Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jeremy Bentham

For those of you who don't know who the guy is, his most infamous quote is utilized in this piece of poor journalism. I encourage you to think for yourself and question why animals and the environment won the poll for worst moral actions; this left prisoners and the neglect of the elderly as the least concerning to American readers. America, it's a good thing you don't pay for your parents'/grandparents' paper subscriptions... When this poll gets published they might see how much you don't care about them. And there was nowhere available for comment under the article.

And by the way. Jeremy Bentham is more accurately quoted in this wikipedia article. Kwame does Bentham a severe injustice by quoting him in such a way (or I just inferred it the wrong way), actually implying that Bentham really thought animals could reason. No, Bentham was just a guy who wanted as much happiness in the world as possible, and didn't want the animals to suffer in the way in which he saw them being treated. Hey, by the way, we don't treat them that way anymore anyhow and that was the 1700s, back when Henry the umpteenth could marry and kill whoever he wanted. Just like then, Kwame has drawn attention to the wrong set of "oppressed" life forms.

In my final point for today, interestingly enough, the debate about conscientious beings among animals in some cases is based on whether they feel suffering in an emotional way or just the sensory feedback of pain. While the ability to feel emotions is a highly doubtful ability among livestock, livestock raised under standard and proper conditions today feel neither and I argue would feel more of it were they raised under the suggested conditions in this article. Thanks to John for another interesting post.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Updates from my Inbox

Today I'm going start off with a great article about a pig raising family from Seth at Farm Bureau and the Our Ohio magazine. Farm Bureau has been trying to use the magazine to capture more of the stories of Ohio farmers and share them with the people around us. If the magazine sent to more than just Ohio Farm Bureau members I think that the idea would be even more successful, but that's why you can read them online for free.

Along those same lines, check out this California site where they have videos of different farmers in California.

In other dairy news, Idaho is now the 3rd largest in dairy production, and research in Texas is trying to improve summer cow fertility. Heat has been found to damage follicles and thus negatively impact reproduction on dairy farms. While this is something we already knew, these people are researching to remedy this. I

t's nice to see that the government is finally interested in fixing the decline in veterinary assistance in the rural US. Also, DDGS is now getting classified as a non-hazardous shipment.

Finally, after talking with our new bow-hunter for the property yesterday about how he thought that the cattle in the world were the primary reason for global warming and environmental destruction, I thought this article was rather timely. Even though the quantity of GHG's emitted by the livestock industry is in question, there is no doubt that they are working as hard as anyone to reduce it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Newsletter Updates

As I scan through my e-newsletters I am really starting to question why I get the USEF one. I haven't really found anything of interest in any of them and all they do is list different horses and people who I never know and the amount of money they won at a place I've never heard of. Anyhow, that's my update for the USEF. Just in case you're interested in watching the World Equestrian Games, visit this link and it should help you figure things out. I'll admit that it might be worth watching.

I frankly didn't even read this article. I couldn't get past the title which just reminded me of my sailing instructor and his explanation of boat physics.

Good news that as we predict higher levels of CO2, ARS also expects better responses from crops. And bad pickles are key in a possible method of cleaning up after the textile industry.

Courtesy of the Gateway to Animal Welfare, check out this report and especially the number of cattle bruised upon harvest. 33%!? Amazing to me.

I also wonder how much this HSUS offshoot paid for such a celebrity supportive statement. Ridiculous. I mean, seriously guys, the Dalai Lama? And if you're going to cut castrated pigs from your market supply, won't their fate now be similar to that of male chicks? Great job guys, big fail.

That's all for today, I'm gonna beat the traffic home.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My response to "Anonymous"

I was struggling with what to blog about, between ADSA news and new ARS research, but "Anonymous" has provided me with a far more exciting topic. Thank him/her later, but for now please read his/her comments under my September 8th blog and then read my response. As always, I accept comments and am willing to entertain discussion, but fellow readers please don't make me do all the work. You too can talk about what you think and how you want to respond to comments such as these. You'll also probably want to excuse a few typos, I'll try to edit them out as I find them.

"Anonymous, per your comments on Sept. 8th (this didn't fit into the box and you didn't provide me an email address or identity to respond to)

"It is not the actual ideas listed in this bill which are repulsive. Rather, it is the fact that this kind of legislated welfare hasn't been shown to benefit either farmers or animals yet. The wording in this bill is shockingly similar to that of some wordings in Prop 2 of California. No surprise, really, since the sponsoring Rep. is from California, but the true surprise comes in the fact that what happens when legislation similar to this is passed is that there is no true progress made on behalf of animal welfare. Of course, this doesn't matter when the agents behind this bill are only interested in the elimination of global animal product consumption and not in the well-being of actual animals. However, for the rest of us who are interested in consuming the wholesome, nutritious protein products offered by livestock, the bill represents many other problems.

"Bills that merely state the limitations on confinements operations as subjective measurements such as "free to turn around" or "able to stretch limbs" eventually accomplish just what they specify. Nothing. The same few "bad producers" out there who taint the reputation of thousands of other good farmers every day are the ones who will push to the limits such pathetic laws as ones suggesting that an animal be able to turn around. Compared to other legitimate documents being considered among Congressmen and Congresswomen, well, who're we kidding? Why would we compare them in the first place. Sure, these animals can be allowed to turn around, but wouldn't you rather create a situation in which the animal was more COMFORTABLE? Research shows, for example, that pigs actually prefer the seclusion of tight pens in some instances because they don't want to be bothered by other pigs in their pen or group. Will forcing the ability to turn around solve the problem of hormonal gestating sows and gilts (female pigs) that exhibit more cruelty to each other than humans have ever shown them? Will the use of larger cages (or even no cages) protect the hens from the truth about "pecking orders" which proponents of cage-free systems continue to ignore and conveniently forget to mention at their pep rallies? The answer is rhetorical, but for anyone who missed it, NO.

"I'm not saying that the current conditions are perfect. Otherwise, I wouldn't be involved in research from which we hope to gain a better understanding of how to raise livestock in a manner which better suits their needs as well as ours. Nothing is perfect, otherwise there would eventually be no purpose for research, and we would not make progress in the world. Yet I do like to consume protein products and they are a healthy addition to my diet because I consume them in correct serving proportions. So this puts me into a position where I must justify my feelings about caring for animals with my need for consumption.

"If you look at the past compared with the present, you can see that we have made leaps and bounds of progress in the way of animal health and husbandry. These cages and confinement were not spurned into existence by a greedy desire for profit as you suggest, but rather a desire for reduced death and morbidity loss. I challenge you to name me one farmer who likes to lose animals to injury and disease. It's not pretty, nor fun, nor is it specific to any type of livestock system. Through greater control on the growing environments of the animals in a system, we have gained production and profit through doing what farmers have always done best - caring for animals and helping them to grow and produce, which leads to more people being fed around the globe. This is the same goal that farmers across America share today. Every day, people go hungry and the increased production offers a way of providing protein products to many under-privileged households that would otherwise not be able to afford the nutrition they are provided. Because animals consume feeds not edible to humans, they are a great way to continue producing protein products for future generations as we reach increased food consumption needs.

"With this in mind, I think it is imperative to consider what this bill will practically accomplish and what better goals might be set instead. With a bill expanding the size of cages to allow for freer movement, the uneducated individual would naturally assume that the animals would be happier, healthier and thus the individual would feel less guilt in consuming an animal that has led a better life. Despite this imagery which has been distributed in mass mailings and pamphlets worldwide, this is not necessarily the case. Chickens in larger cages are certainly not happier nor healthier after being pecked to death by their neighbors. Nor are calves' stress levels going to be reduced after being removed from the safety from weather and disease transmission within their individual hutches or tie-outs during a critical stage of their life (Interestingly enough, per your comment about veal calves, they're going to all be group-housed by 2017 anyhow, because we're going to make that work). What seems like cruelty, tight quarters or seclusion was almost always begun originally for the benefit of the animals. Now with new ideas about how to best care for animals, research on this issue is inconclusive and highly conditional still.

"Are there a few bad egg producers in the clutch that require legislation to force them to properly care for their animals? No, because those bad eggs still won't do anything differently after the legislation except clean up their act for a few audits. It's just like animal rights protesters. Is every single one of them a nude maniac that does their best to force their opinions down peoples' throats between jail terms? Of course not, but they sure do give people a bad name, don't they?

"Therefore, the legislation you touted in your comments will not actually accomplish in all cases the reform that you appear to desire. Instead, this is a perfect example of radical rights group-backed legislation aimed at the eventual removal of a critical source of nutrients from our food system. They come forth with cheap articles praising the new cage-free systems or the larger cage for group-caged layers, but without an actual interest in benefiting animals and despite proof of any success from past legislative initiatives, are you still willing to believe them? I am not, and I am saying that this is a childish way to go about trying to enact change in this country. Further, I am reiterating that national legislation has not proven beneficial to animals in the past (reference the plight of horses now that HSUS got their way with the Horse Slaughter legislation - big names such as Temple Grandin and PETA publicly disagree with this law). Lastly, I am saying that we need to hold off on these mass-legislative movements until we can really honestly say that we have found what's best for the animals, because isn't that what both of us are after in the end? If the animal-rights groups were truly after helping the animals, then they would agree. There are lots of people out researching how to improve the lives of animals on farms, they just need the chance to find the answers before someone goes and ruins the lives of millions of animals by pushing for laws which don't end up helping improve anything. Give research a chance to find the answers before you force failure upon everyone."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

HR 4733

I would like to specially thank Gene Baur for promoting HR 4733 in his blog. As a result, I have sent this letter to my representative. And Baur still hasn't posted my response to his blog the other week.

Dear Pat Tiberi,

Thank you for your continued support of agriculture and the farmers in the Delaware County area. Your presence at local fairs and your representation of our interests are greatly appreciated.

I was recently made aware of a radical legislative effort by animal protection groups to require the US government to "lead by example" in the purchase of only those animals which are certified to be raised humane. After reading HR 4733, it is apparent that this legislation is the same type of non-scientific, emotional and irresponsible legislation pushed on US farmers to control the method in which livestock is produced to feed the world.

US farmers are conscientious and caring about their livestock both out of ethical obligation and good will, but also out of interest for their own source of income. Care standards among farmers are scientifically based and should not be forced upon farmers by outside special-interest groups which have no interest in feeding America with animal products in the first place. This is a piece of legislation that does not belong in the US Congress and when I was requested to contact you in order to support the bill, I did the exact opposite because I believe that this issue should be both industry and consumer regulated while scientifically based. Please make sure that this bill is not passed.

Thank you,

Benjamin Wenner

Newsletter Updates and Bad Storms

From my ARS newsletter comes word that they are now using space images to help with Chesapeake Bay cleanup, the National Arboretum is now including edibles in their plant display, there is ongoing research to improve the heat tolerance of corn-based plastics (which is good because they're highly sensitive right now), and finally research is proceeding into the improvement of toxin resistance in corn.

Courtesy of Feedstuffs with the ADSA comes a couple of good conversations about national animal ID programs and the pros/cons of disease tracing in relation to recent Salmonella outbreaks. These are both worth your time to read. National ID programs have seemed like such a great idea to improve livestock biosecurity and disease tracking, but they've been slow to come into being, especially due to the scope of such a project. The disease tracing discussion is a very interesting read with well-represented viewpoints.

I was recently discussing the methods of poultry euthanasia and so this article is pretty interesting to me. It seems like basically the chickens are being taken to "high altitudes" as the air is thinned and they reach "instantaneous death".

Also, the USDA has published the first handbook giving national guidelines for organic products. Hopefully this is just what is needed to provide more consistent control over the hyped organic market.

I like the take Feedstuffs took on the veal video released by Mercy for Animals about tethered calf housing for veal calves in Ohio. Frankly, when I heard about the video, my first response was just "why on earth do I care?". It's not that I don't care about calf housing, but this is something that we've already acted on in Ohio and the US veal industry has acted on it as well. This video is too late and served no purpose at all.

On a different note, fall is coming very quickly and there are so many things I love about fall. My birthday, bonfires, harvest, the landscape colors, the cooler weather, thunderstorms, football and livestock shows. With the Delaware County Fair (not my favorite website in the world) and the Farm Science Review just around the corner, I am busier than ever as I try to prepare for school starting. I apologize in advance if I can't get on here often.

However, before I go I want to comment on a storm yesterday that was pretty fantastic. I was on a farm north of Mt. Vernon when the lights started flickering and the fans kicked off. Almost immediately there was sharp lightning and it got to flashing a lot. This was about 5.30 pm. We sat there in the barn as the rain started to pour, wind blowing the rain all the way through the windows to the center of the building. The power failed permanently and it's no wonder why. When we emerged we found that this farmer had lost 3 of his 4 barns (fortunately we were in the one still standing) and there were trees and powerlines down everywhere. It took 45 minutes just to get out of the area as many people volunteered to clean up the roads. The area was hit very hard, and the corn was absolutely flattened in some places, while the crests of hills were missing most of their treelines where you could see that the wind had topped the hill in powerful fashion. Just another day in my life, but I am thankful to have gotten out as easy as we did. The picture I added shows the lightning strikes that evening and you can see a highlighted red area where I was that day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Testimony from a former Vegan

And I bet you wouldn't guess who it is. Well, if Carrie Underwood is an out-spoken vegan whom I disown as a country singer, I have found a new favorite celebrity after reading this in a blog by one of the national beef ambassadors. Apparently Angelina Jolie loves beef. By the way, props to the national beef ambassadors on their interesting and varying posts, which is why you will now find their blog link on the sidebar under my blogroll now.