Some good news on animal welfare

Jean L Clavelle

Lately my professional world seems to be focusing on the negative – on everything that’s not happening, how agriculture seems to be under constant attack, what we are not doing that we should. Today, I’ve decided to focus on the positive. I wanted to share some of the great work that our local and North American livestock ag community is doing for animal welfare.

To start, the 4th Annual International Beef Welfare Symposium is set to be held July 16 to 18 at Iowa State University (www.cpm.iastate.edu/beefwelfare) This conference was designed to offer producers, processors, retailers, government officials, NGOs, animal scientists, veterinarians and students the opportunity to discuss, debate and learn about the current and emerging welfare issues that face the beef cattle industry. Renowned beef cattle experts, bovine practitioners, philosophers and animal scientists will offer their insight and perspective and discuss the latest research findings during the invited presentations and poster session. Something that will benefit everyone involved in livestock agriculture and help to spread a positive message on the importance of animal welfare. Continue reading

It's All Antibiotic Free, Baby!

Reprinted with permission from Hurdhealth.com

 

It’s All Antibiotic Free, Baby!

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After all of the recent Panera and Chipotle hype about antibiotic free production, I decided to look at the data. This is also a follow up to my previous blog about antibiotic free (ABF) meat; I am going to present some data to back up my claim that there is very little difference between conventional and ABF – in other words, it’s all antibiotic free, baby! #ItsAllABF!

Due to farmers following appropriate withdrawal times, there are very few violations. In fact in the last three years of USDA testing no broiler chickens have been found with violative residues for the scheduled (random) sampling. For beef only 2 violations out of 1,600 samples were found and only 3 out of 2,200 from market hogs.  Note that antibiotics are not toxins, there are useful and very safe products used by us all.

The Bottom Line

The residue detection levels in the 3 classifications that I analyzed (beef cattle, market hogs, and broilers) are extremely small and well below the levels that would cause adverse effects to a human eating the meat. In addition, if an animal tests positive for residues, it does not enter the food supply.

Meat from an ABF farm would supposedly have zero levels of residues – but, if you aren’t going to get sick or be affected by the perfectly healthy, wholesome conventional meat, why should you pay more for something that potentially carries more foodborne illness?

From a veterinary perspective, I am concerned with the internal struggle that the ABF farmer must face. Most farmers get some premium for raising ABF meat, so if the animals get sick does the farmer treat and lose the financial benefits of ABF or wait a day or two? Waiting can increase mortality and spread of infectious disease significantly. What about the veterinarian, who has taken an oath to prevent animal suffering, but management will only let him treat a small percentage of the barns? Can these restaurateurs really argue their ABF meat provides a better “conscience choice,” if it comes at the cost of additional mortality and animal suffering? Continue reading

Time to speak up

Guest blog by Stewart Skinner, sixth generation Ontario farmer

“While what we are about to show you is from one farm in one community, we’re told this can happen and is happening across the country,” stated Lloyd Robertson to a prime time audience on Saturday night.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had such a strong motivation to start writing…that night I was tempted to sit down at my computer and bang out an angry retort.  In the end I decided to give myself a cool down period to make sure that I didn’t say anything stupid in the heat of the moment (not that I’ve done that before).

I am a 6th generation Canadian farmer; my family has fed Canadians almost as long as Canada has been a country.  Like my predecessors, I have a strong respect for the livestock I care for and the land that I farm.  But one thing transcends this level of respect, the call to feed the world.  It is impossible to explain this call – it is an intense feeling of responsibility to feed people while making sure that we are doing it in the most sustainable way possible so that coming generations will be able to grow food.  If farmers fail at their job, people starve.  It is a heavy burden.

In Canada today most people get out of bed never worrying about going hungry, there is always a meal around the corner at the grocery store.  This strong sense of food security is what allows Canadians to worry about paying for a house, a car, university tuition, or the welfare of the animal they are eating.  If the vast majority of Canadians didn’t know how they were going to pay for their next meal do you think they would worry about sows being confined in a gestation crate?  No, they would want to make sure that they could buy a piece of pork as cheaply as possible so that they could feed their family.

To read the rest of Stewart’s blog, visit his website at: http://modernfarmer.wordpress.com/

An accessible way to talk about agriculture

Guest blog by Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts teaches agricultural communications at the University of Guelph. His Urban Cowboy column and blog appear Monday in The Guelph Mercury.

It’s that point in the semester where my agricultural communication students at the University of Guelph start writing weblogs, popularly known as blogs. Continue reading

Why Farmers should NOT Speak Up

For more than a decade now, there’s been a movement across Canada with a goal of empowering farmers to take a chance, Speak Up, and share their passion for farming with the public – most of whom have no direct connection with food or farming. And we’re happy to report that movement appears to be growing. We’re seeing farmers start blogs, tweet from their tractors, write letters to the editor on topics of importance to them and take a chance on doing more media interviews when we know that they’d much rather be working in their barns or in their fields. Michele Payn-Knoper of Indiana is a farmer and an agricultural advocate who works tireless to champion the farmers’ cause. We especially like this blog post, posted at www.causematters.com earlier this year and reprinted here with permission from her. Michele’s cited a number of the “excuses” she’s heard for farners not speaking up about agriculture – if you have any more, feel free to comment on the blog post below! –  OFAC

 The new year typically starts with motivational tips, hype about resolutions and pressure to make promises of how we’re going to do things differently. Not me. I’m bringing an entirely different perspective on advocacy – a highly sarcastic view on why we SHOULD NOT tell agriculture’s story. Several ag folks from across the U.S. and Canada added to the list on Twitter and Facebook – you’re welcome to post your own comment in the spirit of some fun.
Shhh, there’s no need to tell your story!

15.  Agriculture has little economic contribution – and the American economy is thriving.  After all, 80%+ of the economy isn’t reliant on the agrifood system – and surely your community doesn’t benefit from property taxes and jobs paid by farms.

14. “It’s embarrassing to have people thank you for producing their food. I don’t want people to think I am a corporate shill (every farmer who speaks out is one, right?) says sheep and daughter raiser Venessa in her own Spartan sarcasm.

13. “Who needs consumers anyway? I can still farm without people to buy my grain and animals that eat my grain. I like grain storage.  Those big shiny bins are SO pretty and cheap…” was a heavily sarcastic comment from Sarah Bedgar Wilson, a young farmer in North Dakota (the cold made her do it, I’m sure). Continue reading

Stop bashing those who grow our food

Lilian Schaer
Owen Sound Sun Times
October 19 2009

I ‘ve started noticing a bit of a trend in popular media — the bashing of farmers, especially those who grow crops we all depend on.

These horrible people — or so the theme goes — are ruining the environment by producing large volumes of corn and soybeans and they’re making us fat to boot.

There are two sides to every story and the farmer’s is rarely heard or included in the barrage of popular media and consumer criticism about agriculture. So let me debunk a few of these myths. Continue reading

The end – A PIG'S TALE

Steve Buist, Hamilton Spectator, 2008.06.07

I left the Great Lakes packing plant on May 12 with four boxes of meat piled onto the back seat of my car. Piggy — my pig, the pig I had helped raise and care for — was packed inside those boxes.

Six months of his life, six months of my life, all reduced to four cardboard boxes on my back seat. Continue reading

The New Wake UP America Radio Show is Your Wake Up Call

Source:
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/01/prweb1822754.htm

The recent flow of media about animals being treated cruelly in factory farms, and the up and coming vegetarian movement is covered every Saturday, on Voice America Health & Wellness Network. Listen online, download, even listen on your phone, but don’t miss a single show.

Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) January 6, 2009 — Every Saturday morning Wake UP America and its expert guests will examine our food choices and talk about the wonderful animals we share the earth with. We will discuss how mega- corporations are destroying our health and polluting our world – and most importantly – the simple solutions that will keep our families healthy and safe, save animals lives, and help our planet at the same time…..

Upcoming Guests on Wake UP America:

January 3rd, 2009 – Wayne Pacelle
Few are in a position to speak for the animals like Wayne Pacelle. As President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, he leads nearly 10.5 million members and constituents in the mission of celebrating animals and confronting cruelty.

January 10th, 2009 – Ingrid Newkirk
PETA President and cofounder Ingrid Newkirk has led the world’s largest animal rights organization for more than 25 years. Her passion and dedication to making this world a better place for all living beings has inspired countless others to do what they can to help animals.

January 17th – Gary Francione
Gary Francione is professor of law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Distinguished Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law in New Jersey. Gary is an author of several books, the newest being, Animals as Persons.

January 24th, Rory Freedman
Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin started a movement when they wrote their best-selling manifesto, Skinny Bitch. Both a wake-up call and a kick in the ass, Skinny Bitch exposed the horrors of the food industry while inspiring people to eat well and enjoy food.

January 31st, Howard Lyman
A successful Montana cattle rancher for nearly four decades, Howard Lyman sold his farm in 1983. Lyman went on to become one of the most prominent activists in the animal rights and environmental movements, authoring 2 books, and travelling over 100,000 miles each year speaking.

About the host:
Tina Volpe is the author of the book The Fast Food Craze, Wreaking Havoc on Our Bodies and Our Animals, and coauthor of The Missing Peace, The Hidden Power of Our Kinship with Animals, scheduled release in Spring, 09. She is a health researcher, speaker, educator/consultant, television guest appearing all over the country, hosted the top rated radio show “Wake Up America” on GlobalTalk Radio, now with Voice America Radio, and published columnist. Tina is now affiliated with PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) as a “Heart Health” speaker, and SPEAK (Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom), as a “Humane Educator:”. She lives on a ranch in Northern Arizona, supported by her family, and 21 unique animal friends.

Livestock Producers Advised to Connect with Consumers on Emotional Level

Source:Farmscape for February 5, 2009 (Episode 3095)

A Washington based communications strategist is encouraging livestock producers to harness some of the same strategies used by animal rights activists to get their message out.

Production agriculture has increasingly become the target of animals rights activists who have been extremely successful in bringing about legislative restrictions on livestock producers. Continue reading

Agriculture’s Ride with the Media

Source: Michele Payn-Knoper blog
Posted: 15 Oct 2008 11:59 AM CDT

What a week it’s been for the agrifood business to go on a wile ride with the national popular press. The ride started with Sunday’s edition (October 12) of Food Fights, the New York Times Magazine, with a reported circulation of 1.7 million. Continue reading