Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trent Loos Interviews Dr. Scott Hurd

To learn more about antibiotic use in livestock let's hear from an expert on the subject, Dr. Scott Hurd.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FDA Wants Antibiotic Use in Livestock Limited

FDA seeks less use of antibiotics in animals to keep them effective for humans
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2010; A04

The Food and Drug Administration urged farmers on Monday to stop giving antibiotics to cattle, poultry, hogs and other animals to spur their growth, citing concern that drug overuse is helping to create dangerous bacteria that do not respond to medical treatment and endanger human lives.

Joshua M. Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said antibiotics should be used only to protect the health of an animal and not to help it grow or improve the way it digests its feed.

"This is an urgent public health issue," Sharfstein said during a conference call with reporters. "To preserve the effectiveness [of antibiotics], we simply must use them as judiciously as possible."

The FDA issued a draft of its guidance, and the public has 60 days to comment on the draft.

Sharfstein said that the guidance was a first step, and the agency would issue new regulations if the industry does not comply voluntarily.

"We have the regulatory mechanisms, and industry knows that," he said. "We also think things can be done voluntarily. We're not handcuffed to the steering wheel of a particular strategy, but I'm not ruling out anything that we can do to establish these important public-health goals."

Read More

Human health is certainly a top priority but one of the things that has helped us avoid any large health disasters is the fact that we have kept our livestock very healthy as well. Along with that, there isn’t any good scientific data to suggest that this will make a difference. After all, livestock producers would have to treat disease after the fact rather than prevent it. The last thing to consider is the fact that until human usage is of antibiotics is better controlled any changes to livestock use would be pointless. The very same drugs that require a prescription here can be bought over the counter in other countries. We definitely need to protect the efficacy of antibiotics but only focusing on livestock use is a lazy solution to a difficult problem.

HSUS Livestock Measure Heads for Ohio Ballot

HSUS Livestock Measure Heads for Ohio Ballot
By Pork news source Monday, June 28, 2010

Ohioans for Humane Farms, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, said it has more than enough signatures to put an animal-housing initiative to state voters in the fall, reports

The group is asking voters to support a constitutional amendment that would require new animal housing standards giving egg-laying hens, pregnant sows and veal calves more room to move around in their enclosures.

Karen Minton, campaign manager for Ohioans for Humane Farms, told Meatingplace the group currently has well over 450,000 signatures in hand and expects to turn in more than 500,000 on the June 30 deadline. The minimum is 402,275.

"We're heartened to have had so many Ohioans sign the petition to implement modest, common sense minimum standards for Ohio's livestock," she said in an e-mail. Link

Media reports continue to claim that the world’s richest vegan animal rights groups, the HSUS, has paid enough people to gather enough signatures to get their issue on the ballot. Many of the media and first hand reports are also reporting that the signature gatherers have been much less than truthful with potential signers. It’s certainly telling when you have to lie to people in order to get them to sign a petition but deception is how the bread is buttered at the HSUS.

Breakfast on the Farm

Horning family hosts Breakfast on the Farm
Published: Monday, June 28, 2010
By Randi Shaffer, Heritage Newspapers

Have you ever wondered how your food makes it from raw elements to a meal on your plate?

For those who attended Breakfast on the Farm at Horning Farms, the process is no longer a mystery.

Horning Farms, located at 11834 E. Pleasant Lake Road near Manchester, hosted one of three Breakfast-on-the-Farm events in Michigan Saturday.

"It's important to show people that their food comes from someplace besides the grocery store," said Earl Horning, a fifth-generation owner of Horning Farms.

Earl Horning and his wife, Diana, are winners of the 2010 MSU Dairy Farmer of the Year award, presented by the MSU Department of Animal Science. The duo, along with their son, Jeff, and daughter-in-law, Lynda, hosted the event.

More than 3,700 tickets were given away for Breakfast on the Farm.

Horning said the point of the event was to expose the general public to modern-day farming operations.

Breakfast on the Farm featured 10 different educational stations. Tour participants had a chance to stop by each station to learn about a variety of topics, including dairy feeds, the health of animals, calf care, cropping and conservation practices, and manure nutrients. Read More

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a farm tour must be worth millions. What better way to tell our story to our non-aggie friends than to let them see if for themselves. There are lots of ways to educate people about agriculture and it’s important that we use all of them. With so much misinformation being spread about where food comes from, every little effort will make a difference. Congratulations to Horning Farms and all the other farms that hosted a breakfast recently.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vegetarian Visits a Feedlot

Cattle Feedlot: Behind The Scenes
by Ryan Andrews, June 23rd, 2010.

My trip to Magnum

My day at the cattle feedlot got off to a rough start. Maybe it’s because I wore my “Have You Hugged A Vegetarian Today Shirt.” Bad move on my part, I guess.

No, I’m just kidding. I didn’t wear my vegan shirt.

And my day at the Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins, Colorado got off to a great start.
It all began at a restaurant in Hudson, Colorado, called the Pepper Pod. That’s where I met two new friends: an animal science instructor and a student from Colorado State University, who escorted me up to Wiggins to get an exclusive tour of the Magnum Feedyard.

During the 75-minute drive, a lot was going through my mind.

For starters, this visit had been 6 months, and quite a few emails/phone calls, in the making.

You see, very few people in the nutrition world are ever allowed to visit feedlots. In fact, some of my favorite authors have written entire books about feedlots without ever being granted permission to see one in person. So I had to “work it” pretty hard to get this kind of access. And was really excited.

However, despite my enthusiasm for the opportunity, I was a little worried. I mean, everything I’d read about feedlots suggested that they’re horrible, dismal places where thousands of sick cows are crammed in tiny pens, being force-fed corn while standing in steaming piles of their own feces.

As someone concerned with animal welfare, what would I do if faced with this sight? Would I run for the gates, throw them open, and let those poor cows free? Was I man enough to do that? Would I just go home with my tail between my legs? Or would I see something totally different, totally unexpected? Read More

I saw this over the weekend and had several people sending me emails about this story. It’s certainly a testament as to what happens when share our story. The rhetoric from the anti-ag groups has gotten so ridiculous that when people actually get a chance to see it for themselves they are almost shocked at the truth. This author found well cared for, well fed cattle that were comfortable in their setting. Congratulations to the folks at Magnum Feedyard for telling their story.

How To Be A Force For Truth

Animal Agriculture Under Siege – How To Be A Force For Truth
06/28/2010 09:48AM

Manhattan, Kans. (AgPR) -- According to polls, approximately 83% of Americans approve of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), a speaker reported at the recent American Agri-Women (AAW) Symposium held in Washington, D.C. and titled “Animal Agriculture under Siege –How to be a Force for Truth.” The symposium , sponsored by the Past Presidents Council, was part of AAW’s annual Fly-In.

David Martosko, director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, believes most people mistakenly think that the money they donate to HSUS will go to local animal shelters. But in reality HSUS is promoting conflict between urban and rural cultures with the end goal being to eliminate meat from the diet. To combat the HSUS agenda and reveal the truth, Martosko has founded a website— which shadows HSUS and other animal rights groups. By going to the website, an individual can see how much of the HSUS budget goes to animal protection compared to salaries, advertising and fundraising expenses.

Martosko and Steve Kopperud of Policy Directions, Inc., agreed that the animal rights organizations are coalition building and animal agriculture should do the same. Kopperud suggested that agriculture should develop alliances that perhaps were not thought of before, such as unions, churches, educators, and less radical humane groups.

A longtime friend of AAW, Kopperud reminisced about a referendum that was defeated in Massachusetts in 1988 with the help of Boston labor unions. He urged the women “to talk to people you’ve never talked to before.” Read More

Being active in promoting agriculture is a not an option in today’s world, it’s a necessity. The mind set that we need to get into is that every little thing we do to tell our story makes a difference. Nothing you do should be thought of as insignificant. Every day there are opportunities to make a difference, we just need to be willing to take advantage of them. Get started today!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Farmers Fight Bay Polluter Image

Farmers fight bay polluter image
'Everyone's in this ballgame, not just farmers'
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer
Published 06/21/10

More than 200 farmers have penned a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley, urging him to work with them - and not against them - when it comes to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

"We want everyone to realize everyone's in this ballgame, not just farmers," said Maryland Farm Bureau President Patricia Langenfelder of Kent County.

The farm bureau organized the petition effort, which grew from farmers' frustration at constantly being blamed for the bay's unhealthy state. The petition was delivered on Wednesday.

Shaun Adamec, an O'Malley spokesman, said the governor acknowledges the contributions farmers have made toward reducing pollution.

"There's nobody more appreciative of farmers than the governor when it comes to cleaning up the bay," Adamec said.

The petition was intended mainly to counteract negative attention that has been cast on farmers, Langenfelder said.

Farmers have built manure storage structures, planted buffers along streams, grown winter cover crops and instituted other "best management practices" to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution, Langenfelder said.

She noted that nutrient and sediment pollution from farms has decreased over the years due to such practices. Meanwhile, other sources of pollution - particularly urban and suburban stormwater runoff - are increasing.

Farming contributes just 7 percent of nitrogen in the Lower Western Shore. The top polluter locally is stormwater runoff - rainwater that rushes across roofs, parking lots and streets, carrying pollution into waterways. That contributes nearly 44 percent. Read More

It’s undeserved, but agriculture gets the blame for many things that they shouldn’t when it comes to pollution. The main reason is that they are the easiest target. Even though ag is the foundation of our entire society, since so few people are involved it makes it easy for the majority to attack. The top polluter for the bay is runoff from urban areas. If they really want to make a difference, they should start there.

CA Producer Reveals New Hen House

Modesto's J.S. West debuts roomier new hen house
By John HollandModesto Bee
Published: Tuesday, Jun. 22, 2010 - 12:00 am Page 6B

LIVINGSTON – J.S. West & Cos. on Monday unveiled new housing for egg-laying hens that aims to meet the space standards approved by state voters in 2008.

The Modesto-based company completed the $3.2 million project in the face of criticism from the Humane Society of the United States, which argues that it falls short of what Proposition 2 will require as of 2015.

The barn, the first built in California since the measure was approved, will house about 132,000 hens, 8 percent of J.S. West's total flock. The company hopes to convert all of the barns on its three farms over the next five years.

"It's not without risk, but we decided we wanted to be committed to our state and to our family farms in the Central Valley," said Jill Benson, a vice president at the 101-year-old company.

The new enclosures provide an average of 116 square inches of floor space per hen. The industry standard is 67 square inches, which defenders say is a humane way to keep birds that tend to crowd together even in spacious quarters.

The Humane Society contends that hens need at least 216 square inches each to meet the measure's requirement for enough room to stand up, turn around and flap their wings freely.

"Giving each hen a paltry legal sheet of paper's worth of space is simply not compliant with California law, and it's ridiculous for J.S. West to spend millions of dollars to build a facility that will be obviously illegal in a few years," said Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the group.

As 2015 approaches, Fearing said, the Humane Society "will indeed do everything in our power to make sure the law is not broken." Read More

The frustration from the HSUS over this new barn is the fact that their main goal was to eliminate animal agriculture in California, particularly chicken producers. So for this farm to re-commit to raising chickens is really irritating to them. The unfortunate part of everything is that now it’s not up to the HSUS or anyone else to decide how chickens can be raised in California, it will be up to a bunch of lawyers in a courtroom.

SCOTUS Overturns GM Alfalfa Ban

Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Planting GM Alfalfa
By JENNIFER KOONS of Greenwire
Published: June 21, 2010
In its first ruling on genetically engineered crops, the Supreme Court today overturned a lower court's decision prohibiting Monsanto Co. from selling pesticide-resistant alfalfa seeds until the government completes an environmental impact study.

"An injunction is a drastic and extraordinary remedy, which should not be granted as a matter of course," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the 7-1 majority.

A U.S. District Court in San Francisco "abused its discretion" in 2007 when it ruled that the government needed to examine the modified breed's environmental impact, Alito wrote.

"The District Court abused its discretion in enjoining APHIS [the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] from effecting a partial deregulation and in prohibiting the possibility of planting in accordance with the terms of such a deregulation," the justice argued. Read More

The Supreme Court was pretty adamant in overturning the 9th Circuit Court decision. With all decisions like this, we need to get it out of the hands of the lawyers and put it in the hands of competent scientists and researchers so the facts can guide our actions. Genetically enhancing our crops and livestock has allowed human beings to prevent mass starvation due to a lack of resources. This technology will become even more critical as we move forward.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reporting the Hype, Not the Facts

Chefs now offering low-carbon diets to help save the planet
In the effort to save the planet from carbon emissions, chefs are saying eat less feedlot beef. That's because feedlot beef is by far the biggest creator of carbon gases. Fed on corn instead of the grass it was meant to eat, cows simply belch and pass wind a lot, creating much of the CO2 that's harming the earth. Bon App├ętit Management Co. and other corporate food-service operators are turning to lower-carbon foods like chicken in an effort to change eating habits while reducing their carbon footprints.
By Paula Bock

SO YOU THINK trading in your gas guzzler for a hybrid will save the planet?

Try cutting back on cheeseburgers! And mangos! And fish flown in "fresh" from the southern hemisphere!

Old millennium: Low-carb diets. The new cool: Low-carbon diets. As in eat green. As in healthy for the environment. As in reduce global warming by minding what you swallow.

Just ask the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. A few years ago, it released a study showing that livestock cause more harm to the environment than all global transportation systems combined. Numero Uno emission emitter? Beef.

If Americans reduced meat consumption by just 20 percent, a University of Chicago study found, it'd be like all of us switching from a standard sedan to an ultraefficient Prius. A Japanese study estimated that raising 2.2 pounds of beef creates the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide as driving an average European car for 155 miles or burning a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.
Producing a pound of feedlot beef creates the equivalent of 14.8 pounds of CO2. By comparison, a pound of pork creates the equivalent of 3.8 pounds of CO2; chicken, the equivalent of 1.1 pounds.
Why do cattle have such a huge carbon hoof print? Surprisingly, it's not so much because of transport from feedlot to fast-food joint or land cleared for grazing or even the chemical fertilizers used to grow the feed, though all that also adds up.

It's largely because cornfed cattle pass a lot of gas. Read More

Here’s another example of activism as compared to journalism. If this reporter had done some actual research as opposed to regurgitating common misconceptions, they would have learned there’s a different story to be told. For example, the writer seems to think that cattle will only produce methane if they are being fed a grain based diet. Methane is a byproduct of rumination, not the diet. There is also evidence that suggests grain fed beef actually produce less emissions over their lifetime compared to other production methods. Along with that, even though rumination produces methane, that is the process that allows us to convert indigestible forages into human consumable protein. It allows us to utilize the vast majority of land on this planet that doesn’t allow for farming. The University of Chicago study that is cited is the same one that Michael Pollan used to cite as well until the authors of that study clarified that that wasn’t true. It’s another example of the sad state of journalism today.

Alleged Horse Shocking at CNFR

Group targets CNFR
By TOM MORTON - Star-Tribune staff writer Posted: Saturday, June 19, 2010 1:30 am

An animal rights group posted a video on YouTube on Thursday showing three scenes of a man covertly shocking what appears to be two different horses to force them to buck during Thursday's performance of the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper.

"They claim [horses] are born to buck," said Steve Hindi, president of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK.

"They are not," Hindi said.

The video appears to show a young man wearing blue jeans, a long-sleeve tan shirt and black hat with his hands on the horses' necks and pulling them quickly away.

In all scenes, he immediately tucks a device under his unbuttoned sleeve.

In the first and second scenes, the slow-motion versions show the man holding in his left hand what Hindi says is a Miller Manufacturing Hot-Shot Power-mite electric prod. Read More

If you watch the video it’s pretty clear that the guy is holding a handheld electric prod. What is not clear is whether or not he is actually using it. SHARK is claiming that the prod is being used on the horses, but there is no evidence of that. Those things don’t work on contact, the button has to be pushed and we can’t tell from the video if that is happening. So unless this animal rights group can provide evidence that it is actually being used rather than just having it available then they shouldn’t be accusing anyone of anything.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pork Youth Ambassadors

Youth Ambassadors active at World Pork Expo
By By Jean
Date Modified: 06/17/2010 9:25 AM

DES MOINES — Pork Youth Ambassadors Jason Welter and Sarah Pakala wear navy blue polo shirts that say "We Care" with the Pork Checkoff logo on the sleeve, and they invite people to ask them questions.

Welter just graduated from South Central College in Mankato with a degree in agricultural business. He is returning home to Stewartville, Minn., to help with his family's hog operation and to work for a neighbor.

Pakala is an Iowa State University senior majoring in ag studies from Dike.They joined other ambassadors from around the country for training and helped with National Pork Board activities at World Pork Expo.

Welter grew up on his parents, Myrna and Randy,'s farrow-to-finish operation. They now farrow 125 sows and raise 600 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. His father works full-time at Mayo Clinic. Welter has six brothers and sisters.

Pakala is new to the pork industry. Her interest developed when she began working for Ed Juhl, who has a hog operation near Hudson.Both won a competition to be their state's pork ambassador.

Pakala helps with World Pork Expo, the Iowa Pork Congress, the Iowa State Fair and she also works with middle school students and 4-H members.

"I'm educating the public on the good story of the pork industry," she said. Read More

We have the great pleasure of working with many groups of young adults interested in agriculture every year. The enthusiasm for promoting agriculture and the passion for making sure every consumer is receiving correct information about how food gets on their plates is incredible. With all of the energy ready to go to work, we just need to help them find the opportunities to use it. Programs like the Pork Youth Ambassadors do just that. These young people are some of our greatest advocates and they deserve all the support we can give them. ~Troy

HSUS Sues Farm

HSUS seeks stop to Rose Acre claims

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed a complaint this week with the Federal Trade Commission asking it to order Rose Acre Farms to stop making "false and misleading animal welfare claims."

The complaint accuses Rose Acre, through its promotions, web sites and spokespeople, of falsely stating that the company, the second-largest commercial egg producer in the U.S., provides a "humane and friendly environment" for its hens. HSUS said this is "grossly misleading."

HSUS referred to clandestinely filmed video at three of the company's hen houses in Iowa that "found conditions starkly at odds with the cheerful claims of the company" (Feedstuffs, April 12).

Rose Acre attorney Joe Miller said the company has not yet seen the complaint but stands behind its animal welfare program "and the humane way that we treat our animals."

HSUS is an industrial activist and lobbying organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Link

So it appears that the HSUS is now in the business of suing farms if they don’t raise livestock in a HSUS-approved way. While that’s the way it appears on the surface, the reality is that this is another tactic to shut down animal agriculture completely. They will continue to harass livestock farmers until their vegan agenda is accomplished. During that time, they will be telling consumers anything they can think of that might scare them away from consuming animal products. If farmers and ranchers aren’t out there telling their own story, this is who will be doing it for you. ~Troy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Beef Industry Fights Hunger

Beef industry helps in the fight against hunger
by Tommy Noel

POCATELLO - Idaho's beef industry is helping in the fight against hunger.
Over 3,000 pounds of beef were donated to the Idaho Foodbank, courtesy of Beef Counts.

This will help feed the 116,000 people who depend on free emergency food each month.

The cattle industry-food bank partnership is the only one of its kind in the country.

"Protein is one of the things the Foodbank lacks in a big way. Today, the Foodbank can only give about five pounds a month to every family that they service. This is going to go a long ways to increase that in a significant way, and this is just the beginning," says Rick Stott of Agri Beef Co.

In addition to the beef, a $50,000 check was donated by Agri Beef Company.

The meat will now be distributed to the Foodbank's 78 partner agencies, such as the Salvation Army and various senior citizen centers. Link

The headline says it all. The beef industry is helping fight hunger, just like the farmers and ranchers that produce every other type of commodity that the human existence relies on. I’ve been proud to be involved in volunteering at food banks across the United States and there is no doubt that they serve an important need. It was especially apparent when the economy started to fall a few years ago. Many folks who lost their jobs needed some temporary help to put food on their table. Every time you volunteer at one of these food banks it’s a great reminder about what’s truly important and where our priorities should be.

Animal Rights Activists Destroy Denver Business

Jun 15, 2010 9:48 pm US/Mountain
Police: Animal Rights Activist Implicated In Fire

DENVER (AP) ― Police investigating a fire that destroyed a Denver-area business say they're seriously considering a claim by an animal rights activist who takes credit for it.

Police have said a fire that destroyed the Sheepskin factory in April was suspicious. Glendale Police Chief Victor Ross says his department is looking closely at a claim on a website associated with the Animal Liberation Front.

The posting by "ALF Lone Wolf" says the business was torched in retaliation for "innocent animals" killed by people.

The Animal Liberation Front is aligned with the Earth Liberation Front, whose members were convicted in a 1998 fire at the Vail ski resort that did $12 million in damage.

The Sheepskin Factory has reopened at a temporary storefront. It sells pet toys and sheepskin seat covers. Link

It’s amazing how tough these cowards think they are when they are using aliases. Yet they aren’t committed enough to their cause to use their real name. Farmers and ranchers are proud to share their names and how they feed the world because they are committed to the cause. Hopefully these arsonists are caught soon before they endanger any more human lives.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Modern Ag Feeding The World, Benefitting The Environment

High-yield agriculture slows pace of global warming, say FSE researchers
Louis Bergeron - Stanford News Service

Advances in high-yield agriculture over the latter part of the 20th century have prevented massive amounts of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere - the equivalent of 590 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide - according to a new study led by two Stanford Earth scientists.

The yield improvements reduced the need to convert forests to farmland, a process that typically involves burning of trees and other plants, which generates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The researchers estimate that if not for increased yields, additional greenhouse gas emissions from clearing land for farming would have been equal to as much as a third of the world's total output of greenhouse gases since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in 1850.

The researchers also calculated that for every dollar spent on agricultural research and development since 1961, emissions of the three principal greenhouse gases - methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide - were reduced by the equivalent of about a quarter of a ton of carbon dioxide - a high rate of financial return compared to other approaches to reducing the gases.

"Our results dispel the notion that modern intensive agriculture is inherently worse for the environment than a more 'old-fashioned' way of doing things," said Jennifer Burney, lead author of a paper describing the study that will be published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read More

This study is pretty clear. Modern agriculture has saved billions of tons of greenhouse gasses from escaping into the atmosphere. When we invest in agriculture and implement modern practices, not only do we keep mass starvation from occurring, but it’s also beneficial for the environment. When we see people like Michael Pollan urging us to support an agricultural system that denounces modern technology, you need to realize everything they are asking for. What sounds romantic on the surface doesn’t hold water in reality.

A Failed Food System??

Amanda Hitt: Our food system is failing us
Amanda Hitt food integrity campaign director of the Government Accountability Project Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 4:30 am 1 Comment

In May, E. coli-laden romaine lettuce sickened dozens of Americans in five states, and a food-related listeria outbreak has killed at least two Texans. An endless deluge of foodborne illness outbreaks demands re-evaluation of our current food system.

Americans must broaden their evaluation of food safety, however, beyond the finished product, and take the quality of the overall production cycle into account. While outbreaks and hospitalizations grab headlines, there are unseen costs to our production system. We must start putting a premium on food integrity and re-evaluate the entire process -- from soil to plate.

Foodborne illness sickens over 76 million Americans every year, causing 725,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. One recent Georgetown University study showed that the related costs of these illnesses (medical bills, lost wages, decreased productivity) totals over $152 billion a year.

But the true cost of foodborne illness is far greater. The societal and environmental impacts of food production are themselves a type of “foodborne illness” that sickens habitats and communities. These costs must be accounted for. Read More

I find it insulting to everyone who produces food and fiber in this country when people claim that our food system has failed. One of the first numbers they like to bring up is that 76 million cases of food poisoning happens every year. This is certainly a large number and no one in our industry will be happy until it’s zero but let’s put it in perspective. There are about one billion meals consumed every day in this country alone. That means that 99.98% of the meals consumed in this country happen without incident. Is that worthy of being called a failure? Today’s farmers and ranchers are producing more food and fiber with fewer inputs than at any point in the history of the world. Is that a failure? Our livestock are healthier than ever before thus producing a consistent product. Along with that the world has never before seen a safer, more affordable, more abundant food supply. Is that a failure? There is no doubt that we can continue to improve upon our practices but the abundant supplies of food and clothing in this country seems to make it overly easy for our detractors to be critical of our industry.

Ag Student's Livestock Abused, Tortured

Jun 9, 2010 10:26 pm US/Pacific
Dozens Of Animals Brutally Attacked At High School

WINTERS, Calif. (CBS13) ― An unknown number of suspects savagely hurt and killed dozens of animals in an attack on a high school agriculture department, stunning students and staff and sparking a search for the people responsible.

Officials said students at Winters High School discovered the horrific scene Wednesday morning after vandals opened up all the pens and began killing and torturing many of the animals.

All of the department's steers were let out into the field and all the other corrals were opened up, said high school junior Prestlie Pearce.

At least 25 chickens were killed, many with their necks snapped and wings broken, and five pigs were shoved into a sewage pit. The pigs were forced to stand on their hind legs to keep their snouts above the sewage and fought each other all night while trying to get out.

"I don't know how you could shove five pigs into a three-by-three sewer hole that's five feet deep," Pearce said.

Staff member Eliott Hererra helped rescue the pigs and said he was surprised to see they survived the ordeal."They were stacked on top of each other," Hererra said. "The gut feeling of seeing those pigs struggle made me want to throw up." Read More

This was a horrible event that happened last week. While there are some of the fringe in our society that think feeding livestock in a pen or using them for a food source is abuse, I think most everyone could agree that the people who did this are the ones that we should truly be concerned with.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

FB meeting

Having a great time at the Farm Bureau meeting.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

EPA Disapproval Vote Tomorrow

Rockefeller Backs Murkowski's EPA Resolution in Senate
Published: June 9, 2010

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) will vote for a resolution to hamstring U.S. EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, he said yesterday.

"I intend to vote for Senator Murkowski's Resolution of Disapproval because I believe we must send a strong message that the fate of West Virginia's economy, our manufacturing industries, and our workers should not be solely in the hands of EPA," Rockefeller said in a statement.

The Senate will vote tomorrow on a disapproval resolution (S.J.Res. 26 (pdf)) from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would essentially veto EPA's "endangerment" finding, a scientific determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health and welfare. The finding is the basis for EPA's greenhouse gas regulations, which are set to take effect next year.

Asked yesterday whether she thought she could muster the votes needed for passage, Murkowski said, "It really is dependent on many of our colleagues on the other side, who have said they agree that the EPA moving forward is the worst option. So now they've got an opportunity to really back that statement by supporting this resolution of disapproval."

Read More

This vote is still on schedule for tomorrow. Please contact your Senators and urge their support for this resolution. The endangerment finding by the unelected officials at the EPA will drive up the cost of everything from food to energy with no foreseeable benefits. In order to get this done though everyone need to let their opinion be heard. Take a couple minutes right now to do it.

Another Pet Shelter Suffers From Name Confusion

Tuesday June 8, 2010
Donations to local animal shelter down more than 30 percent
Director says economy, confusion over name might have led to decline
by Billy Wolfe
Daily Mail staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Donations to the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association shelter are down about $70,000 from this time last year, according to the shelter's bookkeeper.

In June 2009, the shelter had about $212,000 in donations on hand. As of Monday, the shelter had about $141,000, bookkeeper Barbara Taylor said.

The state of the economy may to be blame. Taylor said a $25,000 allocation from the Kanawha County Commission for a new truck also inflated last year's numbers somewhat.

But Director Donna Clark said the shelter has always faced an uphill battle with fundraising. One thing that has made it difficult to raise money over the years is the name of the shelter, she said.

Because the shelter's name includes the word "humane," Clark said many donors mistakenly believe their donations to the Humane Society of the United States directly support the local shelter.

She said the local shelter and the national organization are two totally separate entities, although the Humane Society has given some money to the shelter in the past.

"We hear it all the time, 'But I already gave to the Humane Society,' " she said. "They think they are helping the shelter here, but they don't understand that money doesn't come locally."

Read More

Add another local pet shelter to an ever-growing list who say that the HSUS is damaging their efforts to provide hands on pet care in their communities.

Agri-Women Share Truth About Food Inc.

American Agri-Women challenge message of movie Food, Inc.
By Drovers news source Monday, June 07, 2010

American Agri-Women is attempting to bridge the gap in the debate over food production. Food, Inc. is a documentary that aims to change the way America eats and the way American food is produced, but many in the agriculture world say the movie did not get it right. American Agri-Women wants to clear up misconceptions from the movie and continue the dialogue about America's food.

"Movies like Food, Inc. demonstrate how important it is that farmers share with consumers how food is produced. And as producers, we are interested in providing that information,” said American Agri-Women President, Chris Wilson. “Women in agriculture have a unique perspective because we are both producers and consumers. We help grow the food, and we also prepare it for our families to eat.”

Unfortunately, the film does not portray agriculture accurately. It suggests the food supply is dominated by corporate farms. However, the 2007 edition of USDA Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, found that 98% of farms in the U.S. - more than 2.1 million - are family owned and operated. The truth is, according to Wilson, millions of family farmers work hard every day on their farms and ranches to bring us the food on our tables. Wilson and her family live on a farm of their own near Manhattan, Kansas. Read More

The absolute best way to correct the misinformation being spread about agriculture is for farmers and ranchers to personally set the record straight. Hollywood movies like Food Inc. are more concerned about the money they can generate rather than sharing the truth. People want to know the truth and they want to hear it from the people that grow their food. If you don’t want Michael Pollan or Wayne Pacelle telling your story for you then you better stand up and do it yourself.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Loos Trails and Tales

I was lucky enough to be a guest of Trent Loos on Loos Trails and Tales this morning. We discussed my conversations with John Jordan of Jordan Winery from last week and how this situation was almost identical to what happened when Yellow Tail chose to donate money to the Humane Society of the United States.

To learn more about Trent Loos, you can visit him on the web at

Monday, June 7, 2010

President Hears About Border Ranchers Concerns

Border ranchers react to White House meeting
Posted:Friday, June 4, 2010

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - All eyes and ears were on Governor Brewer and President Obama on Thursday as the two met at the White House to discuss securing the border, including sending National Guard troops.

Arguably, few have more at stake than the ranching community of southern Arizona who spend their days and nights keeping watch over their property. In late March of this year, one of their own, Robert Krentz was shot to death on his ranch near Douglas. The killer's identity is unknown, as is the killer's immigration status. But investigators have said they suspect the murder was the work of an illegal border crosser.

Even after the senseless murder, border crimes against Kentz' family and the close-knit ranching community haven't stopped.

KGUN9 talked to Gary Thrasher, a friend of the Krentz family and also a rancher. Thrasher explained what has been happening in the areas closest to the border.

"People are breaking into homes, intimidating women to lock themselves into bedrooms. There have been 2 or 3 threats since Rob's been killed," Thrasher said.

Thrasher said that a Border Patrol union leader recently told him the patrol itself doesn't feel safe. "If they don't think it's safe, how can anyone else think it's safe?" Read More

If the Border Patrol doesn’t want to protect the border because it’s too dangerous, don’t you think it’s time to do something about this problem. Why is our country sacrificing miles of our own soil and endangering the lives of our own citizens? With the government wanting to be so involved in our personal lives these days, why can’t it uphold one of the few specific responsibilities it’s supposed to, such as protecting and defending our borders?

Avoiding Spies On Your Farm

Farms beset by spies
Even humane facilities undertake precautions
Sunday, June 6, 2010 02:59 AM
By Holly Zachariah

Dave Thorbahn knows his business is a target. Some of his 184 employees already have been offered cash to videotape what goes on inside his barns.

Who offered them the money or why, Thorbahn can’t say. It could have been someone looking for trade secrets, but he suspects otherwise. He wonders whether it was someone working for an animal-rights organization that wanted a peek inside Select Sires, a bull-semen facility with 1,791 bulls in 57 barns in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Thorbahn is president and CEO of the bovine-genetics business, which happens to have its headquarters along Rt. 42 near Plain City, with buildings directly across the highway from and beside Conklin Dairy Farms, a relatively small farm with just a handful of employees.

But Conklin’s place has been the subject of a criminal investigation since Mercy For Animals, an animal-rights group that promotes a vegan lifestyle, released on May 24 a secretly recorded video showing an employee of Conklin Farms viciously beating and abusing cows and calves.

Conklin herdsman Billy Joe Gregg was subsequently fired and has been charged with 12 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and a felony weapons charge.

Mercy For Animals’ executive director, Nathan Runkle, said an investigator working for his organization was in Ohio applying for jobs at several farms and was living near Conklin’s when he caught wind of potential abuse there and was hired.

Thorbahn isn’t so sure it was that simple.

“I have to ask myself, were they in this area because of us?” he said. “We’d be quite a plum for an organization like that.” Read More

Every farm or ranch that raises livestock is a target for the animal rights groups that use undercover videos to raise money. While it’s hard to believe that farmers and ranchers would need to protect themselves against the very people they feed and clothe, that is the sad reality. They are desperately trying to get hired anywhere they can. It’s important that farmers and ranchers protect themselves against hiring someone like this. The reason it is important is because these undercover spies won’t be there to work and take care of livestock. They will be more concerned about looking for a camera shot that they can get paid for and may play well with consumers that don’t understand animal husbandry. And, when they can’t accomplish that goal, they will simply not show up for work any longer and move to the next place, here again leaving the proper care of the livestock in jeopardy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

All Eggs Taste The Same

Backyard eggs vs. store-bought: They taste the same
By Tamar Haspel
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 2, 2010; E01

Fresh eggs from well-treated chickens taste better than supermarket eggs. Ask anyone who raises chickens, or anyone who's thinking about raising chickens, or anyone who gets eggs from anyone who raises chickens. Ask anyone, actually.

Well, as of about a year ago, I raise chickens. And I wanted to believe.

When my husband, Kevin, and I made the move two years ago from Manhattan to two wooded acres on Cape Cod, we were determined to do all the things we couldn't do in the city. We garden, of course. We also fish and hunt, shellfish and lobster. We grow mushrooms and make sea salt. We brew root beer and dandelion wine.

And we raise chickens. Apparently, so does everybody and his brother. There aren't any official stats: Backyard chickens fly under the Department of Agriculture's radar. But they seem to be all the rage.

We collected our first egg last Sept. 22 (we made book on it). Although it was a runty thing, a scant two inches high, I rushed to my husband's office to show him. We have both known all our lives that chickens lay eggs, but we held it in our hands and marveled at the miraculousness of it, as though our chicken had laid a fig, or maybe a truffle. That evening, to keep the shell intact, we carefully poked holes in both ends and blew out the contents, which we scrambled in a little bit of butter. There was just enough for each of us to have a bite.

It was, of course, delicious. But it got me wondering. How much of the deliciousness came from the idea of it, and how much came from the actual yolk and white of it? Read More

Our urban and suburban friends have been busy starting their backyard food producing enterprises over the last couple years. But as the work gets more tedious and the romance wears off we finally start to see the reality come into view. I don’t have a problem with people raising their own food in a garden or with some backyard livestock but looking objectively at what it produces is important. I think the thing to remember is that there is always a lot of hype surrounding new and trendy things. It’s how you feel a year later about your new and trendy thing that tells the real story.

Consumers Will Support GM Food

Food Technology: 'What's in it for Me?'
by International Food Information Council Foundation Jun 04, 2010

Many of us can probably recall a time when we waited in a long line just to purchase the latest mobile or electronic technology. But, do we have the same reaction when it comes to technology used in food production? Granted, it may not seem as exciting as that new MP3 player or cell phone, but does food technology deserve a bad rap? What do Americans really think about food technology, and what types of messages resonate with them?

To gain insight into these very issues, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) recently conducted our 14 "Consumer Perceptions of Food Technology" Survey (formerly the "IFIC Survey of Consumer Attitudinal Trends toward Food Biotechnology"), which explores U.S. consumers' perceptions of various aspects of plant and animal biotechnology, as well as sustainability and new and emerging technologies such as nanotechnology.

Key Takeaways

While we gained several interesting insights from this year's Survey, one of the most important takeaways was that Americans' support of the use of food biotechnology is strongest when they consider its potential benefits for impacting issues of importance to them, such as reducing the impact of food and food production on the environment, and improving sustainability. Read More

The things that consumers want genetically enhanced foods to accomplish is exactly what they are doing. They were designed so less pesticides and herbicides would need to be used. We are producing more with less and feeding the world. Unfortunately there are many consumers out there who are basing their opinions about this technology off scary headlines and rumors. If consumers can look through the emotion and take an objective look at it, we’d all be better off.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Study Shows Grain Fed Beef Healthier Than Grass Fed

Study Shows Ground Beef From Grain-Fed Cattle Healthier Than Grass-Fed
05/27/2010 10:49AM

COLLEGE STATION – Grass-fed beef may not have as many healthful traits as some perceive, according to results from a recent Texas AgriLife Research study.

Dr. Stephen Smith, an AgriLife Research meat scientist, and a team of researchers have found that contrary to popular perception, ground beef from pasture-fed cattle had no beneficial effects on plasma lipid.

However, high monounsaturated fat ground beef from grain-fed cattle increased HDL cholesterol, increased LDL particle diameters, and decreased insulin, suggesting that ground beef produced by intensive production practices provides “a healthful, high-quality source of protein.”

"We wanted to see from this study if product from pasture-fed and corn-fed cattle had different effects on LDL or HDL cholesterol," Smith said. "We looked at the scientific literature and could not find any justifications for the statement that pasture-fed beef is better for you. All we found were rat studies in which they were fed omega-3 fatty acids, so we wanted to know if this applied to beef from grass-fed cattle."

"There really were no negative effects of feeding ground beef from the pasture-fed cattle," Smith said. "We did see many positive effects in men that consumed ground beef from corn-fed cattle. The ground beef from the USDA Prime cattle increased HDL cholesterol and LDL particle diameter. Both effects are protective against cardiovascular disease. The Prime ground beef also decreased insulin, so it may have some protective effect against type II diabetes." Read More

The biggest thing this study should provide for us is the fact that all beef is healthy for us. It doesn’t do anyone any good to vilify the type of beef our neighbor raises. It doesn’t matter what type of food you are raising, if you have to make up scary stories and spew misinformation about other products in order to promote your own, then you have a problem. All of us have preferences about what we like and don’t like but in the end we have a huge responsibility to provide food and fiber for the planet.

ND Shelters Losing Money to Confused HSUS Donors

Difference between local, national Humane Societies confuses animal donors
Consumer Freedom center criticizes national group, which says it doesn’t claim to be a source for local sheltersA group that’s been critical of the national Humane Society renewed its jabs Wednesday, detailing in a state-by-state report on how little the society donates to local animal shelters.
By: Dave Roepke, The Forum
Grand Forks Herald

A group that’s been critical of the national Humane Society renewed its jabs Wednesday, detailing in a state-by-state report on how little the society donates to local animal shelters.
The Humane Society of the United States dismisses the criticism by the Center for Consumer Freedom, saying it doesn’t claim to be a source of grant money for local animal shelters.

Regardless of the goal of the national group, directors of shelters in Grand Forks and Fargo say they often battle the notion that donations to the HSUS will go to actual shelters.

“I definitely think it’s an issue,” said Arlette Moen, executive director of Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks.

Moen and the executive director of the FM Humane Society, Nukhet Hendricks, said they regularly encounter indications that some donors draw no distinction between their outfits and the national group.

“We have people walk into the shelter and say, ‘Oh, I give to the Humane Society of the United States,’” Moen said. “That’s our opportunity to tell them, ‘No, it doesn’t work that way.’”

Read More

It has to be incredibly frustrating for local shelters to see local money being donated to the HSUS by people who mistakenly believe they support pet shelters. I find news stories like this on a very regular basis now. Some shelters are now changing their names just so they can distance themselves from the HSUS because the confusion is affecting their ability to get donations. But the fact that HSUS is causing this hardship doesn’t seem to bother them much.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CA Winery Stops HSUS Donation

This weekend I found out that Jordan Vineyard and Winery in Sonoma County, CA was going to be hosting a HSUS fundraiser on June 5. After my involvement in getting Yellow Tail wine to stop their donation to HSUS and my now famous YouTube video I received many emails asking if I was going to dust off my video camera for another round.

But this time I picked up the phone instead and called the winery this morning. I explained who I was and what my concerns were about their planned donation. The helpful lady on the other end of the line took down my information and said she would have someone get back to me. A few hours later my phone rings and it’s none other than John Jordan himself, owner of the vineyard and winery.

Right off the bat he explained to me that they had made a mistake and were trying to fix the situation as best they could. He admitted that he really didn’t know the HSUS wasn’t associated with any dog or cat shelters. The intention was to raise money to help unwanted animals and he mistakenly assumed the HSUS did that. The truth of the matter is they don’t and Mr. Jordan understands that now too.

While the fundraiser for this Saturday night is still going to happen, the HSUS will not be receiving a penny of the money that will be raised. All proceeds will be given to local pet shelters that will actually use the money to help pets.

While there’s no word on whether or not Wayne Pacelle will still be attending the fundraiser, the good news is that those who need the money the worst and can use it best will be getting it.

Tonight I will be raising my glass to John Jordan and his family for realizing their mistake and making it right.