Thanks for visiting, but please come on over to http://causematters.com.  My “Gate to Plage” blog was incorporated into a new website in July 2010 and these pages will no longer be updated. The new site has all of the resources you see here, plus a even more connections for farm, food and social media.

Resources, examples and ideas to help you more effectively communicate why agriculture matters. Check back often for updates.

Dairy farmers React to Ohio Farm Worker in Cruelty Case
Video

Biotech Crops Good for Farmers and the Environment, Says National Academy of Sciences
Yesterday, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences released a comprehensive report analyzing the effect on biotech crops on farmers and the environment.

About “Food, Inc…”
“Food, Inc.” is a documentary that aims to change the way America eats and the way American food is produced. According to the film’s makers, large is bad and small is good. Foods shipped from a distance are to be shunned while foods from local farmers should be embraced. However, their vision—and the one they hope to impart to America—is based upon incomplete information and a failure to either comprehend or admit the impact that their vision would have.

Refreshing ag view — L.A. Times?
When farmers and agribusiness leaders seethe over newspaper reporting of agriculture, I get a bit defensive. I want to defend my profession. I spent my journalism career years as a newspaper reporter in Texas and Arizona. I had wanted to be a journalist likely from the first time I picked up a newspaper and found ink smeared on my fingers after reading through it. I was actually a newspaper carrier through high school and still laugh when I recall the dozens of times my district manager would find me sitting on a bundle of fresh Dallas Morning News editions at 5 a.m., reading the paper. “Throw the papers, Harry, and then read it!” All I have ever wanted to do is be a journalist because it seemed the most exciting profession in the world. To me it still is.

Pork Industry Coalition Letter to CBS News President
After the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric ran a piece on antibiotics in livestock, several agricultural groups, including the National Pork Board, submitted a letter to the president of CBS News regarding the inaccuracies.

Nationwide, farmers and ranchers are using social media sites such as Twitter to educate the public, learn from others.
Minneapolis farmer Tom Tibbets is telling his agriculture story in real time. No, he’s not on a reality show or on the television news. Instead, you’ll find him in the seat of a tractor with a smart phone, conversing with fellow agrarians and food consumers from around the globe. Sometimes he talks about the weather. Sometimes he takes pictures of the work he is doing. Most importantly, he said, he hopes people will understand the effort it takes for him and his peers to produce America’s dinner.

Humane Society Pushes Secretly Radical Agenda
I’ll say one thing for the Humane Society of the United States: These guys are everywhere. You can’t turn on Fox News without seeing their ads with the adorable cats and dogs locked in cages at animal shelters, their sad eyes pleading for your $19 per month. It’s a compelling pitch—puppies are popular—but this “Humane Society” is five times more likely to fund an executive’s retirement fund than a hands-on pet shelter.

Understanding Olivia…and Those Who Make a Living Bashing Farmers
The e-mail seemed simple enough: A junior in high school named “Olivia” had found my name via the Internet and wondered if I would answer a few questions about farm policy. She planned to write a paper about former Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz for her history class and had read a column that I wrote on Butz a couple of years ago.

Former USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Provides Antibiotic & MRSA Facts
The following facts provide the best available knowledge and information regarding the use of antibiotics in livestock and how they may affect the health of animals, people and food safety.

Egg Farming is a Tough Job with Mike Rowe
Great video featuring Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe talking about the work behind omelets – a great positive piece on a look at modern agriculture and where your food comes from.

The Myth of the Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of the United States is not a large network of animal shelters, as it would have you to believe. In fact, the HSUS does not own, operate, or lease a single animal shelter in our country. Instead, it is primarily a special interest lobby that is clever and shrewd enough to capitalize on the good name of local “humane societies” which actually do the good work of taking in strays and finding suitable adoptive homes for unwanted pets.

Agriculture is Under Attack
Last November, Martha Stewart taught her viewers how to prepare a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner after stating that animals on farms are “tortured.” Jonathan Safran Foer’s meat-bashing book Eating Animals has put him on the best-sellers list and in the media spotlight. Animal activists continue to release horrific videos depicting alleged mistreatment of animals at processing plants and farms.

Feeding Another 100 Million Americans Takes All of Agriculture
Agriculture is a multi-faceted lifestyle and industry, with players ranging from the multi-national agribusiness to the subsistence farmer feeding his family off the sweat of his back. Traditionally, agriculture has increasingly adopted technology and advances in plant breeding and genetic engineering to feed an exponentially growing population. In recent months and years, however, a small but vocal group of consumers known as “agri-intellectuals,” or “food elitists” have waged a campaign against farms outside their own narrow set of ideals about how food is produced.

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You Can be a Powerful Force for Agriculture
As the publisher of AZ Rural Times I’m all over the internet – Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed and many other networks. I do this because it’s important to get the AZ Rural Times read by as many people as possible – no other publication covers rural Arizona in the same way! It was no surprise to me to encounter several places where you can learn about social media for agriculture, if you’re new to this idea, or expand your network if you’re familiar with social networking.

Organic Farmers Must Embrace GM Crops if We are to Feed the World, says Scientist
The organic movement should overcome its hostility to genetically modified crops and embrace the contribution that they can make to sustainable farming, one of the world’s leading agricultural scientists has told The Times.

GM Wheat Means Hope for Celiac Sufferers
Genetically modified foods are becoming more popular in the news as they become more prevalent in our society.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has defined GM foods or GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) as crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques.  These plants are modified in a laboratory to add nutritional value and/or enhance their most desired traits.

USDA Lists PETA As A Terrorist Group
If you know anything about PETA, you know that controversy surrounds the organization. PETA is the best known and perhaps the most extreme animal rights group in the world. The controversy surrounding them runs the gamut from uproar over racy nude photos used to promote vegetarianism and anti-fur campaigns to their ADs banned from television airwaves to the organization’s use of in-your-face protest tactics.

Fall Harvest
For those who’ve never been on a farm or those who have fond farm memories, here’s a three-minute peek into fall harvest.  I hope you enjoy it.

Operation Dairy – Dairy Education Game from the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association
Dairy cows get a lot of care down on the farm. Can you find all the clues to why they make such great milk? Put on your detective hat and get ready to explore!

Demystifying the Environmental Sustainability of Food Production
Meat, eggs, and dairy products play significant roles in supplying high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids as part of a nutritionally balanced diet (Huth et al., 2006; USDA, 2005). According to FAO data for 2007,  the U.S. is the leading producer of cow’s milk, beef, chicken and poultry and second for pork, eggs and game meat worldwide (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2009). This is primarily achieved through the adoption of highly efficient agricultural practices that allow for considerable improvements in productivity (Capper et al., 2009).

A Day in the Life of a Dairy Farmer
In the first episode of our regular series looking at the lives of farmers all over the world, we visit a dairy farm in Kentucky in the United States of America to see what a typical day is like for a family growing up and working on a dairy farm.

Facebook Draws a Growing Crop of Farmers
With a hand-held video camera, a computer and 800 cows, Barbara Martin of Lemoore is letting the world into her life as a dairy operator. No, it’s not a new reality television show. And Martin isn’t craving her 15 minutes of fame. But she is joining a growing number of farmers and others in agriculture who are using social media tools to communicate with each other, send out information and educate the public about agriculture.

Humane Society of United States doesn’t Care about Animals the Way Farmers Do
PETA AND HSUS (Humane Society of United States, which is not affiliated in any way with the local humane society). These two words need to concern you if you live in Ohio and you eat. These are two separate groups of people who have their sights set on Ohio. They are well-financed and determined. They have done their homework and know that Ohio is one state that they can likely win. They know agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state. They also know a hand full of people (farmers) feed the masses of population. They know the vast majority of the people never heard of Issue 2. They know and are counting on complacency, apathy and ignorance of the general public to enable them to ram these laws into place.

Got Dairy Farm? Reality Check Response to PETA Video

From the looks of this farm, they probably milk a few hundred (maybe even a thousand+) cows. For every cow that is producing milk there are at least 3 to 4 animals behind her in different stages of growth and development to take her spot after she stops producing around 5-6 years of age. So if they are milking say 300 dairy cows, they have another 1200 animals in different stages of growth. This operation looks to milk more than that. When you have animals – things happen.

PETA Becomes a Corporate Animal
Americans know the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for its wild publicity stunts in the name of protecting cows, chickens, and other eatables. But a closer look at media-savvy PETA shows it also has become a corporate animal. Its websites are full of invitations to corporate America to form partnerships, and in the process, cut PETA in on some of the profits. How else has the Washington-based group grown to a $34 million budget and displayed help-wanted ads for more employees in the time of a deep recession?

Blogging on the Rang: Farmers Link to Consumers via Social Media
Whether he’s strolling through the corral, doing payroll at his desk or checking on a newborn calf, Stanislaus County dairy farmer Ray Prock likes to stop by what he calls his “virtual watercooler” to chat about his favorite topic: agriculture. He does this by logging on to his Twitter account, a social networking Web site that allows users to exchange quick, frequent messages known as tweets. By firing up his computer or turning on his smartphone, Prock can get a glimpse of what people in the global community are saying—and talk back to them.

A New Way to Tell Your Story with Dairy Herd Management
Have you tweeted, posted something to YouTube, or updated your Facebook status lately? These terms are not teen and tween gibberish. These applications, each a form of social media, are having a profound impact on your dairy business, even if you don’t know it yet. Much like a megaphone, social media applications let users broadcast a message to thousands of people in an instant. You can upload a photo, send video footage and tell your friends what you’re doing or share thoughts on a subject instantaneously. It’s much faster than sending an e-mail or making a phone call. And, it allows you to connect with people you might not communicate with regularly.

Blogging on the range: Farmers link to consumers via social media
Whether he’s strolling through the corral, doing payroll at his desk or checking on a newborn calf, Stanislaus County dairy farmer Ray Prock likes to stop by what he calls his “virtual watercooler” to chat about his favorite topic: agriculture.

John Vrieze gives firsthand viewpoint of progress on his 102 year-old dairy farm and how they have advanced in their care of animals, land and the food they raise – even hassome humor added.

Dairy Farmer
Bill Rowekamp is a dairy farmer in South Eastern Minnesota. His family farm, built by his grandpa in 1914, milks 275 cows daily to produce about 25,000 pounds of milk – that’s 95 pounds per cow per day. Rowekamp’s milk is distributed in bottles throughout the country and used in Kemps products like cheese, ice cream, yogurt and sour cream. Rowekamp has been farming all his life.

NY Times Op-Ed “Food for the Soul”
The Op-Ed piece titled “Food for the Soul” (Aug. 22) misrepresents agriculture today.  I am a 5th generation family farmer and I have first-hand, present-day knowledge of how a farm works.  I farm because I love what I do, I love caring for my livestock, my land and providing safe food for my family, and your family.

A Food Elitist Strikes Back

Animal Testing: A View from the Labs
Why do we test drugs on animals, anyway? This question showed up in the comments section from a lay reader. It’s definitely a fair thing to ask, and you’d expect that we in the business would have a good answer. So here it is: because for all we know about biochemistry, about physiology and about biology in general, living systems are still far too complex for us to model.

American Farm Bureau Federation’s Response to Aug. 09 Time, Inc. Cover
AFBF President Stallman points to the lack of balanced journalism and objective reporting in response to Time’s attack on modern food production  systems in their August 2009 cover story “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food.

Our View: Pollan Drift
The prolific and talented author and contributor to The New York Times, Michael Pollan, is at the center of a self-initiated movement to redo our nation’s food system. The movement is built on a platform of opposing biotechnology and conventional agriculture – especially animal ag – while promoting the slow food movement, local production and organics. He is a frequent critic of corn production and puts it at the epicenter of his axis of food evil.

Bovine Veterinarian: Industry News
The American Veterinary Medical Association this week released to Congress a scientific response that disputes several of the findings and recommendations made in a report released last year by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.

Exclusive: PETA’s Pet Killing Program Set a New Record in 2008
Animal lovers worldwide now have access to more than a decade’s worth of proof that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) kills thousands of defenseless pets at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. Since 1998, PETA has opted to “put down” 21,339 adoptable dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens instead of finding homes for them.

Animal Ag Alliance call Food Inc. Misleading
The following is a statement from the Animal Agriculture Alliance about the movie Food Inc.
Thanks to modern technology and research advances, one farmer today is able to produce enough food to feed 144 people, almost 100 more than just 50 years ago. This fact is important because of the 300 million people living in the U.S., less than two million – or less than 2% – are directly involved in raising animals and crops to feed our entire nation.

New Effort Under Way to Educate Consumers
A new effort is under way to help inform consumers about the nutritional and economical value of dairy.

Animal Right, Animal Welfare: Which Is It?
hroughout the first half of the 20th Century, animal owners improved standards of care for their livestock, lab animals, and pets, tossing out harsh, ineffective, and inefficient methods and embracing a kinder, gentler stewardship of animals. Some people talked about the “rights” of animals to food, water, shelter, and care, but the emphasis was on improving the lives of animals utilized by people, not on eliminating human use altogether.

How Well do You Know Your Milk?
The controversy over hormones in the food supply has been going on for years. Much of the controversy surrounds cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), sometimes called (rBGH). Advocacy groups say rBST harms cows and potentially humans. But many health professionals say there is not enough research on the topic. There are also misconceptions surrounding the issue, some say.

Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights: Understanding the Difference
In the world of animal advocacy, it sometime can be difficult to keep an accurate scorecard between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights groups. One of the keys to telling the difference: if someone says there is no difference, they are on the animal rights side of the debate. As a responsible pet owner, it is critical to recognize the difference and support Animal Welfare organizations.

Hard Times on the Farm
Our dairy farmers are in trouble. Every time they milk a cow, they are losing money. It is not just a New Hampshire problem; it is a nationwide demise of the dairy industry.

As Food Inc’s Aggressive Campaign Reflects, Organic and Animal Advocates Often Dominate Food Debate
Skewed visibility and influence leave big brands facing credibility, reputation challenges online. New research by v-Fluence shows most content consumers see when they search online for information about food production comes from advocacy groups, not producers or brands. Result? Debate is slanted, and key questions go unasked.

Twittering from Tractor: Smartphones Sprout on the Farm
As he rolls across the wheat fields of his Nebraska farm, Steve Tucker often has his hands not on the wheel of his tractor, but on a smartphone. He sometimes posts a dozen messages per day on Twitter, commenting on everything from the weather to the state of his crops to his son’s first tractor ride and even last night’s cheeseburger.

‘Organic’ Label Doesn’t Guarantee Quality or Taste
I don’t believe in organic. There, I’ve said it and I feel better. It’s something that’s been on my mind for years. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve got nothing against organic farmers. In fact, some of my favorite farmers are organic. I really admire them: Growing delicious food and doing it according to organic standards is adding a degree of difficulty that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Tips for Media from the Media
A new channel on YouTube is dedicated to tips for reporters; it can be a great tool for agriculture to learn from the other side of the media desk to help increase your comfort level in being interviewed.

Grumpy Glutton: True or False: 5,000 People Die Annually in the U.S. from Foodborne Illness
Perhaps even more often than the 1,500 food-mile canard, the claim that 5,000 people in the U.S. die each year from foodborne illnesses has been repeated again and again by the food activist community. The CDC says it. The WHO says it. Wikipedia says it. FOOD, INC. says it. The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention says it. S.T.O.P. says it. PBS says it. Daily Kos says it. (Foreshadowing what’s to come: This post is one of the very few times I’ve agreed with something written on Daily Kos.) The Produce Safety Project says it. Resources For the Future says it. Consumers Union says it. And I’m only on the second Google SERP.

Freedom from Famine: The Norman Borlaug Story

Ohio Dairy Farmers
Hear firsthand from America’s dairy farm families in Ohio about their work to provide you with wholesome dairy products while doing the right thing for their animals. Great example of ag producers telling their story effectively.

Local Humane
The point of this site is not to pass judgment on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), or any humane society for that matter. Rather, the intent behind this site is to clarify a few common misconceptions held by the public at large about HSUS and its relation to local humane societies.

Ag Industry Reacts to New Contentious Documentary
When two best-selling authors turned Hollywood filmmakers Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan released a controversial new documentary titled Food, Inc., the agriculture industry quickly reacted to the film’s accusations of the U.S. food supply.

HSUS Kills Chicken Business in California
Scientific studies show that it would cost well over $500 million (a conservative estimate) to convert to PRE-Prop 2 standards for organic or cage-free standards – which would be a suicidal business move to satisfy the 5% of consumers who buy cage-free eggs.

A Not-So-Glowing Report for HSUS
The Humane Society of the United States likes it when the public ties the group to local Humane Society animal shelters. The implication is if you give money to the HSUS, some of that moeny trickles down to local Humane Societies too, and everone feels good about helping homeless and abused cats and dogs.

To Cage or Not to Cage Chickens: Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, Sunrise Acres Egg Farm Weigh In
A good portion of the four million eggs produced daily at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch end up in Egg McMuffins, Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles or some other McDonald’s menu item. So company President Stephen Herbruck took notice when McDonalds USA announced it would partner with animal welfare scientists, egg suppliers and universities in an expansive study of housing alternatives for egg-laying chickens — including cage-free housing.

Education, Not Regulation Key to Improving Animal Welfare
Education, not regulation, and changing attitudes, not facilities, are the keys to improving animal well-being on the farm.

Food Inc.
When I go to the doctor, I don’t ask to be treated with methods from 1912 because I know science and technology have improved medical practices throughout the years. The same is true today with agriculture. Thanks to technology, farmers and ranchers are better ablet o produce safe and abundant food for our growing nation. This week there is a movie being released in cities across the United States that misrepresents how farmers and ranchers produce food in this country.

Egg Producer Battles Cage-Free Hen Myths
During a time when the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) boasts a $121 million budget to put an end to animal agriculture, poultry producer Anthony Rust, of Rose Acre Farms is doing everything in his power to debunk myths about the industry and the animals he loves.

Earth population ‘exceeds limits’
There are already too many people living on Planet Earth, according to one of most influential science advisors in the US government. Nina Fedoroff told the BBC One Planet programme that humans had exceeded the Earth’s “limits of sustainability”.

Influence: Connecting with People
Leaders are like locomotives in that they’re blessed with drive, energy, and vision. However, until leaders learn the art of connection, their influence remains minimal. In isolation, their talents accomplish little, and their efforts are squandered.

Study finds modern dairies green, sustainable
Contrary to the negative image often associated with large farm operations, the U.S. population’s requirements for dairy products is best fulfilled and most sustainable through the application of modern agricultural techniques, a just-released study has shown.

Animal Technologies have Consumers in Mind
As society’s focus on agriculture sharpens, the sector needs to find new approaches to satisfy consumers’ demands for accountability and affordability.

WSB-TV Aftermath: The Knives Are Out At HSUS
It has been an interesting weekend since the May 14th release of the WSB-TV investigation of the Humane Society of the United States’ fundraising practices and the use of those funds.  The reaction of the Humane Society of the United States executive team and employees has been dramatic, if not over the top.

Agriculture proving its worth in today’s economy
There’s a lot of worrying and hand-wringing going on in Ontario these days about the economic mess we now find ourselves in — and just as much hand-wringing and worrying about how we’re going to pull ourselves back out.

Twitter sensation hits local farms
It is a social networking site on the internet that is getting pretty popular. It is called Twitter. You use it to update people on what you are doing or to follow others. Celebrities use it, News 5 uses it, even the president.


Safety of hogs is top priority
I just read “Don’t support factory farm-raised animals” and as a hog farmer, I feel compelled to share the truth about modern hog farms. First and foremost, H1N1 is not found in hogs in the United States. H1N1 is being spread from human-to-human contact, not from pork. Pork is SAFE to eat.

Bill stirs battle – over dogs, or meat?
Humane Society says effort is to protect puppies, but meat industry fears push to change eating habits.

Farm Tour Keeps County’s Rural Heritage Alive
While growing up in North Carolina, I dreamed of leaving the state, living a cosmopolitan life, and marrying someone without a Southern accent, thank you very much! But life is full of surprises.

American Agri-Women Promotes Animal Welfare
American Agri-Women (AAW) is asking that all in agriculture speak up for animal welfare and assure the public that we take the care of our animals seriously.

Animal Activists Capitalize on Swine Flu Hysteria
“Rule one,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told The New York Times last November, is “never allow a crisis to go to waste.” But despite some accusations of fear-mongering, the White House clearly seems to understand that not every crisis should be exploited. In response to the growing panic over a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) discovered last week in Mexico, President Obama assured Americans today that the H1N1 virus is ”not a cause for alarm.” Sadly, not everyone is following the Commander-in-Chief’s lead. For animal rights activists at the Humane Society of the United States, the opportunity to use “swine flu” to scare American meat-eaters was apparently too tempting to resist.

HSUS Challenges American Agriculture
The President of the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, spoke to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting this evening. I would characterize his comments as a challenge to everyone involved in agriculture and especially animal agriculture. On the one hand he suggested that we should join with them on areas of common agreement but then on the other hand he made it very clear that the world is changing and farmers have to accept it that things are different. Kind of like saying that we have no choice but to succumb to their agenda so why not make it easy.

Fund-raising on “factory farming”, siphoning cash away from real animal issues
By now everyone in the U.S. who cares about animals, wild and domesticated, is aware of the animal rights movement and its 300-pound vegan gorilla, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). While animal abuse is already illegal in all 50 states, HSUS’s President/CEO Wayne Pacelle addressed a group of farmers and praised them, stating “Farmers are outstanding Americans and they know how to do their job.” He then enlightened them on how HSUS will allocate resources in its latest campaign, a crusade against cowboys, chicken farmers and modern-day animal agriculture which HSUS derisively calls “Factory Farming.”

Organic Ag’s ability to Feed the World Oversold
The director of the Crop Protection Research Institute says the growing view that the potential for organic agriculture to feed the world is an idea that is being oversold. “With current yields for organic agriculture and the current demand for labor in organic agriculture it’s totally impractical as a solution for feeding the world,” says CPRI director Leonard Gianessi.

HSUS – Their Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds
My heroine Jeane Kirkpatrick (first female U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) once stated, “The defense of freedom begins at home, and the price of freedom is vigilance and courage.”

Man, was she right. For the past four years, most of my life has been devoted to honoring those words, fighting to defend the freedoms of Americans against the “animal rights” (AR) movement.

Findings of Red Meat Study Called into Question
A study conducted by the National Cancer Institute claims that there is a link between red meat consumption and death. The 10 year study of more than half-a-million middle-aged and elderly Americans found a 30% higher death rate from daily consumption of beef, pork and processed meats. The American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Board and USDA were quick to call into question the results of the study.

Join Others in Agriculture Online for a Live Conversation, Tuesday nights, 8-10 p.m. EDT, on Twitter
Glad to see last night’s #agchat was in top 10 Twitter trends. One idea proliferated by community; a great opportunity to tell #ag story.

Our Farmers Deserve Praise
Every day, I travel the gravel roads in rural communities throughout northern Iowa and the Midwest and see firsthand the hard work, pride and dedication farm families devote to providing the food and fiber consumers demand and expect. The people putting food on our table and clothes on our bodies deserve praise, not condemnation.

Biotech Raises Standard of Living
IN agricultural-based and transforming developing countries, biotech crops are an engine of rural economic growth that, in turn, can contribute substantially to national economic growth.

PCRM A Scam
Letter of the day: Their issue isn’t the calories; it’s the meat in the mega burger.

Food Facts
US farmers and ranchers are dedicated to supplying the safety, highest quality and affordable source of protein in the world. That is meat, milk, and eggs produced in the most efficient way while taking care to assure proper animal well-being and environmental sustainability.

6 Steps to Champion Agriculture
Practical action plan to connect agriculture with those who don’t understand where their food comes from.

The Difference Between Animal Rightists and Farm-Grown People
Yes, it’s winter and the chance of running into a groundhog this time of year is slim, but I recently saw a printed item somewhere that caught my eye because it concerned woodchucks and how they can be the bane of gardeners everywhere. That was followed by advice on how to keep the furry critters away from the turnips, carrots and other goodies.

Dairy Farmers Launch Positive Message Campaign
The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, a non-profit organization, is launching a statewide educational campaign to address misconceptions and promote positive messages about dairy farming.

ILLINOIS PORK PRODUCER WINS MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL CASE
Feb. 6, 2009
Source: Kilpatrick Stockton news release
Overview of the case:
Kilpatrick Stockton client Bible Pork, Inc., a leading pork producer in Illinois, was sued in Illinois Circuit Court by 21 nearby residents — many of whom had operated their own livestock operations, claiming that Bible Pork’s newest facility (a “breed-to-wean” facility) was a public and private nuisance.

EPA says it’s not proposing a cow tax
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, released in July 2008, included a measure that has been described as a cow tax by some, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Subsequently, the EPA released a statement saying that it ‘‘is not proposing a cow tax.”
When U.S. Senator Charles Schumer came out against the idea of a cow tax in December, he explained that though there was no formal proposal, his opposition was an attempt to squash the idea in its infancy.

In Praise of Pesticides
Who likes pesticides? Misunderstood by consumers and misrepresented by pressure groups, pesticides are a soft target for legislators. The latest blow to that soft target could have hard consequences for the European food industry and for developing countries.

Inside a Successful Social Media Campaign
Edelman’s Digital Public Affairs team in DC has authored an awesome white paper that takes you inside the Obama campaign success through social media. The white paper imparts several lessons agriculture can learn from: start early, build to scale, innovate where necessary, pick where you want to play, and more. Download of PDF is available.

Consumers Attitudes toward Biotechnology
The 2008 Food Biotechnology: A Study of US Consumer Trends Survey, commissioned by the International Food Information Council is the 13th annual nationally representative survey designed to gain insights into consumer perspectives on food biotechnology. This research provides the opportunity to track public awareness and perceptions of plant and animal biotechnology, determine confidence in the U.S. food supply and understand attitudes about food labeling, determine consumer opinions regarding potential benefits associated with biotechnology, and uncover emerging opinions on sustainable food production.

The Whole Story
Great example of how to share information about the faces behind food plates and facts of the agrifood business.

Finding Agriculture in Everyday Life
By Gary Truitt
The blockbuster movie of 2008 was the Disney/Pixar production Wall-E. This animated feature tells the story of two robots who fall in love and accidentally save mankind. The film starts out with a strong environmental message about how mankind has poisoned the earth with industry and technology. Things get so bad that everyone on the planet leaves. Wall-E is left behind to clean up the mess. Meanwhile mankind takes a cruise on a luxury space ship where all needs are met by robots and computers. The original plan was for mankind to return to earth when things were cleaned up. But the designers of the plan decide earth is not salvageable and put the ship on autopilot to circle the galaxy forever. After hundreds of years in space, mankind has become fat, lazy, and indifferent. Wall-E and Eve (his robotic love interest) help mankind rediscover their humanity and give them a reason to come back and clean up the earth. What reason could be so powerful that it could convince mankind to give up a life of luxury and return to earth? Farming!

Commissioners Form Voluntary Agricultural District
January 5, 2009
Sun Journal
A voluntary agricultural district was formed by the Craven County Board of Commissioners on Monday to help identify and protect county farms.

Vilification of Bovine Growth Hormone Udderly Unwarranted
rbST Has Been Unfairly Stigmatized by Activists
Milk occupies a special place in our lives and language. It has been dubbed “Nature’s most perfect food,” and we speak sentimentally of the “land of milk and honey” and the “milk of human kindness.” Dairy products represent important nutrient sources in much of the world, providing calcium and high-quality protein.

California Passes Prop 2
CALIFORNIA voters passed the ballot initiative on farm animal housing last week, with almost 66% of voters supporting the measure.
The initiative essentially will close down the commercial egg industry in California, affecting 95% of egg production in the state, and will leave California consumers dependent on eggs shipped in from other states and possibly from Canada and Mexico.

Meat Benefits Brain
Scientists at Oxford University in England have discovered that a meat-free diet may be bad for your brain. Researchers found that people who adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet are six times more likely to sustain brain shrinkage than meat eaters due to the former’s lack of Vitamin B-12, which is found in meat, fish and dairy products including cheese.

New Study Reveals Consumers Want Greater Say in Key Food Issues
San Francisco, Oct. 16, 2008 – Today’s consumers want to have a greater say about food ingredients, safety and quality, and by the year 2020, consumers around the globe expect the way they choose and shop for food to be different, according to a recent study of consumers in five countries.

Urban Wheat Field Brings Wheat, Education to NYC
October 10, 2008
NAWG President David Cleavinger and Director of Communications Melissa George Kessler joined others from the wheat industry at the Wheat Foods Council’s Urban Wheat Field Experience in New York City this week.

Surprise! Conventional Ag Can Be Easier on The Planet
The path to virtue, we all know, begins with organics. Meat, milk, fruit, veggies – organic products are good for our bodies and good for the planet. Except when they’re not good for the planet. Because while there may be sound health reasons to avoid eating pesticide-laden food, and perhaps personal arguments for favoring the organic-farmers’ collective, the truth is that when it comes to greenhouse gases, organics can be part of the problem.

The Flap About Food Prices
Americans have been lulled into complacency by affordable and abundant food supplies. Over the past 15 years, all U.S. food prices rose on average 2.5% annually. Now USDA forecasts retail prices will rise 4.5% to 5.5% in 2008, on top of 2007’s 4% jump. We’ll see the impact on meat prices soon.

Eating Veggies Shrinks the Brain
Scientists have discovered that going veggie could be bad for your brain-with those on a meat-free diet six times more likely to suffer brain shrinkage. Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause anemia and inflammation of the nervous system. Yeast extracts are one of the few vegetarian foods which provide good levels of the vitamin. The link was discovered by Oxford University scientists who used memory tests, physical checks and brain scans to examine 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87. When the volunteers were retested five years later the medics found those with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 were also the most likely to have brain shrinkage. It confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B12.

Peta, For All Your Hipocrisy Needs
By Jennifer Spragg
PETA has repeatedly attacked research foundations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, because they support animal-based research that might uncover cures for birth defects and …

New Animal Welfare Group Explores Partnerships at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Societal views of animals have evolved to a higher level of concern for animal well-being and humane treatment of all animals, including those in agriculture. The School of Veterinary Medicine has formed a new division, the International Animal Welfare Training Institute, to examine and address animal welfare issues in many species.

NEW STUDY SHOWS LITTLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONVENTIONAL, RBST-FREE AND ORGANIC MILK
Jul. 31, 2008
BrownfieldAgNews reports:
A new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association finds very little difference in conventional, rbST-free and organic milk.

MILLER: Udder Nonsense About Milk
The Washington Times, Henry Miller
Milk occupies a special place in our lives and language. It has been dubbed “Nature’s most perfect food,” and we speak sentimentally of the “land of milk and honey” and the “milk of human kindness.” Dairy products represent important nutrient sources in much of the world, containing calcium and high-quality protein.

Strong Growth Predicted for Agrifood Business
Demand for the ‘4 Fs’ (i.e. food, feed, fibre and fuel) is set to continue to increase worldwide. The combined effects of this increased demand are placing pressure on agriculture to operate more efficiently and this is in turn leading to a higher level of investment in the industry. This development is enhanced by the fact that transportation networks around the world are being improved and countries with extensive natural resources that were previously inaccessible are now accessible. This will further boost investment in agriculture and increase the value of inputs, particularly in South America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

Bovine Growth Hormone ‘Could Cut CO2 Emissions’
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
1 July 2008 – The use of bovine growth hormone to boost milk production could cut emissions of greenhouses gases substantially, according to a study that makes a strong environmental case for the controversial cattle injections.

Anti-Biotech Move is the New ‘Book Burning’
British Research with vandalized biotech potato trial tells BBC’s Farming Today programme: “I have great difficulty in seeing what the difference is between burning university books in 1933 and now trying to prevent new information finding its way into scientific journals to underpin policy development”

Meat Industry Not Immoral
Excellent opinion article by a college student in response to claims made by a vegetarian. “I am not insulting your way of living and I think it is a shame that instead of informing people on a healthy vegetarian diet, you instead attempt to insult and degrade those of us who choose to eat meat, and more specifically, those of use who work in the meat industry.”

How Pigs Saved Our Bacon
Newsweek article highlights the economic power of agriculture products – at home and overseas. “Jim Robbin’s 3,000-acre family farm in Peotone, Ill., may not seem like a vital cog in the global economy. And yet Robbins, a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer, exports 90 percent of his crops. Each year they either roll on trains to the Pacific Northwest or float on barges down the Illinois River, the first leg of their journey to Asia…”

More Milk. Fewer Cows. What’s The Problem?
Environmental activists have been congratulating themselves left and right over the news of Monsanto’s decision to sell off its production-boosting synthetic dairy hormone (recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST). But as a St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist pointed out today, the anti-technology crowd may have been a little too quick to break out the champagne.

Cage-free Egg Farms Peck Away at Consumer Reality
Great perspective from a non-farm consumer – and the power of producer’s voice – in this article on the contrast of efficient, clean egg laying as compared to free-range chickens with eggs rolling around in manure.

Explaining Rising Farm Costs
Most consumers do not realize that higher fuel and feed costs have a dramatic impact on dairy production. While empathizing with consumers about higher food costs, use the opportunity to explain how you and other dairy producers deal with higher input costs.

These messages will help you talk to the public about your increased costs and the continued health and economic value of consuming dairy products.

* Milk and other dairy products are naturally nutrient rich foods. Penny for penny, dairy offers one of the most nutritional values of any food – it’s a good source of nine essential nutrients per serving. That’s a powerful nutritional package delivered in a cost-efficient manner.
* The cost for all foods, beverages and other basic items is increasing – a trend that is not exclusive to dairy. A major factor in these cost increases is the dramatic increase in energy/fuel, distribution, transportation, feed, and other supply costs.
* Input costs to operate a dairy farm have risen. Gasoline, diesel fuel, feed, seed, and fertilizer costs are all much higher than last year. (Insert numbers demonstrating your increased costs.) Dairy producers, like consumers, understand the strain of dealing with increasing costs.

-Courtesy of Dairy Farmer Spokesperson Network

The Truth About Modern Pork Production
By the year 2030, world food production needs to increase by 50% to meet the demands of growing nations. That is only 22 years away! Many people today are at least three generations removed from agriculture and many do not understand agriculture practices. As a result, it is very important for farmers and ranchers to tell their story so consumers understand what we do and why we do it. “My family decided one way we could help tell people our story would be by creating a YouTube video about our farm. “

A look at the Changing Food Chain
Articles in this New York Times series examine growing demands on, and changes in, the world’s production of food.

Pigs Raised Without Antibiotics More Likely To Carry Bacteria, Parasites.
While consumers are increasing demand for pork produced without antibiotics, more of the pigs raised in such conditions carry bacteria and parasites associated with food-borne illnesses, according to a new study

Speculators Pushing up Food Prices, Questions UN
Speculators outside of the food industry pouring money into financial mechanisms in the commodity markets could be cause for concern, says the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Media Access Guide
Helpful resource for connecting with media to get your story told.

Are Environmentalists Elitists?
Learn more why Nobel Peace Prize Winner Norman Borlaug says that Western environmental activists are ‘elitists.’

Reconnecting Farmers and Retailers
We have experienced a great deal of misinformation regarding “farmers,” which can easily spark a sense of mistrust. Grocery retailers can bear the consequence of a confused consumer and a perplexed farming community…

Protect Your Farm from Unwanted Video Operations
The recent spate of undercover videos released by animal activist groups has put the spotlight on the degree to which these groups will go in order to infiltrate farming operations. While realizing that it is impossible to totally guard against these undercover techniques, a leading animal agriculture advocate has offered some recommendations for farmers.

“Vatican Set to Support Biotech”
Truth About Trade and Technology reported this week that the Vatican will release a report next month officially offering support for genetically modified food as an answer to world hunger.

Animal Care Key to Dairy Success
The Times and Democrat – Orangeburg,SC,USA
The health and happiness of their cows is more than a sound business investment for the nation’s dairy farmers. It’sa way of life. …

Be Prepared for Activist Infiltration
Capital Press (subscription) – Salem,OR,USA
For several years, the ranch had been a popular official tour stop for farmers who attended the World Ag Expo. Dairy producers from around the nation and internationally were often complimentary on how the business was run at the ranch. However, after the challenge in 2006, the ranch cancelled those tours.

Animal Welfare, Science and Bathwater
Both good science and a sound grasp of ethical and social concerns will be required if we are to successfully address strategies and tactics..

Not Just A Farmer Anymore
You sell yourself – and your farm – to the public every day, whether you realize it or not. And, the perception you create may affect how you farm in the future.

Amber Waves
USDA’s ERS publication on the economics of food, farming, natural resources and rural America.

Consumers’ Strange Views of Farmers’ Role
A recently released survey by The Center for Food Integrity shows an alarming number of U.S. consumers are oddly unaware of the role farmers play in providing food to the world. The findings may bolster those claiming agriculture must do a better job of getting its positive message to the masses.

“Putting a Face on Milk”
“These are a lot of city kids who don’t think about where their milk comes from,” teacher Denise Raap said. “Our milk just doesn’t magically appear at the store. This is important for them to see this.”

Pigs on YouTube
The National Pork Board recently released three new videos on YouTube to answer consumers’ questions about animal care, feeding, transport and more. The videos, which run approximately one to two minutes each, feature pork producers and industry experts answering consumer questions on animal care issues.

Food Shortage Rx
As the U.S. struggles with what the Associated Press is calling the “worst food inflation in 17 years” and reports of global food shortages are pouring in, new light is being shed on the politics of anti-meat, trans-fat free, and “all natural” activism. While food cops fight to take away our cupcakes and green groups try desperately to convince people that less efficient agriculture is the way to go, the voices of reason are focusing on the big picture.

“Cow Power” on Today Show
Methane digesters were featured on NBC’s Today Show last week, as part of Earth Week coverage. Reporters visited Joseph Gallo Farms in Atwater, Calif., where manure from 5,000 cows produces enough energy to run a cheese plant. Millions of viewers were introduced to methane-digester technology, its environmental benefits and ability to produce power.

Farmers, Farm Products Help Americans in Their Pocketbooks
By Drovers news source
Americans are feeling the pinch of high gasoline prices, but the fuel could cost as much as 5 cents to 10 cents more a gallon if it was not routinely blended with ethanol. Overall, U.S. consumers and taxpayers benefit from saving $7 billion to $14 billion in lower gasoline costs as a result of increased ethanol use, according to Terry Francl, senior economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

For The Record: Understanding Antibiotic Use in Food Production
MYTH: The “over-industrialized” American farm and its
common practice of using antibiotics and other antimicrobials for disease prevention and growth in farm animals is the apparent root cause of nearly $5 billion in annual U.S. health care costs due to infections resistant to routine antimicrobial treatment.
FACT: The recent Pew Commission report on Industrialized Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) that makes such statements, cherry picks available data to make its points, does not mention the contribution of overuse of antibiotics in human medicine, ignores peer-reviewed scientific studies and industry data that refute its claims, and turns a blind eye to the impact not only on animal health and well-being, but the risk to human health and the cost and availability of food when it recommends banning “nontherapeutic” uses of on-farm antibiotics.

Selling Agriculture
As an agriculturist, selling may not be on your list of favorites. Yet reality is that we all have to sell…whether it’s an idea, your products, or a service.

McDonald’s Campaign Aims to Bust Chicken and Meat Myths
Global fast food giant McDonald’s has now launched a new campaign that will aim to “bust myths” regarding consumer issues, such as where their meat is from and the quality of the food they offer. The new campaign includes a website, television adverts, billboards and food facts on packaging. It is reported that at a later stage the company will also add camera shots of where it sources its food to bust myths about such things as the quality of its beef and chicken.

4-Her Fires Back at Dairy Industry’s Critics
Some 4-H’ers, like Carissa Doody, don’t take kindly to agriculture bashing…In a speech, “Make A Difference One By One,” Carissa said the dairy industry is being unfairly targeted by the media, animal welfare and activists groups on environmental issues…

“What’s for Lunch” Video
Excellent example of how to reach the “You Tube” generation and showcase the misunderstanding about the agrifood business.

Agriculture Needs Impassioned Leadership
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone to provide leadership?

Oranges to Oranges
Organic produce may not be any healthier than the conventional kind. As the organic food movement goes mainstream, critics question whether consumers are getting what they pay for.

The Shrinking Salad Bowl
Learn why the 1.2 acres required to produce the average American diet is becoming more difficult in California. Great lessons for any area combining urban growth with strong agricultural production.

Support for Freedom of Food Choice Remains High
National opinion survey shows general public has deep trust in American farmers/ranchers. In contrast, there is distrust for activists…

National Academy of Sciences Sees No Unique Risk from Genetic Engineering
NY Times article reporting genetically engineered crops do not pose health risks…

GM Foods a Part of Our Future
UK-based food science group asserts that genetic modification has the potential to offer strong benefits – quantity, quality and acceptability – for the world’s food supply.

Consumer Attitudes Study
Take a look at what consumers said was important 6 and 10 years ago, then compare that to current day issues. Are there others influencing consumer trends?

Food Scientist Questions Organic Benefits
Consumers are drawn to the organic food movement and are spending unnecessary dollars on wishful thinking according to one scientist.

Pride of the Farm
Chicago Tribune writer puts lifestyle to words; it will tug at the heartstrings of any farm kid. For those who aren’t, it’s a rare glimpse into the life lessons of being raised on a farm.

Contrary to the negative image often associated with large farm operations, the U.S. population’s requirements for dairy products is best fulfilled and most sustainable through the application of modern agricultural techniques, a just-released study has shown.

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