Category Archives: Beef

We love the crop farmers

Vegan’s will say they love crop farmers who grow their food. But I can’t even repeat here what they think of livestock producers. So to say the least they’re a little confused when a mixed farmer like myself shows up to the debate. Do they love me or hate me? Most often it’s hate mixed with encouragement to only grow crops. “Why don’t you just grow crops?” First off, not all of my land supports growing crops. This world isn’t full of perfect 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile blocks of flat land. Some of its hilly, rocky, forested, etc. This is where I run my livestock & let them graze it. The rest is rotated between hay & crops. A number of years in hay production for livestock followed by a number of years in crop production is good for the land. Crop rotation is a foundation in agriculture for healthy land and plants.

On top of that crops that don’t make it to human consumption standards can be fed to livestock. All the way from salvaging crops that didn’t make it to maturity (green). To feeding harvested grain of low quality (feed grain). Livestock can make use of this & on my farm it doesn’t even have to leave the farm sometimes (saving a bit of transportation).

I wrote this early on in the debate on #farm365,

photo

But still I will get asked, “Are you saying you need livestock to grow a crop?” No, just about everyone knows you can throw some seeds in the ground and they’ll grow. Anyone that grows a garden with no livestock knows this and this is probably where that question comes from. But agriculture on a larger scale (than a garden) needs efficiencies to remain profitable and these efficiencies come from livestock that will consume poor crops. Crop waste and low quality crops all need to produce revenue for the crop farmer to face another year.

I remember one specific conversation with a vegan who did not understand this simple concept. He stated he’d eat anything a crop producer grows. I showed him that picture and told him to enjoy his corn. His reply was “You feed that rotten $%@$ to your cows? That’s horrible” Horrible because he wouldn’t eat it, therefore it’s not fit for a cow? I don’t feed my cows salad from the grocery store just as I don’t mow my lawn and have it for lunch. Livestock can and need to process what we can not.

To illustrate this I made a couple of flow charts. From chatting with vegan’s, first is about the average understanding of agriculture as it pertains to them. Second is my best attempt to explain a basic farmers understanding.

Veganside

Farmside

Even that seems a little over simplified. But that’s the point. Agriculture is all intertwined and complicated. It’s not a simple case of just making a seed grow. Crops & livestock evolved together as agriculture. It’s not just a simple decision of tomorrow we all start growing crops. There will always be crop producers and livestock producers because they work together. Mixed farm seems to becoming a historic term and maybe that’s part of the problem. Some consumers now see crop farmers or livestock farmers, they don’t understand doing both. They see black and white. Ranches, Dairies, Hog Farms, Grain Farms, Vegetable Farms, Orchard’s, Sheep Farms are all so specific terms but they’re all farms. Historically one farm could have been all of those. So maybe we have to do a better job showing we’re all connected, we all stand together as agriculture, as farmers, almost as one single large historic mixed farm. Something #farm365 is accomplishing thanks in part to those attacking it.

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Another Calgary Stampede and another press stunt from the Vancouver Humane Society

http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/we-don-t-rope-babies-for-entertainment-new-ad-campaign-opposes-calf-roping-1.865875

Every damn year.

“We think we have right on our side,” says Peter Fricker of the Vancouver  Humane Society.  “We think it’s self-evident that if you chase an  animal across an arena, rope it to a sudden halt at very high speeds, pick it  up, and throw it to the ground it will cause fear, stress and pain. We think  that’s completely immoral and inappropriate for the 21st century.”

I think this Fricker (I can think of a better name close to that) thinks too much.  You know what, if you don’t like it, don’t go.  Plain and simple.  Don’t come out to the press and try to tell people calves are like human babies, come on.  Don’t plant yourselves outside the stampede gates with signs and tell people they’re horrible for supporting the stampede because of what it believes is ok.  They’re roping them, something that’s been done for hundreds of years to work with cattle.  Yes, it’s the 21st century and guess what Fricker it’s going to be done long into the 22nd, 23rd and 24th.  So get over it and move on because it ain’t going anywhere.  You don’t like seeing it, don’t watch.

We need to start ad campaigns promoting people to not donate money to the Vancouver Humane Society because they waste money on stupid shit like this instead of spending it on the animals in need.  Dog food, cat food, no, let’s spend money on an ad campaign bashing an event in another province.  Sad.  Just plain sad.

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How disappointing, “U.S. to appeal WTO’s COOL ruling”

Well decision made I guess,

U.S. to appeal WTO’s COOL ruling | Canadian Cattlemen.

And it was only a few weeks ago I happened to be listening to CNN on my satellite radio while making my way across the province.  I listened to President Obama announce the complaint filed with the WTO against China and their “rare earth elements”.  Saying,

If China would simply let the market work on its own we would have no objections, but their policies currently are preventing that from happening and they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow

But right after, he appeals the ruling handed down by the WTO saying that COOL restricts market access.  Makes no sense.  It’s pretty obvious that COOL does not let the market work on its own.  Pretty hard to cry foul while breaking the same rules.  Now this will drag on into the summer with appeals being  put together by bureaucrats, wasting more money out of beef producers pockets on both sides of the border.  Like I said before.  You want to know where your beef came from?  Then go buy it from a farmer’s market or local butcher that buys locally or from a farmer that sells it.  Someone that can tell you exactly where it was raised and more importantly how it was raised.  Not some stupid sticker on the package required by the USDA that really tells you nothing.

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Country of origin labeling M-COOL – The March Deadline Approaches

Alright, onto this.  I’ve realized most of the sites and people here are American so this one may hit home.  I’ve already read one blog on this and I’ve been wanting to do my take on it since the appeal deadline for the USDA is fast approaching.  I just read an article in The Western Producer that has had some of the smartest things I’ve heard yet on this whole issue,

http://www.producer.com/2012/03/u-s-report-favours-harmonization-in-meat-sector%e2%80%a9/

Finally someone’s getting this across.  And it’s part of the “Beyond the border” agreement between Canada and the United States back in December.  Finally some sense is coming back to this.  According to federal ag minister Gerry Ritz from the article,

For all intents and purposes for the beef industry, the border doesn’t exist. There is a free flow of cattle back and forth.

I want to post a comment I made on another blog a few days ago before this article came out,

I’m from Alberta and we’re on the other side of that labeling.  Labeling that’s labeled us different from the U.S beef supply.  I travel down to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado a bit.  The Rocky Mountain range.  I feel as at home there as I do in Alberta.  It’s all western traditions, western ranching, western lifestyle.  But this labeling has drawn a line through our western ranching family.  A political line on a map that runs across the rockies.  Ranching doesn’t run east/west like the border.  Ranching runs north south with it’s heart in the foothills of the rockies.  Lines that divide and define that just don’t make sense.

Alright, now COOL.  Country of origin labeling.  Actually M-COOL Mandatory country of origin labeling, which is where the problem lies.  That simple word, Mandatory.  Now I understand most of my potential readers will be Americans that may not have ever visited Canada.  Here we have labels but they’re all marketing gimmicks.  You’ll see large signs in stores, “Alberta Beef” or “Western Canadian Beef” or “Canadian Beef”.  Marketing.  Now I don’t necessary agree with that because there’s no backing that up.  Most of the one’s that advertise Alberta Beef, I’m sure aren’t 100% Alberta beef.  But at the same time I don’t think there should be a rule making them prove it.  Honestly, if consumers really want beef that you know where it comes from, buy it from a small local butcher shop that has it processed locally and can show you that.  Or even better find a rancher that sells their own beef locally.  There are lots of them here in Alberta that have their beef provincially inspected to sell within the province.  Many are quite successful at it.  Once the government gets involved all it does is drive up costs.  Cost to the packers, feedlots and producers because in the end, they’re the ones that will end up paying for all this.

If you want to label beef, label it by what it was fed.  Corn fed, grass-fed, barley fed, etc.  Because then consumers can pick based on taste rather than what pretty coloured flag is on the package.  Like I said in my reply.  I travel down to the western states quite a bit.  I eat American beef, I visit with American ranchers.  We’re all the same and the vast majority of the beef that is affected by this law is Canadian beef.  According to that article,

Moens said this bill was the first of its kind in the world.

Country-of-origin labelling is usually done to increase product value, he added, but the American law added only costs.

Sorting cattle and hogs was expensive for processors, increasing the costs of imported cattle by an estimated $45 to $59 per head while the cost for handling U.S. cattle was just an extra $1.50 per head.

The costs created a strong incentive for processors to buy only American product rather than pay for extra segregation, paperwork and labels.

That’s just not right.  And obviously the WTO saw the same.  I look forward to hearing if the USDA will appeal or like this article says maybe M-COOL will be drastically changed for the better and the U.S and Canada can move closer to a unified beef market.

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