14 February 2010 - Continued Attacks on Animal Agriculture

Livestock producers, like it or not, you continue to be in the national media spotlight and most of that coverage is not very flattering and certainly not positive. If you thought 2009 was a tough year for animal agriculture attacks with the TIME magazine article leading the way, 2010 is off to an even tougher start.

So far, in the first two months of the year, Katie Couric, CBS television news spent considerable time covering what she termed is a major problem....the overuse of antibiotics in livestock that eventually makes its way into the food chain and impacts human health. ABC’s Diane Sawyer shared with her viewers undercover video that was shot on a dairy farm in New York showing tail-docking that she termed as inhumane treatment of dairy animals. Legislation to ban tail-docking has recently been introduced in the New York legislature and voters in California voted last year to ban the practice in that state.

So the attacks continue and in response to a question from a reader…yes, I think it is an organized campaign with active support from vegetarian organizations and directed by the Humane Society of the United States. We must be more pro-active and find quicker, better ways to respond. It is also critical that all of you in the livestock industry take quick action if you know a neighbor who is mistreating livestock or poultry in any way. Get it stopped before someone from an anti-livestock group gets there with an easy-to-conceal cell phone camera and shoots video that will quickly find its way to national TV.

Now, many livestock producers did get some good news a few days ago. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said "We are going to stop pursuing a National Animal ID Program." He said it's going to be turned over to the states; but the Department of Agriculture will pay most of the cost and it will not affect those animals that are in back-yard flocks or livestock that is sold and consumed locally. It basically will apply to animals that are involved in interstate commerce and shipped across state lines. Again, based on the "hate mail" I received when I supported the National Animal I.D. Program, I am sure this makes many of you very happy. One thing I still don't understand though, is how you can favor ‘country-of-origin' labeling on one side and be totally against ‘traceability of animals' on the other side. It seems to me you must have traceability to determine country of origin.

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