Friday, December 26, 2003

Press Release – For immediate release

Title: Consumers are safe - Isolated BSE case does not endanger US beef supply
Key Words: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), beef, consumer

Date: December 24, 2003

Contact: Trent Loos, Faces of Agriculture 970-481-1389

trent@loostales.com


(Loup City, NE) - A cow in a Washington processing plant has tested positive for BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in preliminary evaluations by the United States Dept. of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.). While the news has made headlines around the world, the danger to consumers of U.S. beef is nearly non-existent for numerous reasons, according to rancher and Faces of Agriculture founder Trent Loos of Loup City, NE.

“Despite the efforts of anti-agriculture activist groups and their attempts to scare consumers, beef is a safe and nutritious food for humans. This single incident of BSE will not result in contamination of beef products intended for human consumption,” said Loos. “There are numerous facts about BSE that consumers need to be aware of in order to make sound decisions about their beef purchases.” For example:

BSE affects the neurological system of an animal. None of these tissues (brain and spinal cord) are used in foods for human consumption. There has been no evidence that BSE is found in skeletal muscle tissues which are consumed by humans.

BSE does not spread from animal to animal or from animal to humans. BSE only spreads to animals through the ingestion of contaminated feed. In 1997, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration instituted a ban on feeding ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle because of their ability to transmit the agent that causes BSE.
BSE does not affect the lactation system, therefore milk and milk products are considered safe.

The U.S. began a surveillance program for BSE in 1990 and was the first country without evidence of the disease to test for it. The surveillance system targets all cattle with any signs of a neurological disorder as well as those over 30 months of age and animals that are non-ambulatory.

Loos encourages consumers to consider the statistical risk of contracting the variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which has been associated with the consumption of BSE-contaminated beef products. “Only 140 people, worldwide, have ever contracted variant CJD and there is no proof that the disease was directly attributed to the consumption of contaminated meat products. In comparison, 150 Americans die every year because of automobile collisions with deer. 7000 Americans die annually because their doctors prescribe incorrect medications for them. The risk to beef consumers from this BSE incident is virtually non-existent.”

According to beef industry experts, the United States developed and implemented a system to safeguard against the transmission of BSE when the disease was running rampant in the European Union. Because this diagnostic system is effective, experts were able to identify this animal and USDA officials can explore the source of the disease.

“While farmers and ranchers had hoped to avoid the incidence of BSE in the United States, there is no scientific or rational reason that this isolated incident should negatively affect consumer’s choice of beef as a healthy and safe protein food,” said Loos.

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Trent Loos is a 6th generation United States rancher, host of daily radio show Loos Tales and founder of Faces of Agriculture, non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com or email Trent at trent@loostales.com.

MINNESOTA BEEF COUNCIL PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: Ron Eustice or Michelle Torno (952) 854-6980

Minnesota Beef Council Says US Beef Continues to be “World’s Safest”

(MINNEAPOLIS) –Dec. 26, 2003: Following Tuesday’s announcement that a cow in the state of Washington has tested positive for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the Minnesota Beef Council (MBC) is aggressively assuring consumers that U.S. beef is completely safe to eat.

Facts on BSE have been distributed by MBC to all major Minnesota media outlets, retaiers and the foodservice. The key message for consumers is that the U.S. beef supply continues to be the safest in the world because of an extensive set of safeguards that have been put in place.

“The diagnosis of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in one cow in the state of Washington proves the U.S. disease surveillance system is working, resulting in a meat supply that is safe” says MBC Chairman Dennis Swan. "Due to the strength of the U.S. system and its ability to prevent the spread of BSE, this is an animal disease story, not a food safety problem," said Swan, a beef producer from Balaton in southwest Minnesota. "Consumers should continue to eat beef with complete confidence."

Within minutes of USDA's announcement about the single case of BSE, spokespeople from the Minnesota Beef Council, the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association (MSCA), Minnesota Department of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association conducted scores of interviews designed to reassure American consumers about the safety of US beef. This public relations effort will continue as USDA traces the origin of the cow and investigates the sources of feed consumed by the animal.

Included in conversations and interviews with the media were explanations of BSE and the system in place to prevent any potential spread of the disease. A focal point of the media interviews was discussion of the “firewall” that has been put in place to keep our beef supply safe.

The following safeguards are in place to prevent a repeat of the situation that occurred in Great Britain in the 1990’s:

The U.S. banned imports of cattle and bovine products from countries with BSE beginning in 1989.
A surveillance program for BSE was initiated in 1990, making the U.S. the first country in the world without BSE to test cattle for the disease. The surveillance system targets all cattle with any signs of neurological disorder, as well as those over 30 months of age and animals that are non-ambulatory.

The third firewall in the system is a 1997 Food and Drug Administration mandatory ban on feeding ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle. This is the component that will prevent any potential spread of BSE to other animals. BSE does not spread from animal to animal, only through feed sources.

Also a part of media discussion was the comprehensive, multi-year risk analysis conducted at Harvard University that concluded that while there is a risk of BSE, the U.S. is prepared to prevent the spread of the disease.

MBC Executive Director, Ron Eustice in a reassuring message for consumers says, "Current science indicates the BSE agent is not found in whole muscle meat, such as steaks and roasts, only in central nervous tissue, which is not commonly consumed in the U.S." It is also important for consumers to understand that BSE does not affect the lactation system. “Therefore milk and milk products are considered safe,” adds Eustice.

Additional Facts About BSE:

What is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy?Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE is an incurable and apparently infectious disease that attacks the brain and nervous system of cattle. Symptoms may include stumbling, muscle twitching, quivering, strange behavior, a drop in milk production, the inability to stand, and eventually death.

What causes BSE?
Evidence indicates that BSE likely occurred because U.K. cattle consumed animal feed derived from sheep and other ruminants (animals with four stomach compartments) infected with a neurological disease similar to BSE, called scrapie. Scrapie causes BSE-like symptoms in infected sheep.

How does BSE spread?
BSE does not spread from animal to animal or from animal to humans. BSE only spreads to animals through the ingestion of contaminated feed. Scrapie may have "jumped" the species barrier to cattle after the cattle consumed the animal feed rendered with sheep protein.

What has the U.S. done to prevent the spread of BSE?The U.S. began a surveillance program for BSE in 1990 and was the first country without evidence of the disease to test for it. The surveillance system targets all cattle with any signs of a neurological disorder as well as those over 30 months of age and animals that are non-ambulatory. The U.S. utilizes a "triple firewall" strategy. First, the U.S. protects its borders. Since 1989, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) banned the import of cattle from countries with BSE. Second, the U.S. conducts vigilant surveillance at processing plants. USDA veterinarians are stationed at every U.S. meatpacking plant and check cattle for signs of any disease, including BSE. No animal can be processed for meat without a veterinary inspection. If cattle show any symptoms that could possible indicate BSE, they are removed from the plant and tested. Third, in 1997, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration instituted a mandatory ban on feeding ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle because of their ability to transmit the agent that causes BSE.

Does eating beef from BSE-infected animals make people sick?
Whole muscle cuts such as steaks and roasts are considered totally safe. However, there is evidence that neurological tissue such as brains and spinal cord from an infected animal may cause variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD), a neurological disorder similar to classic CJD. None of these tissues (brain and spinal cord) are used in foods for human consumption in the United States. There has been no evidence that BSE is found in skeletal muscle tissues that are consumed by humans. While some 140 cases of vCJD have been diagnosed in the U.K. since 1986, these figures show how rare the disease is, and lend support to the theory that contracting vCJD may require a combination of exposure to BSE and a genetic predisposition to vCJD.

Is milk from an infected cow safe to drink? BSE does not affect the lactation system, therefore milk and milk products are considered safe.

Additional information on the cow in Washington and the safety of U.S. beef can be found on www.mnbeef.org or www.bseinfo.org.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Mad Cow,

Without a doubt, the anti-ag movements in this country are ramping up their fear mongering efforts about animal agriculture. As of 8:30 this morning, I have received six different formats for letters to the editor calling for an end to animal agriculture. In the next thirty days, many groups will attempt to plant seeds of fear in every media source possible. The need for all of us to be vigilant in presenting the facts has never stared us in the face to the degree that it is now.

If, in fact, we all accept the challenge to get involved in educating our neighbors, the impact of this BSE incident will be minimal. I STRONGLY encourage you to read all newspapers, keep your ears open in your community and engage yourself in this time of need. Your letter to the editor addressing issues with facts is the best tool you have to use. If you want any help at all, please call me at 970-481-1389 or email trent@loostales.com.

These facts are the key talking points that you need to know and present.

* The U.S. began a surveillance program for BSE in 1990 and was the first country without evidence of the disease to test for it. The surveillance system targets all cattle with any signs of a neurological disorder as well as those over 30 months of age and animals that are non-ambulatory.

* The U.S. banned imports of cattle and bovine products from countries with the disease beginning in 1989.

* The disease only spreads to animals through contaminated feed. In 1997, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration instituted a ban on feeding ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle.

* BSE in the brain affects the brain and spinal cord of cattle. No infectivity has yet been detected in skeletal muscle tissue.

* BSE does not affect lactation therefore milk and milk products are considered safe.

* CJD occurs (human) in a form associated with a hereditary predisposition (approximately 5–10% of all cases) and in a more common, sporadic form that accounts for 85–90% of cases.

* 140 people worldwide have "apparently" contracted variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) from consumption of contaminated beef products.

* In comparison, 150 Americans die annually due to deer/automobile collisions

* 7000 Americans die annually because their medical doctors prescribe incorrect medications for them (Journal of American Medical Association)

* There are 831,000 beef cowherds in the US and 80% of these herds have less than 50 cows yet they produce 30 percent of nation’s calves (therefore, one contaminated herd does not affect the entire beef population in the US).

* $41 billion of gross output from beef production activity supports an additional $147.4 billion of economic output for a total of $188.4 billion of direct and indirect economic activity throughout the U.S. economy that is due to the beef industry.

* Safe guards against the transmission of this disease are in place and effective. The system is working and this cow was found because the strategy was put in place as a firewall to protect consumers, farmers and ranchers and the beef population.

Parting Words of Wisdom:

We have been talking about getting closer to the consumer and now is our chance. It is like coming off the bench in overtime to make the last shot in the championship game. If we haven’t played until now, this is our chance to be the hero. Just like in the big game, we have to remember to keep our cool and use what we have learned (and what we know) to get the job done. This should be looked at as an opportunity and not a crisis. Make the best of it – get to know the consumers and tell them the “real” truth. Every one of us is responsible for making sure that food producers are the ones who come out on top in this crucial game!

Trent Loos

Monday, December 22, 2003

December 16, 2003

Craig Erwich
Programming Executive Vice-President
Fox Broadcasting
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036-8799

Dear Mr. Erwich:

The American Veal Association (AVA), representing the nation’s 1000 family veal growers, was disappointed with the Malcolm in the Middle television show that aired on December 7. The episode, whether intentionally or unintentionally, left viewers with a negative impression of the special-fed veal industry.

During the show, Hal Wilkerson asked his son, Reese Wilkerson, “Wow, how do they get the meat this tender?� Reese’s response: “Well, that’s the thing about veal. Imagine if you took Jamie and put him in a little box where he would never see daylight, you don’t let him move so his muscles don’t get all tough, he’s basically blind and you force feed him nothing but milk. That’s what makes them taste so good.�

That dialogue, exchanged between the characters, enforced misconceptions about our industry. Veal is a tender meat, but not because of the myths mentioned by the characters. To follow, is a brief primer to better explain our practices.

- Comfortable Housing

Modern veal housing is designed to partition the animals only up to the shoulder level, ensuring calves visual and physical interactions with their neighbors. Calves are also tethered which allows farmers to gently and safely handle calves for purposes of contact, feeding, treatment and sanitizing, while also reducing the risk of calves harming themselves and each other. Calves can comfortably lie down in natural positions, stand up and groom themselves. This type of housing and tethering allows animals to receive their own feed, individual care and attention. Most importantly, individual housing has been shown to help prevent the spread of disease by limiting calf-to-calf contact while allowing socialization.

- Well-lit Housing

Modern veal barns are well-lit by either artificial lighting or natural sunlight. Producers house their calves in well-lit barns to make it possible to monitor the calves regularly, to feed the animals and keep them clean. Typical veal barns are also heated during cold months and have year-round ventilation to provide clean, fresh air.

- Milk, ideal food for young humans and calves

Jamie Wilkerson, the young child on the show, receives milk because it is the most perfectly digestible food for him. The same is true for calves. Based upon the nutritional standards of government agencies and professional organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the National Research Council, veal’s milk-based formula is similar in composition to infant formula. Veal calves receive diets designed to provide all of the 40 essential nutrients they need including important amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins.

- Tenderness impacted by collagen, not production methods

As compared to beef, veal is typically more tender because of its younger age and, therefore, greater proportion of collagen in the muscle tissue. Veal calves go to market at 5 months (500 pounds) with more collagen in their muscle tissue versus beef cattle which are typically marketed at 13 to 21 months of age (1000 pounds). In addition, veal is nutritious and a nutrient-rich meat, with only 5.6 grams of fat and 27 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving.

To comply with those production guidelines, the American Veal Association (AVA) encourages all of their family veal growers to participate in the veal quality assurance program (VQA). The program certifies family veal growers after they've completed an exam on quality production practices, such as housing and nutrition, and have agreed to audit visits by a licensed veterinarian.

Mr. Erwich, we were pleased that veal was the featured protein in this Malcolm in the Middle episode. Veal is a tender meat enjoyed by many American families, not unlike the fictional Wilkersons. That being said, we hope any future episodes, that mention veal, will more accurately reflect truth rather than activist propaganda.

Providing safe, quality veal to American consumers is a top priority for the AVA. If you have additional questions regarding the veal industry, we encourage you to visit the AVA web site at www.vealfarm.com.

Sincerely,


Roxanne Molnar
American Veal Association
1500 Fulling Mill Road
Middletown PA 17057
717.985.9125

Monday, November 17, 2003

Facts from Rosebud Hog Farm

In regard to your article of Nov. 15, 2003 entitled “Indians now disdain a farm...”, I lived on the Rosebud Indian Reservation for five years and I was responsible for interviewing and hiring the original workers on this farm. As I interviewed candidates, I had women tearfully tell me that the cigarette burns on their arms were from her mother’s boyfriend. There were girls as young as twelve having babies as a result of incest. It was not uncommon for four generations of people, up to twenty-four at a time, to live in one small government issued shack.

I can tell you firsthand about the number of kids that smoked. I caught a number of people using illegal drugs while working at the farm. Individuals were fired at the door because they came to work carrying a 44 oz bottle of malt liquor after they had already consumed many others. In addition to widespread drug abuse, alcoholism runs rampant on the reservation. When government payments are issued, it is not uncommon to have to swerve to miss drunken people staggering down the road in the middle of the night. Many have died this way.

Norman Wilson was the chairman of the tribe when the council invited Bell Farms to the reservation. Mr. Wilson told me that fetal alcohol syndrome was their biggest problem. When asked how long he felt it would take to correct all of the problems of his people, his answer will forever ring in my head: Five generations! He was so optimistic about the possibilities this farm had for his people – good paying jobs, health care benefits and a sense of pride in a job worth doing well.

As you read this letter, you may think that all Rosebud tribal members are messed up. I have left out important facts, just as you did in your article. Most of the people on that reservation are tremendous human beings. I cannot describe the emotions I felt watching them proudly come to work every day and, for the first time in their lives, feeling hope and pride in a sense of accomplishment. You didn’t interview any employees who actually kept their jobs, just disgruntled ex-employees. There are workers there who will proudly tell you they couldn’t have purchased their own home or own a reliable car if it weren’t for the farm. There are two sides to every story and you have only looked at one.

It irritates every single bone in my body that, in a society that tolerates such horribly inhumane treatment of it’s own people, your main concern about the Rosebud is abuse of animals. The goal of this swine operation has always been to produce protein for the world while providing hope to a segment of Americans that have had very few opportunities. For those willing to come to work regularly, pride leads to hope and hope is the beginning of a better future.

Trent Loos
Loup City, NE


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The game has already begunIt wasn’t long ago that Joe Kary and I were working cattle on his ranch south of White River, S.D. We rode up on a deer that seemed disoriented. She tried to clear the four-wire fence and got her back leg caught in the third wire. Joe and I speculated that she had Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) so we called the game warden who collected a tissue sample for analysis. The test was negative. Assumptions, anytime somebody gets sick now, we assume we have the West Nile virus. When a cow goes down in your pasture, do you wonder if it might be BSE? We live with these animals. We know them. We shouldn’t rely on the media for our information or we will be spooked by the dread factor.

The dread factor is on my mind today because of U.S. District court judge Sam Haddon’s comments last week about property rights. He said, Montana voters did not violate the constitutional rights of Montana game farmers when they adopted Initiative-143 and outlawed the hunting of captive elk, deer and other alternative livestock. Game farm owners have no absolute or unfettered right to operate an alternative livestock ranch as they see fit. Haddon said I-143, advances legitimate non-illusory state interests in protecting Montana wildlife.

Farmers have no right to operate their farm as they see fit? This comment should make us wonder what the intent of the law is. Theodore Roosevelt stated that laws involving hunting and wildlife should protect the species and the hunter. So whom does this law protect? Are the state governments actually using laws to compete with land owners within their state for the same revenue streams?

Let’s address the whole notion of protecting the species. Judge Haddon tried to indicate that he believed the myth about farmed deer and elk causing harm to wildlife. This is typical rhetoric for the animal rights movement, though it is not original.

The same fight is happening in the salmon industry. In April, the state of Alaska was granted $50 million for the wild salmon industry. The Alaskan salmon fishery harvests and markets wild salmon, but the growing market for farmed salmon has left the fishermen high and dry. Alaska’s Governor Frank Murkowski acknowledged the impact of salmon aquaculture on salmon fishery and is directing the new funds to address this shift. “The erosion of market share to farmed salmon has been devastating. But, we have a better product”.

Are our own governments attempting to the cripple the economy of an industry because human management results in a more consistent and reliable product? More importantly, the removal of the right to utilize personal property as one sees fit is disturbing. We continually hear about the need for family operations to diversify in order to save the farm, the heritage of rural America and small business. Yet these farmers are now being penalized for attempting to add value to their operations by diversifying.

Then the dread factor comes into play. For the same reason that our first thought was Chronic Wasting Disease, the voting public in Montana was duped into voting for a law that robs landowners of their rights, constant propagation of baseless information. Voters in Montana were given misleading information regarding the unfounded fears about CWD on deer and elk farms. This misrepresentation of facts played a huge role in garnering support for I-143. The domestic elk and deer industry has tested 35,000 animals for CWD in the last two years. Approximately 100 of those were confirmed positive. That means that only 0.28 percent of all farmed deer and elk tested were infected with CWD, nationwide.
Do we really want to be a society that puts laws into place because of fear of the unknown instead of basing our laws on proven facts simply because the media blows things out of proportion and creates epidemics just to sell news? I am sure many of you are reading this and wondering, What is he doing spending so much time talking about these fringe groups? It has nothing to do with mainstream agriculture and food production. If you fall into that category, you need to go back and reread the judge’s comments but take the word “game” out. Incidentally, no team with a good strategy plays their tough opponents until they have practiced on the easy ones. How might that analogy apply to these issues?

Trent Loos is a 6th generation United States farmer, host of daily radio show Loos Tales and founder of Faces of Agriculture, non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com or email Trent at trent@loostales.com.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

Subject: Pork producers target of attack in Indiana

Date: October 14, 2003

Contact: Trent Loos, Faces of Agriculture, 970-481-1389

(Indianapolis, IN) - October is National Pork Month. Pork producers should be celebrating the fact that they provide a lean, healthy product that satisfies hungry consumers around the globe. Instead, Indiana producers will be attacked with an agenda a lies and false accusations in an attempt to scare consumers and fuel a fundraising campaign against agriculture.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., founder of the Waterkeeper’s Alliance, will speak on October 18, 2003 in Indianapolis, IN. Kennedy has stated the producers in Indiana are “operating illegally in the state.” Despite the fact that his lawsuit against Smithfield Foods was thrown out of court for being frivolous, Kennedy vowed in 2002 that the Waterkeepers Alliance would “march across the country and file lawsuits against every hog operation.” Kennedy utilizes fear tactics and misinformation to scare consumers into believing that pork producers and other agriculturalists are contaminating our natural resources.

Contrary to Kennedy’s presentation, farmers have been recognized as some of the best stewards of natural resources in this country. Farmers typically want to preserve and improve the quality of their land and water so it may be passed on to their sons and daughters. Kennedy’s speeches lead consumers to believe that farmers are opposed to protecting our natural resources, when this is anything but the truth.

A report generated by Purdue University, which assessed “groundwater contamination” in the state of Indiana, did not even list livestock agriculture as a pollution source. The report did mention the 20 million septic systems, 16,000 industrial landfills and 18,500 active municipalities as contaminators. Yet Kennedy, who uses his family name to garner support against United States farmers, is pointing the finger at agriculture.

Danita Rodibaugh, a pork producer from Rensselaer, recently stated on Loos Tales radio, “I support environmental regulations on livestock producers when it improves the environment. Unfortunately, too much of the current cost of compliance is addressing social issues rather than environmental issues. We have seen far too many people who have issues with agriculture and they use the environment as a conduit to attack our industry.” Rodibaugh adds, “I can tell you that my whole family and I are quite proud to be a part of an industry that feeds people efficiently while protecting the environment like we do.” Pork producers have worked closely with experts from land grant universities to implement nutrient management plans that are safe and effective. They have been burdened with frivolous lawsuits and forced to spend millions of dollars to comply with regulations that do little to safeguard the environment.

Trent Loos, founder of Faces of Agriculture, urges producers, allied industry representatives and university staff to attend Kennedy’s presentation and help him get his facts straight. Faces of Agriculture is a grassroots organization whose mission is to return the human element to food production and make consumers aware that their food is produced by real farmers and not factories. According to Loos, “the anti-agricultural activists are not going to back down until we stand up to them with the facts about our industry. Consumers need to know that we are hard at work producing the safest, healthiest food that has ever been available. If people have questions about food production, they should seek answers from farmers and not from lawyers who want to support their own personal agendas.”

For more information, contact Trent Loos of Faces of Agriculture, or visit their website at www.FacesOfAg.com.
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Sunday, October 12, 2003

Agriculture Outlook Forum 2002 Presented:

Thursday, February 21, 2002

CONSERVATION ON THE LANDSCAPE: A FARMER’S VIEW DANITA RODIBAUGH, FARMER

Conservation practices today are as much a reflection of the changing technologies in agriculture as are modern production practices and systems. Conservation is not a new concept; it has always been a part of farming. It has evolved as a culture of how we operate. We search for the balance between environmental responsibility and production. Our conservation efforts have to be economically feasible and compatible with profitable agriculture. Given the necessary tools and sound science, agriculture responds. As pork producers, we developed our Environmental Assurance Program and the On Farm Environmental Assessment Program and worked with our producers to use these tools. Examples abound in our efforts to control soil erosion. In Indiana, we have reduced soil erosion by 38% since 1982. Challenges facing production agriculture today seem to be endless and they are framed in times of economic pressures. Questions surround biotechnology, biosecurity, food safety, animal welfare, regulations, emerging air issues, changing structure, government programs and/or intervention, and new technologies. Conservation, while an over arching theme, is just a piece of our management puzzle. These challenges are magnified by the lack of understanding and myths that surround production agriculture in 2002. Just one example is the term that many toss around, but is seems no one can define, and that is ‘family farm’. I would argue that family farms come in all sizes and have many different ownership and management structures. It seems today we are much more sensitive to the size of a family owned or operated livestock farm, than we are to the number of acres they plant and harvest. Our goal should be to keep economically viable producers on the land and partner with them to conserve our natural resources for future generations.

CONSERVATION AT HOME I am a family farmer. My husband and I farm with his three brothers and their wives. The eight of us own all the stock in our farm corporation. We farm 1800 acres and have a 300 sow farrow to finish purebred seedstock operation located in northwest Indiana. Conservation tillage in our area is the norm. When I arrived on the scene 26 years ago, they had already put away the plow, opting for a chisel disc. Bean no-till is common practice in our area and we have been no-tilling both our corn and soybean ground for twelve years. While we realize savings in time and fuel by not making as many trips across the fields, we do have added costs in burndown chemical and application at $10 to $15/ acre. No-till usually harbors pest problems that add insecticide costs of $15/ acre. Because of our soil types, we do accept lower top-end yields on some fields. No-till, also, delays the starting date in the spring and that can be a problem in years with cool weather. We, too, are mindful to leave buffer strips along drainage ditches. In 1978, we terraced about 200 acres to eliminate gully erosion. We now are able to farm the entire field, though some is in different directions. It has improved the value of the property. Presently, they need to be reconstructed and there is now a seeding requirement.

These areas are too small for CRP, but we have applied for state cost share for the seeding. This will decrease the number of acres in these fields that we can raise a crop on, as well as create a challenge maneuvering the equipment during field work. We do value the nutrients from our swine operation and research has shown that the application of manure improves soil structure. Through our manure analysis, we count on 40# of nitrogen, 30# of phosphorus, and 30# of potash per 1000 gallons of manure. With injection application at agronomic rates, we realize a nitrogen value of about $20/ acre and a potash value of $10/acre. One example, for the 2001 crop year, we applied finisher manure on fifty acres in late November and early spring. Only 40# of commercial N was applied with the planter to raise 179 bushels per acre of corn, which was ten bushels over our average.

We have utilized the Purdue Manure Management Planner, soil and manure test analysis, and site specific recommendations. A semi tanker purchased in 1997 allows us to haul the manure further from the production sites. We are fortunate to have more acres than required by our operation for manure application. The addition of a soil doctor five years ago has allowed us to slightly reduce our commercial nitrogen use. We side dress N with variable rate applicator which electronically measures soil nitrate capacity and cat ion exchange capacity, then adjusts the application according to crop needs. In a typical round, the application will vary from 30# to 140# per acre. We can produce 160 bushel corn on higher organic soils with 40# N at planting plus 30# at side dress. Yield checks comparing the variable rate to a typical flat rate of 100#-120# of N have given us confidence in this practice. This management tool allows us to only apply N to the acres of the field where it is needed. We have increased our record keeping and documentation for our manure application and our cropping systems. While part of it is required by regulation, it assists us in sound decision making. As new technologies are available, we examine if they are right for our operation. Cost benefit analysis is not a new practice in agriculture. As I stated earlier, new technologies must be economically feasible. With all the added costs of doing business, especially with added regulation, the dollars are in short supply.

REGULATION The cost of compliance with regulation has placed many of us in agriculture in a difficult position, especially livestock producers. Under the proposed EPA Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Rule, the costs of production for independent hog producers are going to place all sizes of operations at financial risk. According to EPA’s own figures, costs for compliance for Midwest pork producers with about 1500 head are $281,000 over 10 years, and $332,000 for an operation with 3,400 head. This will prove too much for many to bear or impose restrictions that would force many producers to leave the industry. The rule also enhances EPA’s authority to constrain animal agriculture’s growth. . A Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is part of the CAFO rule. CNMPs are complex. They require expertise in agronomy, engineering, and nutrition to correctly develop the plan. It is a considerable investment of time and resources. There are also costs with making any necessary changes to the operation, costs of maintenance, and record keeping. A CNMP should be a balanced approach to nutrient management and conservation, and aid in improving efficiency of nutrient use. The effectiveness of Best Management Practices (BMPs) should also be evident in a CNMP.

Moving to Environmental Management Systems (EMS) would be more encompassing, require third party audits, and would need to be highly customized. I have had the opportunity for input at different stages of regulation development and some of the greatest frustration comes from trying to work with regulators that do not have a grasp for agriculture. I have said many times to many different audiences that you can not effectively regulate an industry that you do not understand. Agriculture is a variable system. Regulation should not stymie technological innovation, in fact, it should encourage it. Regulations should be goal oriented, outcome based, and economically achievable. Requirements should be based on best available technologies and sound science. These concepts need to carry through to EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program. My experiences on EPA’s FACA on TMDLs gave me an insight to additional regulation on agriculture. If you read the FACA report, you would see that on many issues surrounding the program, we reached consensus on the most effective approach. You would not see that reflected in the published rule, but hopefully, the new rule will take the FACA’s lead in administering the program to achieve water quality benefits. I believe that TMDLs should be based on a watershed approach. The models used for TMDL development need to allow for the uniqueness and diversity of each stream segment and watershed, especially in agricultural areas. TMDLs are being used to address sediment, nutrients, and microbials. Through research and application, we are learning more about the effectiveness of BMPs, and models need to be adjusted to acknowledge that. Where the source of the pollutant is strictly legacy, as in contaminated sediment, it is not appropriate for a TMDL, but should be directly handled by a remediation program. TMDLs are a control management measure for non-point sources. Through a TMDL, the CAFO rule can be applied to all animal feeding operations, regardless of size. TMDL’s become a land management program for agriculture. Because of ‘load allocations’ to non-point sources, does pollutant loading from a few drive watershed impairments, then all are held at fault for the actions of a few?

States can choose to address other potential concerns in a watershed at the time of a TMDL and address nutrients, stream bank erosion, etc. even though the waterbody is not listed for those impairments. In an ideal world, we would take the emotion out of regulations. Nowhere in emotion do you find I.Q. Agriculture needs to have a real presence in the TMDL stakeholder groups and take a leadership role, where appropriate. We need to work together and stay out of court! HOW DOES AGRICULTURAL RESPOND How do we in agriculture respond to these added costs and regulations? One way is to strengthen the private/ public partnership. We need to recognize the importance of collaboration with state and federal funding to leverage resources. Most importantly, there is a need to coordinate farm policy and conservation efforts. The Bush administration has promised financial rewards for stewardship on “working” lands. The program best able to do this is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). As chairman of National Pork Producers Environmental Committee when EQIP was given life, I had the opportunity to sit in on development discussions. If anyone questions agriculture’s desire for conservation and cost share dollars, you should know that of the 276,000 application, almost 200,000 were unfunded. There were requests for an additional $1.3 billion. With the almost 80,000 projects that were funded, there are 170 different conservation practices.

EQIP was written as an environmental benefit program. On the livestock side, politics turned it into a social program with animal unit limitations. Those limitations excluded more than 54% of the total hog production and many family owned operations from receiving financial assistance for the construction of waste management facilities. Hopefully, with the writing of a new farm bill, those limitations will be remove in favor of payment limitations. Some of the best waste management systems involve innovative technologies that are best applied to new or expanding operations. EQIP needs to help replace older systems that can not meet new environmental standards. The $50,000 per year/ $200,000 per contract limit would give the needed assistance to economically viable producers for improved animal waste management systems, CNMP development and maintenance, and for voluntary environmental assessments. EQIP must be funded at the House’s 10 year level of 12.875 billion, or more, to address the projected 10-year costs of federal, state, and local mandatory nutrient management, water and air quality protection requirements for all livestock and poultry operations greater than 50 animal units. Pork producers with over 50 animals units account for almost 98% of the production in the U.S. On the row crop side, the increase in funding will allow for more stream miles of buffers strips, grassed waterways, increases in conservation tillage, residue management, and less erosion and runoff from agricultural lands. If we realize increased funding, our challenge, as producers, will be to work with our state NRCS Technical Committees to fund the appropriate priority areas and practices to assure the greatest environmental benefit. Legislative language is needed to structure and support the joint effort that will be needed from federal, non-federal, and private technical assistance providers. EQIP funds have to allow for third-party private sector certified experts to supplement the technical assistance to be provided by USDA. The Wetlands Reserve Program and Conservation Reserve Program continue to have tremendous support from farmers. There is increasing interest in protecting wildlife habitat and farmland protection.

RESEARCH I can not overstate the need for research, especially at our land grant institutions. I heard someone say recently that the best place to stand is on sound science. We need more data on the quantifying the effectiveness of BMPs, more understanding of conservation practices such as buffer strips, riparian areas, and the potential for carbon sequestration. One of our Kansas pork producers, Roy Henry, is involved with a research project on carbon sequestration on his farm. John Kimble, NRCS, has been working with that project and it is an example of the private/ public partnership that can work to find answers for agriculture. Continued work on Phosphorus indexes, transport factors, and vegetative removal of P is so important as we face further regulation. We would like better and faster manure analysis and soil tests. Watershed scale research will benefit all of us. Pork producers have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in air research and so many more answers are needed. Livestock producers are awaiting the results of the National Academy of Sciences study to improve the technical basis for characterizing air emissions from livestock, dairy, and poultry production facilities.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? We will continue to be a conservation oriented agricultural community. We realize that we live in a global environment. I do think we will transition to more green payments. With trade considerations, we have to stay in the green box and away from the amber box. Green payments will need to reward the early adapters, as well as entice the adoption of additional practices. We need to strengthen our educational efforts and increase our capability for technical assistance. We will continue to be challenged by water regulations and air regulations are right in front of us. Research and sound science are what we will turn to as we look for additional mitigating strategies to protect our water and air. All conservation efforts are a continuous commitment. We have been active and proactive. As farmers and producers, we all need to reaffirm the value of our farm and commodity groups. As pork producers, our Environmental Assurance Program, the Environmental Dialog on Pork Production, the On Farm Environmental Assessment Program, and now our CNMP module are tremendous assets for our industry. It is through our commodity groups and their professional staffs that we can be engaged – with NRCS, Extension, SWCDs, EPA, state regulatory agencies, and our constituents. It is vital that agriculture engages with our non-agricultural neighbors. If we in agricultural stand on the sidelines and allow government to develop our conservation strategies, agriculture will be at great risk. When you consider the land that we control as farmers, ranchers, and producers, we are the corner stone.

Only our management actions can bring the elements of production and economic viability together with environmental responsibility and conservation.

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
By JIM ROBBINS

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
By MARIAN BURROS

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 Meatingplace.com 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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Hold the bun

I don’t necessarily frequent McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants, but when I am forced to, we do “drive through” on occasion. My how the times have changed in fast food. I remember 12 years ago when we stopped at a McDonalds in Alton, IL and ordered a Big Mac with no bun. The kids behind the counter could hardly figure out how to pull this one off. Last week in Indiana, we did the same thing and the kid working didn’t even flinch. So I asked if they commonly got orders for Quarter Pounders without the bun? The young lady informed me that, “Oh yeah, we serve hundreds a day like that”.

Mark my words, it won’t be long until the burger is offered on the menu without a bun. But a bigger question should be asked here. Sugar, potatoes and wheat are all produced by United States farmers. So how do we promote one diet without harming some producers? We must present the facts and let the consumer choose.

Without being negative to carbohydrate producers, I must tell you that the new image of meat consumption is a welcome change and we must take advantage of this opportunity to get the truth presented about the importance of a balanced diet including the consumption of meat.

This week the Kansas City Star has an article that talks about the consumer shift, is it real and lasting? Click here to read entire article but this is excerpt.

Atkins diet fires up the beef industry

Stinson Morrison Hecker attorney Jim Marsh recently peered up from the all-meat “Atkins platter” at Danny Edwards Famous Kansas City Barbecue downtown.

“I don't have an Atkins plan in front of me, but I've been following the basic diet for the last four or five months,” Marsh said. “I've lost 20 pounds, I can still eat beef, and I haven't given up my cocktails, so it's definitely OK by me.”

“You can speculate on how much of it is attributable to Atkins,” James Mintert, Kansas State University said. “But I do think there's been some kind of underlying shift among consumers about beef versus some other products they consume, a recognition on their part that it's OK to eat beef.”

Antibiotics the real story


Finally, I found a doctor that will admit that the main cause of antibiotic resistance in humans is human error. He does inject one line saying that also contributing to the problem is animal agriculture, but he squarely places the blame on the incorrect prescription and consumption of antibiotics. Here are the take home parts but by clicking here you can read the entire thing from the The Scotsman in the UK.

Antibiotics may be useless in a decade

ANTIBIOTICS could be rendered useless in little over a decade because over-prescription is leading to increased resistance from disease, a leading expert has warned.

Prof Hugh McGavock, a specialist in prescribing science, has claimed that an antibiotic crisis could lead to thousands of people dying from previously treatable illnesses by 2015.

Prof McGavock, from the University of Ulster, said that increasing resistance to such drugs could lead to surgical procedures being stopped because the antibiotics needed will be rendered useless. He added that, while many patients may be prescribed antibiotics when they do not need them, they also exacerbate the problem by failing to take their medications correctly.

This means that, because the course of antibiotics is not completed, killing off the bacteria, the bacteria are able to build up a resistance to it.



Monday, September 29, 2003

My mistake

Friday I quoted a university researcher who evidently was attempting to secure more funds for her program with the statement that “the incubation period for Chronic Wasting Disease is 15 years.” So I want to correct that error and thank all of you who called me on it. Strong evidence shows that the accurate time frame for CWD to incubate, before symptoms develop, is less than three years. Sorry for the error.

Michigan Corn hits a home run

I am a little concerned that we do not have full agricultural support for Ethanol. Ethanol production benefits farmers with value added crops. Livestock producers will receive a benefit as well because the ethanol plant will not survive without the ability to capture value on dry distiller’s grains. Bruce Noel is passionate about agriculture and an excellent spokesman. He is quoted here in regard to the benefits of ethanol to the consumer. Click here to read the entire release or click here to read my sentiments about another such controversy in Missouri.

Michigan corn producers may soon need to work even harder to meet the demand for their crop as Lansing received its Clean Cities designation today.

After years of hard work promoting ethanol and other alternative fuels, the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan’s (CMPM) partner, the Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities Coalition (GLACCC), was honored at a designation ceremony hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The event was held at the State Capitol in Lansing.


“As a farmer, it gives me a great sense of pride to see how ethanol can help make our cities cleaner,” said Bruce Noel, a member of the CMPM Board of Directors and a corn producer from Leslie. “It’s amazing to think that one bushel of corn grown in Michigan can be processed into 2.8 gallons of ethanol. We produce over 240 million bushels of corn annually so, as you can see, we can really make a dent in our dependence on foreign oil.”

Keeping our kids safe

Joe Roybal of Beef Magazine is dedicated to getting the facts presented correctly when it comes to the fourth pillar of public health - utilizing technologies that are already available to protect our kids. Here is a sample of Joe’s comments click here to read his entire report.

Beef Industry Logs Successful Week In E. coli O147:H7 Battle; (September 26, 2003) BEEF Magazine’s Cow Calf Weekly; By Joe Roybal: The last seven days have been a great week for the beef industry and its campaign against E.coli 0157:H7 in ground beef.

* First, came news (reported in last week's issue of BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly) that testing of 4,432 beef samples for E. coli O157:H7 by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in the first eight months of 2003 had shown a decrease of almost ½ of 1%. FSIS say that 0.32% of the ground beef samples tested positive for the pathogen in the first eight months of 2003, a significant drop from 2002, when 0.78% of samples tested for the pathogen, and the 2001 level of 0.84%.




Sunday, September 28, 2003

For Immediate Release Contact: Jody E. Pollok
September 26, 2003 Phone: (517) 668-2676


Michigan Corn Producers Help to Make Lansing a Clean City

DEWITT, MICH. – Michigan corn producers may soon need to work even harder to meet the demand for their crop as Lansing received its Clean Cities designation today.

After years of hard work promoting ethanol and other alternative fuels, the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan’s (CMPM) partner, the Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities Coalition (GLACCC), was honored at a designation ceremony hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The event was held at the State Capitol in Lansing.

“As a farmer, it gives me a great sense of pride to see how ethanol can help make our cities cleaner,” said Bruce Noel, a member of the CMPM Board of Directors and a corn producer from Leslie. “It’s amazing to think that one bushel of corn grown in Michigan can be processed into 2.8 gallons of ethanol. We produce over 240 million bushels of corn annually so, as you can see, we can really make a dent in our dependence on foreign oil.”

Lansing is one of only three cities in Michigan to be designated as a Clean City. The designation means that the group will continue to partner with groups like CMPM to promote the use of alternative fuels, such as ethanol. In order to keep its designation, the group must also increase the usage of alternative fuels in the greater Lansing area by 17 percent each year.

During the event, vehicles were on display that operated on alternative fuel sources, such as biodiesel trucks and electric-powered vehicles. The E-85 powered Corn vehicle was on display.

“E-85 is an alternative fuel that blends 85 percent ethanol with 15 percent gasoline,” explained Jody E. Pollok, CMPM Executive Director. “Today, there are more than one million Flexible Fuel Vehicles (including mid-sized cars, minivans, trucks and SUVs) on the road, all capable of running on E-85.” For more information on E-85, its uses, and the vehicles that can burn it, visit www.E85fuel.com.

“With our ethanol plant in Caro about to celebrate its first anniversary, one of our goals in partnering with the Clean Cities Coalition is to bring more E-85 pumps to the greater Lansing area as an example for the rest of the state to follow,” Pollok added.

Headquartered in DeWitt, the CMPM is a legislatively-established statewide program that utilizes one-cent per bushel of Michigan corn sold. Investments are made in the areas of research, education, promotion and market development in an effort to enhance the economic position of Michigan corn producers. CMPM works cooperatively with the Michigan Corn Growers Association, a grassroots-membership association representing the state’s corn producer’s political interests. For more information on CMPM and MCGA visit the web site at www.micorn.org.

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Beef Industry Logs Successful Week In E. coli O147:H7 Battle; (September 26, 2003)

BEEF Magazine’s Cow Calf Weekly; By Joe Roybal: The last seven days have been a great week for the beef industry and its campaign against E.coli 0157:H7 in ground beef.

* First, came news (reported in last week's issue of BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly) that testing of 4,432 beef samples for E. coli O157:H7 by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in the first eight months of 2003 had shown a decrease of almost ½ of 1%. FSIS say that 0.32% of the ground beef samples tested positive for the pathogen in the first eight months of 2003, a significant drop from 2002, when 0.78% of samples tested for the pathogen, and the 2001 level of 0.84%.

Thus far this year, ground beef recalls have numbered but seven. Compared to the 20 recalls of 2002, which included a single 19-million-lb. recall in July by ConAgra, and the figures would seem to indicate that the industry is on the right track in trying to reduce the incidence of food-borne pathogens in its most popular and convenient product.

* On Wednesday of last week, Dairy Queen International expanded the availability of irradiated ground beef to 16 of its 32 Brazier locations in New Mexico. In addition, irradiated ground beef patties went on sale in 12 of 16 Dairy Queen®/Brazier® outlets in Erie, PA, and Buffalo, NY. That's on top of the just under 100 locations already offering irradiated patties in Minnesota and North and South Dakota.

* On Wednesday of this week, irradiated ground beef became available for the first time in Colorado full-service grocery stores. That's when 100 Kings Sooper supermarkets and 45 City Markets (part of the Kroger division) began carrying the products in 85% and 96% lean grade.

* The National Cattlemen's Beef Association announced at a feed yard meeting in Imperial, NE, on Tuesday that it is preparing educational materials regarding irradiation and beef safety for school district personnel and parents of schoolchildren. The materials, which Kim Essex, NCBA director of public relations, says will be available within a month, are intended to help educate those groups in preparation for the availability of irradiated ground beef products through the federal school lunch program in January 2004.

* In addition, last Friday, the Cattlemen's Beef Board Operating Committee gave the okay to a $150,000 authorization request by the American National Cattle Women (ANCW) to conduct a two-part, beef-safety education project over the next year. About 250 ANCW members have undergone training on ground beef safety and the benefits of ground beef irradiation. The ANCW plan will utilize those volunteers to conduct educational demonstrations in targeted urban areas emphasizing food safety, nutrition and awareness of irradiated ground beef.

For the first part, ANCW will send ground beef safety-trained ANCW members to 15 East Coast locales. This would be to states with either understaffed state beef councils or no council at all. The beef safety educational effort is targeted for schools, educational associations, women's expos and state fairs.

The project's second part involves sending ANCW volunteers to 20 events in states with beef councils. The volunteers would attend health fairs, educational conferences, food service meetings, etc. The aim is to reach parents, teachers, school administrators and food service people to teach them not only about the benefits and process of irradiation but also the need to continue use of safe food handling programs.

Let's hope that this commendable and farsighted move by the Operating Committee is just the first step in serious and visible support for ground beef safety via the promotion of irradiation as one of the tools to provide it.

The industry needs to bear in mind that while the FSIS figure of .32% seems like a small incidence, and the industry should be rightly proud if the accomplishment, the U.S. produces about 8 billion lbs. of ground beef annually. That means that the U.S. beef industry is still producing 25.6 million lbs. of beef contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7.

When the most vulnerable among our consumers are our children, the elderly and the sick, those odds are still too darned high. The industry needs to use all the tools in its food-safety toolbox -- irradiation of ground beef being the most successful developed thus far.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Saying anything just to get my way

Just like a little kid trying to talk their parents into a piece of candy or new pair of shoes, some people will say anything to get their way. Wisconsin State Rep. Tom Hebl must be no different. Check out what he said in an attempt to pass a bait law in the Manitowoc Herald.

Rep. Tom Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, said the bill didn’t go far enough, preferring a statewide ban on baiting and feeding as backed by the state’s professional wildlife experts. He feared the disease (CWD) could spread to the state’s dairy industry, though there have been no reported cases of that happening.

I am certain he would love to hear from you. Send him a message to quit attempting to use fear instead of science to make laws. His address is rep.hebl@legis.state.wi.us.

For over 10 years scientists have been trying to inflict cattle with Chronic Wasting Disease and have not been successful. Not to mention the fact that CWD has a fifteen-year incubation period. Rep. Hebl, you need to call your local dairyman and ask him how old his average cow is. Not many make it to fifteen. Furthermore, one of Wisconsin's own associations has the facts about CWD very well presented. Click here to learn more from the Wisconsin Commercial Deer and Elk Farmer’s Association.
According to public health officials and wildlife experts, there is no scientific evidence indicating that CWD can be transmitted to humans. In fact research conducted has determined a molecular barrier exists that significantly limits the susceptibility of humans, cattle and sheep.

Dr. Daniel H. Gould of Colorado State University

• Geographically targeted survey of adult-age cattle (five years or older) on 22 ranches where
cattle were co-mingled with free-roaming deer.

• No indications of chronic wasting disease, and no evidence of prion proteins detected in
any animal tissue.

"There are perceptions that CWD may somehow threaten human or traditional domestic livestock health. These perceptions clearly factor into motivations for managing CWD, even though data and experiences to date suggest those threats appear vanishingly small."
MICHAEL W. MILLER , D.V.M., PH.D.,COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE

Weenie Roaster of the week


This week I had a ton of letters sent to me for submission for the Weenie Roaster but this one is just awesome. Click here to read the RFK, Jr. I shared with you on Monday that precipitated this letter. Congratulations to Oscar T Wenholm Jr, of Raymond, SD.

I am a small family farmer from South Dakota and I operate one of the supposed "factory farms" that Robert Kennedy speaks of in this article. However, my farm bears absolutely no resemblance to the fictitious description that Kennedy gives to my farm. My family and I would not trade the air we breathe, the water we drink or the land we live on for the urban atmosphere that city residents live in. The vast majority of university studies on air quality show that livestock operations do not pose a risk to their neighbors.

The manure generated from my 3300 head swine finishing operation never touches the soil until it is applied as organic fertilizer to my cropland in accordance with a state approved Nutrient Management Plan.

Kennedy states "Much of this production is handled through contract farms whose corporate owners dictate how animals will be raised, housed and fed while disclaiming any environmental responsibility and living far away from the consequences." This statement is pure baloney and demonstrates that he has never been on a contract farm. The environmental responsibility rests with the permit holder. That is the farmer landowner. That is exactly where responsibility should be, for no farmer is going to intentionally pollute his own land. That said, the company I contract feed for (Murphy Farms) has the finest environmental record of any in the country. MF company farms
have received Environmental Stewardship Awards from the National Pork Producers Council and all companies and contract farms under the Smithfield umbrella are moving toward ISO 14001 Environmental Certification (International Organization for Standardization) as well as ISO 9001 certification in production and USDA third party certification in Animal Welfare.

Oscar T Wenholm Jr
Raymond, SD

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Cheese-Q Answer: How'd You Do?

In 1802, a small cheesemaker delivered a 1,235-pound wheel of cheese to President Thomas Jefferson to impress the main man. Onlookers were so amazed by the wheel, they called it "The Big Cheese" and the name stuck as a nickname for da boss. Get more information at www.Ilovecheese.com.

I can’t go outside when the sun is shining someone always follows me

I don’t know who she is or where she came from but Anne Applebaum has written the most common sense piece I have ever read in the Washington Post. It is a “must read” and I even sent her a thank you. Here is my favorite excerpt but read the entire piece here.

Finding things to Fear

This week children in Washington were not allowed to go to school for a whole day because streets were blocked by fallen trees and power lines, and because traffic lights at some intersections weren't working. A previous generation might have walked around the fallen trees and looked both ways before crossing the street, but the children of this generation clearly live in a much more dangerous world than did its parents, and we need to protect them.

Or maybe a previous generation was simply better at calculating risks than this one is. Consider this: In 1996 British scientists claimed, on fairly flimsy evidence, to have established links between mad cow disease in cattle, the human consumption of hamburgers and a fatal brain disease called CJD in humans. "We could virtually lose a whole generation of people," one scientist infamously intoned, predicting a CJD epidemic of "biblical proportions."

Nebraska Fur Harvesters

On Friday evening I will address those gathered for the Nebraska Fur Harvester’s Annual Convention in Valentine, NE. What a great group. I am really looking forward to spending time with them again this year. Get more information by clicking here. These may be some facts you haven’t considered:

Fur is a renewable resource (naturally replenished), a product of long traditional use, valued by many for its beauty, durability, insulative and natural qualities. Fur is only one of many values that people ascribe to furbearers. People have continuously used furbearers in North America for clothing, food and religious ceremonies for the past 11,000 years.

You might also be interested to know that there is a “fur bikini style show” on Saturday evening!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Pennsylvania heritage and farming

This week, I was fortunate to spend two days at the Penn Ag Industries 125th anniversary convention. For 125 years they have been impacting agriculture and really having a true impact. When you talk about the urbanization of America, no state has had to deal with more of this than Pennsylvania. But the leadership and the “get the message out” attitude of every member I met sets this group apart. They do not sit back waiting and wishing the issue away. They address it and hit it square between the eyes. Thanks for asking me to be a part of it and congratulations on 125 years.

The mission of PennAg Industries "Working to create and maintain an effective, viable and competitive environment for Pennsylvania agribusinesses to grow and prosper."

We all talk about educating the consumer, the kid in the grocery store and the law maker. Well to do that we must get much more aggressive with websites and virtual tours. Check out PennAg Industry website and virtual tour by clicking here.

Little by little


With 99% of the media attention blaming animal agriculture for human resistance to antibiotics, I have found this small report that tells the truth. Few in agriculture are willing to take this on because I think some us wonder if it might be true. What we can be sure about is that human consumption of antibiotics has increased exponentially. The fear of the unknown is just too powerful isn’t? Click here for entire story.

A new study finds little risk to humans of contracting bacterial infections resistant to common antibiotics by eating meat from animals given two widely used livestock antibiotics.

Results show people "are much more likely to die of a bee sting" than to pick up a resistant infection from meat, said lead author H. Scott Hurd, an epidemiologist and veterinarian who runs Hurd-Health Consulting in Roland, Iowa.

Hurd said he and a panel of experts from Iowa State University, the University of Georgia, Penn State University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Minnesota analyzed existing data on bacteria-contaminated meat and cases of resistant bacteria in humans. They concluded the risk of someone in the United States acquiring bacteria that resist common treatment by eating contaminated meat from animals treated with the two Elanco products to be less than one case in 10 million per year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Veg City Diner

As a 6th generation United States livestock farmer, I feel compelled to let you know, on behalf of all American farmers in this country, we are offended! I met an acquaintance in your diner for what I expected would be a vegetarian meal. This was my first time in such an establishment. What I witnessed was a menu that included such items as chicken nuggets, meatloaf and numerous other meat items. I was certainly puzzled by this because I was led to believe that I was dining in a strictly vegetarian restaurant. When I inquired about these menu items, I was informed, “indeed these were plant based proteins but they were so named because we are a society in transition.”

As a business owner, I believe you have the right to serve only vegan and vegetarian items if you choose. However, I take great issue with the manner in which you misrepresent these food items. Those of us the farming community have invested endless hours and countless dollars in an effort to improve the quality of meat products available to the public. As a result of those efforts, United States consumers have developed high expectations for our products and now consume more meat per capita than at any time in the history of this country. Actually, the U.S. citizen eats 212 lbs of meat annually.

Farmers and ranchers place tremendous emphasis on genetic selection, feed quality, feed efficiency and the eating quality of our product. In addition, millions of dollars are spent by the meat industry to educate health-conscious consumers about the improved nutritional qualities of today’s meat products.

Perhaps you should consider this anti-meat campaign from the farm animals’ point of view. Every farm animal produced for human consumption must take pride in the fact that their generation has excelled beyond the quality and nutrition standards of previous generations. It is a shame for you to thumb your nose at the goal these animals have to be the “center of the plate” in an American’s well-rounded meal.

On behalf of all farmers and farm animals who are proud of the meat products produced on American farms, please consider re-naming the plant-based protein items on your menu to something that more accurately reflects their true origins.

Respectfully,



Trent D. Loos


For reference on this issue please go to Veg City Diner website for more information. Veg City Diner is located on 14th Street Manhattan, NY. Please forward this letter to everyone on your list and also send to the Veg City Diner at this address http://www.vegcity.com/feedback_form.htm


Monday, September 22, 2003

Cashing in on the family name

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. hasn’t talked about animal agriculture since we shut him up at the June 2003 Hog Summit in Gettysburg, PA, until this weekend. Saturday the New Times printed an op-ed by him and Eric Shaffer. Click here to read about RFK, Jr. and my last meeting in June called "Living Rent Free." Here is an excerpt from the NY Times piece and I would like one single person to tell me where the science is. No, instead he is just throwing out suggestions without substance and because his name is “Kennedy” any printer that throws ink on paper will print it. Oh, but wait. Isn’t this the same paper that recently admitted making up stories and falsifying information to sell papers? Well, now it all makes sense. I will be submitting a letter to the New York Times, please join me. The address is letters@nytimes.com.

An Ill Wind From Factory Farms

These farms emit an enormous amount of pollutants that taint air, land and water. Their noxious gases, studies suggest, contribute to respiratory problems, gastrointestinal diseases, eye infections, depression and other ailments. Department of Agriculture research has shown that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are carried daily across property lines from corporate hog farms into homes and small farms. The thousands of animals crowded together on each giant feedlot produce waste that pollutes waterways and contaminates drinking water.

Land use


I featured this link one day last week to the original story. Federal judge Haddon said “farm owners have no "absolute or unfettered right to operate an alternative livestock ranch as they see fit,"

What happens when all us have to use our property as the state or government sees fit? I don’t think we call it “freedom”.

The North American Elk Breeders Association have released a press release identifying the problems with this initiative. Click here to read the entire press release.

The North American Elk Breeders Association wants to issue an alert to all business owners across the country. A federal judge’s decision this week to uphold Montana Initiative-143 will prohibit the issuance of new game farm licenses, prohibit the transfer of existing licenses and prohibit the shooting of game-farm animals for a fee.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

North American Elk Breeders Association
1708 North Prairie View Road

Platte City MO 64079
Phone: 318-871-8256 Fax: 318-871-5065
www.naelk.org

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Please contact:Trent Loos
Phone: 970-481-1389

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MAlert to All Business Owners Across the Country.
Could your Business Be Next?

September 19 2003

(Platte City, MO) The North American Elk Breeders Association wants to issue an alert to all business owners across the country. A federal judge’s decision this week to uphold Montana Initiative-143 will prohibit the issuance of new game farm licenses, prohibit the transfer of existing licenses and prohibit the shooting of game-farm animals for a fee.

The issue of greatest concern in regard to this ruling may be the judge’s comments. He stated that farm owners have no "absolute or unfettered right to operate an alternative livestock ranch as they see fit.” Also of great concern are comments from, Sarah McMillan, an attorney representing the Wildlife Federation who said "There is no fundamental right to run your business as you see fit. A game-farm license is a privilege, not a vested right. It can be taken away or modified." The farmers they are speaking of are all licensed by the state. These farmers are producing livestock for consumptive use on private property. This should serve as a warning to all farmers and ranchers that your investment could be in jeopardy because of someone else’s agenda.

Kim Kafka, a petitioner in the lawsuit from Havre, MT, says, “The public was sold a bill of goods that doesn’t exist”. The ruling has a strong negative effect on ranchers like Kafka who have diversified in order to increase the profitability of their ranches. He added elk farming to his crop and beef operation several years ago.

Kafka added, “In Montana we hear so much talk about saving the Montana heritage, yet when I drive down roads that used to have a farm on every corner, those places are gone. What about the heritage of agriculture? Montana has worldwide appeal because of its distinct forage production that is so well suited for grazing animals. This ruling thumbs its nose at the economically sustaining portion of our heritage.”

Voters in Montana were given misleading information regarding the unfounded fears about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on deer and elk farms. This misrepresentation of facts played a huge role in garnering support for I-143. In fact, the domestic elk and deer industry has tested 35,000 animals for CWD in the last two years. Approximately 100 of those tested positive. That means that only 0.28% of all farmed deer and elk tested were infected with CWD.

Elk and deer in controlled farming operations are monitored on a regular basis for the presence of disease. The ability to manage these animals allows veterinary professionals to ensure the health and immune status of deer and elk on these farms to a much greater extent than animals can be managed in the wild.

Montana Initiative-143, the judge’s ruling and his comments are a direct attack on personal property rights. We hope that this will serve as a wake up call for the entire animal agriculture industry. We must relentlessly present the facts in order to ensure that the decisions of voters and consumers are based on truth rather than the agenda of special interest group.

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Literally behind the scenes