Monday, April 25, 2011


I searched long and hard, deep within for a one-word title to cover the recent Mercy for Animals video release. This video has been festering in my mind and buzzing in conversation for the last week and for good reason. What you see on the video (which I will not include here, you can Google it yourself) is vile and disgraceful for cattle farmers everywhere. But the story doesn't end there.

Vicious is a word that we use to describe dangerous or sick animals, heart-breakers that we meet at the bar and is also an appropriate description of Mercy for Animals. Credit this organization for always fighting for animal rights like a dog in a corner, yet they're also always on the offensive. They are viciously dishonest as well and based on the lies and falsification of previous movies released (which drives some states' new legislation to prosecute "undercover filmers"), I doubt the honesty behind the depiction of cruelty at the farm. There are thousands of animals on the farm, and over a month there are only 3 minutes of video. Of these 3 minutes, the actual headliner of calves being beat in the head only consisted of a half-dozen calves, our of thousands. Three minutes of video footage for a month of investigation.

But in this day in age, it's not good enough to be right and a good animal caretaker almost all of the time. Almost only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades; it's not enough to have great employees except one who slips up and has anger issues or fails to follow instructions. And that's fine. With food as cheap as people are used to having it, they can afford to get picky and in this day and age, mistakes like what happened at E6 are inexcusable; we've come a long way and it's good of consumers to encourage farmers to tighten their own ranks and to police those who aren't quite as committed to ensuring their employees follow regulations and care standards that are already in place on farms and in this case just weren't followed.

Mercy for Animals goes much further than just helping to make sure that animals are properly cared for and that mistakes are reported. The French defined "vicious" just a little bit different when I was over there, referring to it as more "perverted". I stipulate that this is the true definition of Mercy for Animals. I think it's perverted that they are willing to infiltrate farms, deny care and consideration to animals and even partake in abuse themselves in an effort to convince America to go vegan. It's perverted to be encouraging farm workers to abuse animals and to rig video footage in an effort to convict someone for animal abuse. It's perverted that they get away with this farce unpunished and that so many people blindly accept their lies as the truth.

I can't tell you often enough that farmers care about their livestock and they are more infuriated by this poor care in their fellow farmers than the public can ever be. They fight an uphill battle every day against the one or two bad apples in the crowd, in addition to activists who are willing to personally abuse animals in order to get national attention (within minutes of my posting this, their searches will have already logged me as one more person to have talked online about this - check out, and in addition to the hard work farmers put in every day to feed you safely. They will keep producing wholesome food and will keep honestly caring for their animals in the best ways that personal experience and science have shown them to do. Life's about choices. You can believe the activists who abuse animals and blame it on other people, or you can believe the farmers who have been doing this for more generations than the stock market has been in existence and who genuinely care about the animals in their possession - the choice is all yours.

Mitch and Emotional Arguments

My thanks as always to MSU students and one of my favorites this time for sharing an article with from the State News. A couple of years ago you could've fooled me into thinking that the State News had some semblance of objectivity, but their position on the highly controversial issue of animal rights the past couple years has made it clear that they care for nothing except propagating their own liberal viewpoints and forcing it on the students at MSU. If I was an alumni subscriber, I'd be pretty disappointed in the impression they're making on the general public; it's even gotten worse than the OSU Lantern.

Well, this latest argument from Mitch is so highly charged with emotion and non-factual statements that I finally lost my cool and started typing up a response:

"Mitch, your uninformed, emotional arguments prove exactly why it's so far taken you 5 years to graduate with a bachelors' degree. Glad to see you learned how to photoshop masculinity into your submission picture. If only people knew you were about 4 feet tall and looked more like an enormous squirrel than a college student..."

Yeah, cross that out. This is when I realized I needed to scratch out and start over:

"Mitch (and friends), you probably don't remember your rude treatment of me a couple of years ago at a PETA2 rally, but it seems the only thing that's changed is finally you found a masculine picture to fool the papers. Your attitude towards animal agriculture is a cover up for the fact that you are shamefully unable to accept the facts in this world. There is life, and there is death. University of Michigan has even found that plants have feelings, so I hope in your quest for preservation of all sensitive beings you finally figure out your only option to avoid the death of living, feeling beings is starvation. Good luck with that."

Scratch out again. Geez this guy has me fired up. Well, that's what they try to do to you. They get you all fired up, ruffle your feathers, and once you're angry you spout off something stuttery, unintelligent, then you look like an angry idiot and give farmers everywhere a bad reputation. That's the idea folks and this provocation works. It gets us to say the wrong things at the wrong times and then they misquote you over and over again until you wish you'd never cared.

So I erased again, and here's where we stand:

"Mitch, and friends,

"The incoherency in your argument shames animal rights groups worldwide. Rather, you obviously can't make up your mind whether you're speaking on vivisection, or if you want to go on a diatribe against animal agriculture and MSU Animal Science students (your more common MO). Most of the animal research you cited in your opening isn't even linked to Anthony Hall or the Animal Science Department. Despite your claims of what is in Anthony Hall, you still seem to have no clue what really happens there at all. The same is true of your ignorant statements about mink and Dr. Bursian but others have already elaborated that in previous comments. What is true is that the mink released by your fellow activists suffered horribly from the "freedom" forced upon them during an illegal mass release. Would you like to comment on that incident at all?

"Citing Carol Adams adds no strength to your argument in the least. She demeans women everywhere by even equating the women's rights movement with animal rights. Capable of their own cognition and responsible for their actions, women bravely campaigned for many decades in a persistent effort to receive equal consideration for jobs, legal rights and representation. The women's rights movement in the US is decades old and while there are still places in the world where women suffer inexplicable discrimination, it is certainly not beneath the gaze of the Euro-American male. Truth is that you used this article as just one more opportunity to agitate people against animal agriculture and the faculty/students who research in this field.

"As a former MSU student, I learned much beyond my own field of study or simple classes; among the life skills further developed in my undergraduate career was critical thinking - something your arguments lack. Open up your "arrogant eyes" a little and step back for the big picture. I think you'll find your "male gaze" has become a little clouded with denial of the truth. Life feeds life and recent reports indicate that plants feel pain and stress, and can detect relatives in the soil around them. You can either eat and survive, accepting that all life can serve a purpose through a well cared for life, or you can starve. The choice is all yours."

Have a nice day, y'all, and check out other great comments on that site as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Katy Perry supporting HSUS

I hinted earlier that this was coming and it was top on my list since the Mercy for Animals video is getting lots of other input from well-spoken farmers who care about their animals. Katy Perry announced that she will be donating proceeds from her ticket sales to 3 different charities, one of them being HSUS. It pains me to say that I will be boycotting her just like I do Carrie Underwood until further notice. But just like I argue that veganism - people should instead vote with their dollar for welfare standards they support if they are so opinionated - is an unintelligent way to enact change, my boycotting isn't enough. Instead, I decided I would write a letter. If for no other benefit, it gives me the opportunity to express what I'm thinking and form it into concrete words. So included below is my letter; I encourage comments on its improvement as I do intend to send it. Thanks!

"Dear Mrs. Katy Perry,

"As a fan of your music, I cannot fully express how disappointed I am by your announcement to donate a portion of the proceeds of your tour to the Animal Rights Activist group, the “Humane Society of the United States”. I know I speak for many of Americans when I say that this contribution on your part to such an ill-intending and malicious organization leaves doubt in my mind as to your support of the hard work of American farmers who produce the food that feeds this great nation.

"The Humane Society of the United States is actually a vocal activist and lobbying organization that uses nearly its entire budget to campaign for the rights of animals and their protection from alleged wrong-doing by people responsible for the care and well-being. A misnomer which was intentionally chosen to steal funding from local shelters, the HSUS claims to spend their money on animal rescue but in truth audits of their budgets by the policing organizations have shown that they actually pocketed the money collected from fundraisers during great disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti. Instead of using this money to rescue and care for animals, they used this money to campaign for their own personal agendas in states across the nation, weakening the economy with uninformed and unreasonable demands on agriculture livestock farmers that quickly moves them out of business or out of the country. According to Charity Navigator, HSUS rates even lower than the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals even though they have the larger budget. Local humane shelters also suffer from the fundraising of the HSUS because they no longer receive the contributions that they need in order to provide legitimate care to animals such as the more than six million dogs and cats that are in need every year.

"An example of HSUS’s political agenda is the banning of horse slaughter in the United States. Funded by money taken from well-intentioned donors, HSUS pushed national legislators through their well-funded lobbying to ban the slaughter of horses in the United States. This ban on the slaughter of horses in the United States led to millions of horses with nowhere to go after their careers in racing and lifetimes of foaling on the farms were done. Without the finances to feed these horses into old age, many horse owners sold the horses to Mexico for slaughter where Dr. Temple Grandin has documented even worse conditions for the horses and extended suffering during their final days. HSUS then pushed for a ban on transport to Mexico, which has led to mass horse abandonment. These horses which would have previously been mercifully killed at the end of a useful life (and provided jobs to Americans) now suffer needlessly because of the legislation endorsed by the personal agenda headquartered within the offices of the HSUS. This is not true interest in the care of animals and is only one example of the false front exhibited by HSUS in an effort to dupe well-intentioned individuals like you into funding their causes.

"Livestock farmers uphold a high standard for the care of their animals and they ensure provision of a good life for them. There is no person more personally, ethically or financially invested in the well-being of their animals as the farmers themselves. These farmers have also been active in supporting research that leads to the improvements in animal care and health and this research is ongoing. Until research can show better ways to care for animals, we need organizations like HSUS to stop pushing through legislature that later turns out to be more harmful for animals than previous care that was given to them. Otherwise we will find ourselves in even more situations in the future that closely resemble the horse slaughter debacle that HSUS created and has yet to try and fix.

"I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your position on contributions to the HSUS and find a more reputable charity to accept your money lest it be wasted on radical personal agenda.


"Benjamin Wenner"

Alaska's Rocking Congressman

A much longer set of posts are coming in the very near future, related to Katy Perry's uninformed donations to HSUS, the most recent Mercy for Animals video release, Trent Loos's visit to OSU, my reiterated thoughts on hormones and other such things, but for now I just want to put out props for two people/groups for their stance on animal care without bending to the ridiculous emotional propaganda of the HSUS.

First is the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association. Caught between the calls for outrageous, unproven and even legally undefined cage legislation, and the impending need for producers to also step up and continue meeting their ethical obligations for egg production and chicken care, the WSVMA took a stance against caging legislation that was obviously not going to be beneficial to the chickens in question. They also made some good comments about the caging debate, so read away.

Second, and more outstanding in my own personal opinion is the rejection of HSUS by an Alaska Congressman. Representative Young rejected an award HSUS planned to give him, stating that he didn't want to look like he supported their radical movement. He also commented on the parasitism which provides HSUS with funding and deprives the local shelters and mentioned the difference between species preservation and nature conservation. Preservation of species isn't even endorsed by Tom Regan himself, and the Representative Young seems much more concerned with conserving the wild Alaska for generations to come. But cheers to him for not playing HSUS's game.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Factful writing

Unbelievable as it may seem, I read something honest on HSUS's website today. Maybe that was because they cut it short? Or more likely they copy and pasted it onto their site from something else. Don't get used to it, in fact I just learned today that they also have a faith outreach division. Can you imagine your guest speakers at services being a couple of farmer hating vegans? But as the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board finally came to their senses after a brief hiatus and a busy public comment session, I can once again breathe a sigh of relief. There was talk that the deal struck with HSUS last year would be off after the Standards Board discussed allowing veal crates to continue. Of course, this is nonsense in the first place sense even the American Veal Association plans to phase out these crates, but that's what worried me most about the potential reversal by the board. Glad to hear that it didn't end up that way.

As Ohio continues to lead the picture with their Care Standards Board, Massachusetts has now begun the formation of their own board similar in design and intent. Hopefully there will be strength in numbers and an increase in momentum towards something more reasonable than uninformed and rash legislation. This board idea still makes me nervous because it keeps giving the impression of flying South, but thus far it has provided a lot of confidence and industry stability.

As a final thought, I also found this on their site, highlighting a kid's antibiotic project. I doubt. I doubt because even the one statistic in the write-up is incorrect. It's impossible to get 15% of samples from 22. And if you can't report that straight, what's the truth behind the rest?

Pollan's pros and cons...

... in someone else's words. It's really nice to read someone's writing and know that before reading it you've articulated your own thoughts sim and to know that you agree with the bulk of what they're saying. Especially when it's on a controversial subject like the writings and opinions of Michael Pollan. I know that back when I met him and listened to him talk, I discussed how I didn't actually disagree with about half of what he said, and people got riled up about that with me.

But I think Dr. Speer did a good job of really breaking down what Pollan says and highlighting some of the correct thoughts and some of the incorrect ones and I encourage you to read it. While it's important to take what people say with a grain of salt, it's also important to recognize when what someone else says might be right. Something that we had a discussion about in the grad office today, related to tail docking of dairy cattle and whether or not people accept research after it doesn't prove what they wanted to hear.

Conference on USDA Blog

This is just a brief note to send you to the USDA blog in order to read more about the secretaries' visit to the National 4-H Conference. My apologies for being tardy to share this but there's a lot I'm still catching up on.

Two comments: 1) If you look at the picture, you can see Lindsey, Lauren and myself right in the center. Since I was triggering the questions during the Q & A, I'm right on the aisle. 2) If you look at the first comment on the blog below, you probably question the motive of the commenter just as much as I did. 4-H encompasses all ethnicities and there was a very diverse group there as always But this is because it reflects the population of youth involved in 4-H and the welcoming community that is 4-H. If the commenter wanted to increase the number of Latinos in 4-H, he would need to actively encourage youth to join 4-H. However, what he really seemed to be saying to me was that he wished they could have been there to promote their organization to the USDA.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back from National 4-H Conference

One of the first things that I did when I got back from conference was to summarize in a word document all of the thoughts swarming my head. It's funny that until I sat back and read this document afterwards, I never had realized the amount of emotional investment I've made not just into 4-H but even into just one facet of the organization like the National 4-H Conference. I've now been there 5 times in the last 6 years in a progression of roles. Every conference has its high points and its deepest frustrations, but truth be told, I wouldn't trade one minute of any of it for something else (even as much as I missed being home with Amanda, who had a really rough week without me).

I know I've posted before how proud I am of the young people (at least younger than me) that I work with in 4-H, but once again I just want to applaud these exceptional youth who volunteered a week off of work, a week without classes, knowing the sacrifice, the lack of rest, the hard work they would put in, and the harder work they would put in trying to catch back up on their lives after conference. But knowing all of this, they dove into the conference with zeal and exceeded all of my expectations. I'm proud of you guys, just like I was proud in the past to be one of you. You are all going to go great places and if I can ever help you get there, just call.

This was also a learning experience and a new challenge for me. I've never been responsible for that much education and training for someone else. In less than a week, I learned much more about material delivery (what worked AND what didn't) and advising without answering questions. I also got to see how our pre-conference planning could have been improved to allow for more sleep among the facilitators. It had never occurred to me that lack of sleep could be a problem, but not everyone's into that, I suppose, so I learned to broaden my viewpoint once again. National 4-H was very kind in providing Lauren and I this opportunity and for engaging us in discussions afterwards as well. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that working with Lauren was great as well. Throughout this whole process we were often seemingly telepathically connected and we provided a good balance of leadership styles. It was a pleasure.

The only other thing I wanted to comment on was the increased professionalism that surrounded the conference this year. This started with the Sec. of Ag and the Sec. of Ed both giving a short talk and doing a short Q & A session with the delegates. Unlike many of these opportunities, the secretaries didn't shy away from the tough questions or use the answer time to elaborate on other issues not addressed in the question. Instead they spoke directly and openly with the delegates. I was really impressed by both secretaries and they helped set the tone for the conference of getting down to business. This carried over into the stakeholder presentations which were new this year. All of the delegates put a lot of hard work into these presentations of possible solutions to critical youth issues, which were then presented by the delegates to different government entities. It put a professional face on the youth within 4-H and I know that it really blew away the office that I was at during the presentations. Great things came out of the conference this year and I can only hope that this progress continues to future conferences.