Monday, August 30, 2010

Eggs again

As the news keeps hitting the egg topic, I just figured I would include a few links to make you a more educated reader.

HSUS is making a loud claim that this Salmonella outbreak in Iowa is because the farm is a caged system, citing their top source (this sometimes takes 2 attempts to load) as a paper which could be more accurately described as a summary of many reasons why Salmonella can be elevated on any farm. As always, it takes only a surface scrape to get attention, but digging deeper always brings out more of the truth. So don't take my word for it, but read the 2 links above as well as Feedstuffs' take on it.

Also, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is not expected by Director Boggs to specifically adhere to the deal brokered by Gov. Strickland with HSUS to prevent a ballot initiative this fall. Instead, we can expect more of a balanced approach considering each issue within the deal singly.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Sunday

Today, just like any day there are farmers out working the fields, repairing machinery, fretting about the weather and caring for their livestock. I encourage you to think about this as you go out for breakfast, sit at home with your family, or contribute to the American economy through weekend work. Regardless of your food preferences, American farmers are working hard today to feed you and your family, your friends and your neighbors.

Gene Baur's blog has again captured my attention through his criticism of farmers on "factory farms" for feeding "the bare minimum" to egg-laying chickens. On the contrary, farmers even in large systems still follow through on their responsibility to provide the adequate nutrition necessary for their hens to not only produce eggs (this is after all a means of income) but also to live healthy lives.

Since I doubt Gene's screeners will ever publish a comment from me, I have included it below. Thanks and have a great week!


You discuss feeding the "bare minimum". While that is an obvious misquote from the article and stands in stark contrast to the practice which exists in reality of feeding hens the amount that they need, I would like to pose a question to you.

Are you instead implying that you endorse the feeding ad libitum of hens on farms? Look at the American public for a great example of why this is such a bad idea. The American public is suffering from what the media prefers to call an "obesity epidemic" and this is not because they eat meat products. No, this is because the American consumer on average is over-consuming. They intake far more calories than they need for maintenance and other life functions and then suffer through an obesity struggle that could be avoided by consuming the amount they should've eaten in the first place. This is the exact reason why animals on farms are not fed beyond what they need because as the farmer we have a responsibility to provide a healthy existence to the animal and this includes controlling their diet to be balanced and wholesome. The feed given to chickens is scientifically proven to be precisely what the hens need on the farm in order to serve the purpose that they were raised for: laying eggs. "

Friday, August 27, 2010

Impact of 4-H in Michigan

I wish that Governor Granholm (not the worst governor of Michigan ever, Google 'Mason') was reader of my blog because what I'm posting here today (courtesy of Marcus) should truly be of interest to her after she played around with cutting MSU extension last year. This is the 2009 publication about the impact of 4-H on the state of Michigan. This is absolutely worth the read.

For my welfare bit of the day, this article discusses the lack of a good way to evaluate the improvements in animal welfare on farms in the EU and emphasizes the need to develop better methods of evaluating farm animal welfare on large production facilities. You need to know why people are having trouble assessing welfare improvement among animals? It's because we've passed legislature so fast without the scientific background that needs to follow it in order to ensure that legislators and activists really know what they're talking about. Auditors of animal welfare are not able to distinguish what they're looking to see because the laws have been thrust upon us (both here in the US and in the rest of the world) before we've even been able to determine what the best protocol or the 'happier' animal really looks like. Again, science in this area is found to be lacking, and without scientific research to back up claims of improved animal welfare, the efforts of groups like HSUS and PETA truly don't accomplish what they're advertising to the public. But then again, with a final goal of eliminating animal products from the market, they sure are making great progress towards that, aren't they?

Also please read the Ohio Country Journal write-up on the HSUS deal back in June. Now all we have to do is hope that the care standards board doesn't turn out to be the same problem. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Farm Sanctuary Walks

For those of you interested in Farm Sanctuary and their effort to manipulate concerned citizens' emotions, you might also be interested in the location of their fundraising walks for this year. Now mind you, they're not the extreme aspect of the animal rights activist groups, but still they have some very harsh views towards animal agriculture and capitalize on people's emotions as they work towards their own goals of animal rights. I included the link to their walks just like I include the link to Gene Baur's blog because I encourage you to do the following: 1) read the information for yourself and make up your own mind about issues that are important to you - don't let other people tell you what to think or how to judge a situation, 2) tell other people what you think to get them interested in things that concern you and to spread information to other people to increase their awareness of what goes on in their world.

I'm also going to promote a new blog to read on the side of my blogsite. Please check out the Agriculture Proud blog for a look into a very active blog which is deeply concerned about agriculture. This will be replacing the Ag Ed blog which I have been recommending since it has become stagnant.

Also, Farm Bureau has posted a summary of yesterdays meeting including HSUS with the Livestock Care Standards Board. I recommend the read.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beef video

I just want to take a minute to congratulate the Ohio Beef Council on a quality video production. I don't know how old this is (got it from Andy Vance's blog), but it's worth watching.

I would also like to call this a very monumental achievement. Regardless of what costs we payed to get here, this is a good feeling.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Like always, there's another outbreak cause by a food safety error. Someone like Pollan might tell you that's why you should buy locally, but I still adhere to it all being situational. Sure, this is on a much larger basis than if it had been a local grower causing the outbreak, but still with the larger producer there is also a more consistent supply available and an easier solution to the problem. And there's no way that you can convince me that a small producer is any less or more likely to have a disease problem than a large producer. Again, all situational, but this is my opinion. Feel free to weigh in the comments...

I am definitely glad that Dean Armstrong is willing to stand up and voice his opinion about how unscientifically based the HSUS's claims about egg production and hen housing truly are.

Also, just in case you haven't been watching, the cattle prices have skyrocketed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cattle Dashboard

If you're into the meat industry, livestock production or beef slaughter at all, then you'll be excited about this new slaughter reporting site with the USDA which then leads me to the national beef price right now. $97/cwt when I check, and that seems great as we approach our county fair.

And while we're at it, check this unbelievable report from Traverse City, MI. I'm glad that they were apprehended by law enforcement and believe that they deserve to be punished.

Monday, August 16, 2010

World food reserve

This was actually a new thought to me. I didn't realize that we tracked our carryover food supply. The media keeps harping on the need for increased food production, and cases like Russia's recent sufferings are obviously a key example right now. If you haven't read enough, or if you're curious about the carryover numbers, read on. On the flip side, we're expecting record production here in the US so it looks to be a good year for most farmers. Good luck out there as you start into the harvest this fall.

Reading this, I didn't realize that we hadn't already required HACCPs in food processing. It's getting to be an older concept by now and you would think everyone should have adopted it. I know we talk about it in class the last couple years as if its just another thing from a different decade.

Finally today for my nutrition-minded readers, this is a interesting read summarizing the Four-state Dairy Management and Nutrition Conference.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Corn harvesting?

It does seem a bit early doesn't it? However, John in his blog says that they started out his direction this weekend. I hope that turns out to be a good thing, but I can't imagine this heat's a good thing. And then just read the first line of this article and pretend to be surprised. What, you didn't expect to hear that?

Meanwhile, we've signed a new deal to collaborate with Israel to research food production. Frankly, I can't think of a better place to working with to research food production. They're exporting out a desert, anyone else think they might know a few things about growing excess food to feed people with limited resources? And let's face it, we're all going to have limited resources eventually. Even Michigan... sorry guys, but you know it's true. I would link you to the release about the agreement, or to the article discussing the linkage between Zinc deficiency and pneumonia, but the ARS website just doesn't seem to be working tonight. You'll have to look for those yourself.

Anyhow, I'm off for the night and back to work tomorrow after finally having to concede a sick day on Friday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crazy stuff

Trent Loos is pretty worked up about this one. It's worth listening to.

Ag news update

For those of you who have tagged along with the antibiotic concerns bandwagon, this is just another article in line for you. I'm not saying that I have no concerns about antibiotics being over-administered, mis-administered or fed to livestock species. It's just that I think we've got much bigger things to be worrying about right now. However, this report from Denmark is positive about reducing antibiotic use.

Switchgrass and its counterparts are amazing to me. Their growth is so accelerated and the fact that they are perennials and can also be used for ethanol is kinda a wow for me. Now if we could just get plants to actually use them for ethanol production and also get farmers to produce the grass and store it for year-round supply to the plant, then maybe people might get interested in the concept.

Mom, if you're reading this, there is actually something that mushrooms are probably good for.

Every so often I get the emails from the Ohio Farm Bureau about membership numbers and updates on how each county is doing, etc. I guess what always surprises me is that as an Ohio resident, it was a no-brainer for me to join the Ohio Farm Bureau even if I had no interest in agriculture at all. Sure, the Ohio Farm Bureau is the state voice for agriculture and the face for many agricultural actions that occur in the state, but they offer much more than support for the average farmer. I got a great discount on my health insurance and just a couple weeks ago at a wedding met up with some urban people who used the OFB membership to get a great discount on Nationwide insurance. between that and hotel and rental deals as well, it's just a wonder to me that there aren't more members in the state. If you aren't a member and want to cash in on the benefits, please join the Ohio Farm Bureau at

My alma mater has finally finished building the new anaerobic digester research building! I'm very excited that they continue in this focus - hopefully something positive will come out of all the work they'll put into the research.

This is exactly why we need to continue to protect our farmers and produce our own food. Without this we suffer a huge potential threat from those countries which supply us and anyone who can influence them.

And props to Blanche Lincoln on this latest success in representing her people.

Finally for today, I'd like to second Trent Loos in congratulating the beef industry on these great new reported numbers. Remember these the next time that someone tells you about how terrible the meat industry and livestock production is for the environment. The future promises to show increased efforts to reduce GHG emissions and the carbon footprint as we also struggle to produce more food with less space. That way we can avoid eating things like insects...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gateway to Animal Welfare

Courtesy of my new e-newsletter: Gateway to Animal Welfare, I received a large quantity of new animal welfare articles which excites me, even if you don't care nearly as much about it as I do.

First on my list today is an article outlining how just one more use of labels to assure consumers of animal well-being has failed. It might be selling to some people, but not like it was supposed to work. You see, we have this great idea that we can sell just about anything with labels. Look at Certified Angus Beef, well, that was a success, right? So then why can't we seem to sell animal welfare certified labels with the same success. Isn't that what the general public wants to see? Better welfare for the animals may be what people want to see but either they don't want to pay for it in the grocery or they don't believe we're really providing better care. And every single time that they find out our standards aren't what they thought they should have been, then the public loses even more faith in our welfare labeling. In contrast here is another article endorsing buying these labels... hold your breath for when they decide that these standards don't match either. "High free-range standards" aren't scientifically proven to be any better for the bird either, especially as they find that the birds in some cases are even worse off in free-range. Think that over...

It sounds like they will find out in 2015 how much it costs for better eggs. Sure, we've speculated and calculated, but once supply, demand and input/output changes, then we'll finally see the true change. And will the well-being of the chickens actually be improved or is this just another example of HSUS publicly helping animals and behind the scenes having only hurt the future of healthy animal production. And then there is the extremely sticky situation of inter-state trade. So the battery eggs can't be sold in California, what about shipped?

And then there's those just "wow" moments... It's really hard for me to take this seriously.

Finally for today, here's another press release from the Ohio deal with HSUS...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cow shot, again

This time in California at the state fair. Read more for yourself...