I’ve poured over this week’s buzz and rounded up three of the most popular items being discussed by farmers and ranchers on social media right now. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly on these hot topics.
1. Horse Slaughter in the U.S.
The Good: A judge has cleared the way for a horse slaughter plant to open.
According to Philly.com, “As early as next week, horses may be slaughtered and butchered for their meat for the first time in seven years in the U.S. A federal judge in New Mexico in a ruling cleared the way for a meat company in that state to begin slaughtering horses. U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo dismissed a lawsuit by animal welfare groups that had sought to prevent plants from starting up again.”
This ruling would help restore the health of our horse population in the U.S. Plus, it would eliminate poor treatment of the horses in other countries, where they now have to be shipped. Like it or not, being able to slaughter horses in a federally-regulated and inspected plant ensures these animals are harvested with respect and dignity, instead of left to the mercy of long truck rides, poor handling and/or neglect or abandonment.
The Bad: Not so fast. Horse slaughter has been halted just days after the ruling.
Fox News reports, “A federal appeals court has temporarily put the brakes on plans to resume horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S., after a New Mexico judge last week dismissed a push by animal rights groups to stop the practice. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary injunction barring the Department of Agriculture from inspecting the plants. Slaughterhouses in New Mexico and Missouri had hoped to start up as soon as this week after the federal judge in Albuquerque threw out a lawsuit by the Humane Society of the U.S. and other animal protection groups.”
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2. FFA Students Raising Beef Cattle
The Good: FFA supports young people who are interested in learning about production agriculture. From coast-to-coast, urban and rural students alike are getting new opportunities to get hands-on experience in raising livestock.
The Bad & The Ugly: One local FFA student’s steer was set on fire at a school barn.
According to KSBY, “Paso Robles police are looking for clues to find out who set a steer on fire. It happened recently at the Paso Robles High School agriculture barn. The five-month old steer was found by its owner when he stopped by to feed the animal.”
This act of animal cruelty is intolerable. I suspect this was the act of animal rights activists, but no word has been reported on the culprit yet. Needless to say, no acts of animal cruelty should be tolerated by our industry. Whether this was intended to be a sick practical joke or malicious act of violence, this is an unfortunate story where both the FFA student and the steer have been made victims.
3. Bridging The Gap From Producers To Consumers
The Good: More people are seeking information about where their food comes from, opening up an opportunity for ranchers to get involved in the conversation. Programs like the Masters of Beef Advocacy can help prepare ranchers for conversations with the media and consumers.
The Bad: Many consumers are getting their information from a sensational Dr. Oz.
Emily Mottax Webel wrote an excellent blog post explaining how Dr. Oz uses fear-mongering to boost ratings. She responded to a particularly troubling episode where Oz targets farmers.
Webel writes, “When I began to watch the trailer for yesterday's episode, I was nervous. The music alone was nerve wracking. Then, the picture of a combine in a wheat field showed up, dissolving into a corn field waving in the breeze, and then a crop duster (cue even scarier music), followed by ripe fruits and vegetables. All the while, the intense voice over guy was spewing details in regards to the ‘best kept secret in the food industry.’ I watched as Dr. Oz then illustrated the use of pesticides using people spraying small spraying devices on a bucket of corn. Woman after woman joined this illustration, all the while, Dr. Oz was explaining how the use of pesticides since the 90s has increased, and how also we can blame all the miscarriages, learning disabilities and birth defects on us, the evil farmer. But, surprisingly missing during this time was a farmer.”
Do you have any food for thought to offer on these three hot topics? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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