Friday, June 15, 2007

Dear Mr. Henderson,

Thank you for forwarding your concern.

At Microsoft, our mission and values are to help people and organizations throughout the world realize their full potential. With the “i’m” Initiative, our goal is to empower our users to support causes that are most important to them through something they do every day- send instant messages. Consistent with our initiative slogan “It’s your voice, it’s your choice”, people are able to choose from among ten of the most recognized social cause organizations that address issues ranging from poverty, child protection, disease, environmental degradation and animal protection.

We respect and value your opinion, however, we do not plan to make changes to our relationships with our partners. We feel strongly that these organizations provide a range of causes that will appeal to a wide range of passions.


Microsoft Corporation

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On another note, my High Plains Journal column has generated some interesting reader feedback this week. Thought I would share that with you as well:

"The point of the animal rights argument is that factory farmers have created freaks: biogenetically engineered livestock fashioned to human tastes, just so humans can eat them, wear them, drink them, and exploit them in rodeos, cockfights, bullfights, etc. - and then imprison them for life. Today's cows and chickens and turkeys and pigs and sheep do not exist in nature. The fact that some of these animals - who are trapped in small pens and cages, unable to go outdoors and have any kind of normal life, or crowded into filthy feedlots, or stuck as milking machines or egg laying machines or breeding machines - will sometimes fight with and kill each other, can hardly be surprising under the circumstances. Humans in similar crowded conditions do the the same thing, e.g., in prisons. That's why you farmers cruelly debeak chickens, castrate cows and horses, and cut off pigs' tails (without anesthesia, of course). How you can flatter yourself that you're being kind to animals, while fully supporting all the horrors of factory farming, is astounding to me. Reminds me of the slaveowners who used to claim they were kind to their slaves and they couldn't figure out why the abolitionists wanted them freed." ...

Ardeth Baxter
The Valley Fair was held this weekend at Santa Clarita and Lake View Terrace, California both portions were considered very successful. I personally spoke with many vendors at the Santa Clarita portion which had rides, the arts & crafts exhibits, the horticulture exhibits, the Tigers of India show, The Sea Lion Splash show, a petting zoo and the Budweiser Clydesdale's as well as many other singers, local dancers, and shows performing. The vendors and visitors that I spoke with all enjoyed the Fair and had many nice things to say about the new location. Preliminary reports from the Los Angeles Daily News on the new location give estimates of a 60% increase of attendance for the Valley Fair.

I also attended the Livestock event held in Lake View Terrace. The parents and kids I spoke with all felt that it was a successful event and that the auction was a success. Some of the parents I spoke with felt that this was a safer venue for their children and felt that it was an advantage to be separated in 2 locations.

The Livestock event was never canceled. This is an example of how misinformation is either written in the press or placed on the Internet. I hope that this can be a lesson to all of us to be very careful of inaccurate communications and that we need to take the time and effort to find out the facts.

I thank you for your notes of concern and appreciate the time you have taken to hear some of the facts.


Margie Beeson
Valley Fair Board of Diretors

Monday, June 11, 2007

I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I am with banning
animals from the fair. This sends a message that animals are not to be
part of agriculture. In addition, 4-H's aninimal projects provide a
wonderful educational opportunity to learn proper care and management of
animals. I would point out that it is my understanding that we do not have
laws banning animal agriculture. Banning animals at the fair is it appears
a start to banning animals from the food chain. This effort to ban animals
from public view is giving in to a very small portion of the public. I
hope this unfortunate effort to force the public toward becoming
vegetarians will not succeed.

W. Terry Howard, PhD and P.A.S.
Professor Emeritus
University of Wisconsin-Madison
442 Agnes Drive
Madison, WI 53711

My name is Amanda Nolz. I live on a purebred Limousin cattle operation with my family. Together we work each day to raise quality seed stock, market steers for meat consumption, and raise functional heifers for replacements in our herd. We are very proud of our agricultural roots, and one of the biggest rewards for my family and I is being able to showcase our best cattle at fairs across the country.

Since I was a little girl, my dad and I have had a ritual of taking pasture tours after chores—scoping out the ideal show heifers for me to work with when they are older. Quickly after weaning time, we select our show stock and get them in the barn to prepare them for their debut into the show ring. Every morning, my sisters and I wake up early to get the heifers fed, washed, combed, nurtured, and tied up on a nice bed of wood chips in front of cooling fans. The heifers soon become our friends, and we look forward to the many hours spent with the calves to ensure that we are competitive at competitions.

The lessons we learn from showing our own seed stock are invaluable to what we become as adults. Through living on a farm and showing cattle, I have learned the importance of responsibility, respect, trustworthiness, caring, and a hard work ethic. I am proud of being able to take part in the circle of life. Since my years in 4-H, I have moved on to become the 2006 National Beef Ambassador and a summer intern with the USDA AMS Livestock and Seed Program in Washington D.C. I have decided to dedicate my life to agriculture because it is my passion. This passion stemmed directly from my days as a little girl, befriending my show cattle.

Please reconsider eliminating livestock from your fair. It is a time honored tradition that exposes people to the wonderful world of agriculture—something that is very near and dear to my heart.

Putting agriculture first,

Amanda Nolz
Dear Ms. Besson,

Hello, my name is Christie Molinaro. I heard about the issue your fair board has in regards to showing livestock at the San Fernando Valley Fair and I would just like to express my opinion on that. I live in Central Pennsylvania, I am 19 years old. I have been raising and showing livestock for 9 years now and to be perfectly honest, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without livestock.
When I was 10 years old I bought and raised my own dairy goat. She taught me a lot of responsibility and money management skills. Following that minor investment, I began buying and selling more animals of various species. Sheep, goats, steers, poultry- I raised anything my parents approved of. For me, showing at the county and state fair was the highlight of my childhood. I spent some of the best summers of my life working with my fair animals. I honestly spend hours and hours leading my market lambs, goats, and steers around our field. I treated them like my pets, they were fed like royalty. At the end of the summer I would show and sell my animals at the fair. Showing in 4-H was my opportunity to exhibit my animals to the community; to show them all the hard work I had invested that year. The sale was always rewarding as well, the money from my fair animals was set aside into my savings account. In fact, I just bought my first vehicle with the money from my 4-H animals last month!
I believe any child with the opportunity and desire to raise and show livestock at the county fair be given the chance to do so. Not only does 4-H teach valuable life skills such as responsibility, perseverance, dedication, and determination; but it also teaches money management skills. I have siblings who grew up with me not showing animals in 4-H and I see their struggles with finances today. 4-H and any organization that encourages children to raise livestock and learn about agriculture is incredibly valuable, for their lives as children and also when they mature into adults. My showing days are over because I am too old, however, I can clearly see where 4-H has benefited me. I am an Animal Science major at Penn State University, I have been employed on several different dairy farms for the past 5 years, I spent the previous year representing the Pennsylvania beef industry as the PA Beef Ambassador, and I am currently on the National Beef Ambassador Team. I believe that just goes to prove that agriculture has an abundance of opportunities available to young people passionate to take them. My passion came from my years showing at the fair!

Thank You for your time and consideration, I hope the San Fernando Fair Board makes the right decision for the proper reasons.

Christie N. Molinaro
Animal Husbandry from Uncle Sam

I spent the past weekend in Big Sky, MT at the Young Agricultural Leadership Conference. Once again I felt the tremendous energy present when I am fortunate enough to accompany any group of young agriculturists. That energy is what fuels my desire to continue traveling the country. Many issues were addressed and potential solutions generated. However, I feel there is one that needs more attention in order to keep the momentum rolling in the right direction and that is the “eradication of Brucellosis” in Yellowstone Park.

Information was presented suggesting that the presence of Brucellosis in wildlife is not a problem but there is a chronic disease problem in the bison herd. Widely recognized by many as a true success story, the once nearly extinct bison are now plentiful and the largest herd of free roaming bison does indeed reside in Yellowstone Park. With that said, positive news recently came from Wyoming as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service amended the state’s Brucellosis designation to Class Free from Class A. The Class Free status is based on a state finding not Brucellosis in cattle for one full year.

As hard as it might be to believe there are individuals among us that believe the bison would be best off if man didn’t attempt to interfere. This misguided thought needs to be eradicated as well. Every American citizen stands to benefit if the great bison herd of the Yellowstone were free of this population crippling disease. Mary A. Bomar, President Bush's nominee to head the National Park Service, recently said "Systematic vaccination of elk and bison will, over the long term, reduce disease prevalence in elk and bison populations, especially if vaccine technology and methods for remote vaccine delivery to free-ranging wildlife are improved." I agree completely but would add that sooner is better than later.

Obviously cattlemen adjacent to Yellowstone stand to benefit from the complete eradication of Brucellosis but I think the urgency should be felt by every family that enjoys visiting Yellowstone Park as a vacation destination. The healthier the bison population is, the more animals there are to view and enjoy. It is reported there are more and more bison interacting with park goers on the roads. In fact Al Nash, Yellowstone's director of public affairs was quoted as saying "There are the occasional parents out there who want to photograph their child with or on a bison.” I’m fairly sure those parents aren’t aware of the fact that there have been cases of Brucellosis transmission from animals to humans.

My recent trip to Big Sky country confirmed that most people enjoy traveling with their family dog. Dogs are also susceptible to Brucellosis and it would not be difficult to for Rover to come in contact with bison mucus. Since more and more Americans treat Rover like a kid, it would be easy for the disease to be transferred from canine to human. Is all of this likely? Probably not but it is more likely than some park visitor getting mad cow disease from consuming beef and look at all the new regulations beef producers are footing the bill for thanks to unscientific scare tactics leveled against the industry.

I am no way, shape or form attempting to create unnecessary fear for park vacationers but I am trying to emphasize that everyone has a vested interest in accelerating the eradication of Brucellosis in the herds of livestock owned by the U.S. Government. Every reputable livestock owner in the country would implement any reasonable measure possible to improve the health of his or her own herd. Should Uncle Sam be any different?