organic – or not?

Many American consumers have been duped. They blissfully by organic at higher priced markets so they don’t contribute to China “as Wal-Mart does”. The truth is they’ve supported the same all along. The difference is they paid more for it and it may or may not have been organic. USDA organic is a $5billion per year business.

Defending & ConsumerBelief

Communication is good – miscommunication not so much. So often I see consumers seeking answers about their food supply – which I think is AWESOME!! It’s about time IMO! But then it goes wrong.

The current antibiotic issue is one. There’s a dozen or more farmers- beef, pork, chicken, sheep, rabbit – saying they don’t use antibiotics on healthy animals, don’t believe it does what’s represented on tv & it’s too expensive to use on healthy animals. They DO treat sick animals. Then the criticism starts.

“They shouldn’t ever be used.” So what if there’s an animal sick, let it die so H$U$ can say how farmers don’t care about their animals?! Let a promising animal you’ve planned for up to a year suffer because someone 1,000 doesn’t want antibiotics used?

I’m among those who don’t use antibiotics unless needed. But when it’s said then the tv shows are brought up. “Factory farms” use it…the tv said.

The CBS tv show also used “factory farms” about US hog farms but not about the same sized farms elsewhere. They used “factory farms” for confinement of turkey but not other confinement of turkeys the reporter agreed with. There was no masks or other protection worn for these “horribly unhealthy” places. Still others assert that anyone who raises animals for food is a “factory farm” – whether 10 or 10,000 all use antibiotics and are out to “get” consumers by producing unhealthy food.

Now hammer away on those false accusations for about 10-15-20 years. Then comes Ms. Consumer whose closest contact with a farm is the food on the plate – food that comes from the store or a restaurant. They watch a tv show and approach a farmer not with curiosity about food but accusations about using methods that the farmer has never used!

So what does the farmer do? Deny it happens? There’s bad actors in every industry – always has been always will be. So go after the bad actors. Don’t condemn the majority who live life every day dictated by care of their animals.

Equally, the consumer will usually be welcomed if recognizing this. Ask. Don’t accuse. “I saw this  show…but want to find out what’s really going on.”

It seems every week in the news there’s reports  of a teacher somewhere taking inappropriate measures with a child. Yet most don’t react as hostilly at teachers as they do farmers.

The majority in any walk of life are not out to “get you”. The majority of farmers welcome consumer interaction about what they do. There’s videos that take you inside farms from the comfort of your home.

And there’s the minority of people who simply want to attack others. Communication is needed. Consumer support is needed and for that information is needed.

Maintaining Choices

When it comes to our food supply there is little more personal decision than choosing the food that you put on your table. It’s something that most farmers take seriously to produce a clean, safe, healthy product. There are others who seek their place in the country to grow their own food, perhaps in a much different manner than larger professional farmers and ranchers do. There are things you can do with 5-6 pigs or cows that simply don’t work for time or other reasons with several hundred.

To make a living farmers and ranchers must deal with volume. A farmer ships 400 pigs to market and that’s his payday – there won’t be a weekly check like many Americans get from their job. If hogs are bring 55cents/pound and you’re shipping 250 pound hogs – how long can you live on $687.50? Yet people expect farmers to.

On the other hand for another farmer five hogs might bring more than that direct marketed because of extra time. That’s a choice – a management decision. For another person raising their own meat, putting 2 in the freezer and selling the other 3 they’re happy to cover expenses and have a little extra. All of these are different decisions with different goals and expectations. None are “wrong”!

Many are too quick to cut off those who seem to disagree – they assume that choice supports “big ag” by whatever definition that is. (No one’s taken a stab at it!) Some want choices but only when people choose what THEY see as the best choice. They get downright insulting if someone says diluted isn’t enough to claim there’s no (whatever) in a product. And on the other hand there’s those who want consumers to choose but insult when they choose the cheapest they can afford because it’s processed. Most food IS processed! You can process it at home or pay to have it processed for you but be it cut, precooked,etc it is processed. 

Sometimes communication is difficult. And without it maintaining choices is hard because there isn’t a chance to get the information needed to make a choice. Here’s to farmers, consumers, ranchers, homesteaders, those with a dozen hens and those who are only familiar with cattle as a burger on their plate…here’s to choices!

What is “big ag”

There are terms that from time to time will be pondered here. With the previous entry about YellowTail supporting HSUS to the tune of $100,000 it has raised some eyebrows perhaps. After all for most people “live the country dream” is about a small farm.

On Twitter and elsewhere one of the terms people use is “big ag”. No one can quite define what “big ag” is so the farmers and ranchers mentioned in the previous entry may or may not be “big ag”. 

When pressed frustrated activists say “big ag” is like Cargill, Monsanto and other major agribusiness companies, which are far removed from the smaller operations. We hear of tight living quarters and no room to move and yet see Mr. Troy Hadrick’s cattle in the video clip – clean, well fed animals with plenty of room to move, what appeared to be very safe and functional surroundings.

Whether you have two, ten or a few hundred cattle isn’t as important as how their cared for. Like many “homesteaders” farmers care about their cattle. They’re out in all kinds of weather insuring their animals are fed.

And “big ag” may never get a definition.


Yellow Tail or Yellow Fail

Social media has brought forth the opportunity activists love – to be able to gather a wave of people into a given topic in a short amount of time. For those trying to defend themselves from rumors, lies or false allegations it can be a difficult thing to deal with. This has been the case for animal owners, farmers and others until the tactics began offensively rather than defensively.

Recently on Twitter word started about YellowTail, an Australian vegan endorsed wine, donating $100,000 to the Humane Society of the United States, a non-profit lobbying group that does not operate a single shelter. Indeed of the hundreds of dogs taken in raids last year most were left in the care of local humane societies – along with the bills. With over $130million in fundraising efforts that gets overlooked.

So what’s wrong with saving abused animals? Not a thing! Except HSUS gets the money for it and instead of DOING it uses it for legislation and more fundraising. They generated millions to  care for Michael Vick’s dogs – dogs they did not have in possession and did not pay to care for. Indeed they recommended the dogs be killed.

So when Yellow Tail donated a hundred thousand dollars to the animal rights group that cost California billions in jobs and agriculture industry, a group that has used questionable methods in raids and even consumer reports show their use of funds is questionable – it raised eyebrows. After all Yellow Tail has recipes to serve steak with their wine. Beef raisers were outraged.

Undeterred and despite hundreds of posts on their facebook page, the company charged on. The wave has grown, with farmers and ag supporters taking note of news programs and creating a YellowFail page on facebook to show their opposition to companies donating to organizations set out against them.

One which – with announcement of vegan pet foods – doesn’t think American farmers are fit to feed dogs and cats much less people. This isn’t about being nice to puppies and it’s not about supporting poor treatment of animals. It’s about maintaining the right to farm – period.

Trent Loos mentioned on NTV Nebraska of the issue. “their agenda to remove milk, meat and eggs” from people’s diet.

HSUS president Wayne Pacelle echoed what many activists have said in a news broadcast: “those groups who support activities that are at odds with the care and welfare and wellbeing of animals.”

This is further dismissive in saying that all of those responding, from small dairies to beef ranchers to family farms, housewives and people with a dozen chickens in the back yard don’t care about animal welfare. It equates keeping cattle on the ranch with the veal crates the HSUS speaks against. It equates the keeping of chickens with cages without regard to other means of keeping animals. This seems to then point to it is elimination, not just welfare, that is sought. That is something there is no negotiation for and, as action in Ohio shows, the continued criticism and harassment of farmers and ranchers and animal owners has reached a breaking point.

It’s all or nothing – and farmers need your support to make sure they can continue. For those seeking to have your own place in the country it means you too. A dozen hens, some rabbit cages and a stall with pigs being raised for meat is “wrong” in the sights of the organization with $130million in tax free dollars per year to buy and lobby politicians to get their  way. In their portrayal of “if you oppose us you’re a factory farmer” attitude means anyone who eats their own grass raised beef or home grown eggs is a factory farmer. It’s not how it’s grown…it’s that is was grown for people to eat.

Yellow Tail can apparently afford to alienate all but a small portion of Americans, although some places of business are already saying in support of farmers they won’t be ordering more of the wine.

Among the expressions:

Many agree with this cattle rancher.

Farmers of all sizes are needed to feed America and beyond.

YellowFAIL is a good name for that publicity campaign.

Grow Local? Not!

There’s a wave of people wanting to do more for themselves. Urban homesteaders, gardens, small livestock – making use of what we have. It makes sense. And in many areas it makes people mad.

It interferes with their city view and manicured lawns. It’s “an eyesore” to have gardens next door. An article HEre tells of the problem nationwide and indeed it’s banned in Detroit. (Can one do anything in Detroit? You can’t have certain dogs, can’t grow gardens, questionable living there due to crime…hmmm maybe why homes don’t sell there?! Just a thought.)

Anyway, it puzzles me why people are bothered by a half dozen tomato plants but many areas in cities and small towns alike they are. Even when weeded and in defined raised bed areas It offends some people to see anything more than a few inches tall growing. Perhaps it is because it’s harder to see in your business (personal) but whatever the reason, complaints are a source of issues for the grow local movement. There’s complaints of odor from compost (which shouldn’t have an odor!).

With the attack on such places, the restrictions to have some livestock in subdivisions and the simultaneous attack on farmers to raise food professionally one wonders where people think our food will come from in the future.

This same complaint/regulation is harboring solar and wind power in many areas while we’re told we should use more green energy. How can this be when others sue to keep it out? It drives common sense rural to a higher level.