I love Baxter Black. In a recent article, he talked about the "The Da Vinci Code," the book and movie that are a worldwide sensation, and how author Dan Brown's fictionalized story is treated by many as peer-reviewed science. He also cited Oliver Stone's fictionalized account on the JFK assassination, and the legions that have embraced the story as a valid historical depiction.
I love receiving feedback from cattlemen with their insights and comments on issues of the day. It's always a mind-opening experience, helping me to view things in ways I hadn't contemplated.
Recently, however, I've received a string of e-mails from the beef industry's radical fringe in terms of philosophy. It's certainly enlightening, but it brought Black's comments on conspiracy theorists to mind.
While their sources are always radical activist groups well outside the mainstream of normal public discourse, this group of producers has attracted a vast array of people dancing to their conspiracy pipe. Near as I can tell, the American Meat Institute (AMI), USDA, multi-national packers, corporate feedyards, and large commercial producers are all linked in this vast conspiracy, though the goals are rather difficult to ascertain.
Or maybe the goals just change depending on the circumstance. The constant, however, is the conspiracy wants to strip producers of their livelihood and freedom, and are inclined to break laws, endanger human safety, even the safety of our cowherd, in order to preserve the system that gives it power and robs others of theirs.
Because I'd written something that disagreed with a part of this group's vast conspiracy theory, they earnestly asked if I was being paid by USDA, AMI, or the like. They truly would feel more comfortable believing I'm paid by this global beef conspiracy than the fact I have a different opinion based on fact and information they choose to simply dismiss as being produced by the conspiracy's propaganda machine.
With 99.9% of cattlemdn being practitioners of good logic, one has to search to find the radical fringe, but if you ever get a chance to sit down and discuss the industry with one of them, I suggest you do it. It's a lot more entertaining than the average cattlemen's meeting, and a whole lot more colorful in the cattle industry's "Twilight Zone."
-- Troy Marshall