Buzzard's Beat

Thursday, March 28, 2013

California Bill 343 - Turn That Video In Pronto!

Hey folks, I just read this article about a bill in California. Not a GMO bill. Not a gestation crate bill. A bill about videoing livestock.
feedlots, cattle, animal rights, videoing, ag gag laws, California, animal welfare

The bill is California Assembly Bill 343 and it forces those who video animal mistreatment a mere 48 hours to report it to local authorities such as the sheriff's department.

You may think - wow! That's just like the  bill that was submitted in Iowa that outlaws people from coming onto the farm and videoing the livestock...but it's not. This bill forces action in a timely fashion instead of videographers waiting until a more opportune time to submit the footage. It doesn't make it illegal for those wanting to go undercover to gain employment but does place some pressure on their motives.
feedlots, cattle, animal rights, videoing, ag gag laws, California, animal welfare

The auction yard owner quoted in the article says he supports the bill because "I want to know if we've got a problem...let's do something about it now."

Read the article and then comment below what you think - do you think the bill is good for agriculture or bad?

And don't forget about the giveaway - entries close on Monday night. Head on over there and check it out!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Get Ready - Here Comes Horse Slaughter!

Here - you can listen to this while you read this. A little pep in your step.

It seems that horse-slaughter starting up in the U.S. is not as far off as it may have seemed.

Valley Meat Company in Roswell, New Mexico may only be weeks away from accepting horses for slaughter. The plant has submitted its application for federal meat inspection services under the "equine" option according to reports.

There are several positive outcomes from Valley Meat Company re-opening their doors for horse slaughter:

1. Job creation - The plant would create approximately 100 jobs for Roswell area residents and during an economic recession when so many folks are wishing for a decent job - voila! Reopening plants will increase the number of jobs and boost local economies.

2. Exports - the U.S. slaughtered 94,000 horses in 2005, the last full year of horse slaughter before federal inspection funding was repealed in 2007. Without a slaughter plant in the U.S., more than 197,000 horses were exported to other North American countries last year for slaughter. That's double the number from 2007 slaughter exports. What does that mean?

3. Animal Welfare - It means thousands of horses have endured excruciatingly long drives to Canada or Mexico on trains or trucks that aren't exactly the most welfare-friendly. Opening a slaughter plant in the U.S. would prevent thousands of horses from being improperly transported across U.S. borders.

4. Horse meat is a delicacy - maybe not to you or I, but in several other countries around the world horse meat is consumed quite often and is a staple in many diets. The U.S. is missing out on valuable export dollars and that meat by not opening horse slaughter plants. For example, between January and November of 2012, the UK imported ~$80,000 worth of horsemeat into the UK. That doesn't include the rest of the EU, Japan, China or the Asia-Pacific region. In short, this could provide a boost to the total agriculture GDP. Every little bit helps right?

Unfortunately, there are those who aren't involved in animal agriculture or the horse industry (as I am) who wish to quell horse slaughter once and for all. This article reports that four lawmakers from the states of Louisiana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Illinois introduced legislation to ban horse-killing for human consumption in the U.S. and prohibit transporting the animals outside the country for slaughter. Furthermore, USDA said it encouraged Congress to reinstate the ban on funding inspections.

This just confuses me - I don't understand why so many people are against a federally regulated and inspected humane slaughter process for horses. If the ban goes through, I can almost guarantee more of this.

Those are my thoughts and you know I'll keep you updated on what's going down with horse slaughter (see what I did there?). In the mean time, what are your thoughts? Think horse slaughter is a good idea?

For more of my posts about horse slaughter check out the posts below:

Legislation to Help Horse Slaughter
Horse Slaughter Funding Reinstated 
Who Are We to Judge Horsemeat?
HSUS and PETA - Lover's Quarrel 

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

National Ag Day in Kansas

National Ag Day, agriculture, farming, ranching, food, Kansas

National Ag Day  - whoo hoo!  Across the U.S., thousands of farmers, ranchers, agriculture students and leaders are celebrating the rich heritage that is American Agriculture. Whether it be wearing a green farming t-shirt, handing out beef samples at the local grocery store or promoting agriculture via social media outlets, everyone in ag is doing their part today.

Which leads me to explaining how I'll be spending part of my National Ag Day. I'm very honored to have been invited to sit on a panel of producers, professionals and leaders for a Dialogue on Kansas Agriculture at the State Capitol in Topeka today - and boy am I nervous!

The other panelists:

Dr. Mike Apley, Kansas State University
Doug Hofbauer, President and CEO of Frontier Farm Credit
Bob Petersen, Executive Director of Kansas Agribusiness Council
Jay Garretson, Farmer
Diana Floyd, RD, LD, Kansas Department of Education Child Nutrition Consultant

I'm overwhelmed at the years of knowledge and industry experience that I will be surrounded by but it will very exciting to share ideas and thoughts with the other panelists as well as the audience.

We'll be answering questions regarding animal welfare (I hope I get one of those - that's my thing), food safety, education and technology, environmental stewardship and many other various ag topics.

You can get involved too! Greg Akagi, farm broadcaster for WIBW, will be the moderator and was fielding questions via Twitter yesterday to ask the panelists. It's probably not too late to get your question in - Greg's handle on Twitter is @GregAkagi.

I hope you'll listen/view the panel - it might hit some nerves, it might stir up emotion but it will definitely be promoting agriculture and be informative for all involved! The event will be live streamed on the Kansas Department of Agriculture website --

Today and everyday, I extremely thankful that I live in a country with an abundant, affordable and safe food supply produced by the best people I know - America's farmers and ranchers. Thank you!

How are you representing agriculture today? Share below! You can follow along in today's agriculture discussions by following #agday13 and #ksagday!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's All in the Details: USDA/FSIS Meat Inspectors

meat shortage, fsis, inspectors, beef,  hamburger 
Will there be a meat shortage?

Some details shedding light on how the sequester will affect the meat industry have been reported. In various articles this morning, Agriculture Undersecretary Elizabeth Hagen outlines how the furloughs will be implemented and during what time frame. You can read the two of the articles I read for the full story but here are the highlights:

As detailed by The Hagstrom Report, Hagen also told the committee that:
  • 11 furlough days, scheduled from July to Sept. 20, will be for no more than one day a week and no more than two days per pay period.
  • FSIS has decided the fairest plan for the nation’s meat industry is a uniform national schedule.
  • FSIS will likely take a total cut of $52.8 million or 5 percent of its budget.
  • Furloughs will be required of all 9,212 employees of the FSIS, including 8,136 meat inspectors and others on the front line such as lab technicians.
 Let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the days aren't consecutive and it's only 11 days and not more. Although, this article states that since some inspectors will be forced to take the same days off, there is still the possibility of shutting down the U.S. meat industry on those dates. But let's hope it doesn't get that bad.

Just as a refresher, this furlough is significant because meat plants CANNOT operate without federal inspectors present. It's illegal and would be a serious threat to food safety. For more info on how exactly federal inspectors regulate meat plant operations, you can read this about the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

What do you think of the decision handed down?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ranching Awesome - Thriftshop Parody

I love Kansas and I won't list all the reasons why but contributing to that long list is that all the best farm song parodies come from Kansas.

First there were the Peterson Farm Bros and their two big hits: I'm Farming and I Grow It & Working Farmer Style.

Then, the kids at Wallace County High School in western Kansas came up with this little diddy about the school lunch program and gained a ton of national attention - We Are Hungry.

And the next installment of Kansan farmer prides comes to us from Klingenberg Farms. Say hello to Ranching Awesome - a play on Thriftshop by Macklemore.

You guys have got to check this out - it's hilarious but oh so informative. The video shows a lot of cattle, pasture burning in the spring, K-State (holla!) and some cute little dancing farm girls! They talk about the different cuts of beef, Omega-3's, fixing farm equipment - seriously, you will die laughing but will also probably learn something too! And then you'll have it stuck in your head.


Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Chipotle: That's Not Natural

Chipotle appears on my blog often - the burrito giant often brags about sourcing naturally raised meats while condemning conventional agriculture and even goes to such lengths to produce anti-conventional agriculture videos that are glaringly inaccurate, which makes them a high priority on the list of blog topics.

Which is why this photo I saw on Feedstuffs Foodlink's Facebook page made me giggle.

This picture, courtesy Feedstuffs Foodlink, was taken by a customer in Kentucky although it's worth pointing out that similar signs have been seen in Illinois Chipotle locations.

What does this mean? Well in this post, I talked about how Chipotle has said in the past that the economy sometimes prevents them from sourcing natural beef and chicken. Here is the excerpt verbatim:

“We do, however, face challenges associated with pursuing Food With Integrity. For example, current economic conditions have led to natural chicken and steak supply shortages. It can take longer to identify and secure relationships with suppliers meeting our criteria, and there are higher costs and other risks associated with purchasing naturally raised or sustainably grown ingredients. The growing time for naturally raised meat and sustainably grown vegetables can be longer. Herd losses can also be greater when animals are not treated with antibiotics and hormones and field losses can be higher for organically grown produce. Given the costs associated with natural and sustainable farming practices, and recently due to decreased demand as a result of the weak economic environment, many large suppliers have not found it economical to pursue business in this area.” -- taken from Chipotle's annual report.

What this means is that due to a variety of factors, many of which are likely drought/supply/economy related, Chipotle has found it absolutely necessary to use conventionally produced meat instead of natural. I'm guessing it's either because it's too expensive for them to turn enough profit or they simply can't find enough of it to keep their supply chain running. Like I said, those are my speculations.

Several people commented on that post when I originally put it on my blog arguing that Chipotle didn't actually say, "We are using conventional" and to those folks I say, is this the absolute proof you need? I should hope so.

I must applaud Chipotle for being honest and not hiding their conventional sourcing from customers, although I wish they'd just drop their elitist marketing ploy altogether.

Poll the audience: Who out there can honestly say that they buy food based solely on production practices and nutrition, without considering price?
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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