Monday, December 5, 2011

Fur and Wool Ban Not Popular

November 30, 2011
A Cool Reception to a Ban on Fur
FUR is everywhere on the high fashion row of Melrose Avenue. It lines jackets on the mannequins in John Varvatos, dangles from scarves in the windows of Kitson, and drapes from hangers at Maxfield. Even on a 75-degree day in November, fur remains very much in season here.
And in the last week, these swanky window displays have become something of a political statement, a symbol of resistance to an ordinance that was passed Nov. 21 making this city the first in the country to ban the sale of fur apparel.
While boutiques here prepare for the ban to take effect in September 2013, Melrose Avenue may offer an early reading on the future of fur in the fashion industry: Even as animal rights activists declare victory, designers and storeowners have reiterated their commitment to fur’s place in high fashion, warning that shoppers will simply take their business outside of West Hollywood.
At the boutiques along Melrose Avenue, sales clerks scoffed at the idea that fur was falling out of fashion. One called the ban “ridiculous,” another said it was “super annoying.” Far from beginning to clear fur from their shelves, store owners are instead talking about clearing out of the city.     Read More
You'd be hard pressed to find anyone that believes West Hollywood, CA would represent the views of mainstream America.  This ban on fur and wool has gone so far though that even many of the people that live and work there feel that it's ridiculous.  Livestock and even wild animals provide us with many significant resources.  When it comes to the fur from wild animals, it's necessary for us to manage their populations appropriately anyhow so we might as well utilize the resources they provide us rather than waste them.  
Interestingly enough, these people even banned the sale of wool in this ordinance.  Giving a sheep a haircut once a year hardly matches the cruelty that PETA, HSUS and other anti-agriculture group would like you to believe.  -Troy

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My November Column

Every month I write a column for the Dakota Farmer magazine.  I've really enjoyed writing it over the last couple years.  Last months column was pretty special for me.  I've had several people tell me that this has been their favorite article I've written.  Take a look and tell me what you think.

Click here to see the magazine article.

The cable news channel CNN ran a story on their website this summer that raised the question “Does 4-H desensitizes kids to killing?”.  As a former 4-H member for 13 years and the parent of a first year 4-H member this certainly caught my attention.  Over the course of those 13 years I spent countless hours leading, washing, combing and clipping on calves.  I did everything I could to make them as comfortable and healthy as possible.  So how could anyone ever believe that this somehow desensitizes kids?  
According to the story, some believe that 4-H helps desensitize youngsters into having no emotional attachment to animals raised for food.  A few of the commenters even tried to claim that this was some grand conspiracy by the meat industry to keep them in business.  Apparently by forcing these kids to sell their livestock to be processed somehow turns them into greedy, uncaring people and will lead to a life of mistreating the animals in their care.  
The truth of the matter is that it teaches kids about responsibility and how life works and is sustained.  We just capped off our 4-H year with a trip to Rapid City, SD for the Western Junior Livestock Show.  It’s a tremendous show that our son was very excited to be part of.  For his first year in 4-H he decided to show a bred heifer named Morgan.  All summer and through the fall he learned how to care for his calf.  He probably put a hundred miles on his bike just going back and forth to the barn to check on her.  In the end his hard work paid off when he proudly marched his well-behaved heifer into that show ring with a grin on his face.  
While we were at the show I tried to figure out how all of the hard work each one of those kids had put in that summer could somehow be a bad thing?  I didn’t see any desensitized kids.  What I saw were hard working, polite young people, working with their families and their fellow 4-Her’s to learn responsibility and proper livestock care.  
I also couldn’t help but think what a better place our world may be if every kid had a “Morgan” in their life for just one summer.  Morgan will be in our herd for the next several years but like every cow on the ranch her time will come to an end.  However, the lessons she taught our son will last forever and for that I’m grateful.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Food Defense Drill

TPS holding 'food defense' drill today 

by: ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
11/8/2011 10:59:54 AM

Tulsa Public Schools and local emergency responders will be conducting a "food defense" drill Tuesday. 

Officials said evaluations of potential terrorist threats revealed that the school district's food production and distribution system could be vulnerable to attack from an individual or group wanting to cause public panic or harm to children and their families through the intentional contamination of food.

In addition to TPS officials, Tuesday's drill will involve the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency, the Tulsa Health Department, emergency response and law enforcement agencies and local healthcare providers.

"Our job is to evaluate potential threats to our schools, and there is always the possibility that schools could become a target," said Bob Roberts, emergency management coordinator for TPS. "It's important that we act proactively to prevent the tampering of foods that are used in schools. We need to be prepared for emergency situations, to respond quickly and effectively if a crisis occurs and to have recovery plans in place.

The practice exercise will test our battle readiness and ensure that we are in the best possible shape to act should an event occur."

The exercise will be a discussion-based drill based on a Department of Agriculture toolkit that will guide participants through a mock scenario of an intentional food contamination in the schools.   Read More

A couple of things crossed my mind when I read this.  First was about how things have changed over the years.  We've gone from nuclear attack drills now to food defense drills.  And the second thought I had was that this should remind everyone how important a home-grown food supply really is.  The quickest way that our country could lose it's sovereignty is by relying on other countries to produce the food and fiber we depend on.  So when we see anti-agriculture groups trying to regulate farmers and ranchers out of business in this country they are really damaging our country's ability to survive.   -Troy

Friday, November 4, 2011

Steaks for Troops Needs Your Help

It was last January when I had the privilege of meeting Bill Broadie.  Bill has spent his entire life in the beef industry except for the years he gave to his country.  He's a Vietnam War veteran that, like many of his fellow soldiers, didn't receive the hero's welcome he should have when he came home from the war. 
It's hard for me to understand why this would ever happen but Bill wanted to make sure that our current soldiers didn't have to experience the same thing.  He combined his passion for the beef industry with his appreciation for our nation's returning heroes when he formed the All-American Beef Battalion.  It's a program that feeds our troops and their families the best home-cooked steak dinner imaginable when they return home from the war. 
Going out for a nice steak dinner with our families is something that most of us take for granted.  But these soldiers haven't seen their families in months or years and during that time they certainly weren't eating at a nice restaurant.  Listening to Bill tell the stories of how much our troops appreciate this simple act of appreciation will bring a tear to anyone's eye and make you appreciate everything you have. 
We were excited when Bill called us this week to give us an update on the program.  They have fed nearly 100,000 steaks to our troops and their families since the program started. This program runs on the generosity of those who donate money and supplies.  But lately they have been feeding more steaks than there is cash coming in.  Every soldier deserves our thanks for their sacrifice which is why I’m proud to donate so they can enjoy a great steak served by America’s farmers and ranchers.  
I would really encourage all of you to support it as well.  They are a non-profit that relies on people like you.  If they can't get that support then our troops don't get to enjoy one of these meals.  
Bill is serving his country for the second time in his life, let's give him the appreciation and support he should have gotten the first time.  Please visit the All-American Beef Battalion and make a donation today.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pet Shelters Suffer from HSUS Campaigns

Humane Society in the doghouse over budget

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Humane Society.
No, not the Plainfield Area Humane Society. Or the Associated Humane Societies, which operates at Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey.
This is the Humane Society of the United States, the national animal-advocacy organization that counts 11 million people as members and rakes in nearly $100 million a year in grants and donations. While it may share part of the name with several local animal shelters, just a fraction of the Humane Society’s coffers trickles down.
In New Jersey, the organization donated $21,178 to 10 shelters and animal groups in 2009 and 2010, according a report released last week slamming the Humane Society for not giving more money to local groups.
Nora Breen, director of Second Chance for Animals, whose volunteers support the Franklin Township Animal Shelter in Somerset County, said it was “disappointing” that more money isn’t going to local groups.
“In a small organization (people who donate) can be guaranteed that the money we raise from them goes directly to help the animals,” she said. “We don’t pay salaries to any volunteers. When you get into these larger organizations, you don’t know where the money is going.”
Second Chance received $2,000 in 2009 from the Humane Society.
But the Associated Humane Societies, which runs shelters in Newark, the Forked River section of Lacey and Tinton Falls, was not as fortunate.    Read More
Local shelters that actually do care for unwanted pets continue to be harmed by the HSUS and their intentionally confusing fundraising campaigns.  If you really want to help these pets please inform as many people as possible about this.  Your local pet shelters will thank you.  -Troy

Friday, October 21, 2011

Farmers Union Partners with HSUS in Nebraska

HSUS tries a new approach in Nebraska

Is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) changing its strategy in regards to state-by-state ballot initiatives?
At a news conference in Lincoln Tuesday, the HSUS joined the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) in announcing the formation of an advisory body called the Nebraska Agriculture Council of The Humane Society of the United States.
Chief among the new council’s goals will be creating market opportunities for farmers and ranchers who want to market “humanely-raised” meat and poultry products.  Officials of both groups say the council will also “facilitate a dialogue with individual farmers, ranchers and the organizations that represent them.”
NeFU president John Hansen says that, as part of their agreement to work with HSUS on the project, the animal rights organization has assured him that it will not pursue an animal welfare ballot initiative in the state.
But other Nebraska ag and livestock groups, who have been girding for battle with HSUS, were not impressed with the announcement.  Pete McClymont of Nebraska Cattlemen, who is president of the We Support Agriculture coalition, says they are “shocked and disappointed that any Nebraska ag group would align itself with an extreme animal rights organization such as HSUS.
“It is disturbing that somebody would reach out to groups that want to eliminate, if not restrict, animal agriculture like the animal rights groups,” McClymont says.     Read More
It's hard to fathom that anyone in agriculture would be willing to trust what HSUS has to say.  It's also hard to understand why a group like Farmer's Union would turn against some family farmers by claiming that they don't raise their cattle humanely.  HSUS doesn't own the right to declare what is humane and what isn't and for a group like Farmers Union to sell their soul to work with them shows an incredible lack of leadership and backbone.  It's an apparent desperate attempt to legitimize themselves at the expense of their neighbors.  If they were truly interested in this subject they would have worked with the other ag groups in Nebraska rather than the group that has declared war on all types of animal agriculture.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baby on Vegan Diet Dies

Murder convictions upheld against vegans in baby's death
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld murder convictions against an Atlanta couple who allowed their 6-week-old baby to starve to death.
Jade Sanders and Lamont Thomas, both vegans, were convicted in 2007 by a Fulton County jury. Living in the Darlington Apartments, they chose to have their son, Crown Shakur, born in a bathtub with no medical aid.
When they took the infant to nearby Piedmont Hospital on April 24, 2005, the baby was emaciated, weighing 3 1/2 pounds. He died of extreme malnourishment. Police said his diet consisted of only soy milk and apple juice.    Read More
This is certainly a tragic case but hopefully because of the death of this baby more people will realize the importance of a balanced diet.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Let's Advocate for Eating a Balanced Diet

Katy Perry struggles to stay vegetarian
By Vicky Allison Aug 22, 2011, 12:40 GMT
Pop star Katy Perry is finding it hard to stick to her pledge to stay vegetarian and has been secretly eating chicken and turkey, according to a friend.
The 26-year-old, who is currently on the US leg of her California Dreams tour, has failed her challenge to go vegetarian like husband Russell Brand.
British funnyman Brand, 36, was crowned sexiest vegetarian last year by PETA, but the Teenage Dream hitmaker likes meat too much to stick to his diet.
A source told British newspaper the Daily Mail: 'Russell has been a veggie for 22 years, but Katy adores meat.
'She did give it up for a while for Russell's sake but is finding it a struggle.'  Link

I will be excited for the day when we stop seeing celebrities urging people to be on this fad diet or that one.  We should all be able to agree that eating a well balanced diet that includes eating meat and dairy products is still the best bet.  Especially for children, we should never be advocating they eat an unbalanced diet even for a single day.  We continue to see people that struggle with their diet and health.  Regular exercise and a balanced diet would eliminate many of the problems that are occurring.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How Animal Rights Activists Harm People

Slaughtering Indonesia's cattle trust
David Leyonhjelm
Published 1:50 PM, 16 Aug 2011 Last update 1:50 PM, 16 Aug 2011
The government’s decision to halt live cattle exports to Indonesia, without prior warning, deeply disturbed Indonesia. Australian beef accounts for 25 per cent of the country’s meat and is a vital source of protein for millions of Indonesians. There are also thousands employed in feedlots, abattoirs and downstream processing, and Indonesia had considered Australia to be close enough to form part of its own food security.
In addition, the Australian government has long had a policy of supporting neighbouring countries that are members of global animal health organisation OIE as they progressively implement its standards of animal handling and welfare. Indonesia is such a member.
The export ban undermined all that. Many in Indonesia now regard Australia as an unreliable supplier, and there are strong indications the country will seek to diversify its sources by importing cattle and beef from other countries while renewing efforts to become self-sufficient in beef by 2014.

This is a great example of what kind of damage animal rights activists can cause.  I don’t want to see livestock being mistreated but I really don’t want to see people suffering from hunger either.  These extreme activists weren’t concerned about fixing the problems that occurred, they saw this as an opportunity to do damage to the family farmers and ranchers that raised livestock.  Along the way they damaged the families in Indonesia that rely on the beef they raise to feed their families.  Livestock play an important role in feeding hungry people.  It’s just unfortunate that many animal rights activists fail to realize this.  

Revised Guidelines for Livestock Processing

Meat Inspectors Get Clout to Stop Inhumane Slaughter
BY DAN FLYNN | AUG 16, 2011
Meat inspectors at federally regulated plants that slaughter animals got new instructions for humane treatment of animals.

Announced Monday by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the instructions come in the form of a new 40-page directive. The rules go into effect on Sept. 15. 
The directive on enforcement of humane handling codifies changes made in the last few years to ensure that animals going to slaughter are treated properly.  It replaces FSIS policies published in 1998 and 2003.
The new version, which FSIS says is going to require additional training for meat inspectors, includes a definition for "egregious inhumane handling" of animals -- "any act or condition that results in severe harm to animals, which includes the excessive beating or prodding of disabled livestock, stunning animals and allowing them to regain consciousness, or any treatment causing unnecessary pain and suffering."
The directive also provides inspectors with "verification instructions" to ensure that treatment of livestock during handling and slaughter "minimizes the animals' amount of excitement, pain, injury or discomfort."

The goal of everyone in agriculture is to continue improving on our methods.  These guidelines are updated on a fairly regular basis because we keep finding better ways to handle issues that arise.  It’s vital that we learn from problems that have happened in the past and I think this proves that we do.  No one wants to see instances of livestock being mistreated. 

Another Reminder of How Great our Agriculture Is

Food insecurity, a growing problem for PakistanpastedGraphic.pdf

In spite of the significant progress Pakistan has made in food production over the last 60 years, the majority of the population still faces uncertainty in food security on a daily basis.
Over one third of the population suffers from chronic hunger; a significant proportion of the undernourished population has reached a peak of 36%, with 95,000 just children. About 48% of Pakistan’s 165mn people are deemed to be “food insecure”, the figure being much higher in the conflict-ridden Fata (67.7%) and Balochistan (61.2%) - placing Pakistan at NO-11 on the index of food stressed countries, which indicates, “extreme risk”.
The problem of availability of food in Pakistan is mainly due to difficulties in production and productivity of its agriculture industry.    Read More

We are so incredibly blessed with the abundance of food in this country.  Most places in the world don’t have anything close to what we do.  One of the main reasons is because of the technological advancements we have made.  Better genetics in our seeds coupled with better fertilizer and farming techniques gives us a near record grain crop year after year.  In livestock production its been the same story.  We are producing more red meat with fewer inputs than ever before.     The best part is that we continue improving every day too.  So no matter what kind of food you like, it’s available in this country and that’s something to celebrate!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Shelter Closing Due to Association with HSUS

Second Chance Rescue Center Closing Its Doors
Published: July 22, 2011, 6:08 AM
SIOUX FALLS, SD - A Sioux Falls animal shelter that recently fired its executive director and has faced financial troubles is closing. 
Second Chance Rescue Center announced Friday morning it could not overcome challenges it was up against and has decided to close its doors Sunday, July 24. 
In May, the organization announced it had fired its founder and executive director Rosey Quinn, but wouldn't say why, and that the shelter was going to head in a new direction. The organization's Board of Directors said that would involve a transition from a rescue center to an adoption center and a name change. 
The shelter also was involved in controversy over the past several years, including the large dog raid in 2009 where 172 dogs were taken from Turner County dog breeder Dan Christensen. The charges against Christensen were dropped when a judge decided Quinn acted illegally in obtaining a search warrant.    Link

Second Chance Rescue in Sioux Falls learned the unfortunate lesson of what happens when you work with a group like the HSUS that is more concerned with ending livestock and pet ownership rather than animal welfare.  As is the case in most animal welfare issues that HSUS is associated with, the animals end up suffering worse.  The HSUS convinced this shelter to lie to a judge in order to get a warrant to seize a group of dogs.  When the truth finally surfaced the judge order the dogs returned and now the Sioux Falls community has one less animal shelter.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Research Proves Pigs Hold the Ability to Grow Human Organs

Pigs could grow human organs in stem cell breakthrough
Human organs could be grown inside pigs for use in transplant operations following research using stem cells.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
9:15AM BST 19 Jun 2011

Scientists have found they can create chimeric animals that have organs belonging to another species by injecting stem cells into the embryo of another species. The researchers injected stem cells from rats into the embryos of mice that had been genetically altered so they could not produce their own organs, creating mice that had rat organs. The researchers say the technique could allow pigs to grow human organs from patient's stem cells for use as transplants. By using a patient's own stem cells it could help to reduce the risk of the transplanted organ being rejected while also providing a plentiful supply of donor organs. Current organ shortages mean that patients must endure long waiting lists for transplants.

Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi, director of the centre for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at the University of Tokyo in Japan and who led the research, said: "Our ultimate goal is to generate human organs from induced pluripotent stem cells. "The technique, called blastocyst complementation, provides us with a novel approach for organ supply. We have successfully tried it between mice and rats. We are now rather confident in generating functional human organs using this approach." Read More

It’s unfortunate that this exciting medical breakthrough will be challenged by animal rights activists that would rather see a pig live than a human being. The idea that livestock are equal to human beings is one that groups like the HSUS and PETA try to sell.  This has the potential to save millions of lives and it’s vital that we keep our eye on what’s truly important. 

Crop Improvement Methods Ridiculed?

Hawaii’s One-sided Love Affair with GMOs
Sunday, June 19, 2011
By Molokai Dispatch staff
Community Contributed
Clearly the GMO corn seed companies have cultivated a love affair with Hawaii’s legislators and governing agencies with a crop of alluring promises of tax and employment benefits. Instead, this love affair has birthed unrestricted and unregulated access to our scarce agriculture resources of water and land for Monsanto, Pioneer,  Syngenta, Dow and BASF, with no oversight, no inspections and no protections against unintended – but sure to happen - consequences.

The GMO seed companies are the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone; with no consumer demand for the non- food product, the companies created an artificial demand called “crop improvement”, then manipulated genes to create new patented life-forms, then controlled all research, production, sales, distribution and ultimately replanting.
Better to advocate FOR environmental responsibility: GMO science promises that there is absolutely NO environmental risk from their new genetic life-forms; that it will never happen. These promises have nothing to do with prudent and practical safeguards that answer the “what if” question and that legislate environmental clean up of any contamination from GMO research companies. Why does our environment need protection?? Read More

Friday, June 17, 2011

Livestock Antibiotic Use Bill Introduced

Senators unveil bipartisan bill to restrict use of antibiotics in food animals
By Julian Pecquet - 06/16/11 05:27 PM ET
Four senators - three Democrats and a Republican - have introduced legislation that would restrict the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
The bill is a companion measure to legislation introduced earlier in the House by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). It would ban farmers from using seven classes of antibiotics critical for human health expect to treat sick animals.
The bill comes as the House on Wednesday repealed a provision of the 2012 agriculture spending bill that aimed to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from similarly restricting antibiotic use in livestock and poultry. The amendment, from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), drew concerns from Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) because of its wide-ranging policy implications.
"Congressman Rehberg has been working with Chairman Upton to highlight his concerns about FDA's burdensome and unscientific regulations on Montana's ag community while avoiding any unintended consequences that could come through the appropriations process," Rehberg spokesman Jed Link told The Hill.   Read More
Theres a couple of things that never get talked about when this issue comes up.  First is that healthy livestock contribute to a healthy human population.  And the other is that by not preventing disease, we will end up treating the disease.  This means that we will end up using more antibiotics in the long run.  I have always used antibiotics in a very judicious manner because I want them to continue to work as well.  The added expense is also  a big deterrent for anyone to use them inappropriately.  
Along with that, any serious reform must involve discussions about how doctors prescribe, and patients use, antibiotics as well.  Livestock use is only part of the total equation.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Animal Rights Group Allowed Abuse to Continue

Games over Indonesian animal cruelty videos cost animals' lives

  • From: The Daily Telegraph

  • June 17, 2011

  • ANIMAL rights groups withheld film evidence of shocking animal cruelty in Indonesian slaughterhouses from the government for three months - before launching a major publicity campaign.
    The RSPCA said it had considered the "ethical" dilemma of refusing the government access to the footage until the ABC's Four Corners highlighted the abuse two weeks ago, and admitted its actions meant thousands of animals would continue to be slaughtered between the time it discovered the brutal killings and when the footage was finally made public.
    But the RSPCA said it feared the government would have done nothing had it been shown the footage earlier.    Read More

    As has been the case with so many undercover videos filmed by animal rights activists, their political motivations were more important than actually stopping the abuse.  For months they were aware of this cruelty yet refused to inform authorities about it.  And now their solution is to end live exports, not how to improve facilities that handle the cattle or better training for those that work in them.  This is like ending the production of cars to prevent traffic accidents.  Their true motivation is to eliminate animal agriculture which explains their actions.  -TH

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Farm American's 2011 Debut

    I was very honored when the Furniture Row Racing team asked me to announce the date of the 2011 debut of the Farm American car!  But first, here's a rundown of the past weeks activities.  And if you haven't heard of the Farm American project you can learn more about it here.

    This past week has been a whirlwind of exciting news about Farm American.  Earlier in the week it was announced that Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer has become the first official financial sponsor for the program.  This third-generation family business based in Michigan is rooted in the same values and has the same commitment to family farmers and ranchers as the Furniture Row team does.  It's going to be a great partnership!

    Having the Agro team come on board this week also reminded many of us about why this program is so important.  It's been designed to directly connect farmers and ranchers with consumers.  It doesn't include some quasi-celebrity delivering a canned message that nobody believes.  We are our own best spokespeople and that exactly who consumers want to meet.

    Even the team owner Barney Visser was re-inspired by everything that's been happening lately.  Because of that he has decided to personally donate another race to the Farm American schedule.

    So....the 2011 debut for Farm American will be at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9!!

    I want to personally thank Barney and the entire team at Furniture Row for their unwavering dedication to America's farmers and ranchers.  I've never witnessed an organization with no ties to agriculture dedicate themselves so fully to helping tell our story.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    A Spokesman for Agriculture

    So many people have said we need to have some sort of official spokesman for agriculture.  On the surface this sounds like a good idea.  That's what most anti-agriculture groups do to distort the truth of food production.  They cart out some celebrity who has never given agriculture a second thought and try to convince the public that they are somehow an expert.

    We are fortunate enough to get to share our story with other producers quite often and we always emphasize to them that we are the true experts.  That's why it's so important that we are out telling the real story as often as we can.  And that's also why I don't want some celebrity trying to be a spokesman for me!

    We've seen how difficult it can be to get the real story of ag out to consumers.  The last thing I want is a paid celebrity trying to tell my story for me.  Some people will say that celebrities can reach a broader audience than we can.  That's not true.  If every farmer and rancher told their story to one new person every day just think how many people we would reach with the truth.  Even Mike Rowe said that farmers and ranchers are their own best spokesmen.

    It may seem difficult for us to reach a new person every day but through things like social media and programs like Farm American we can do it.  Social media lets us talk to people all over the world without ever leaving home.  Many conversations about agriculture are taking place on social media so it's important that we are there to be part of them.

    The Farm American program is an incredible opportunity for us to use the resources of Furniture Row to spread the message.  Between their NASCAR team and their retail locations, we can reach 160 million people a week.  The main goal of the Farm American program is to highlight the farmers and ranchers themselves so they can share their story.  The folks at Furniture Row don't pretend to be experts in agriculture, they just want to provide platforms for the real experts to talk to consumers.

    Family farmers and ranchers don't need a spokesman, we are the spokesman.  Nobody will tell our story with the same accuracy and passion as we will.  That's one of the main reasons why we continue to give our fellow producers the tools to tell their story.  Its also why we are avid supporters of the Farm American program.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    All-American Beef Battalion

    While we were in Wichita for the Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Conference I had the privilege of meeting Bill Broadie.  Bill has spent his entire life in the beef industry except for the years his gave to his county.  He's a Vietnam War veteran that, like many of his fellow soldiers, didn't receive the hero's welcome he should have when he came home from the war.

    It's hard for me to understand why this would ever happen but Bill wanted to make sure that our current soldiers didn't have to experience the same thing.  He combined his passion for the beef industry with his appreciation for our nation's returning heroes when he formed the All-American Beef Battalion.  It's a program that feeds our troops and their families the best home-cooked steak dinner imaginable when they return home from the war.

    Going out for a nice steak dinner with our families is something that most of us take for granted.  But these soldiers haven't seen their families in months or years and during that time they certainly weren't eating at a nice restaurant.  Listening to Bill tell the stories of how much our troops appreciate this simple act of appreciation will bring a tear to anyone's eye and make you appreciate everything you have.

    It was a privilege for me to donate to this cause and I would really encourage all of you to support it as well.  They are a non-profit that relies on donations of money, time and beef to make this happen.  If they can't get that then our troops don't get to enjoy one of these meals.  Amazingly they have fed over 60,000 steak dinners in the past couple of years but there are more heroes returning home everyday that deserve the same.

    Bill is serving his country for the second time in his life, let's give him the appreciation and support he should have gotten the first time.

    SDSU Students Study Unwanted Horse Issues

    SDSU students outline unwanted horse problem
      Steve Miller Journal correspondent | Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:00 am | (2) Comments

      The number of unwanted horses in the United States is growing by nearly 150,000 a year since the closing of the last U.S. slaughter plants, and no single, easy solution is in sight.

      Those were some conclusions of a study conducted by students in South Dakota State University’s animal and range sciences department.

      Ten students presented their study Friday to a small audience at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center during the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo.

      In 2006, the year before the last three horse slaughtering plants closed in the United States, about 105,000 horses were killed, said first-year graduate student Kathy Koch of Crofton, Neb.

      The plants were forced to close after Congress eliminated funding for federal inspection of horse meat for human consumption.

      Since then, thousands of unwanted U.S. horses have been going to slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada.
      An outright ban on the sale or transportation of horses for slaughter is pending in Congress.

      Koch said there are now about 170,000 unwanted horses each year.

      She said that even if all 432 adoption facilities in the country could take 50 horses each, only 21,600 horses could be adopted, leaving a net of 148,400 unwanted horses.    Read More

      The issue of unwanted horses continues to grow.  While many of the animal rights activists think everything is fine and refuse to engage in real discussions of how to handle so many unwanted horses, there plenty of people in agriculture that are looking at a real problem and offering real solutions.  There seems to be plenty of people that think we live in a world where nothing ever dies and life is always happy and easy.  The real story is this, the only way life can continue to exist on this planet is if something dies every day.  The success of life depends on death.  We have the ability to use these livestock as a resource that not only assists us in their life but also in their death.  There's nothing wrong with using horses to feed people.  For thousands of years we have relied on livestock to benefit our lives and that still holds true today.  The cruelest thing we can do for these horses, to mother nature and to ourselves is waste this natural resource.  

      Tuesday, January 18, 2011

      Talking Agriculture with Mike Rowe

      Last weekend Stacy and I had the privilege of meeting with Mike Rowe.  If you haven't heard of Mike you've probably been living under a rock for the past six or seven years.  He's practically become the face of the Discovery Channel with his hit show Dirty Jobs and along the way he's also become the face of the American worker. 

      Through his experiences doing Dirty Jobs across the country he's come to realize and appreciate that everything we have is either grown or mined from the earth.  Along with that his appreciation for the people that do that work has grown.

      Out of that the website was born.  It's a site dedicated to educating people about the importance of skilled trade workers, including farmers and ranchers.  Through that Mike happened to find my youtube video where I dumped a bottle of Yellow Tail wine on the frozen ground to tell people that they had made a donation to the world's wealthiest animal rights group, the Humane Society of the United States. 

      Our work with the Farm American project also caught Mike's eye and they featured a blog post of mine about the program on their site.  When it turned out that we were all going to be in Atlanta at the American Farm Bureau Federation meeting we were able to finally meet in person. 

      Mike and his team were very interested to hear about our efforts to advocate for agriculture, including our work with the Farm American program.  Mike gets a lot of requests to be spokesman.  In fact he was the most sought after spokesman in the world in 2010.  His name has been thrown around many times in the world of agriculture as someone that would be a great spokesman for our industry.  But Mike can wisely see that we don't need a single spokesman, we need lots and lots of advocates for agriculture.  Mike isn't an expert in food production, not the way that farmers and ranchers are.  So while he is certainly willing to help share the story, ultimately we are the ones that need to be doing it. 

      Mike also highlighted the efforts of the Farm American program as a great way for farming and ranching families to spread their message.  He was impressed by the unselfish efforts of Furniture Row to start the program because it was the right thing to do, not as a way to pay for a race team.  When you explain to someone all of the things we could do with Farm American to tell the story of agriculture it starts sounding too good to be true.  One look at the race car proves the intentions of Furniture Row though.  There's not a single mention of Furniture Row on the car.  That really caught the attention of Mike as it has with so many others. 

      We are really looking forward to a continued partnership with Mike and his team at to tell the story of agriculture.  Mike is a genuine guy who was a pleasure to meet and visit with.  He's certainly a friend of every hard working American and as he put it, a big fan of "chewing and swallowing".  It was a real pleasure to spend a few hours "chewing and swallowing" with him last week. 

      You've heard me telling you to be an advocate for agriculture, now hear it from Mike Rowe.

      Saturday, January 8, 2011

      Free Estate Planning Webinar

      I posted an article a few weeks ago talking about estate planning and the personal responses I got back were great.  There's no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most difficult things that farming and ranching families have to deal with.  It's also one of those things that an expert must be used to complete. Finding that expert to guide your family along the estate planning path is hard.  

      Stacy and I have found that expert and have developed a partnership with him to help bring the best estate planning tool to you. Randy McKee, is a nationally recognized expert on guiding farming and ranching families through this difficult process.  He's South Dakota born and raised, has a passion for agriculture and mostly, he has a passion for helping families in agriculture. 

      Because of the interest that so many of you have, including me, on this topic Randy has graciously scheduled a free webinar to talk about some of the sucessful strategies he's developed for families to use.  Everything from dealing with family relationships (good and bad) to learning the pieces of an estate plan will be discussed. 

      Please take advantage of this unique opportunity.  All the details on how to register for this free webinar are posted below. 

      Your friend in ag,


      A quality estate plan can literally save your place (farm) from negatives such as estate taxes, family fights, legal losses and uninsured losses.

      During this short, 45-minute seminar you will learn why it is so important to take care of estate planning. We will also introduce the most effective tool available today - specifically designed to educate and motivate farm and ranch families to get that estate planning work completed. This is the national webinar premier for this program and you are sure to learn some valuable strategies and enjoy the content.

      Title: "Persuading The In-Charge Generation To Do Estate Planning"

      Date: Thursday, January 13, 2011

      The webinar will be offered at: 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM EST and  8:00 PM - 9:00 PM MST

      Register now by clicking the link below:

      After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

      Wednesday, January 5, 2011

      Summit of the Horse

      U.S. NEWS
      JANUARY 5, 2011

      Horse Slaughter Is Reconsidered
      Animal-Welfare Groups Are Joining Ranchers in a Push to Revive an Industry That Died in 2007

      Less than four years after the last equine slaughterhouses in the U.S. closed down, an unlikely coalition of ranchers, horse owners and animal-welfare groups is trying to bring them back.

      The group, gathering in Las Vegas this week for a conference called Summit of the Horse, aims to map out a strategy for reviving an industry that slaughtered as many as 100,000 horses a year in the U.S. before it was effectively shut down by congressional action in 2007.

      Advocates say the slaughterhouses could bring an economic boost to rural areas and give owners who no longer have the means or inclination to care for the horses an economical and humane way to dispose of them.

      "We believe that humane processing is absolutely a moral and an ethical choice," said Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state lawmaker who organized the event.

      Animal-rights supporters have been lobbying Congress for a ban on exporting horses for slaughter. They've had no success—but even if a ban did pass, some activists say, it would do little to ease suffering, as owners desperate to shed responsibility for their animals might simply abandon them to starve. Hiring a veterinarian to euthanize and dispose of a horse can cost hundreds of dollars. Horse-rescue groups take in some unwanted animals, but they don't have the resources to care for them all.

      "Every day, I'm turning horses away. I feel like I'm playing God, because I have to pick and choose," said Whitney Wright, director of Hope for Horses, a rescue group in Asheville, N.C. She worked to shut down slaughterhouses but now would like to see a few reopen under strict guidelines for humane handling.

      Read More

      There is no doubt that there is an over-abundance of horses in this country. The availability of a domestic harvest facility would greatly reduce the suffering that is currently taking place. The Summit of the Horse is currently taking place where discussions about this very thing are taking place. While animal rights activists like to spend their time mocking those of us who raise livestock and provide food for this country, we are having the serious discussions that need to take place.

      Food Safety

      California organic beef producer recalls meat over E. coli concerns

      January 3, 2011
      10:47 am

      There’s nothing that dampens your New Year's appetite like a food-safety recall, particularly one for an organic ground-beef product.

      Federal officials announced Monday that First Class Foods Inc., an organic beef producer based in Hawthorne, has recalled 34,373 pounds of organic ground beef and hamburger patties due to concern that they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

      E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, kidney failure or, in the most severe cases, death.

      There have been no reports of illness connected to these products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the company. The bacterium was found during a routine company test of its facilities, according to the FSIS.     Read More

      There have been plenty of misconceptions about different types of food production methods.  Specifically in beef production there are some that have tried to convince consumers that organic production makes for safer beef.  Regardless of how beef cattle are raised there are going to be E. Coli that live in the digestive tract of the cattle.  When we harvest cattle, regardless of the production method used to raise them, precautions must be taken to ensure no contamination takes place.  This is true for all types of food coming from all types of production methods.