7 Nov 2010 - Stop Self-serving Attacks on our Industry

Here we go again and here goes my blood pressure. It was about three weeks ago on Samuelson Sez , that I talked about the need to stop picking on each other inside the agricultural community and instead, work together to defend against the attacks from outside, from people and groups who want to change what we do to put food on their table.

I talked about the fact that in agriculture there is room for the big producer and the small producer, there is room for the organic farmer and the conventional farmer and we need them all to feed the growing world population. What we do not need is a producer saying everyone else’s product is inferior, unhealthy and unsafe, so only buy what I produce.

So, no sooner had I said that, than my local newspaper in northern Illinois, just northwest of Chicago carried a story with this headline... “Kurtis has beef with corn. Veteran news anchor says grass-fed cows part of healthy diet”. The reporter covered a meeting where nationally-known news anchor Bill Kurtis had been invited to speak about Tall Grass Beef, his Kansas beef company that produces and markets grass-fed beef, a product that brings higher-than-average prices in Chicago restaurants and stores. Of course, he promoted his beef products to the audience and that’s fine with me, but he couldn’t stop there; he then attacked corn farmers and producers of corn-fed beef.

Let me share some of his statements quoted in the story and see if you share my concern.

  • “A steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup and corn-fed beef is a ‘killer diet’ that is claiming too many American lives..”
  • “The corn industry has changed the way Americans eat and how obesity has increased dramatically because of it.”
  • “Pasture-raised, grass-fed animals actually become a health food. It all comes from leaving cattle on pastures the way nature intended.”

He continued his attack on what he called the ‘corn-run’ food industry. “Corn-fed cattle, most of which are given antibiotics, are causing early puberty in girls, added fat in beef and an increase in E. Coli outbreaks.”
“High-fructose corn syrup found in fast food, junk food and sweeteners is another leading cause of obesity. The cheap sweetener is made from government-subsidized corn to keep it cheap.”

When I have the opportunity to talk to Bill Kurtis, I will tell him that as a journalist he needs to be more accurate with some of his statements and I will strongly suggest that it is fine to promote his product, but don’t do it in a way that attacks the products of other farmers and ranchers. We don’t need those kinds of attacks inside agriculture.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.