Saturday, December 15, 2007


I am pretty much an all beef all the time type of consumer. Your recent video on YouTube re: beef and the environment is troubling. I have had my ears up for many years on the subject and, contrary to your stated experience, rarely hear anybody claiming that our beef industry is the biggest CO2 producer in the US. It seems like I might have heard a few comments like that back in the ‘70’s but not since that time. I occasionally do hear our approach to beef producing is a significant contributor of CO2 which fits with the facts of the 2% that you quote--two% of the amount of CO2 the USA produces is, in fact, a huge number. I cannot imagine what is gained by your exaggerating the truth to the point that most readers know that it is just not true at a glance? When you do that, the informed people you are trying to convert, sway, or inform just turn a deaf ear to anything that follows and your whole purpose of informing them about the virtues of the beef industry is defeated.

Beef is environmentally friendly because of the large segment of the beef production chain--from conception to the entrance gate of a feedlot--that is almost entirely based on native or low input domesticated perennial forage plants growing on land that cannot produce plant materials for human consumption in a truly sustainable and environmentally safe fashion. As you well know, whenever animals start consuming materials from land that can safely produce plant crops that humans can eat the degree of environmental friendliness decreases. It is not fiction that beans from a given acreage can feed more people than can be fed if the beans are fed to beef animals and the beef is consumed by people. Personally, I don’t like beans but that does not make the feedlot to slaughter segment of the beef industry more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ecologically efficient than using the same land to produce human edible protein as you have claimed. I agree with you on how much more efficiently we raise beef today than in the past and we should be proud of it and make it known to the public. I also agree with you about implants. And, I think beef producers should be especially proud of the way they have incorporated a vast variety of processing byproducts into high quality beef feed.

One thing that always amuses and amazes me is that beef producers and organizations do not brag about the environmental friendliness of their product as compared to that of pork and poultry products which comes from animals whose life-time diets come primarily from land that could safely grow human consumable protein that doesn’t need to be transformed by an animal.. Seems like a no brainer to me.

Jerry Dodd
Lawton, Oklahoma 73505

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
101 S Webster, PO Box 7921,
Madison, WI 53707Phone: (608) 266-6790 TDD: (608)
DATE: For Release: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007
CONTACT: John Shenot, DNR, 608-267-0802Laurie Fischer, Dairy Business Association, 920-491-9956
SUBJECT: Dairy Business Association signs Green Tier Charter with Department of Natural Resources

MADISON – The Dairy Business Association (DBA) is helping dairy producers and processors make America’s Dairyland a bit greener by signing the industry’s first charter with the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Green Tier program.
DNR Secretary Matt Frank and association executive director Laurie Fischer signed the charter today in Madison at DBA’s Business Conference. Green Tier is Wisconsin’s innovative program for organizations that voluntarily pledge to go beyond environmental compliance.

“Wisconsin should be proud of DBA’s commitment to helping dairy producers and processors achieve environmental excellence,” DNR Secretary Matt Frank said. “Dairy farms are a cornerstone of Wisconsin’s history and it’s encouraging to know that Wisconsin dairy producers and processors will continue to make exceptional dairy products while pursuing superior environmental performance.”

The charter is a partnership effort between DNR and the Dairy Business Association’s Green Tier Advancement Project. The goal of the Green Tier Charter is to provide opportunities for Wisconsin dairy producers and processors to achieve superior environmental performance by providing resources and support in the development, implementation and auditing of Environmental Management Systems (EMS), an eligibility requirement for participation in Green Tier. DNR was recently awarded a $275,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help off-set the initial costs of developing, implementing and auditing EMS’s for prospective Charter participants.

“By leveraging the dairy industry’s commitment to environmental excellence, DBA hopes to work with DNR and the dairy industry to provide additional financial incentives for participating in Green Tier,” DBA Executive Director Laurie Fischer said.

DBA President Jon Vrieze added the charter “paves the way for a new future between DNR, dairy producers and processors.

“Wisconsin has long been the leader on environmental issues and Wisconsin’s dairy industry is an important partner in informing and solving many of the issues Wisconsin faces,” he said. “Participation in Green Tier doesn’t mean simply checking a box; it requires real commitments that will require considerable effort on the part of producers.”

The development of the charter was made possible by the support and contributions of numerous individuals and organizations, including: Kenn Buelow (Holsum Dairy), Karl Klessig (Saxon Homestead Farm), Liz Doornink (Jon-De Farm), John Vrieze (Baldwin Dairy), DNR Runoff Management Program, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the Wisconsin Agricultural Stewardship Initiative. Grants from the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Coastal Management Program and the Joyce Foundation were also instrumental to successfully completing this agreement.
Dairy producers and processors who are interested in learning more about the opportunities available to Green Tier participants, or the charter should contact DBA or visit DNR’s Green Tier web page at


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Hello, high school classmate! I read your November 13, 2007 Loos Tales article and wanted to respond. I know your passion and enthusiasm and first want to tell you how proud I am of you for traveling, learning, discussing and speaking out to protect the rights of small farms. You are inspirational and I applaud your efforts!

My son has raised chickens on our small Iowa farm for four years and started his own small egg business. He has learned much about chickens and business that has enhanced his love of poultry and helps to teach him responsibility. This summer he went to Iowa State Fair having the honor to present his 4-H Educational Presentation entitled “Everyone Eats Eggs.” Garrett researched all the variation of egg carton terms and the facilities that raise them. It is confusing. Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the United States and currently has most of the factory farms raising hens in open-range conditions. His presentation was well received with the most questions from the audience. This proves that people are interested and starting to care more about their food and where it comes from. I understand fully what some people are saying about the housing of chickens in the large warehouses. There are many ways of raising chickens in better conditions. The better the conditions for the chicken, the better quality of eggs we as consumers eat.

However, for every person who wants to complain about conditions of the chickens in large factory farms and blame big companies for their involvement, I would encourage them to first analyze their own buying habits. Each one of us is supporting these larger egg factories when we purchase cheap eggs in the grocery stores. Until more people are willing to be responsible for their own actions and start being more informed about the industry, then I don’t understand how they can justify blaming other companies for the huge demand of human consumption of eggs and chickens.

In less than half a decade ago, most every small farm raised their own chickens for their food and eggs. The extra eggs they did not use were sold to make money for the family. You can’t drive across Iowa anymore and see many animals outside. Most everyone eats eggs and eggs are in most everything people eat, but eggs are a subject that most people know little about anymore. Chickens are truly amazing animals that we all depend on every day. The sad truth is that most people don’t want to be inconvenienced with raising their own chickens. Small farmers are dwindling and large factory farms had to move in to meet the continual demand of the people. Unfortunately with this transition, it caused fewer people to realize how much work it takes to raise these animals, and many people think only about animals when they buy their products in the grocery store. They have lost the precious connection between animals and humans.

So I will encourage everyone to think about where they buy their food and I hope to motivate people to start raising their own animals. Their time with animals will be far more rewarding than writing letters complaining to large corporations - that are only trying to meet the demands of people and have many other things to worry about than giving a chicken a good home.

Not telling you anything that you don’t already know, Trent. If you can use any of this to reunite the connection with animals and humans, than I am all for it!


Jayne Murfin-Clampitt

Independence, Iowa


“Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth…All things are connected.” – Chief Seattle, 1854...Read his entire speech at:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bill Nienhueser from Concordia, MO showed up during the 4th Annual Houston E. Mull cattle drive and wanted to ride "11" the pink mule. Even though the shadows in this picture make him look black she had a pink mane and tail. Bill is 88 years old and I was very reluctant to let him get on 11. He told me I was one of 11 survivors in my unit on D-Day you think I am afraid of this pink mule?

My thanks to Bill and all other WWII veterans for their efforts. The statistics say we are losing 1000 of them every day. I hope you take the chance to visit with every WWII veteran you get the opportunity to do so.

Okay here I am riding "11" carrying the U.S. Flag that flew at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq on Oct. 1, 2007. I carried that flag 30 miles leading the Cattle Drive reminding everyone of the efforts the United States take to protect our freedom.

Here is the real price of freedom for 228 years

WAR OF THE REVOLUTION 19 Aril 1775 - 20 September 1783
Participants: 250,000 :: POWs: 18,152 :: MIAs: 1,426 :: Deaths In Service: 6,824

WAR OF 1812 18 June 1812 - 24 December 1814
Participants: 286,730 :: POWs: 20,000 :: MIAs: 695 :: Deaths In Service: 2,260

MEXICAN WAR 24 April 1846 - 2 February 1848
Participants: 78,718 :: POWs: 20,000 : : MIAs: 695 :: Deaths In Service: 2,260

INDIAN WARS US Date 1815 - December1890
Participants: 106,000 :: POWs: Many, few survived :: MIAs: Many :: Deaths In Service: 1,000
Aboriginal American Date 1540 - 2004
Participants: Unknown, in the millions :: POWs-MIAs: Unknown - Aboriginal Americans are the longest held documented POWs, serving into the 20th Century in excess of 28 years :: Deaths In Service: Millions

CIVIL WAR 12 April 1861 - 26 May 1865
Union Participants: 2,213,365 :: Union POWs: 194,743 :: Union Deaths In Service: 364,511
Confederate Participants: 1,082,119 :: Confederate POWs: 214,865 :: Confederate Deaths In Service: 134,563

SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR 21 April 1898 - 12 August 1898
Participants: 260,000 :: POWs: 8 :: MIAs: 72 Deaths In Service: 2,446

WORLD WAR I 6 April 1917 - 11 November 1918
Participants: 4,743,826 :: POWs: 7,470 :: MIAs: 116,708 :: Deaths In Service: 116,708

WORLD WAR II 7 December 1941 - 2 September 1945
Participants: 16,353,659 :: POWs: 124,079 :: MIAs: 30,314
Deaths in Service: Disputed Numbers - All References Provided
• Info. Please: 291,557 KIA + 113,842 other causes = 405,399
• DoD: 291,557 KIA + 113,842 other = 405,399

• Britannica: 6,000

U.S. Merchant Marine: 8,300 mariners killed at sea, at least 1,100 died from wounds. Total killed estimated 9,300. []

• All (undifferentiated):
• Messenger: 300,000

COLD WAR 2 September 1945 - 21 August 1991
Participants: Classified :: POWs: Classified :: MIAs: 343 :: Deaths In Service: Classified :: Deaths In Service: 407,316 ERA

KOREAN WAR 25 June 1950 - 27 July 1953
Participants: 5,764,143 :: POWs: 7,140 :: MIAs: 8,177 :: Deaths In Service: 36,940

SECOND INDOCHINA WAR (Vietnam)08 July 1959 - 27 January 1973
Active Duty: 9,087,000 :: In-Country: 2,594,000 :: POWs: 2,583 :: MIAs: 3000-6000 :: Deaths In Service: 58,486

USS PUEBLO 23 January 1968 - 23 December 1968
Incident Personnel: 82 :: POWs: 82 :: POW Deaths In Incident: 1

GRENADA 25 October 1983 - 2 November 1983
Participants: 2,700 :: POWs: Unknown :: MIAs: 4 :: Deaths In Service: 20

USS STARK 17 May 1987
Participants: Unknown :: MIAs: 1 :: Deaths In Service: 36

PERSIAN GULF WAR 16 January 1991 - 27 February 1991
Participants: 650,000 :: POWs - MIAs: 52 :: Deaths In Service: 255

SOMALIA 02 December 1992 - 15 September 1994
Participants: Classified :: POWs: 6 :: MIAs: 2 :: Deaths In Service: 44
Operation Iraqi Freedom - as of 26 AUG 07
2 Military -
11 Civilians

Additionally, 4 Civilian Contractors working for a private security firm were abducted when their convoy was attacked late Fall 2006.

KIA and Non-Combat Deaths 3,722 Identified
Civilian Contractor Casualties - 900+

Operation Enduring Freedom - as of 26 AUG 07
KIA and Non-Combat Deaths 424 Identified

Persian Gulf War 1991: 3 Officially Unaccounted-For,
12 Unofficially Unaccounted-For
Other personnel also remain unaccounted-for in Iraq, 9 of 14 crewmembers of the Spirit '03 loss incident. As well as the A-6 loss with Barry Cook and Robert Dwyer who was lost with his F/A 18. At the conclusion of the Persian Gulf War 1991, all were classified as KIA/BNR. Michael Scott Speicher's status was later upgraded twice... to MIA in 2001 and to Missing/Captured in 2002.

President Bush has even stated that more than just Speicher remain unaccounted-for from the first war with Iraq. His remarks last National POW-MIA Recognition Day - "Nearly 60 years after the end of World War II, the fate of more than 78,000 Americans who fought in that conflict remains unknown. More than 8,100 from the Korean War are missing, more than 120 from the Cold War, more than 1,900 from the Vietnam War, and three from the Gulf War. These Americans, who dedicated their lives to preserving and protecting our freedoms, will never be forgotten."

COLOMBIA: 3 Hostages/POWs
Thomas Howes
Marc Gonsalves
Keith Stansell
DOI : 12-13 February, 2003
SouthEast Asia: 1,773
Korea: 8,100
Cold War: 123
World War II: 78,773
World War I: 4,452

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

An acceptable level of death

As I write this it was just announced that Porter Wagner, Country Music Hall of Famer, has died of lung cancer. He died of lung cancer but he was 80 years old. If he enjoyed smoking and lived to be 80 while doing so, I think he must have no complaints. Meanwhile, it was also reported that 3 year old Sebastian Ferrero died Oct. 10 at Shands at the University of Florida Medical Center in Gainesville, two days after a routine test was supposed to help doctors determine why the boy's growth was below average. He was given a drug overdose at 100 times what he should have received. Is this an acceptable death? Not to me.

Let me first remind you that I think it is vital that we continue to fund research and get early diagnosis for all types of cancer. But I also think that, for the most part, we have overlooked the true cause of cancer, living longer. Certainly there are exceptions as both my mother and my sister contracted breast cancer before they reached 35 years of age. I believe the prevalence of cancer is a factor of life span. Recent Mayo Clinic data reveals that some colon cancer is detected in 40 year olds but primarily the disease is found during or after the mid 60’s. Only 17 % of the cancer found in people under the age of 50 is colon cancer.

I am writing this with the understanding that the World Cancer Research Fund is prepared to publish its 2007 report on “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer.” This is an update to its 1997 report and will evaluate some 5,000 to 10,000 new studies on cancer completed over the past 10 years. It may turn out that most interesting component of this study is not which research was included but rather which was omitted. Left out was a Harvard pooling study considered to be the biggest study ever conducted on the association between red meat and cancer. Many of the other pooling studies were published with fewer subjects. Is it possible that results of this study were not included because they found no association or only a statistically insignificant association between red meat consumption and cancer?

We are now beginning to study water and its direct effect of cancer. Every person who has ever contracted cancer drinks water. Let’s take a quick look at recent news reports on other cancer causing agents.

CBS News published a story in December 2005 citing a study, which found a statistical link between the incidence of breast cancer in young women and the use of antiperspirants combined with frequent underarm shaving. "I personally feel there is a very strong correlation between the underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer," said immunologist Dr. Kris McGrath, the author of the study.

However, a woman's risk for breast cancer is associated with lifetime exposure to estrogen.

Lead in lipstick: Red alert or false alarm?

Body Spray Causes Cancer

Perhaps unexpectedly, the risk of developing cervical cancer was twice as high for those who had treatment between 1991-2000 compared with those who had treatment between 1958-70.

Do sweeteners really cause cancer?

Should teen use of tanning beds be regulated by the state?

No one can argue that cancer is touching the lives of every single person in this country and apparently around the world. It is also unarguable that cancer comes from a combination of factors that we still don’t totally understand. Obesity is without a doubt at the top of list but that would put the responsibility on us personally and that is not something we are happy with. We must find lower hanging fruit, something or someone else to blame for cancer. There is not one silver bullet in the prevention of cancer but we each make choices daily that can reduce or increase our risk. Avoiding the sun is unhealthy; overexposure is deadly. You decide what is proper.

The accepted level of death should be the real question we are asking. Right behind heart disease and cancer, medical error is ranked as the third leading cause of death. I value every human life. I recognize that accidents happen but I truly fail to understand why, as a society, we seem to accept the death as a result of medical error more easily than cancer. If you read a recent report in Medical News Today, it says that Medical errors remain a leading cause of death and injury at hospitals nationwide. The study finds that about 1.24 million patient safety incidents occurred between 2002 and 2004, compared with 1.14 million between 2000 and 2002, at a cost of $9.3 billion.

Let’s look at the big picture. We have doubled the life expectancy of a human being in the past 100 years. We have more people than ever recovering from cancers of all types. If we continue to fund research to assist in finding more means of early detection, there is no doubt that what might actually be accomplished is winning the war on cancer. But by all means don’t forget that on the way to the doctor to get a clean bill of health, your risk of death in a motor vehicle accident is 16 in 100,000 annually. But that is also an acceptable death rate in our society.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Printed in Oct 22, 2007 version of Feedstuffs

The school of Hard Knocks

I have said it before but I have never said it louder, the true danger of the urbanization of America has nothing to do with the paving of prime farmland with concrete but everything to do with the urbanization of our nation’s thinking. You and I have voiced our frustration about the kid who doesn’t understand where his milk comes from but after you read this, I think you will have a much better understanding of how deep the disconnect truly runs.

I was recently contacted about an abuse of justice in the state of Michigan. While investigating the original incident, I have since learned about two cases in Michigan that started in a similar manner. The first one involves the Mills family in the thumb of Michigan. One day in March of 2007 during an illegal search of the Mills family farm, a dead horse was found. In what was recorded as a bad weather winter in Michigan, the family was waiting for the ground to thaw in order to bury the horse. In case you don’t know, it is virtually impossible to get a rendering truck to pick up a dead horse so waiting was the only real option.

Based on the discovery of the dead horse, felony animal abuse charges were filed against the entire family and the oldest daughter lost her crown as county 4-H queen. I need to emphasize that she lost her title as queen based on alleged charges of animal abuse. During the course of the summer, all felony animal abuse charges were dropped, primarily because the judge in the case happened to raise sheep and the arguments she heard made absolute sense as to the normal care of livestock on a farm in this country. Unfortunately, because of the publicity of the event at the time of arrest, the Mills family still feels the glare of community members that consider them to be animal abusers despite the outcome of the trial.

The second case is still in the court system and at this point the two individuals involved have not been so lucky as to find anyone in the judicial system that understands livestock agriculture. Matt Mercier and Jim Henderson have built a herd of racing horses. Not in the sense of a race track but rather horses that compete in barrel races. In March of this year the two men reportedly had 69 horses on the farm they lease near Grass Lake in Jackson County, Michigan.

I traveled to Michigan several weeks ago for a speaking engagement but I had intentions of going to Grass Lake to research this case myself. Upon arriving in Michigan, I casually polled people about the Grass Lake case. Everybody I asked had heard about it and they all (I am talking about ag folks now) indicated that the situation sounded awful. Come to find out, even though the criminal trial is scheduled for court on Dec. 3, 2007, the court of public opinion has already convicted these guys. I, however, from first hand experience and information I gathered about the situation, found these two guys to be poor managers but far from animal abusers.

You can find statements like the following in the press since the March 2007 impounding of the horse farm. The director of Jackson County Animal Control (JCAC) Kim Luce stated, "The survival rate right now is pretty good. There's still exceptions when we start treating such as worming them can cause adverse reactions."
Luce told the first horse rescuer, Bradley Chaltry, and the press that the horses had not been fed or watered for six months. Chaltry, who owns Ponies are Us and Ratcliff Animal Rescue Services, made the following testimony in court:

“Yeah, ain’t been fed and watered for six months. At that point I was wanting to breed my horses to it because you got a great horse if you don’t have to feed and water it for six months and it’s still alive. I mean, pardon me for that, but…”

At that point, Chaltry was interrupted by the prosecutor. He also said, still under oath, that after being called to come and assist with these allegedly severely starving horses, “We were wondering kind of as to why we were there.”

Chaltry indicated that 90% of the horses were in ideal condition and only 4 were thin, due to normal winter conditions combined with age factors, a couple of worming issues and one injury. Dr. Bob Shray, a large animal veterinarian of 28 years, testified that nothing was occurring on this farm other than normal animal husbandry and a lack of picking up junk at the farm. Shray reminded the court that any time you have a living animal, there is a chance that they could die. Despite the testimony of an industry professional, the court felt that it knows better how animals should be cared for than to take the word of a trained animal care specialist. If a veterinarian isn’t able to determine the well-being of a horse, how can someone who has no training or experience in the field? Yet these folks are calling the shots that affect the future of food production in this country!

First off, the Jackson County Animal Control did not like the report either of these professionals gave to the court so they replaced both of them. In fact, they found a replacement Animal Rescue organization that viewed the negative press as a potential revenue harvest of human emotions and stepped in. Laura Steenrod of Leelanau Horse Rescue stepped in and took over management of the horses. Incidentally, her operation is 200 miles away from the farm. But even admitted her intentions to the press in saying, “I've probably tried to field over 100 phone calls in the last 24 hours. People willing to donate anything from farmers with large quantities of hay willing to bring us large quantities of hay. However the primary concern at this time is monetary donations.”
I see this as the most serious case of legal abuse I have ever personally witnessed. Two individuals have more horses (69) than anybody in this snooty community think can be given personal attention. The judge, in a civil judgment, indicated that all horses should have a stall and maybe even the used blankets, as opposed to new ones, contributed to mistreatment. Based on this civil judgment hearing, the judge gave the Jackson County Animal Control authority to seize all equipment including $15,000 worth of horse tack plus pickups and trailers from the farm. What role does this equipment play in an animal abuse case and why is it able to be offered up as sacrifice in this case?
There is a sign at the front gate of the farm today that reads “No Trespassing; Visitors by appointment only by calling Leelanau Horse Rescue or send you donations directly to their address.” I called Ms. Laura and tried to schedule an appointment and she told me she had turned custody back over to JCAC three months ago. When I asked her why her sign is still up asking for donations she told me she needed to get that down. I inquired as to whether donations were still coming in and she said, “Well, yes, some of them take a while to trickle in”. Of course the fundraising in the name of animal welfare never seems to end.
The bottom line to this saga is this, two individuals are facing prison time because they were treating horses like horses instead of the family dog. Most of the facts I have gathered have come from local cattlemen who understand that what is happening to these two guys could happen to any one of us. Where is the uproar by the local livestock owners? Where is the Michigan Department of Agriculture? Oh, wait. They have been notified only to say that they have no control over local animal control officials. Urbanization is coming to your area sooner than you think. Wouldn’t you rather fight it somewhere other than your own soil? Matt and Jim understand that thanks to the oldest school known to mankind, the school of hard knocks.

Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at, or e-mail Trent at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dear Mr. Schroeder,

While the University is making key cuts to personnel that are not moving their programs in the right direction, we feel strongly that you need to consider terminating the IANR reign of Vice Chancellor John Owens. Mr. Owens has proven through his faculty cuts, budget restrictions and the removal of key personnel that he is not working toward an agricultural university that is in line with the needs and wishes of the many livestock producers in the state of Nebraska. His reassignment of Animal Science Dept. Head Don Beermann to a position in which he will have little if any opportunity to continue the good work that he started by increasing enrollment and morale in the department should have been the straw that broke the camel's back. Following the publication of an article about the department in Feedstuffs magazine (link here)Trent received MANY e-mails and telephone calls from people stating their support for what he had written about Owens and the IANR. These messages came from alumni, current and past faculty and industry leaders in the state. The only comment that contradicted his article was from interim department head Sheila Sheideler. How ironic?

Owens appears to be trying to force the department away from production agriculture toward companion animals. The tax base of this "great livestock state" (to quote former professor Keith E Gilster) is dependent upon a strong university research, extension and teaching program that is focused on key farm animals - beef, sheep, swine and horses. While expanding the department to include companion animals certainly addresses the growing need for research and training in this area, we can't forget what brought us to where we are today and what puts food on the table for all. There is a long history of faculty that have retired or changed positions and these positions have not been re-advertised or filled again because of the decisions of Mr. Owens. We can ill afford to let even more of our good Nebraska kids go to K-State, Iowa State or any other land grant institution because we lose the faculty needed to make our program a great one.

As an alum of UNL, a graduate of the University of Kentucky and a former employee of the University of Missouri, I can tell you first-hand how our program stacks up to many others across the country when it comes to undergraduate education in animal science. UNL is top-notch and it is thanks in great part to the work of Dr. Beermann and Dr. Aberle before him. I find it interesting that, according to the governor's task force, one in three jobs in this state are tied to agriculture. Yet when we lose a great leader in an agricultural position, the press isn't lined up to drill the Chancellor about his decision like they do when we lose an Athletic Director. The state could go on without sports (although I hope it doesn't have to) but I don't think we will last long without the ability to produce food for the world's ever-growing population.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. We would be glad to visit with you in person and look forward to the opportunity to work together for the future of agriculture in our great state.

Proud Nebraskans in Agriculture,

Kelli R. Loos (UNL 1988)
Trent Loos
PO Box 545
Loup City, NE 68853

Monday, October 08, 2007

October 4, 2007

Findlay Dining Commons
Penn State University

Last yesterday afternoon Jenny Rassler (PA Beef Ambassador), Amy Shollenberger (Block and Bridle member), and myself packed up our beef promotional material and set up our table in the Findlay Dining Commons of East Halls, home to 4,000 underclassmen students. The dining commons was all decked out with a 'country western' style theme and the smell of BBQ ribs and chili was amazing.

Jenny, Amy, and I passed out 'BIWFD' stickers, hamburger erasers, and nurtitional information to as many students as we could. We also involved the students in a 'beef trivia' game, asking them fun facts about beef. I would estimate of the 4,000 kids in East, we probably reached about 3,000. The table tent I helped design was on all the tables across campus and a reporter for the Penn State Daily Collegian wrote up a very positive article for us. (one correction to that article: J. Rassler is our PA Beef Ambassador- the article says A. Shollenberger is)

But really, I think the reporter did a wonderful job and didn't twist facts around as media reporters tend to do. (the article even made the bottom of the front page!)--Penn State is home to 43,000 students.

Some of the positive impression we made was with the beef trivia game. The one question was "how many cuts of beef are considered lean by the USDA," the two girls we asked the question to answered, "one." So-needless to say, they were shocked to hear the answer was 29. Another boy who got a kick out of the little 'BIWFD' stickers asked if he could have a couple- he had a vegetarian friend he wanted to give them to. We were also able to talk to several students about the production story and how cattle are harvested. All in all, I think the fact that we were just students too, simply promoting beef because we feel it is important and we want to help eductate other kids about why they should eat it made a big impact. Kids thought we did this for a job and got paid, so the fact that we did this on our own free will made them realize that it really is important to us.

Finally- A BIG Thanks to the PA Beef Council for providing us with the materials and to the dining commons for being so willing to work with us on this promotion.

-Chris Molinaro
Current PA Beef Ambassador
False McDonald’s rumor re-circulating

October 5, 2007

A false rumor about McDonald’s continues to circulate around via e-mail claiming that McDonald’s is refusing to buy U.S. beef, is importing beef from South America that may be unsafe, and asking recipients of the e-mail to boycott McDonald’s. NCBA recently has received a number of inquiries about this e-mail.

This rumor has been circulating in various forms for at least five years and makes the claim that the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) originated the e-mail. This is not true and TCFA has issued the following statement in regard to the rumor:

“Texas Cattle Feeders Association is not connected in any way with the email you received. The email, which has been in wide circulation in various forms for several years now, makes a false claim when it identifies Texas Cattle Feeders Association as the original source of the message. No such message has ever been put out by our organization. Unfortunately, we do not know the identity or motive of the person or persons making this improper use of our name.”

The e-mail also represents Dr. David Forrest at Texas A&M University as the email originator. This also is untrue. Dr. Forrest does not know how his name got associated with the rumor and, in regard to the e-mail, Dr. Forrest has said:

“I had nothing to do with composing this e-mail, the information it contains is false, and I do not support any of the actions called for in the e-mail.”

The phone number listed for Dr. Forrest in the e-mail is, indeed, the number for the TAMU animal science department but please do not call the number. The animal science department reports it has received a large number of calls as a result of the currently circulating rumor.

More information about the e-rumor can be found at the following links:

The genesis of the e-rumor may have been an announcement by McDonald’s in 2002 that, due to competitive issues, it was going to pilot test imported lean trim product from Australia and New Zealand in about 400 of its U.S. stores. The major quick-service chains use imported lean trim because, while there is a surplus of 50% lean trim in the U.S., there is a shortage of 80% - 90% lean trim. Imported lean beef is blended with trimmings from U.S. fed cattle to make beef patties for the quick service restaurant chains.

McDonald’s says it is the largest purchaser of U.S. beef, buying about 1 billion pounds annually. In regard to beef from South America, only Uruguay can export fresh beef to the United States; all other South American beef must be in cooked or canned form due to Foot and Mouth Disease concerns.

The United States is the largest customer for beef from Australia, New Zealand, Central America and Uruguay and almost all of those imports are in the form of lean trim that is used in either quick service hamburgers or case-ready frozen hamburger. All plants that export beef to the United States are approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and must maintain the same (equivalent) Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) standards as U.S. packing plants. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service regularly audits these facilities.

Funded by The Beef Checkoff

Monday, September 24, 2007

The crime of beating a dead horse

There is nothing like continuing to beat a dead horse, but of course, we all know that horses live forever. That is certainly how it seems when it comes to explaining the necessity of horse slaughter in this country. To bring you up to speed on this scenario, last fall the House of Representatives passed a bill that would permanently ban horse slaughter in the United States. The bill did not pass the Senate prior to the new Senate taking office but the bill was re-introduced on Jan 17, 2007. Remember, there are currently only three horse slaughter facilities in the country, two in Texas and one in Illinois.

After a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Jan 19, 2007, the two plants in Texas must shut down. Ruling on appeal of a lower court ruling, the 5th Circuit Court ruled unanimously that a 1949 Texas law banning the harvesting of horses for the sale of meat made horse slaughter illegal in the state of Texas. A lower court had previously ruled that Federal Law pre-empted the 1949 Texas law. For 27 years, horses have been harvested in Texas. Why, all of a sudden, does the court system decide that is it illegal? Because today, everyday citizens, law makers and evidently judges as well, fail to understand our system of natural resources and the cycle of life.
The most troubling thing to me about the whole ruling lies in what one of the judges said when making the ruling. ``The lone cowboy riding his horse on a Texas trail is a cinematic icon.'' ``Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse, but film is an imperfect mirror.''
Now I want to share a couple of observation about this. Only one news source is printing the last line, “but film is an imperfect mirror”. Most stop with “Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse”. I believe that goes a long way toward reflecting the bias that most all news sources displayed in reporting the story. But even more troubling is the fact that the content of movies should in no way, shape or form play a role in a judges ruling.
History tells us that most American Indian tribes, pre-1900, had a taste for roasted horsemeat. We know that Lewis and Clark would have never completed their journey as the Corps of Discovery without the consumption of horsemeat. Members of the Donner Party, stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the winter of 1846-47, ate their horses to survive, as did citizens of Vicksburg, Mississippi during the Union army's siege of the city during the Civil War. And it was horsemeat that American soldiers consumed for nourishment in the European trenches during World War I. I suppose for the court system to know any of that, Disney will need to make a movie where people eat horsemeat.

Only a society so disconnected from the purpose of life would begin to make laws against the consumption of natural resources at the same time as people are living with hunger on a daily basis. Last fall the USDA indicated the highest number of food insecure households in the history of our country but well-fed attorneys and judges could care less about that, because they have access to all the food they want. In fact, I guarantee you that the food wasted by these socially elite at their fancy dinner parties could feed a hungry family of five for a year.

It might seem like a strange example but I think it clearly illustrates how skewed our thinking is. Your dog, “man’s best friend” is the first one to meet you in the driveway every time you come home, tail wagging and happy. A whopping 84% of all Americans now consider their dog to be their kid, which I think is totally wrong, but it shows just how close we are as humans to worshipping animals. Yet there are reports every year of pet owners who have died and go unnoticed for a couple days only to be found consumed by their own pet. Yes, a dog has better understanding of the proper use of natural resources than so many with higher IQs in our population today. The sad fact is with the current path we are on of banning horse slaughter for any purpose, soon it will easier to beat a dead horse than ever before. About 100,000 extra will be available each year. Then we will see what the real crime can be and it is certainly not converting an animal that is of no use in its current state to a useful, beneficial product that could help continue the cycle of life for pets, zoo animals and even humans around the world.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The National Institute of Health reports that only 10% of girls and 25% of boys get the calcium they need to develop strong bones and teeth and stave off osteoporosis in their later years. Ninety percent of a person’s peak bone mass for adulthood is established by the late teen years. The strength and health of an adult’s bones depend on calcium intake during the formative years. The calcium and Vitamin D in milk and dairy products are essential to the long-term bone health of people. If we allow our schools and our children to be influenced by the vegan beliefs of PETA, HSUS and other radicals, we are setting our children up for a lifetime of broken bones, false teeth, osteoporosis and other health problems.

Listen to the science. Kids need milk in their diets and they need teachers that are good role models to provide them with the actual facts so they can make wise choices for themselves. It is time people start being held accountable for the choices they make and this would be a good place to start! If you want to jeopardize your own health, that is your choice but don’t ask the taxpayers to foot the bill for your health problems and don’t insist that our children follow your misguided, ill-informed example of leadership.

Mr. Warwak has NOT taken the children’s best interest into account in his actions and therefore he should move on from the Fox River Middle School. The school board should have the backbone to do what is right for the students of this school. Our future does depend upon the decisions we make today - I urge you to make them wisely.

Kelli R. Loos, rancher and mother of 3 milk drinkers
Loup City, NE 68853
In Fox River Grove Middle School last week, Dave Warwak, 44, was kicked out of class because he was teaching students about his vegan lifestyle. The dispute between Warwak and school officials stemmed from concerns Warwak had with lunchroom posters promoting the health benefits of drinking milk.

Warwak, an art teacher in the northwestern Illinois suburan school, said he distributed copies of the book "The Food Revolution," which promotes the health benefits of veganism, to several eighth-graders and provided excerpts to school officials.

In reaction to the dismissal of Warwak, animal rights groups have come to the defense of Warwak. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sent school principal Tim Mahaffy a letter Friday criticizing the decision to dismiss Warwak.

"In this case, the school was pushing commercial milk advertising on kids," said Bruce Friedrich, a vice president of outreach efforts for PETA. "The school was stamping its vote of support on a product that promotes cruelty to animals and harms children."

In the letter, Friedrich offers the school district care packages that include a vegetarian starter kit, a book on veganism and a DVD expose on factory farming.

Here are news articles involving this situation:

Vegan teacher dismissed by Fox River Grove school

Vegan teacher finding lots of support

Here’s what I have to say:
Game on. The media sluts have once again found a way to make front page headlines. The real question here is whether we - as milk, meat and egg producers - are going to reach out to the school or sit back and say, there PETA goes again. A wave of opportunity has just come a shore.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A few good men

I don’t say this to pander to anyone. My favorite part of the United States is Western North Dakota, in particular the Badlands in and around Medora. Medora, most likely the best kept secret in the nation, has a population of about 100 people year-round, although for three months during the summer the tourists fill it until it’s bursting at the seams with people walking the streets of the Cowboy town. This is a town that relives the day of Theodore Roosevelt as a rancher. Theodore Roosevelt moved to the Medora in 1893 and took up ranching. A successful rancher he was not but a life long lesson came to him that I feel our nation once again needs to revisit.

The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame is truly setting an example of how we should capture and memorialize where our nation has been. At the heart of Medora, the Hall of Fame holds it’s annual induction ceremonies the first weekend in August. A weekend where people from around the country gather to pay tribute to individuals who have dedicated their lives to improving life on earth through their management of the resources we have been endowed to care for. It is no accident that Medora, in the middle of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is the location where all this all takes place.

Teddy Roosevelt, by many accounts, is considered the nation’s first conservationist. Let me reiterate. I said conservationist, not preservationist. There is a huge difference between the two and Roosevelt learned to appreciate the wildlife, the wilderness and the other wonders of nature. In 1901, when then Vice-President Roosevelt took over for William McKinley, who was assassinated, Roosevelt made conservation a central policy issue of his administration. He created five National Parks, four Big Game Refuges, fifty-one National Bird Reservations and the National Forest Service.

I believe what made Roosevelt truly remarkable was that he was an advocate for the sustainable use of the nation's natural resources, the protection and management of wild game, and the preservation of wild spaces. In a speech addressed to a national conference on conservation held at the White House in 1908, Roosevelt stated, "Our position in the world has been attained by the extent and thoroughness of the control we have achieved over nature; but we are more, and not less, dependent upon what she furnishes than at any previous time of history. It is equally clear that these resources are the final basis for national power and perpetuity."

Roosevelt enacted land policies that I am sure some who believe ranchers should not be grazing federal lands today would be appalled at. I completely disagree with them. He did not believe private interest should use federal land without compensation but he certainly did believe in managing and utilizing the natural resources God provided us. What I believe is most relevant in today’s world was this statement by Roosevelt: "The establishment of the National Park Service is justified by considerations of good administration, of the value of natural beauty as a National asset, and of the effectiveness of outdoor life and recreation in the production of good citizenship." Commonly, Roosevelt expressed his concern over an urbanizing nation. He feared that the increasingly urban population, removed from nature, would lose the qualities that led to good citizenship.

At the top of the Roosevelt’s list for good citizenship was manliness. Today, the same individuals who talk about “preserving” our nation’s resources would fall the farthest from Roosevelt’s ideal view of manliness.

Daniel Filler1 wrote an essay called:
Theodore Roosevelt; Conservation as the Guardian of Democracy

For Roosevelt, hunting and wilderness recreation best taught man these values. He feared that urbanization was leading to the emasculation of the American male; and Roosevelt considered this threat to masculinity a threat to American democracy. Roosevelt believed that American democracy was sustained by self-reliant men willing to work hard to support themselves, their families, and American industry, upon which democracy rested. Emasculated, men would lose their willingness and ability to work hard to support themselves, their families, or American industry; their commitment to their communities and the nation would be overwhelmed by idleness. Without wilderness and a large stock of game animals upon which men could hunt, to which men from the cities could retreat, the nation would lose the site of its masculinity.

I think this is also the best summary of why I consider Medora my absolute favorite region within our great nation. I still find the values of Roosevelt in the men and women of North Dakota who understand nature and what is has to offer us as human beings. Everyone should experience the beauty, majesty and tradition of Medora, even if it is only for a weekend and one melt-in-your-mouth pitchfork fondue!

1Daniel M. Filler, Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs and Professor of Law at Drexel University, College of Law 215.571.4705

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What’s in store for the Land Grant Universities?
by Wayne Vanderwert

Every so often I need to get on my soapbox, this is one of those occasions. What’s happening at your and my alma mater is a subject that we in the cattle business should start to think about.

First, I’ll establish the fact that I spent a fair number of years at three different land grant universities pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s and a doctorate in Animal Science. I also spent over five years in ag extension work; I’m not exactly an uninformed bystander.

Second, I have a lot of friends at land grant schools. People that I respect for their knowledge of livestock production, nutrition, breeding, physiology and meat science. These people have tremendous knowledge and the ability to convey that information to producers. This is not meant to be critical of them; in fact many of them share my concerns. They fight regularly to stay alive in a system that seems to appreciate their contribution less and less. They are the ones whose names you and I recognize and associate with our university. Their ranks are thinning.

The so-called “Land Grant” colleges were established by the Morrill Act of 1862, which gave each state 30,000 acres of land per member of the state’s delegation in Congress. The states in turn sold this land to establish a college focused on agriculture, engineering and military science--the priorities of the day.

What resulted for U.S. agriculture was research, training for young minds and dissemination of new information to agricultural producers in a system that was the envy of the rest of the world. In turn, it created a highly efficient agricultural production structure that was also admired worldwide. Not surprising that many countries send their brightest minds to study here in graduate programs.

But, the land grant system appears to be broken in some states; at the very least the system doesn’t relate to producers as well as it did in the past. There is even talk of doing away with the colleges of agriculture in some major agricultural states.

I can cite many examples where Animal Science departments and staff have lost contact with their state’s producer organizations, pass up recruitment opportunities at youth livestock events, even fail to show up at a state breed sale that is a few hundred feet from their office.

A former college teacher of mine, who is retiring this fall, pointed out that as an incoming freshman, he knew a majority of the Animal Science faculty members through his involvement in 4-H and FFA. Today, I suspect many livestock producers wouldn’t recognize the head of the department, by name or face, and have little contact with staff members.

A portion of the problem is that the system is a victim of its own success. It has fulfilled the government’s cheap food policy desires. As long as we enjoy ample supplies of high quality, safe food in this country, government funding for agriculture research will not be a priority. This has forced universities to be in the “research business”, to seek research money from other sources. That in turn has compromised the land grant’s mission of unbiased research and information. It also has eliminated much of the good applied research that needs to be done.

Additionally, part of the problem is self-inflicted. A misguided tenure system placed teaching and extension well below research several years ago. Ability to bring in research dollars became the focus for advancement. I imagine that counting published research papers is much simpler and less subjective than evaluating a good job of undergraduate teaching or extension outreach education. This has forced the teachers to be good researchers; the extension staff to be good researchers and the system awards good researchers with the administrative jobs (department heads and deans) as promotions. Any surprise that we have spiraled downward to departments overloaded with narrowly focused researchers who can’t relate to producers?

I’ve done a little soul searching in writing this editorial. I’ve challenged myself with the question, “Am I getting old-fashioned?” I don’t think so, I’m not against cutting-edge research, but I think that there is still an opportunity and need to balance research with teaching and extension. In the past extension filled an unofficial role of public relations. Producers were quick to pick up the flag and support their university. Could the recent trend contribute to university’s problems when state legislatures struggle with funding?

Another issue we need to wrestle with is one of trying to preserve the past versus prepare for the future. In agriculture we’re guilty of this every once in awhile. As the pork and poultry industries consolidated and integrated, the role of the land grant university in providing information to these industries has diminished. It is not a cause and effect issue. Consolidation is driven by the desire to gain business efficiencies and by consumer demand for consistency. Hoping to keep the beef industry from consolidating by preserving the old land grant system is an empty dream.

The solution may be in consolidation of the land grant system itself. Rural public schools and clustered county extension programs provide the model. Does every state need a specialist in every discipline? Does every institution need to fund, equip and update expensive labs to conduct basic research?

From almost every angle that we examine the situation, we in the cattle business are going to increasingly feel the impact of all of this in the coming years. As an example, Cornell University has no intention of replacing the two scientists nearing retirement, who have played a major role in the genetic evaluation system we enjoy in the seedstock business. That will reduce to two, the schools working on national cattle evaluation; a few years ago there were four universities in the so-called Genetic Consortium. Where we get the good information we’ll need to compete in the future is something to think about.

Wayne Vanderwert is Executive Director of the American Gelbvieh Association. More information on the website

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A letter to the editor printed in the Daily Chronicle

Consumers should be criticized, not Cavel | 133 comment(s)



As a person who has been around horses much of my life (e.g., as a rider and owner, behind farm implements, during “putting down” and burials), I have been following with increasing incredulity the debate about the slaughter of horses at the Cavel International plant in DeKalb.

Let's approach the issues rationally. Here are two basic premises central to the debate on which both sides can agree:

Premise 1: All of these horses will die at some time.

Premise 2: All of them will be consumed in some way (e.g., by humans, animals, maggots or flames).

Now what is the cruelest way for these horses to die (aside from hanging, drowning, torturing, etc., as with fighting dogs)? Probably it is from the various vicissitudes of old age or from intentional starvation. The government regulates the means of killing animals at various kinds of slaughterhouses, and apparently it is quick and about as painless as a veterinary euthanasia. So the ultimate issue seems to be who or what will consume the remains. Unless the horse owners submit their animals to taxidermy, the remains will be eaten by pets (if the carcasses are sent to a rendering plant), eaten by humans (if Cavel sells them), eaten by maggots (if the carcasses are buried) or consumed by flames (if the horses are cremated).

The first two options seem the most resource- and energy-efficient, especially considering the employment generated by these options and the cost and energy entailed in burial or cremation.

So, isn't the bottom line a question of who or what consumes the remains? And if one objects to human consumption, shouldn't that be brought up with the consumers (Japan, Belgium, etc.), not with the processors? It seems to me that society would be best served by working on the dog-fighting issue.


Sycamore, IL

Monday, August 13, 2007

Such a waste

As a young 4-Her, I remember lamenting, with my brother and sister, the untimely death of our best club lamb. We had vaccinated for all the relevant sheep diseases, as suggested by our veterinarian, but the lamb was still dead and for no good or apparent reason. An elderly neighbor pointed out the only solution to raising animals and never having to deal with a dead one. It was quite simplistic actually – don’t raise animals. That is the only way you can be guaranteed never to lose one. As much as I hate dead ones, I can’t imagine a spring without baby calves frolicking across the pasture or the gangly legs of a newborn colt trying to stand to nurse.

Our girls have already had a good dose of having to deal with and learn about the cycle of life. But the cycle of life doesn’t always make a complete circle, if you know what I mean. Some animals just go before they really should and all we can do is learn about ways we might have prevented the death, understand possible causes and try not to let it sober us to the many positive things going on in our operations. But that doesn’t always take away the pain of a loss, even for those of us who deal with it on a regular basis. For the city folks who might have to face putting the family pet to sleep, we may seem a little hard hearted. It’s not that we aren’t upset about the deaths that occur, it’s just that we know it is inevitable.

We have encountered several losses during the severe winter cold and into the wet spring that we felt were simply just the waste of a potentially great animal. Like the perfect little filly we rescued from the chilling rain and wind. We warmed her in the bathtub for half a day, reunited her with her mother and two days later they were outside enjoying the sunshine. She was retrieved from the mud around the hay ring by our oldest daughter only to suffer a fatal kick to the head from a jealous mare in the pen. What kind of justice is that?

Or perhaps I should mention the first-calf heifer that prolapsed giving birth. The girls fell asleep in the pickup as the veterinarian, two fellow ranchers and I spent half of the night putting her back together. We spent several hours searching for the calf we knew she had given birth to but were unable to find until the sun came up the following day. It was then too that we discovered that our surgery was too little, too late. So now we have a bottle calf to feed twice a day.

We haven’t even considered the baby goats that were born in sub-zero temperatures this February. Even though they were in the barn, if there were more than one born to a nanny she couldn’t get them cleaned off and warmed up in time to keep them alive. So we carted them to the house, warmed them up, tried to pair them back up with nannies that could feed multiples. We still ended up with two bottle goats to feed and a few dead ones piled by the door of the barn until we could haul them off.

So, as farmers and ranchers, we do accept that death is a part of our business but that doesn’t make it a pleasant experience. In general, farmers and ranchers are a conservative lot. We don’t like to waste much of anything so these unwarranted deaths are a little harder for us to deal with. If an animal is harvested and goes on to provide food and by-products for humans or pets, it is a more reasonable and logical conclusion to their life. But when they die and have to be trucked off to nearest rendering plant, it is simply just a waste.

In that same vein, we have a problem with the notion that animals should be wasted rather than have a purposeful end to their life. Whether you are wasting an animal that could provide nutrients for another living being or you are wasting the resources necessary to keep this animal alive, either way you are harboring something that could be put to a better use. And what happens when we save all of the unwanted horses? Who will feed them? Taxpayers will not want to foot the bill for long and the activists against horse slaughter have saved all the horses their refuges can hold. Where will feed come from for these horses? Hay prices are at near record highs and pasture is in short supply due to the drought. And finally, when these horses do die a “natural death”, what will we do with all of the carcasses? Renderers are reluctant to accept them. Will landfills in New York City let us pile them there? Perhaps the Hollywood starlets who campaign to stop the harvest of horses will allow us to bury them on their rambling estates. Or not? Have they smelled many dead piles in the heat of the summer sun?

Death is death. If you don’t want to deal with it, get out of the business but by the same token it is not for someone else to demand that we make better use of our nation’s natural resources and then dictate policy that forces us to waste both feed and the potential products that could be generated by harvesting undesirable horses in this country. The double-edged sword is being used against us and it is just now slashing through the curtain that shields the world of agriculture. If we let it sweep forward, our entire industry is in jeopardy. And that would truly be a waste!
Animal Husbandry from Uncle Sam

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 10, 2007

With all that said, I find this New York Times article to be an even greater threat to the future of American agriculture:

Ethanol is feeding hot market for farmland

While much of the nation worries about a slumping real estate market, people in Midwestern farm country are experiencing exactly the opposite. Take, for instance, the farm here - nearly 80 acres of corn and soybeans off a gravel road in a universe of corn and soybeans - that sold for $10,000 an acre at auction this spring, a price that astonished even the auctioneer.

In central Illinois, prime farmland is selling for about $5,000 an acre on average, up from just over $3,000 an acre five years ago, a study showed. In Nebraska, meanwhile, land values rose 17% in the first quarter of this year over the same time last year, the swiftest such gain in more than a quarter century, said Jason R. Henderson, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think that the number of young people engaged in farming is the challenge. While this article lays the blame on hands of ethanol mandates, I see the problem much bigger and more complex. Investors were seeking farmland ownership long before the ethanol rage, causing land values to increase beyond what farming could return. Here is one such example from my home state of Nebraska.

Turner's land holdings keep increasing
The 100-year tenure of the McMurtrey Family at a pioneer ranch in Cherry County ended June 26 with a public referee auction at Valentine.

The real issue is the mindset of our young people believing there is no opportunity for them. I stated on Rural Route this week that the opportunities are greater than ever for young people who WANT to farm. The average age of the U.S. farmer, combined with their kids leaving the farm, creates the opportunity for sweat equity positions and purchase after a number of years working in the said operation.

I have not asked for permission to reprint so I will withhold the author's name, but here is one response I received as a result of that comment. I strongly disagree with his sentiments. What is your opinion?

Once again Trent has completely missed the mark. I have heard him espouse this before. He thinks there are legions of aging farmers who are looking for a young person to take over their farm. The fact is 99% of these farmers are only interested in selling their farm to the highest bidder and even if they want someone in particular to take over their place, it is at full market value plus a little more if they can get it.The only real issue they have is how to beat the IRS out of the tax bill. If they could figure this out, they would quit in droves. I am sure every older farmer you approach would be happy to hear that you are willing to take over the labor aspects of their farm, but when you get to the part that we then are going to split up the profits and you are going to let me buy you out at a reasonable price and reasonable terms, the deal is off. Greed is rampant is every aspect of our society and farmers are no different.

As to the question of who will take these operations over. We have seen in the past that existing operators just get larger and I believe this trend will continue and accelerate.

Trent needs to take off the rose-colored glasses.
I have to wonder who wrote that letter to you about the greed of farmers...was it Kyle? :)
Anyway, I wrote Kyle on Monday about this when I heard it on RR...While I'd like to think that young men and women who say they want to farm are willing to put in the sweat and debt to get there, I am now wondering if they will do just about anything to farm, like they claim. Or are they donning rose colored glasses thinking of farming as a romantic lifestlyle. This lasts until they see how much debt they have to go into, how much sweat they have to produce for a pittance. AND if they have to relocate, are their spouses willing to follow them?

From inside the factory, farming looks grand as they watch the local crop farmer meet his buddies at the coffee shop every other morning or drive around in brand new pick up trucks, or head to the local tractor show with his newly restored John Deere B. Or when they see how much equipment they own without seeing the payment book. Or when they look at the century old farmhouse all decorated up with a spouse inside cooking a hearty meal with a smile on her face. No, they don't see what's behind the pastoral scene: the sleepless nights, the broken fingers, the dead animals, the broken tractors, the overdue notes and the aged face that is 20 years older than it should be.

As I look at what I just wrote, I wonder to myself why every morning and every night I head out to a hot barn full of hot cows to sweat like construction worker for not enough money to pay my bills at the end of the month. Why do I do it? I think it's simply what's in you...just like Hank Vogler says, that wonderful mutant gene that we have and can't amputate. It's in your blood that no blood transfusion can take care of. Part of it is that you just have it or you don't....the other part is the support you receive from you parents and peers and then consequently from your spouse.

The sky is the limit for a man with a good mom, OR wife behind him...supporting him, respecting him and loving him.

Melissa Hart
North Adams, MI
I just figured out how to keep Loos Tales from being blocked by our server......
Whomever it was that said you were off the mark, is in a sad state of mind. Pessimistic and a "glass that's 1/2 empty" mentality.. As someone that has been experiencing just such an opportunity (sweat equity) for well over a decade, they couldn't be further from the truth.
I and now my family are very fortunate in our partnership. As you know, we are in an area marked for development. But, we have an aging partner (81 years) that wants this farm to remain as such, just because she cherishes the rural/farm lifestyle. She turns away Realtors every couple weeks. Her property has an extremely high value, but she is from a different time period, and not greedy.
We are very lucky to have an opportunity to work our way into an "Agricultural Nestegg" while beginning from zilch, zero, nothing. All because this kind lady saw something in us she liked and knew she could count on. Integrity, character, diligence, work ethic, caretaking, compassion, kindness, stewardship, love and parenting are terms in which we inherently believe.
I am sorry that people like this miss the trees while viewing the forest......
Keep up the good work,

Chuck Miller
Columbia, MO
I read Loos Lipps this a.m. and seen what the comment by a listener about "old guys dont care and want $ and no taxes". I assume he was a younger guy like myself. I do see his point though. Recently a dairy sold here for 15k+/ac to a "berry farm"(and ..other "cash" crops). The dairyman spent the last 6 years grooming his son-in-law to take over. Then when the boy went into the banker to start the process of purchase the banker said "...the farm sold last month were you been?". My cousin (the son-in-law) was devastated. Years of 60hr weeks and 40hr pay wasted. Hours of picking the right genetic now all slaughterd on the buy out. Now this is rare that the old fellow was sucha s.o.b. but it is his farm he built from nothing 30 years ago. He told me that he could nevr pencil the kid makig payments to him b/c of his debt load and retireing like he wanted. Your reader is right about 20% of the time I would think. The older generation worked harder and dirtier than my generation and wants the rewards for their dilligence. Who does not want full price? Few farmers would rather have big money than a strong legacy. Now if the family I wrote of would of started a buyout plan 6 years ago they all probly could of got what they wanted. $ to retire and a lift to get started. The # one reason we see dairies fail in familis around here if flat out lack of famiy communcation and planning. I know most farmers would rather see their next of kin farm but I think most think "why do I want them to go though this crap?". Most of us would rather see hay/corn fields than houses on our property's horizons.

See You
Troy Lenssen
This is my response to the comment recently received by Trent Loos on the future of youth in agriculture:

I’m a cattle rancher studying Animal Sciences/Ag Communications at South Dakota State University. Although my parents farm isn’t large enough for me to return to, I hope to one day be able to have a farm of my own. There is simply no better way to raise a family, and providing food and fiber for the world is one of the most rewarding careers any kid could ever dream of doing.

Unfortunately, getting into farming and ranching is a greater challenge than ever before as small farms are sucked up by corporate operations making it seemingly impossible to get started in the business. Land prices have outrageously skyrocketed, operating costs have accelerated, and there are careers outside of this industry with greater earning power.

As a young person, I realize the challenges of getting into the agriculture industry; however, this is my passion. It is quite disheartening to hear from another farmer that greed outweighs the desire to help young people continue the American farming tradition. Trent Loos doesn’t need to use rose-colored glasses to recognize that there are young people out there with the desire to own a farm and there are aging farmers with the heart to create opportunities for us.

Regardless of the challenges facing young people with an interest in agriculture, we are the future of food security and we will take a role in its success. God Bless any veteran farmer willing to help.

Amanda Nolz
Mitchell, SD
I listen to your program whenever I'm planting,
spraying, or combining. I thoroughly enjoy your
segments. I must tell you I am a young farmer from
TAYLOR North Dakota. You've been interviewing and
mentioning people from Taylor this week and I find it
refreshing to hear people from this area on the radio.
I know the Larsen Bros, Orville, and Jay Elkin. I
farm next to Jay in several locations. Just wanted to
thank you for stopping by our small community. I am a
4th generation farmer and I am in my late 20's. I
farm with my dad for several reasons. 1. I've been to
many, many land sales and I just can't compete with
the out of state hunters, or guys like Jay Elkin, who
are large farmers and have the financials to pay a
premium. I have nothing against the large farmer, he
has to do what he has to do to stay alive. As Jay
said in the NBC interview, it takes a lot of acres
just to pay for the inputs. 95% of the land I farm, I
rent which leads me to my second reason. 2. Land rents
have increased dramatically over the last couple of
years, so inputs are rising every year. It is nice to
see a good strong commodity price, but this year we
are facing sever drought, again. I believe it is an
isolated area North of Taylor, which happens to be
where all my land is located. This is the 3rd year of
drought for me. Even through these drought years, I
still look forward to everyday and I can't wait to get
out of bed and go outside and breath the fresh air and
start my day in, (as you say), my little piece of
I must tell you, my only fear is that if rents, land
values, and other inputs keep increasing and we can't
break this drought cycle, I may be forced to move on
to something else. I have a family, so if I can't
provide, I will have to find something else to do. I
love what I do more than anything and I will continue
on as long as I can. 3. Equipment. Who can afford
to go out and buy a line of equipment necessary for
production when they rent most or all of the land??
No one. Good used equipment is hard to find, its even
harder to find the money to buy the used equipment.
New equipment is basically unreachable.
4. There is nothing better than working with your
family on the farm. Everyone works in harmony
together and that makes efficiency. Efficiency is
what makes a farm successful. If you don't have it
your not maximizing your potential. It is virtually
impossible to do it alone!! You need some help and
who better than your family.
Once again, thanks for putting Taylor on the map.
Chris Bernhardt
Young Farmer from good old Taylor.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Flushing out the facts

I am quite sure that most of you will be startled at best when I start this but here goes. The Michael Vick situation stands to cause all property owners serious harm. I received an email from a friend of mine while he was riding in a cab in DC. It said, “Trent, I just heard a guy on the radio talking about the Vick dog fighting case. He said, “Explain to me why dog fighting is illegal but rodeos are okay?” In the unlikely event that you missed the story, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has been indicted on charges related to dog fighting. Sixty dogs remain in custody with officials. I do not support or believe we should fight dogs for sport but this incident is being used to eliminate the rights of dog owners, period. One other side note, he has been charged not convicted in the court system that is.

First off, you need to recognize that animal rights organizations could not have a better crop to harvest than the bumper crop of 2007. There are incidents aplenty that they can use for fodder for their propaganda machine and generate more cash toward their goal of the ultimate demise of animal agriculture. At the same time, the American Pet Food Manufacturers Association recently released a report indicating that Americans will once again spent a record amount on their dogs in 2007.

Americans now spend $41 billion a year on their pets--more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world. That's double the amount shelled out on pets a decade ago, with annual spending expected to hit $52 billion in the next two years, according to Packaged Facts, a consumer research company based in Rockville, Md. That puts the yearly cost of buying, feeding, and caring for pets in excess of what Americans spend on the movies ($10.8 billion), playing video games ($11.6 billion), and listening to recorded music ($10.6 billion) combined. "People are no longer satisfied to reward their pet in pet terms," argues Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn. (APPMA). "They want to reward their pet in human terms." That means hotels instead of kennels, braces to fix crooked teeth, and frilly canine ball gowns. Pet owners are becoming increasingly demanding consumers who won't put up with substandard products, unstimulating environments, or shoddy service for their animals. But the escalating volume and cost of services, especially in the realm of animal medicine, raises ethical issues about how far all this loving should go.

The demand for pet neuticals is also going through the roof. What, you might ask, are neuticals? Nueticals are artificial testicals that dog owners are putting in their neutered dogs in order to maintain the self-esteem of their dog. Not only do you pay to have the testicles removed, now people are shelling out up to $1000 per dog to replace their testosterone so they aren’t intimidated at the park by intact males!

So, with all of that taken into consideration, when someone like Vick, a very public figure, is charged with the crime of letting a dog be a dog, we should all take notice. Do you really believe that someone who pays $1000 for their dog’s self esteem would understand you taking your hunting dog out for a hunt. “He’ll be close to you when you fire the gun and oh, that must really hurt his ears. How you ever make him swim in that pond or lake to retrieve the bird you shot. To top it all off, you don’t even let him eat the bird.”

How about the cattle working dogs that are born with the natural desire and further trained to chase cows, biting them on the legs and risking a swift kick to the head. How humane can that possibly be in the eyes of these radicals? My point is that all of these actions, including dog fighting, are natural behaviors of dogs. Yet the public outcry is coming because Vick has not been treating his dog like a kid.

The Humane Society of the United States and PETA stand to make millions on this bit of free publicity. We, as dog owners, stand to lose more rights. While I don’t expect any of you to stand up for Vick or dog fighting, I suggest that we are in for a real dogfight ourselves simply to maintain the basic relationship that people have had with their pets for generations. You don’t need to be much of a hunting dog to flush out those facts, but it’s time we herd the masses toward the direction of common sense instead of letting them be led by these radical ideals.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Originally printed in Feedstuffs July 22, 2007

Fighting for what we know is right

I just spent four exciting days in San Antonio, TX at the 2007 joint meeting of four animal science societies. ASAS, ADSA, PSA and AMPA were all present and 3500 registered attendees made it great. I was fortunate to be asked to give the keynote address during the opening session and made a statement that I believe will turn out to be truer than even I realized at the time. The fact that the meetings took place at the site of the Alamo may not have been an accident.

In 1836, with Santa Anna and his Mexican army invading Texas, it was the battle at the Alamo that made all of the difference in the overall outcome of the war. Had William Barrett Travis and company not held Santa Anna off for 13 days, Sam Houston may not have gathered the forces necessary for the Texas Nationals to ultimately win the war. Today in the world of food production, the invaders are the fabricators of truth over fact and they are armed with an arsenal of emotion that is attempting to trump science. I have no doubt that it will take a strong stand by a few brave individuals who will eventually stall the invaders long enough for the rest of the scientific community to gather their facts and their motivation and eventually prevail.

So many tremendous scientific discoveries were available for inquiring minds in San Antonio but it seemed as though animal welfare held the buzz. Animal welfare is quite simple. We need to provide the animals in our care with adequate food, water and protection from predators and the environment. Anything we worry about in addition to these basic needs is satisfying the emotions of humans not food animals. With that said I felt too much of a “defending animal agriculture to the animal rights community” attitude throughout the scientific population. If the seats had been filled with animal rights zealots would the science these professionals presented have satisfied their demands? NO!

By the same token, Santa Anna was not attempting to solely take control of San Antonio and the Alamo. This was one small battle in his quest for control of the State of Texas. So goes the battle of animal welfare in regard to the animal rights community. They represent such a minute percentage of the population but the blast they make by demanding better care for animals rings like the cannons over the Alamo in 1836. However, we must not lose sight of their real mission. It is not better treatment for animals; it is the complete liberation of animals. Therefore, no amount of validated science is going to satisfy them.

It is high time someone draws a line in the sand as William B. Travis did by saying, “We will fight to the death.” I feel too many in the scientific community as well as the industry are beginning to wonder if it is really worth the fight. Let’s not forget whom we are working for here. The bottom line is research and science that benefits the American consumer. Our mission is to research and discover more efficient ways of converting natural resources into human consumable products. Land grant Universities are supposed to use taxpayer dollars to help in ensuring that our people have safe, high quality food products and sustainable natural resources.

At the same time a Live Earth concert was taking place, directly blaming animal agriculture for being the leading cause of global warming, we should at least have the scientific community within animal agriculture rallying around the notion that we don’t care how much education and extension it takes, we will explain in a consumer-friendly manner the benefits of science and technology on reducing agriculture’s impact on the environment.

To be very clear and to the point, technology such as gestation stalls, caged layers, veal stalls, free-stall barns, rBST and CAFOs are just a few of the management tools that have assisted consumers in their quest for the safest, most reasonably priced food available to any society around the world. Any wavering from anyone in the food system by suggesting that maybe we can’t explain the advantages to the activists is like Colonel Travis saying, “Okay. You have us surrounded. We will concede one wing of the Alamo.” Remember, the results of the Alamo have implications far beyond what it meant to the state of Texas to maintain their independence from Mexico. It also had national implications just as there are national food security issues that are in jeopardy if the scientific community in animal agriculture starts waving their white flag! Remember the Alamo and that should have taught us that we must always fight for what we know is right.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's so 'deer' to my heart


IN the last five years, while speaking to groups of dairy and beef cattle producers, I have referenced the thousands of dollars land-grant universities spend on research to determine the cows' contribution to global warming. The best response I got was a unified snickering.

Well, today, I can find you a news story almost daily discussing how the number-one culprit of global warming is the cow. The finger-pointing certainly has accelerated since last November, when the U.N. released a report indicating that the cow now provides more greenhouse gases to our environment than fossil fuel combustion through transportation.

A news report from the Miami Herald this past week noted: "Scientists say deforestation, almost always to facilitate planting crops and raising cattle, accounts for about 20% of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Environmentalists are pushing to allow countries and companies to offset their emissions by paying to preserve forests elsewhere, such as in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Group of Eight nations, meeting in Germany earlier this month, pledged to help poor countries reduce deforestation to provide 'a significant and cost-effective contribution toward mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.'

"Researchers say forest is being increasingly cleared to make way for big cattle ranches and large soybean farms -- especially in Brazil, which accounts for about 60% of the forest land in Latin America and the Caribbean. The amount of forest lost each year from 2000 to 2005 averaged 11,077,734 acres, the study showed -- about the size of Maryland," the article continued.

Now, let's point out that an assumption is being made that even soybean acres are being planted in order to feed the cow and not just some in Asia.

I don't make that comment in passing. In fact, we can document that the economic growth of China and its demand for soy is contributing greatly to deforestation.

No one can argue that deforestation still occurs in places it shouldn't. I think we all understand that the forest is a vital part of proper planet health, but the real story must be evaluated.

At risk of sounding like a flag-waving patriot, let's take a closer look at what is going on here at home.

The Environmental Protection Agency released a report in April 2006 entitled "U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Sinks," which contains data through 2004. This report indicates that U.S. livestock grazing, feeding and manure management systems are superior to those elsewhere in the world.

EPA data show that production of food animals in the U.S. contributes less than 2.4% of total greenhouse gas emissions (measured in carbon dioxide equivalent). In comparison, fossil fuel combustion contributes approximately 80% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said there are 748 million acres of forest in the continental U.S.

U.S. Forest Service archives show that in 1920, there were 732 million acres of U.S. forestland. Therefore, according to 2003 figures, the U.S. has 16 million more acres of forestland than it did in 1920.

Yes, the truth of the matter is that in the U.S., where we lose nearly 2 million acres of prime farmland to concrete, condos and consumers annually (concrete manufacturers rank higher on the list of greenhouse gas contributors than livestock, by the way), we have managed the natural resources in such a manner that today, our environment is better off than it has ever been.

The problem is that elected officials will not take the time to really break down the U.N. report to uncover the truth -- the truth being that the U.S. is a shining example of how we can utilize resources without negatively affecting the planet.

A perfect example is the fact that we have the same number of beef cows now as in 1955, yet we produce twice as much human consumable beef.

You don't need to have a keen understanding of science to figure out how much better off our natural resources are, either.

Let's use a little cowboy logic: In 1930, the U.S. deer population was 300,000. This compares with recent estimates that put the deer population at around 30 million -- 100 times the 1930 number.

In comparison, the beef cattle population has remained unchanged since 1930, and there are two-thirds fewer dairy cows.

The white-tailed deer population currently far exceeds its carrying capacity, and the animal is considered a nuisance.

Could the deer population grow at that rate in an adverse environment? Absolutely not! Oh, wait. Deer also emit enteric fermentation. Improved environmental conditions in the U.S. have allowed deer to create more greenhouse gases than at any time in the history of the world. Quick, notify the U.N.

Including link:

"I thought this was simply a  nursery rhyme:  how could one bake living birds in a pie? I discovered that royalty and the upper class, ...