Emotion Drives Policy – Producers Pay the Price

I was at my brother’s house in Oklahoma.  The kids were watching a program on Animal Planet showing Society-for-the-Protection-of-Animals-type people intervening in a “situation.”

Images of an emaciated goat and the skull of a dead one swirled with emotive music and heart-tugging language.  By the time we saw the owner of the goats handcuffed and being stuffed into the back of a police car, I was the only one in the room not applauding the actions of the interventionists.

“Why don’t they go and buy those animals rather than bursting onto a man’s property and making a show of it!  They should just leave producers alone!” I exclaimed, concerned in the extreme.

My brother surprised me completely.  Angrily, he retorted, “That’s just not right!  Nobody should treat their animals like that.”

My brother is a good man.  He is also a hard-working cattle man.

Sometimes my brother’s cattle get sick and skinny.  Sometimes they die in the pasture.

He uses a horse almost every day.  On the odd occasion, he has used corporal punishment on an obstinate equine-in-training.

He has cow dogs — some running loose, some penned up.  One of them is an older bitch who is nothing but skin and bones.  (I’ve also witnessed some dog training involving corporal punishment.)

I countered my kind brother with a variety of arguments:

  • If those people have the right to do something in that man’s situation, what’s keeping them from coming onto your property?
  • Animals are private property.  If a person or group does not like the way animals are being treated, they should go to the owner and either buy the animal(s) or offer to help with feed/medical treatment.
  • Non-productive people administering the law do not understand (or intentionally ignore) the difference between cruelty and simply what it takes to produce, or that sometimes, when we are busy producing, “stuff happens.”
  • This reminds me of those border patrol or police shows in which “criminals” are presumed guilty and the audience applauds, thinking it can never happen to them.

Not until I gave my brother a real-life and close-to-home example of people just like him being prosecuted did he concede that I had a point.

Leading animal rights activists do not care about animal welfare.  Their goal is stopping the use of animals altogether.  They want an end to animal agriculture.

But they have the upper hand.  Animal rights activists understand how to use producers’ own goodness and the fact that we truly DO care about our animals against us.

We agree to laws being written and enforced.  In many cases, we (unwittingly) write the law ourselves through accreditation programs, codes of practice and guidelines.  Then it’s an easy step for that to become the baseline for legislation and regulation.

The “caring” woman in the show said that her goal was to put herself out of a job.
Producers of eggs, milk, meat and other animal agriculture products must understandHer goal will only be reached when activists succeed in stopping animals being used for any purpose.

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I love ag.  But most people who also love agriculture set themselves (and every other industry player) up for ultimate loss to the anti-production brigade.  By good-heartedly abandoning a hard-line position on private property rights (thereby demonstrating his “reasonableness”), the average producer paves the way for his arch enemies to eviscerate him.

A neighbor had paid to put a flock of sheep out on our land. The ewes were not supposed to be bred. This lamb — not even meant to be born! — had fallen into a water line trench no more than 3 feet long. We found him by accident, only because the kids and I happened to be walking within earshot of his bleating. Later that same day, we found a full-sized ewe caught by her flank as she had attempted to jump over a brace at a corner post. In both cases, the animals would likely have died within a day or two. In both cases, we could have been charged with (at least) animal neglect, should an animal activist have discovered the mishaps before we did.

Tyson Foods Announces A Win For Wayne Pacelle

News on 2 October 2012 of Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), announcing his candidacy for a seat on the board of Tyson Foods launched ripples throughout animal agriculture.

In a letter dated 10 October, Tyson seemingly responded with the resounding statement that (I paraphrase), “It does not matter if Wayne Pacelle is on our Board of Directors…he is dominating our policy anyway.”

The letter was apparently sent to any farmers and ranchers (hog, chicken, and/or cattle) who had supplied Tyson in the past.

Here is a copy of the letter:

Donnie Smith, President and CEO concluded the letter with:

“We hope you agree that such steps are important to the goal all of us share in the livestock and meat business:  providing customers and consumers with the absolute best and highest quality protein products.”

Well, Mr. Smith, I can tell you that we wholly agree on the goal.

But we vehemently disagree that your arrogant, ignorant, money- and time-wasting audit program will in any way aid us in that goal.  In fact, because this audit program is about developing a façade in a vain attempt to appease Wayne Pacelle and other animal rights activists, it will only serve to detract from the agreed-upon goal.

FarmCheck Responsible Sourcing will be all cost and zero benefit to anyone except the activists whose goal is to eradicate the use of animals.

Extortion Free Farming

In light of developments over the last two years, and specifically spurred on by our enemies’ win in the New Mexico Horse Slaughter story and ratcheted-up kow-towing by industry to companies like McDonald’s and Nestle, I feel compelled to publish this piece that I wrote in October 2012 but never made public.

Production People, if we do not all stand together and say “ENOUGH,” our kids and grandkids will not be able to produce, and therefore many, many people in this world will starve. Let’s end the extortion with a simple “No!”

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Given the sheer magnitude of intensive confinement agriculture — in terms of the number of individual animals involved and in terms of the impact on animal welfare, human health, and the planet’s limited resources — the sense of urgency cannot be overstated. Whether one spends his or her days in a corporate boardroom in India, a government office in Russia, a university classroom in Brazil, or a farm in Canada, all who are involved in the global food industry, as producers or consumers, have an obligation to find remedies to the problems caused by the growth in intensive confinement animal agriculture around the world. It is time for a global commitment to reduce animal suffering and to mitigate the many unintended and undesirable consequences of raising animals for food. — Conclusion from “The Globalization of Animal Welfare” by Miyun Park and Peter Singer

 What does a “global commitment” look like?  (Hint:  The Singer Crowd is focussing on UN action.)

What, specifically are these “problems caused by the growth in intensive confinement animal agriculture around the world?”  (Hint:  The “problems” are largely invented.)

What, specifically, are the impacts on “animal welfare, human health and the planet’s limited resources?” (Hint:  Since factory-efficiency-type concepts have been applied to agriculture, net impacts upon animal welfare, human health and the planet’s limited resources have been wholly positive.)

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There are many questions that arise from this disturbing piece.  But fundamentally, the Singer Crowd’s offensive is in direct and utter opposition to the sanctity of private property. If we animal agriculturalists fight this in any way other than that, we will lose. There are two Macro Plans of attack by the Singer Crowd:

1) legislation/regulation and

2) pressure on consumers (mainly through pressure on large buyers of products, like Cargill, ADM, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, etc.).

The Singer Crowd has experienced staggering success in both. Regarding Macro Plan #1, they have acted through local, state, national and international (UN) governments. Interestingly, the UN’s Agenda 21 program connects the UN to local governments.  Not exactly the “circle of life” we all know and love.

In the “beef industry,” we have, at the top-most levels, decided that just being open and honest with everyone will solve all of our problems. We’re supposed to blog and read blogs and comment on NY Times articles online. In the mean time, Beef Products Inc. (BPI), who could not have been MORE open (they allowed Food Inc. full access, for goodness sake!), had to close down 3 of their 4 plants and lay off 650 people because of the stunning triumph of Macro Plan #2.

I have thought through these issues fairly intensely for several years now. No matter which way I attempt to tackle the subject, the only way I see to successfully fight is to have an alternative supply chain. We must have a supply chain that is committed to providing a good product at a reasonable price without being distracted by third-party accreditation programs, ticks of approval from WWF, official USDA grading, or patronage to environmental and animal rights groups.

When they attack “pink slime,” we sell pink slime burgers. When they attack gestation stalls, we announce that we buy gestation-stall raised pork. When they say that timber producers are evil and we must install hand dryers in bathrooms, we announce that additional paper towel dispensers will be added to all bathrooms in the supply chain.

We have been told (and all of our “industry” efforts are now based on the assumption) that “the consumer” wants to know where and how their food is produced. This is true for a tiny percentage of consumers (who will never eat at McDonald’s anyway!), but for the vast majority of consumers, it is patently false. They want a good product at a reasonable price. That’s all. They trust farmers and ranchers to give them what they want in the best possible way.

So long as we continue to cower and apologise and defend and pay protection money to “third party auditors,” we will continue to lose.  Big time.

We must stand up, be proud, go on the offensive and PRODUCE, PRODUCE, PRODUCE. In order to do this, we must be allowed to control what happens on and with our private property — including animals.

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I love agriculture.  I love independent thinkers.  I love private property and all the benefits that accrue under a system which respects and defends the divine rights of life, liberty and property.

Is My Homemade Chocolate Cake “Processed?”

OKAY, I made a chocolate cake from scratch this morning.  (Imagene Ellis’s recipe…best ever!)

Full Disclosure: This pic stolen from Internet! Photo of my product below.

In it, I put:
  • flour (processed)
  • sugar (processed)
  • butter (processed, with salt (yum))
  • oil (processed)
  • water (from the tap…but it did not get to my house naturally!)
  • cocoa (processed)
  • salt (processed)
  • vanilla extract (processed)
  • eggs (whole, unprocessed!)
  • baking soda (sodium hydrogen carbonate, for heaven’s sake!)
  • buttermilk (I combined vinegar (acetic acid, for heaven’s sake!) and milk (pasteurized))
Question of the day:  Is my cake evil or not?
It’s official. My cake from scratch is evil. So School Halloween Carnival gets store-bought. My kids get scratch. I think my kids get the better deal, though. Looks awful… tastes great!

Yeah, well, the cake is TASTY, at least!

Blaming the Victim… Better Yet, the Victim Apologizing!… for the Crime

Imagine a US Ambassador to Libya being brutally killed by raving mad lunatics claiming that they had seen a video made by an American in which The Prophet was insulted.

Now imagine the US State Department condemning the video, arresting the American man who made the video, and stating that there are limits to our right to free speech.

Does anyone truly believe that the crazies who committed this heinous crime will be less prone to kill other Americans because we curtail our freedom of speech?

Now imagine raving mad lunatics who hate animal agriculturalists with the same vigor.  They want to kill our livelihoods and decapitate everything that allows us to exist.  They equate animals with humans.  Their goal (most of the time unstated) is to stop animals being used for any purpose – meat, milk, eggs, clothing, beasts of burden, pets, research.  “A boy is a dog is a rat is a pig,” and all that.

Further imagine industry representatives essentially apologizing for our existence.  Desperately pandering to the terrorists, trying to convince them that we are good and caring.  Screaming in a vacuum about our efficiency and improved animal welfare and adherence to regulations and how nice we are.  Envisage our “industry” condemning a producer who is caught on undercover tapes, distancing themselves from and isolating that rancher or farmer.  This guy has paid his dues to the “industry,” and yet, when the heat is on, that “industry” is condemning him rather than vehemently defending him.

Does anyone truly believe that the crazies who equate rats with boys will be less intent upon destroying animal agriculture?

In the name of the “common good” or “society” or “industry,” fundamental freedoms are being eroded.  Our ability to produce in future depends upon a fierce and unapologetic defense of our natural rights of life, liberty and property.  Nowhere is this more important or more obviously so than in agriculture.

We can say that in the case of the Libyan ambassador above, freedom of speech is at the core.

I may disapprove of what you say.  But I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. – Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her biography of Voltaire

In the case of environmental and animal welfare legislation and regulation, private property is at the core.

I may not agree with what you do on or with your private property.  But I will defend to the death your right to do it.  – iloveag

If animals are not private property, then what are they?  We – the productive members of society – must be very clear on this fundamental point.  Without sanctity of private property, our society will crumble.  If we concede – even a tiny bit – that someone else has the right to tell us what we can and cannot do on or with our private property, we open a tiny hole that will one day lead to a huge dam breaking.

I just hope it’s not too late.

An Open Letter to Cargill

The following letter was sent to Cargill in February of this year.  It should be a template used often and widely by agriculturalists and consumers interested in having real options (i.e., variety in underlying production methods and the ensuing price differentials) in their food purchases.

Cargill

Attn:  Gregory R. Page and Board Members

PO Box 9300
Minneapolis, MN
55440-9300
27 February 2012

Dear Mr. Page and Cargill Board:

I love Cargill!  You guys are doing a great job of producing in a safe, efficient way.  Consumers want your products and farmers appreciate you being in the market.

I’m writing to encourage you to not attempt to pacify the activist “dark green” groups who are opposed to productive agriculture, modern technological advances, and the use of animals.  Attempting to appease these extremists will lead only to more paperwork and decreased productivity, resulting in higher costs.

Despite your participation in things like WWF’s Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Production or your conveyance of property for environmental renaissance in the San Francisco Bay area, I read this morning about Rainforest Action Network’s call to “Occupy our Food Supply” in which Cargill is specifically targeted.

This tactic is common among Greenpeace- and HSUS-type organisations.  They ask all of their “viral community” to contact the CEO and/or board of a large business.  While that CEO hears, then, from seemingly many “consumers,” they do not hear from the millions of consumers who are truly happy to have the inexpensive, high-quality food that Cargill helps to provide.  They do not hear from the many ag producers who are thrilled that Cargill is one of their customers.

The extremists who are opposed to large corporations will never be satisfied.  Nothing you do to appease them will work.

Farmers and ranchers have steadily improved environmental and animal welfare standards over time.  This is because profitability and care for the environment and animals are directly – not inversely – related.

TempleGrandin became successful because feedyards and packing plants voluntarily hired her to help with animal behaviour and design of handling facilities.  They hired her because efficiency gained when implementing her ideas more than offset the cost of hiring her.  In other words, profitability improved when animal welfare improved.

Please concentrate on purchasing the best quality produce at the best price.  Trust producers to continue to maximise care for their land, animals, and resources.  Trust consumers to judge you based on your products and not your propaganda.  Trust that the “green” extortionists cannot be trusted.

Do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss or if I can help you in any way.  Thank you for your existence and your commitment to excellence.

Sincerely,

iloveag