9 May 2010 - Get Me My Blood Pressure Medicine!

Please, somebody, bring me my blood pressure medicine and doctor, will you increase the dosage? I need it! Because hardly a day goes by that I don't receive an e-mail, a letter or a newspaper clipping with yet another attack on America's farmers and how they produce our food.

The latest comes from a listener in Illinois; it's a newspaper clipping from the April 18th Peoria Journal Star, from the Fun, Comics and Puzzles page, aimed primarily at a younger audience. One of the items on that page is an artist rendering of a Holstein cow eating grass in a pasture. It is accompanied by these words...

"Our cow is how we like to think of a dairy cow, peacefully munching grass in a meadow. But that is not how most dairy cows are raised. Most cows have a number and not a name. Almost all dairy cows are raised in factories where they are fed surplus corn and soy, not the grass that is a cow's natural food. A cow is built to digest grasses with a stomach divided into four parts; eating corn and soybeans and being crowded in a factory makes problems for cows".

The article goes on to say "..Factory cows get more diseases so they are medicated constantly. Their food includes drugs like antibiotics and hormones. They also get gas which can hurt their four-part stomachs. Factory cows live from three to four years before they die. Cows that eat grasses in meadows live and produce milk for up to 20 years. They are ones the farmers name and don't number."

Don't newspapers have "fact-checkers" anymore? The answer to that question is obvious, so let me provide some corrections. First of all, dairy cows do not live in a factory. The definition of "factory" is an assembly line with workers on the line performing specific tasks. Dairy cows are housed and milked in a dairy barn and milking parlor. Secondly, cows living in that environment live, producing milk and calves, much longer than the three to four years stated in the story. Finally, cows like those on our Wisconsin dairy farm who spent summers on grass and were named, not numbered, never made it to 20 years and were usually on their way to market in 10-12 years.

This is why we need to financially support Agriculture in the Classroom and every other program that can reach an audience, to respond to articles like this one that will be believed by many young people. We simply can't afford to let stories like this go unchallenged and this is why we, as individuals and organizations, need to be involved every day in telling the true story of American agriculture and reminding people... No Farms, No Food. Now, please excuse me while I go take my blood pressure medicine.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.