. The average herd size in Missouri is 36, according to the Missouri Beef Industry Council. Some of us have many more than that, and many are similar to me and my neighbor, running five head on shared pasture.

Large or small, we’re all part of a $1.5 billion industry in this state, and our cows are among more than 2 million head thriving on 12 million acres of Show-Me pastures. Tally all of our beef and dairy cows, calves, bulls and steers and we take care of 4.45 million head of cattle. That’s about two bovines for every household in the state.

Fever losses of 50 to 90 percent in Missouri herds were devastating to farmers and ranchers in the 1850s-1860s. A century-and-a-half later, cattle owners face an equally insidious adversary in animal welfare activists.Regardless of the semantics of the organizations – animal “rights,” animal “welfare” or animal “protection” – the gist of the threat is the same: the ruination of animal agriculture.

Beef cattle producers have survived disease outbreaks, crippling market cycles, soaring production costs and misleading cholesterol claims, but no former challenge was any greater than that now posed by animal rights activism.

Any threat to animal agriculture is a threat to more than the livestock producer.

If you enjoy a beef taco, pizza or hamburger, you are under attack.

If you drive a Schwan’s truck, work at Walmart or frequent a Subway sandwich shop, animal rights is about you.

If you’re a school cook, furniture salesman, car dealer, homebuilder or an accountant, animal rights is about you. Read More

National Beef Month is a great time to remind everyone how they are connected to the beef industry and all of agriculture. The old saying goes that if you aren’t hungry or naked, thank a farmer. It’s a simple but entirely true statement. That’s why these attempts by animal rights groups to eliminate the ability of animal agriculture to function in this country should be a concern to everyone. It’s nothing less than an attack on the ability to feed and clothe ourselves.

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