Thursday, October 23, 2008



Oct 22, 2008 Yes the date is correct and that is what it looked like as I pulled out of the my driveway this morning headed for Twin Falls, ID. We did receive 8 inches of snow before dawn Thursday morning. The sweet clover and bunnies never lie.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Oct 20, 2008 I finish the day by respectfully harvesting a steer that we fed all summer. Here I am seen splitting the carcass into halves.





Oct 20, 2008 Feeding cows that still have calves on them salt and mineral this morning. Recognize the cows are ready to have calves weaned.

Monday, October 20, 2008



Saturday Oct 18, 2008 I spent the weekend with 200 women in agriculture. The 2008 Sigma Alpha Sorority met in San Mataeo CA. Here I am pictured with the National Board Members. Link to their website http://www.sigmaalpha.org/

Sunday, October 19, 2008






Sunday Oct 20, 2008 I woke up in San Francisco and arrived home about 6:00 pm to find this final farewell. Just before I left on Thursday we weaned 40 Angus calves here on day three we see the last farewall before the two depart ways.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008



Tuesday Oct 14, 2008 As much as I hate to I better drop the reins and go watch Oprah. Full details found at www.FacesOfAg.com


Saturday Oct 11, 2008 The selection of the 2009 Beef Ambassador team in complete. I must tell you that I am proud to call each one of them a fellow beef producer. From left to right, Sharon Byrne, PA, Jessica Sampson, CA, Allison Grainger, TX, Sierra Simpson, OK, and Bradley Copenhaver, VA. Congratulations and I look forward to working with you in the upcoming year.
More bang for your buck
by Kelli Loos

As producers we may lay awake at night worrying about the markets or the weather or maybe even whether or not the neighbors peaked-rumped bull will jump the fence and get in with our heifers. But perhaps what we should be worrying about is what we will do if consumers decide to listen to the well-funded vocal minority and cut meat out of their diets. Now that is something worth considering and even more importantly something worth taking action on.

For the past nineteen years, representatives of the National Beef Ambassador Program (NBAP) have worked in urban areas and convinced literally millions of soccer moms and college coeds that beef is a vital and important part of a healthy diet. The teams have gone to places we would just as soon steer clear of, where traffic jams don’t mean a herd of cattle plodding down a gravel road, just to get out the good word about beef and to help us sell our product. For whether you believe that you raise beef or you raise cattle, without a market for beef we would all be in trouble.

In the past, the NBAP has been funded by check-off dollars and run by the American National Cattlewomen (ANCW). In 2007 alone, working on a bare-bones budget of just over $100,000, this program made over 115,000 direct consumer contacts, 24,000 student interactions and over 20 million media impressions using print, television and web-based communications. Despite the success and longevity of the program, ANCW was denied the use of check-off funds for the 2009 fiscal year.

In light of this new development, ANCW is reaching out to the beef producers of the United States that benefit most from the work of this energetic and enthusiastic bunch of beef lovers. If every beef producer in this country were to donate just $1, the program would be adequately funded for the next five years. You already send your dollars, one per head, to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board every time you sell an animal. We are requesting just one dollar be sent to the ANCW Foundation, PO Box 3881 Englewood, CO 80155 or donate on the web at www.ancw.org. Of course, larger donations will not be turned away!

After seeing these passionate young leaders in action, I personally guarantee that this donation will be a wise investment for the future of our industry and you will certainly get the most bang for your buck that you have ever gotten in regard to the promotion of beef!

Monday, October 13, 2008




Monday Oct 14, 2008 Head out on Lady Blue (my main saddle horse) to check fall yearling heifer calves just before dusk. Dawn and dusk the two absolute best times of the days to ride your pasture.

Friday, October 10, 2008



Friday Oct 10, 2008 17 female and 3 male young beef ambassadors gather in Oklahoma City for the 2009 American National Cattlewomen's Beef Ambassador Contest. Tomorrow 5 will be selected as next years team but I will tell you that in the past five years I have never witnessed a stronger field top to bottom. Once again reminding us that the best thing produced on American farm/ranches is without a doubt our young people.

More information can be found at National Beef Ambassadors website by clicking here

Wednesday, October 08, 2008



Tuesday Oct 7, 2008 I am feeding salt and mineral to fall calving cows at dusk. I saw the moon creep in the background of cow 5202 and thought I just have to capture that.

Monday, October 06, 2008






Monday Oct 6 2008 with an 1.5 inches of rain on this day even the goats were reluctant to venture outside.



Friday Oct 3 2008 31 Limousin cows seem to be glad to be rid of their 2008 calves as they are turned back to pasture for another year.

Friday, October 03, 2008



Loos Tales Foodlink Chuckwagon at World Dairy Expo 2008 with Australian guest. Simon and Virginia Ewing plus Deb and Sue.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rural America awakens like a bear

All of sudden the masses are energized and others seemed to be amazed. I have been reluctant to write about political candidates because it seems as though most media outlets can’t find anything better to talk about but this is one I just cannot let pass. Sarah Palin from small town Alaska has wound up the nation and not just part of it. I am talking about most all of the nation and I know that because I am on the list serve of some of the most liberal activists in the country and they are indeed as keyed up as the conservatives. To sum it up in three words, they hate her and I love it. On the other side of the equation, the media is reporting that the conservatives of the country are excited too and that same media acts as if they didn’t know any conservatives still existed.

In fact, the Washington Post has reported in near disbelief that someone could think like this electrical engineer from Virginia. David Willis said, "Hearing her pro-life stance, her conservative values, her family orientation -- it has really resonated with the proletariat and caused people to say: 'Hey, I'm going to get involved here. This is someone I can relate with; this is someone that can win”.

For me personally, I like her as the VP selection for two reasons. First, she obviously values human life. The biggest challenge in the value system of our society today is that too many want to value the life of a dog, a car or some material possessions equal to or above that of humans beings. That is wrong and I see a person willing to say it publicly, not only with words but also with actions in her life.

Second, she can relate to the everyday citizen that has not had representation in our country’s capital for far too long. Critics say she doesn’t have enough experience. I say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Only one media outlet has carried the whole story about her acceptance speech that propelled her into the nation’s conscience. At the beginning of her speech, her teleprompter was dysfunctional and we as viewers couldn’t even notice that she was flying without the words in front of her. If fact, the one line that may help elect John McCain President of the United States was not even in her script but she ad libbed it to fill time until teleprompter could catch up. That famous line: “Do you know the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull?….Lipstick.”

The most irritating reporting about Palin’s speech began as soon as she concluded. I was initially watching the broadcast on PBS but had to switch to ABC because the government-run station couldn’t get the audio to match the video and it was too frustrating to watch. Leave it to our government to screw that up. Diane Sawyer commented that Palin was, “apparently attempting to politically motivate the small town rural communities as she obviously appealed to them.” This is the point that urban Americans don’t get: People from rural America don’t do things just for political gain. We do them because they are the right thing to do, we are proud of what we have, we are proud of the small, rural communities that we call home. It is not just another place that we stop along the way as we get transferred up the pay scale within a company. We are proud people and we don’t need teleprompted scripts in order to convey that passion.

I must add that I am proud of another woman who spoke at the convention on that same night. Carolyn Dunn, a farm wife from St. John, KS., set the stage for Mrs. Palin by addressing the entire GOP convention where she talked about the need to maintain domestic food production. She also greatly emphasized the need to retain our young people in rural communities. For far too long, our rural communities have been viewed as the “fly over region” as people shuttle from coast to coast for their seemingly important business. Now we have a couple of ladies from rural America, displaying such a pride in rural America, that most cannot even relate to it or understand where it comes from. But I am here to tell you that the only way we get our young people excited about the opportunity to raise their families in rural America is if we wear our pride on our sleeves everywhere we go.

For me, one person seems to understand the rights that we as American citizens have earned. One person seems to value human life and sees the resources of our nation that benefit human life only if we utilize those resources. One person seems to understand that with passion and faith as your motivation, you can accomplish what others may have given up on. One person seems to have awoken a hibernating bear that didn’t think about the changes that were happening around us.

Now a flashback to the State of the Union Address that was given on December 2, 1806. One of nations first Statesmen said, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories”.

Remember that on November 4, 2008 you will be the one person that decides who most closely follows the vision of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If it is to be it is up to me

We have just had one of those great days on the ranch working cattle that makes it all worth it. Kelli and I and our three daughters, operating off the tailgate of the pickup, worked calves through the portable corral and gave pre-weaning shots. It was one of those rare perfect days, weather and all, and so in celebratory fashion we sat down together to enjoy a big, juicy cheeseburger, fries and corn from the garden. Come to think of it, I don’t remember many cattle-working days that were not followed with burgers and fries, frequently at our local steakhouse. The funny thing is that at the very same time, executives in major cities around the country are meeting in some of nation’s high-end restaurants and ordering $44 dollar Prime steaks. I don’t believe we are much different than any other ranching family by eating the all the beef, from ribs to ribeyes and plenty of ground beef, while the big shots eat only the most expensive.

The thing is we enjoy about days like that one are the cattle portion of the beef business and I believe that is another trait we share with other cattle owners. The problem is that unless we start to understand what it is that high end user needs to know and we learn how to get that information to them, I fear we will lose some of the value of the beef from the cattle we enjoy.

This long, drawn out story about our day does have a point. Just before we headed to the yard to work the cattle, I learned that the operating committee for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board met last week in Nashville and decided not the fund the American National Cattlewomen’s Beef Ambassador program. I have volunteered to work with these kids for the past five years and the progress that I have seen in each team, from the time they start until they finish, was simply unbelievable. I have also witnessed them in their element, taking on meatless agendas and the people behind them. The time spent with the program and the kids has led me to believe that it is the best investment we make with beef check-off dollars.

I fully understand that when you are attempting to allocate funds and your funds have been cut by $7 million, you must do things that you don’t want to do. But the truth of the matter is that we all make choices based on our priorities each and every day. You can do anything that you have a commitment to, if you so choose. The Beef Ambassador program has been operating on $118,000 annually. To think that you could train and support five young beef producers on this meager budget and use them to make over 20 million impressions on consumers about the importance of the beef industry is just hard to even imagine and yet that is exactly what they have done.

You and I are part of the problem here. One area that saw the smallest amount of cut in the budget for 2009 was producer education. Did you know that they have once again authorized $2 million dollars to do nothing but tell cattle producers what the check-off actually does to help cattlemen? Granted, if some money wasn’t spent on this education program, we would have an even bigger wreck in regard to cattlemen understanding the value of the research, development and promotion of the beef products we produce.

So here is where I circle back to where I started. I do understand the joys and rewards of sitting in the saddle and rounding up the cattle. I get that sense of satisfaction in administering animal health products to provide for the health well-being of my cattle. But at the end of the day if we are not educating our consumers, that person in the high end restaurant will not see the value in a $44 dollar piece of prime beef. More importantly, college kids will continue their trend of eliminating meat from their diets completely. Or soccer moms will choose a plant-based product for their kids because they just read in Time magazine that our consumption of beef is causing global warming.

For some reason, our industry leaders don’t believe grass-roots initiatives like the Beef Ambassadors are effective at reaching our consumers and instead we need professional “agency” people. Well, I couldn’t disagree more. First of all, what agency will even look at you for $118,000? None. Secondly, what happened to the old cliché of “pride of ownership”? “Local” food is all the rage and consumers are encouraged to get to know the people that produce the food they buy. Consumers now want to hear from the person who tends to the animals and protects the environment. Instead of giving them what they want and introducing them to our great stewards of natural resources and providers of great products, we have decided it is better, or maybe just easier, to let a third-party be the voice for our producers.

I believe it is time we step up and take a stand for the future of our industry, forget about the Beef Board operating committee and take this matter into our own hands. We have a group of women that have dedicated thousands of hours of effort into training the future leaders of our industry at the state, local and national level. We have a program in place that makes 20 million media impressions, 115,000 consumer impressions and 24,000 student impressions in just one year. Most of these kids are far better spokesmen and much more in-tune with consumers than the good old boys that gather for coffee every morning and cuss about the markets. It’s time the Beef Ambassador program gets the support it deserves. I urge you to contact any member of the American National Cattlewomen or go to their website (www.ANCW.org) and do what you can to support this great program. Your contributions can be mailed to ANCW, PO Box 3881, Englewood CO 80155. Be sure to put Beef Ambassador in the memo. Our donations will be the best investments we can make to help preserve the future of the industry that we love.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In honor of Memorial Day, I'm going in a little different direction today
than usual. As many people across the nation honor our fallen heroes for
their sacrifice, it seems many others are just happy to have an extra day
off. Regardless if you're working or relaxing today, let's take some time
to reflect on the many blessings we have in this great country.

I've been fortunate to have traveled around the US and visit some other
countries as well. Two places I've visited in the past few years stand out
in my mind quite vividly. The first is my recent trip to Guatemala where
the topic of the Catholic priest's homily at a parish in a poor indigenous
town was the importance of helping those less fortunate through charitable
giving. to a congregation of poor, indigenous field laborers! What a
reality check. While we're consumed by higher fuel prices, a slumping
housing market, and a weaker dollar, others are too poor to notice the
difference. Yet, they're being reminded that it's through selfless giving
that our lives are truly enriched.

The other really powerful experience I've had on a trip is the Changing of
the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. In the
silence of our country's most sacred ground, each clicking step of the
soldier standing guard punctuates his duty to fellow soldiers and all of
us they protect. The honor, fortitude, and commitment of these elite men
can't be summed up in words. When given the option to stand down from
their post during Hurricane Isabel (while the rest of D.C. had long been
evacuated), the Old Guard chose to continue their 24/7 vigil at the Tomb
of the Unknown Soldier. in the middle of a hurricane!

There really are a lot of great places to visit and enjoy around the
world, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's a blessing to have been
born in the United States. As I drive around the area seeing neighbors
preparing their fields for another growing season and kids playing in
their yards, I'm reminded how fortunate we really are.

I'm proud to be an American and lucky to have grown up in rural Wisconsin.
Thanks to all of you and your family members who've defended the greatest
country on Earth. It's through this service that we are able to enjoy the
freedoms and blessings that we sometimes take for granted. Let's not just
remember our servicemen today. Next time (and every time) you see a
soldier or veteran, go up to them and say a simple "Thank You for Your
Service". I'm sure they'd reply that they're 'just doing their job'. But
after all, it's because of them that we're able to do ours.

Happy Memorial Day! -- Tom

Tom Wall

Language Links Spanish Services, LLC
P.O. Box 997
Green Bay, WI 54305

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Going green?

I will admit to being a little slow with the think tank once in awhile or possibly just too stubborn to accept things as they really are but it only took me about ten years to totally understand what it means to go green. It simply means that it is going to cost more dinero, cash, greenbacks, mullah or just more jack. The funny thing is that it only took the ignorance of the Democratic National Party in bringing their annual convention to Denver this August for me to finally see the light. They have decided to have a totally green nominating convention August 25-28, 2008. Reports are that caterers are scratching their heads in disbelief.

Fried foods are forbidden at the committee's 22 or so events, as is liquid served in individual plastic containers. Plates must be reusable, like china, recyclable or compostable. The food should be local, organic or both. Organizers are attempting to explain that if they plan to follow this protocol for 50,000 attendees it will certainly more than double the price of the meals.

The good news is, I would think, that they consider Greeley local to Denver and there is an ample supply of beef standing there waiting to be respectfully harvested. But, of course, this is the same misguided mind set that recently promoted the notion that reducing beef consumption by 20% would be as beneficial to the environment as every American driving a hybrid car. I have a feeling Denver won’t see a rush on beef demand during these three days.

I would hope that public stupidity at this level would serve as a great learning opportunity. If we continue to make these utopian, unrealistic demands on our food system, the system will be forced to move to other soils. Have they no realization of the fact that central Colorado is not really the salad bowl of American organic food production? No, I don’t think they have the first clue.

The great irony is that this could be the largest gathering of food finicky eaters in the country. I believe the average attendee to be one who considers it fashionable NOT to clean their plate. That on the heels of an EPA report out this week that suggests that 27% of all food available for sale in the United States actually ends up in the landfill. Yes, the third largest component flowing into our nation’s landfills is food. Image the methane contribution that food waste contributes to greenhouse gases. And that is not to suggest that I believe greenhouse gases produced today are contributing even one percent to climate change, but the “Green consumers” have certainly been duped into believing that.

I have no problem with anyone choosing to eat organic food. I have a huge problem when elected officials and food marketing companies position the food production technologies we used in the 1950’s as somehow being better for the environment. The truth of the matter is that we have increased food production efficiency beyond what most thought could have been accomplished even 20 years ago. Today, fewer resources are utilized to feed, clothe, medicate and fuel more consumers and that is thanks to the implementation of technology.

The continual ignorance and rejection by elected officials of how science and technology have improved our food system will result in nothing other than our nation becoming dependent on imported food as we have done with energy. Rejecting technology contributes to what the USDA tabulates as a rapid growth in food insecurity in our own country. 34 million Americans are considered food insecure and instead of trying to find ways to create a better availability of safe, healthy, domestic food production, we pile ridiculous regulation on top of regulation. The ironic is that if we in livestock agriculture pile too much effluent in one spot, they call it pollution but they do it with laws and regulations and they call it protection. I project that the effluent will hit the fan come August in Denver. Of course if you are familiar with the concept of spring grass, that brings to mind a whole different image of “going green”. Hey, that motto might just be fitting for the Democratic Convention after all.
Going green?

I will admit to being a little slow with the think tank once in awhile or possibly just too stubborn to accept things as they really are but it only took me about ten years to totally understand what it means to go green. It simply means that it is going to cost more dinero, cash, greenbacks, mullah or just more jack. The funny thing is that it only took the ignorance of the Democratic National Party in bringing their annual convention to Denver this August for me to finally see the light. They have decided to have a totally green nominating convention August 25-28, 2008. Reports are that caterers are scratching their heads in disbelief.

Fried foods are forbidden at the committee's 22 or so events, as is liquid served in individual plastic containers. Plates must be reusable, like china, recyclable or compostable. The food should be local, organic or both. Organizers are attempting to explain that if they plan to follow this protocol for 50,000 attendees it will certainly more than double the price of the meals.

The good news is, I would think, that they consider Greeley local to Denver and there is an ample supply of beef standing there waiting to be respectfully harvested. But, of course, this is the same misguided mind set that recently promoted the notion that reducing beef consumption by 20% would be as beneficial to the environment as every American driving a hybrid car. I have a feeling Denver won’t see a rush on beef demand during these three days.

I would hope that public stupidity at this level would serve as a great learning opportunity. If we continue to make these utopian, unrealistic demands on our food system, the system will be forced to move to other soils. Have they no realization of the fact that central Colorado is not really the salad bowl of American organic food production? No, I don’t think they have the first clue.

The great irony is that this could be the largest gathering of food finicky eaters in the country. I believe the average attendee to be one who considers it fashionable NOT to clean their plate. That on the heels of an EPA report out this week that suggests that 27% of all food available for sale in the United States actually ends up in the landfill. Yes, the third largest component flowing into our nation’s landfills is food. Image the methane contribution that food waste contributes to greenhouse gases. And that is not to suggest that I believe greenhouse gases produced today are contributing even one percent to climate change, but the “Green consumers” have certainly been duped into believing that.

I have no problem with anyone choosing to eat organic food. I have a huge problem when elected officials and food marketing companies position the food production technologies we used in the 1950’s as somehow being better for the environment. The truth of the matter is that we have increased food production efficiency beyond what most thought could have been accomplished even 20 years ago. Today, fewer resources are utilized to feed, clothe, medicate and fuel more consumers and that is thanks to the implementation of technology.

The continual ignorance and rejection by elected officials of how science and technology have improved our food system will result in nothing other than our nation becoming dependent on imported food as we have done with energy. Rejecting technology contributes to what the USDA tabulates as a rapid growth in food insecurity in our own country. 34 million Americans are considered food insecure and instead of trying to find ways to create a better availability of safe, healthy, domestic food production, we pile ridiculous regulation on top of regulation. The ironic is that if we in livestock agriculture pile too much effluent in one spot, they call it pollution but they do it with laws and regulations and they call it protection. I project that the effluent will hit the fan come August in Denver. Of course if you are familiar with the concept of spring grass, that brings to mind a whole different image of “going green”. Hey, that motto might just be fitting for the Democratic Convention after all.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We the People still need a department

I can only imagine that Abraham Lincoln is not simply turning over in his Illinois grave but he must be beside himself trying get out and bring some logic back into our political system. For the past ten years a series of societal pressures have taken our nation down the path of eliminating our ability to feed ourselves. In 1862, during the Lincoln Presidency, two extremely important pieces of legislation enabled us as a nation to become the world’s premiere supplier of food, fiber and fuel to our citizens. First, the Untied States Department of Agriculture was established and Lincoln himself called it “The People’s Department”. Second, the Morrill Act created the Land Grant University system and the three-legged stool of teaching, research and extension. These two programs are vital to our industry. For the past twenty years, we have allowed the continued erosion of both of these entities.

Once upon a time we as nation did not need to rely on other countries for our energy supply. But due to the social pressures from shortsighted and self-serving individuals, we began to seek foreign crude oil. The white collar Americans didn’t want to bother with the dirty work of mining the oil and refining it into gasoline or the other petroleum based products that we rely on daily. We just wanted to brag about the regulations we put in place that would lead to a pristine environment. Why subject our people to a task that Middle Easterners would do? It is certainly easier to import gas than it is to utilize the resources we have at home and provide jobs for our own labor force. Fast forward to the 21st century and suddenly our nation realizes we have become extremely dependent on foreign energy supplies. In fact, one slap in the face from Mother Nature called Hurricane Katrina and our nation has finally decided that we have a problem.

In fact, since 2001 we have sent 1.6 million of our nation’s young soldiers into Afghanistan and Iraq. Must I remind you that over 4000 of them came home in body bags and tens of thousands more were injured? I am not making a judgment on whether or not we should have gone into the region but I am telling you that because of petroleum we created a position where we did not have much of a choice. Why? During the past decades of building dependence upon foreign crude oil, we have allowed our system of domestic energy production to erode. Any nation that relies on foreign suppliers for food, fiber and or fuel is vulnerable.

In the past ten years I have seen the same erosion of our domestic food system. In fact, one person that was a hanging chad away from being President openly admitted that we as a nation should produce only some food locally and allow less developed nations to do the majority of that for us. I have repeatedly witnessed township, county and state officials that are reluctant to allow local families to expand their livestock enterprises because of public pressure and the fear of the unknown. What is happening in the home state of both Abraham Lincoln and myself right now is the worst case of ignorance yet.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced the elimination of the ENTIRE Extension program last week. Indeed 450 people in the state believe they are unemployed as of today. The concept of the Land Grant System was based on a three-legged stool -research, teaching and extension and it cannot be expected to function in any other manner. He uses the excuse that it costs too much money and the state budget has too much of a deficit. Governor Blagojevich, I suggest you fly from your home in Chicago to the State Capitol in Springfield, (because he has refused to move into the Governors Mansion and commutes to work at the taxpayers expense) and stop by the grave sight of our nation’s first President from Illinois. Tell Ole Abe that our people no longer need to provide for themselves. I suggest that if you are paying attention you might get a real different feel for the importance of self-reliant food, fiber and fuel production.

We have an abundant supply of natural resources in this great land. We have incredibly intelligent scientists at Land Grant Universities, like the University of Illinois, that have the ability to create so much more efficiency in the food system if they only had a commitment from elected officials to let them do their work. We need to continue to teach young people who want to be a part of the all-encompassing American food system whether it is on the farm or in the food plant. And most importantly in this case, we need extension folks who communicate the results of these research findings to the individuals in the field who simply get the work done.

This needs to be a wake up call to all who have ever doubted the need to continue the world’s premiere food system. We cannot take for granted the things that individuals before us have worked hard to develop. We must also never take for the granted what American families continue to sacrifice in the name of national security through energy production. “The People’s Department” needs some real leaders to once again stand up for what is right for the future generations of Americans. Shortsighted bureaucrats need to stop putting the American Soldier at risk simply because they can’t see any future for the importance of feeding, clothing and providing fuel for our fellow countrymen.

Our forefathers were wise and visionary and recognized, even in those early days, the need for a country to be not only independent but self-sufficient; to rely on our own hard work and ingenuity to make this nation a great place for all of us to live. To start farming these responsibilities out to third-world countries is opening a Pandora’s box of trouble for future generations. If planting corn or feeding cattle isn’t up your alley, that is fine; But don’t use your spare time and money to support groups and leaders that try to prevent those of us who make it our living from taking on the challenge of providing the essentials of life for our fellow man.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A CALL TO ARMS

By Steve Kay, Editor & Publisher, Cattle Buyers Weekly, Petaluma, CA

Delivered to the National Meat Association’s annual convention, February 21, 2008

U.S. animal agriculture is under attack as never before in its long history. Today, it is inhumane handling of spent dairy cows. Tomorrow, it will be hogs lying prone in a truck because of mild heat stress. The livestock industry must urgently work together to get out front of the next “expose”. It must ask itself: What will the next HSUS video show? For there will be more.

I was in Virginia last Friday addressing cattlemen there. I congratulated them on keeping their beef cow herds largely intact after their terrible drought last year. I also suggested they keep their leanest cows that aren’t in the best of shape at the back of the farm, well away from anyone who might film them.

Then on Tuesday, I joined a media teleconference hosted by the Humane Society of the United Sates, during which Representative Rosa De Lauro of Connecticut said the Westland/Hallmark episode clearly showed that the U.S. food safety system is collapsing. Representative George Miller of California and HSUS President Wayne Pacelle made similarly emotive comments.

That was all to be expected. What disappointed me was the total absence of any kind of response or rebuttal statements by USDA or the industry. So all the media stories I read Wednesday morning were totally unbalanced. Ordinary Americans might therefore reasonably believe that the food they eat has become less safe, when, as we know, the opposite is true.

My point is: The U.S. meat and livestock industry urgently needs an industry-wide public relations body or mechanism to monitor and respond to every challenge to and claim about industry practices and other issues as they arise. If the Secretary of Agriculture is unwilling to immediately rebut such outrageous accusations from members of Congress, then someone representing this vital sector of the U.S. economy must. It seems that, once upon a time, the American Meat Institute performed this function, at least to some extent. But AMI now appears to be MIA, missing in action.

As Kirk Ferrell of the National Pork Producers Council told NMA’s Government Relations Committee yesterday afternoon, there is a war going on. It is a war for the hearts and minds, and I would add the stomachs, of all Americans.

We can all sit back and say: “Well, Americans will always eat meat and poultry products.” That’s true but it is missing the point. If the industry continues to allow the HSUS and others to make all the plays, the industry will have forced on it more and more legislative and regulatory restrictions that will make it even harder for many of you to stay in business. A downsizing of the American meat industry will mean consumers will simply eat more imported products.

The beef industry is already downsizing at the packing plant and cattle feedlot levels because of shrinking cattle numbers in North America. I would be horrified if further downsizing occurs because the industry did not come together and act very rapidly to tell its story, be it on animal welfare or food safety, in a forceful, factual way.

To do that, the industry must speak with one voice. It needs to have one or more highly credible spokesmen or women who can articulate to the American public that much of what HSUS and other industry critics are saying today, and will say tomorrow, is simply not true.

The industry should also consider an extensive campaign to educate members of Congress with the facts as to food safety, animal welfare and other management practices in the industry.

The industry must also take steps to anticipate what targets might be next and work to get ahead of any future attacks, be they on confined animal feeding operations, the use of growth promotants and other pharmaceutical tools that cattle and hog producers use, the castrating of male cattle and hogs, and other animal husbandry practices.

The enemies of U.S. animal agriculture have identified themselves and have revealed their tactics. It is time for the meat and livestock industry to draw up its battle plan and counter-attack.
Marketing Trends
National Meat Association March 3, 2008

I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna to take this anymore!!(Peter Finch from the movie Network)

As I listened to Steve Kay in the PDQ session at the recent NMA Annual Convention, I caught his clarion call for action and it has incensed and infused me. He was excoriating those anti meat activists who, to paraphrase Steve, are hell bent on putting those of us who derive our living from meat related activities out of business. Steve is that parakeet in the mine warning us all that we had better do something soon or we may be out of business before we know it. Maybe it is a bit belated, but I am now incensed with the methods those, who would attempt to take away my rights, use and I am infused with a passion to not only expose them but better yet show our consumers that the anti-meat, anti-animal-agriculture activists are wrong.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have the right to say what they believe. In fact, there are many of us who donned our nation’s military uniforms to protect their rights. However, they don’t have the right to use methods that, in my opinion, are repugnant and have become an anathema. In my attempt to get a better idea of their espoused “rights,” I visited the PETA website . The first answer listed to their rhetorical question, “Why animal rights?” is “Animals are not ours to eat.” They go on to say that, “. . . animals are not ours to use, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any way. . .” All of these are sentiments that smack of a fuzzy feel-good aura difficult to counter without coming off as a cold-hearted, brutal killer of animals. More about heart below.

Those of us in the meat business produce a healthy, wholesome human food, and for our work, we neither deserve the abuse from the PETAs of the world nor expect the praise of others. We not only provide good food, but among many other things, we are a source of jobs and contribute to stewardship of the environment all of which improve our society. We simply do our job of humanely raising animals and processing them into meat products for human consumption. Such is an honorable profession, which, as I say, does not deserve to be painted with a brush of scorn that PETA and others so liberally apply. They use the term “factory farming” as their euphemism for all animal agriculture practices without regard to their “humaneness” to galvanize others less informed to be against agribusiness.

However, is PETA the only anti-animal agriculture group deserving of our scrutiny? Well, I discovered another one called Animal Place of Vacaville, CA . They, too, promote an anti-meat agenda, but do it, in my opinion, in a more insidious manner. Their tactic is to promote their agenda with children. They justify their agenda with statements like, “Counter agribusiness's relentless conditioning of young children, which serves to dull their natural feelings of empathy and curiosity about farmed animals.” They do it by promoting 5 H instead of 4 H and in their words, “This campaign asks kids to add a 5th H "Humane Choices" - to their 4-H projects. Those animals whom (sic) they have cared for since birth and grown to love will not have to be subjected to the ultimate betrayal of trust by being sold for slaughter. The kids will not have to continue the process of desensitization which makes the betrayal easier each year.” Their stated goal in their words again, “Animal Place is committed to promoting compassion for all species and educating the public about the unjustifiable cruelty of factory farming and the far reaching benefits of veganism.”

These two organizations have every right to promote their agendas, as I said earlier. We, in the meat industry, also have every right to counter their methods with the truth about how we raise and process animals for food. However, the marketing lesson I am advocating is that such an effort must be as well orchestrated as those of PETA and Animal Place. This marketing campaign, and that is exactly what it is, should be education of not only consumers but also children and young adults as after all they are the future consumers. It should be a joint effort of all meat industry groups.

Simply to offer past tense reasons for the Hallmark/Westland debacle and how this could never happen again, we must instead insure that it never happens again. At the same time, we must show how it has never happened in other plants and how wholesome, nutritious and healthy our meat products are. Anything less shows no heart.

Mack H. Graves of Latigo, Inc., a meat and poultry marketing and management consulting company, who serves as CEO of Panorama Meats, Inc. wrote this Marketing Trends. You may reach him at his office phone: 303-699-7795,
Mobile: 303-882-5453, fax: 303-699-7206 or e-mail him at LatigoMack@cs.com.
The newest phenomenon: Global Cooling

Last week I was granted the opportunity to speak at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. It was, in many respects, a very eye opening experience. First of all, you need to know that these were not all agricultural students - a dozen or so “concerned citizens” did show up and were quite vocal. They were vocal about the environmental degradation we as humans are causing through food production, transportation and just living, period. In fact, a couple of them were emphatic that the world is only years away from complete ruination. But then again why wouldn’t they think that? Have you listened to “the news” lately? “Global warming is altering this. Global warming is causing that”. The one that really gets my goat is when a presidential hopeful makes the statement that “our planet is in peril”.

The concept of global warming has become big business. We are reminded every day that we must be stripped of our consumer choices because the planet is in peril. We must enact tougher new environmental regulations because the planet is in grave danger. As it turns out, this may be the biggest fund-raising scam the globe has ever seen. If global warming weren’t a fear-mongering sales pitch, how would a past vice president have sold enough copies of his movie to pay the outrageous electric bill he runs up every month on his Tennessee mansion?

I would hate to think that an actual scientific conference has just taken place in New York City and you didn’t hear about it but the odds are good that it won’t make the prime time news. The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change took place March 2-4, 2008 and 100 environmental scientists from around the world gathered to share some startling facts.

Guess what they revealed. From the mid 1970’s until 1998 the earth’s temperatures did indeed rise. However, in the past ten years there has been zero net gain on temperature increase and, in fact, the evidence shows that the earth has cooled during that decade. Furthermore, these real experts presented evidence that humans are responsible for less than a fraction of 1% of the effects from greenhouse gases. Even more startling would be the fact that greenhouse gases have not caused planet warming but rather any temperature increase was caused by the sun.

Whether Global Warming is the world’s largest hoax or not, we as short time occupants are obligated to use our God-given cranial matter to protect the environment. Just as livestock producers study and determine the best manner in which to handle the nutrients produced by their operations and reapply them to the land, everyday citizens also have an obligation to make decisions that are best for future generations.

As we reflect back to the thought processes of some of the Cornell students last week, I don’t believe for a minute that what I experienced there is unique. In fact, I believe the greater the divide between the global consumer and land, the greater the perceived concern for the land. That is simply because they don’t have hands-on experience of helping to care for the land as most farmers do. I can tell you that it was an eye-opener for the ag kids on campus to hear their fellow students verbalize dire concern about what is happening to our world allegedly because of farmers. It is one thing to read it in a paper or hear it on the news but it is a completely different thing to hear one of your peers blame your industry for the demise of the world as we know it.

Everyone is so concerned with water pollution that we restrict the flow of natural nutrients into streams and rivers. We lose sight of the fact that nitrates and phosphorus are nutrients that are essential for life. In my lifetime, I believe we will see the day that we will have to add both of these nutrients into fresh bodies of water because we have created too sterile of an environment for the creatures that need to live in the water. Of course, too much of any nutrient is not a good thing but if it is essential for life you must have access to it. Life without the sun is not possible either, but too much sun can kill you.

At the end of the day my only wish is that every citizen of the United States truly understood that the agricultural portion of our planet has never been in better hands. The soil and water are cleaner and safer now than they have ever been. The only way the cycle of life will continue is if we, as humans, continue to implement conservation practices into the conversion of natural resources into the essentials of life for humans beings. Come to think of it, other than fundraising, egos may be the biggest problem we face. Some among us can’t come to grips with the concept that, as humans, we are just a little blip in the big picture of the universe instead of totally in charge of it all!

Literally behind the scenes