Saturday, October 11, 2003

Board considers dairy-operation plan

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

By Joshua Lynsen

The Rochester Post-Bulletin

CLAREMONT -- A major dairy operation proposed for Dodge County cleared a significant hurdle Monday when officials agreed to continue discussing it.

Members of the Ripley Township Board voted unanimously to accept the preliminary plan as viable. The vote did not approve the proposal, but instead indicated that board members like what they've seen.

Bill Rowekamp of Lewiston, who hopes to operate the 3,000-cow farm, said Monday's decision was significant.

"This was a make-or-break meeting," he said. "They could have killed it right here. This was a huge decision tonight."

Plans for the dairy operation were first proposed last year. Conceived as two farms, with one each in Ashland and Ripley townships, the entire operation would house 4,200 cows. Both proposed sites covered more than 400 acres.

As opposition to the plan grew, it was revised. Ben Zaitz, who owns the sites, scaled back the proposal. Despite the changes, officials in Dodge County's Ashland Township voted to place a yearlong moratorium on the construction of large farms.

Many residents sought similar action in Ripley Township. But township board Chairman Bruce Schmoll told the 200 people who attended Monday's meeting the proposed farm had such great potential to help the local agriculture industry that individual concerns were trumped.

"We can't just look at what the residents want," he said. "We have to look at the big picture. If that upsets you, I'm sorry."

Should officials approve the proposal, it would become the largest dairy operation in Minnesota. Currently, the largest dairy operation among the 6,600 in Minnesota is Northern Plains Dairy near St. Peter. It has 2,500 cows.

Township officials indicated Monday that any approval likely would come with many conditions. Schmoll said he favors the two dozen conditions suggested earlier this year by the Dairy Review Committee.

If taken as presented, the suggestions would require Zaitz to open his facility to inspectors at least four times annually and process manure to reduce odors, among many other measures.

Rowekamp said he will continue working with officials to obtain their approval. He hopes to receive that approval yet this year, but Rowekamp said he will give the proposal as much time as it needs.

"We're in this for the long haul," he said. "We're going to see this through to completion."

Friday, October 10, 2003

Vitamin E on the Cob

This a very interesting story about the new era of biotechnology. Most people still think about Roundup Ready or Bt when they hear biotechnology but enhanced nutritional aspects are the next wave. For extensive information on the advantages of biotechnology, click here for the link to the Council for Biotechnology Information. Following is an interesting article that came out this week.

Buttered corn may replace bland Vitamin E pill

Southeast Farm Press reported this week, forget getting your Vitamin E from an uninspiring supplement you wash down with a glass of water each morning. Thanks to work by USDA scientists you may soon be able to get the same amount of Vitamin E offered by that tasteless pill from a much tastier, buttered ear of corn.

Edgar Cahoon, a research molecular biologist with the USDA-ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit, and his colleagues from DuPont Crop Genetics have produced corn with six times the Vitamin E content of regular corn.

"Most of the biotechnology we hear about — Roundup-Ready soybeans, Bt corn — has been directed toward reducing the farmer’s input costs," Cahoon says. "Our research, however, involves the development of a trait that improves the dietary quality of food."

What is your tolerance?

Some of you have told me that your wife deletes Loos Lips because she thinks it is a porn site. Well, this picture may give her more assurance. This billboard was placed on a roadside this month in New Zealand. This article is very, very interesting reading about the ethics of genetically engineered food. If we could use human DNA to improve cow’s milk for human consumption, would you agree to it? Where we draw the line is a very fair question in this article. I am sharing this with you for the very same reason: the FACTS and the ethics about genetic engineering need wide discussion. Hope it works. Read entire article here.

Why not just genetically engineer women for milk?

MAdGE (Mothers Against Genetic Engineering in Food and the Environment) today launched a highly controversial billboard campaign in Auckland and Wellington to provoke public debate about the social and cultural ethics of genetic engineering in New Zealand.

“New Zealanders are allowing a handful of corporate scientists and ill-informed politicians to make decisions on the ethics of GE. Our largest science company, AgResearch, is currently putting human genes into cows in the hope of creating new designer milks. The ethics of such experiments have not even been discussed by the wider public. How far will we allow them to go? Where is the line in the sand? Why is the government lifting the moratorium on GE when we have not even had a public debate on ethics?” said Alannah Currie Madge founder and billboard designer.

Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest milk company recently purchased the patent rights to large amounts of human DNA from an Australian genetics company. (Dominionpost 15.9.2003) “The mothers of New Zealand would like to know exactly what our milk companies are doing with this human DNA. We at MAdGE want an assurance from Fonterra that they will continue to keep our milk GE Free now and in the future and not use human genes in cows to boost milk production.” said Ms Currie.

And finally, to summarize the impact of biotechnology, Truth About Trade & Technology has posted the results of the recent GOA report. Link to Truth About Trade by clicking here.

Oh by the way my Birthday is tomorrow…

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Spreading fertilizer

Why is it that all of us in animal agriculture need to have a nutrient management plan in order to spread effluent and newspapers like the New York Times are not required to? Since when can anything that is not profitable be sustainable? I am all about the opportunities to capitalize on the niche markets that exist, but not at the expense of the other ranchers, that also happen to be doing things right and are also helping to supply product to meet the growing demand for BEEF. Read the entire piece or this excerpt but I warn you that this stinks worse than anything you could find on the bottom of your boots after a walk through the barnyard.

Balancing Cattle, Land and Ledgers

THREE FORKS, Mont. HARD by the three small streams that tumble together here to form the headwaters of the Missouri River, George Kahrle tends to a herd of 50 or so bawling raven-black cattle.

They look like cows at any other ranch, but from the time they are born, their lives and the lives of the people who raise them are different. The animals are bred later in the season than at traditional ranches, so calves are born when rich spring grasses are bursting up, and they spend less time in feed lots.

They roam more freely, which proponents say fends off the disease and stress so often found in pens on big ranches, and guards pastures from overuse. They are raised without growth hormones and with few, if any, antibiotics. They will even be raised a few months longer, so when they are sent to slaughter they fetch a higher price.

Mr. Kahrle practices what is called sustainable ranching. By avoiding pesticides and relying more on range grass than feed grown with fertilizers, he says, he is helping to sustain the environment. By avoiding antibiotics and hormones, he is sustaining the quality of his beef. And by reducing his costs and becoming part of a network of distributors, retailers and chefs who care about what they are doing and are willing to pay for it, he is sustaining what is often an economically precarious way of life. "We use more of what nature gives us," Mr. Kahrle said. "It makes sense on every level."

Food Clenzing of no value?

Since we have already established the fact that the New York Times is knee-deep in poo-poo, we might as well look at the rest of the junk they publish as news. The fourth pillar of public health is now available to schools to add an additional layer of protection for the benefit of our nation’s kids. Yet the New York schools have been duped by special interest groups who are more interested in fear and fundraising than in finding solutions to food safety issues. Read on:

Schools Seem in No Hurry to Buy Irradiated Beef

ARE irradiated hamburgers coming to your child's school cafeteria next year?

Last spring the federal Department of Agriculture told schools that starting in January they could buy ground beef that had been irradiated to kill bacteria and prevent contamination outbreaks.

But telephone interviews with officials in 56 school districts around the country found few takers so far. Thirty-four of the officials said they had no plans to serve irradiated beef in their school lunch programs, 4 said they would definitely not use it, 13 said they had not yet decided and 5 would not comment. None said they were going to buy it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Say anything, anytime, anywhere

This is exactly what means to roast the weenies. If you will remember, as many others and I reported a couple of weeks ago, the NAACP sent a letter to KFC in support of PETA. Today, Joshua Lipsky reports on that NAACP is back-peddling big time. Here is what I mean.

NAACP downplays PETA link

In Mfume's letter, he asked Novak to tell KFC's suppliers "to stop breeding and drugging animals so that they collapse under their own weight or die from heart failure and to phase in humane gas killing to protect the birds from broken bones and wings, electric shocks and even drowning in scalding-hot tanks of water."

John White, communications director for NAACP, said Mfume only wanted to find out if the allegations were true. "It may have come out differently, but it was, on our part, a request for information," White said.

Hopefully a death will help people learn

It is just me or do others agree with me that the people who promote the “wilderness” understand it the least? NO ONE can relish from a death and some times it is amazing what people can lead themselves to think. Protecting bears from poachers, there may be a better way. Click here to read news from Alaska yesterday but here is the excerpt.

Bear Attack Leaves Two Dead in Alaska

A self-taught bear expert who once called Alaska's brown bears harmless was one of two people fatally mauled in a bear attack in the Katmai National Park and Preserve.

In his book, Treadwell said he decided to devote himself to saving grizzlies after a drug overdose, followed by several close calls with brown bears in early trips to Alaska. He said those experiences inspired him to give up drugs, study bears and establish a nonprofit bear-appreciation group, called Grizzly People.

"At best he's misguided," Deb Liggett, superintendent at Katmai, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2001. "At worst he's dangerous. If Timothy models unsafe behavior, that ultimately puts bears and other visitors at risk."

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The eye of the storm

Right now the center of attacks on animal agriculture seems to be in Dodge County, MN. If you will remember two weeks ago, Dave Erickson, their county commissioner, received a death threat of “Resign or Die”. In that county Bill Rowekamp organized and presented the best public information meeting I have ever attended last night. He discussed how he was planning to build his dairy farm. The meeting was well organized and the public had ample opportunity to share their concerns and ask questions – all of which were answered.

Nonetheless, the protesters were there in force. Pictured here you can see activist Rev. Barbara Finley-Shae. She professes to be a Lutheran minister, although she attended the meeting try to convince everyone that she was an expert in the field of lies about animal agriculture. She spent the entire evening holding that sign. The back of the sign says says, these farms increase violent crime in the area. I think this minister is promoting racism? Her implication is that these farms increase the number of Hispanic people in the area thus increasing crime. I wonder who would attend her church?

She must be a bit nervous though this morning because I have already received an e-mail from her threatening me with a visit from her attorney if I write or report anything she said. And she was the one spouting off about the loss of democracy!

Seems as though too many have forgotten

It is a tough time to support livestock agriculture yet one elected official, who has everything to lose and only the interest of his voters to gain has showed his support for our industry. Rep. Tom Osborne initiated a task force to find ways to build animal agriculture in Nebraska rather than letting it erode. The results, just over one year later, are full steam ahead. Click here to read whole story in High Plains Journal written by Troy Smith but here is an excerpt.

Livestock producers should be proud. And Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns believes all Nebraskans should take pride in their state's livestock production role. During his visit to Husker Harvest Days, in Grand Island, Johanns announced the launch of a statewide public awareness campaign to help all Nebraskans understand how production of beef, pork, milk and poultry affects their daily lives. The campaign theme is "Nebraska Livestock: We're All Shareholders."

"The theme underscores the impact that livestock production has on virtually everyone in the state," stated Johanns. "We all need to understand that as agriculture goes, so goes Main Street."

Hey they have "Nebraska Livestock: We're All Shareholders" website check it out by clicking here.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Unbelievably hard

Any of you who actually know me understand my mission and motives. I believe in United States agriculture, including all the people who are involved as stewards of our natural resources. The ability for us to continue to use and convert those natural resources to value-added products for human consumption is becoming limited. What bothers me the most about that is that it is not because of poor utilization but rather the misdirection and outright lies of a very vocal, well-funded minority. The grass roots people like farmers, ranchers, loggers, hunters and fishermen are being negatively affected by this agenda and that is what motivates me.

My personal mission is to be the voice for these grass roots people and to empower all of us to be better spokesmen for ourselves and the industries we believe in. That is how and why we have formed the non-profit group Faces of Agriculture - to return the human element to food production; to let consumers know that their food is produced by people, not by factories. Faces of Ag is developing materials that will serve as a handbook for producers on dealing with activist topics, facts about production issues, food and nutrition facts to provide to consumers and many other subjects. In addition, we have initiated a program through land-grant universities to work with Block & Bridle club leaders to develop campus awareness of anti-ag activist programs and to teach college students to be pro-active spokesmen for food production in the U.S.

With all of that said, the limiting factor on what anyone can do always seems to be funding. I have a passion for speaking, traveling, radio and agriculture but I often have a real problem asking for contributions to support our efforts. But fundraising for a good cause shouldn’t be that difficult. Just last week I heard that the Kearney, NE Humane Society started fund raising for a new dog and cat shelter. The cost is estimated to be $1.2 million and in the first 30 days they raised $900,000.

Why does our society freely give to benefit a stray pet but we are reluctant to contribute to organizations that help our nation’s consumptive use providers? With that in mind, I am asking for your assistance in support of the work we are doing for the Faces of Agriculture - whether you can give $25 or $25,000, every bit helps. The following article, which appeared in the High Plains Journal, should explain why it is important to do a better job of getting the real facts presented about food production. The next generation may not understand it, but food production from American farmers and ranchers is a means of nation security.

Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to:

Faces of Agriculture

P.O. Box 545

Loup City, NE 68853

U.S. on brink of being net ag importer

After more than 40 years of exporting more meat, grains and produce than it imports, the United States is on the brink of becoming a net agricultural importer, two economists warn.

If current trends continue, Purdue University economists Phil Paarlberg and Phil Abbott say agriculture imports could overtake exports by 2007, driven by a sluggish export market and consumers' growing appetite for foods grown overseas.