OCTOBER 17, 2012 Nebraska Farm Bureau News
On the Cover
When you vote on Nov. 6,be sure to take the VotersGuide with you to remindyou who Nebraska FarmBureau’s Friends of Agriculture are.
Photo Illustration by Tara Grell
November is NationalPeanut Butter Lover’s Monthand National Pepper Month.See what recipes we arefeaturing this month!
Congress will have to bridge the gap between the Senatebill which cuts food stampsand other nutrition programsby $4 billion over 10 years,versus the House bill whichcuts $16 billion over the 10years.
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VOLUME 30 ISSUE 9October 17, 2012USPS 375-780 ISSN 0745-6522
Official publication of theNebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Nebraska Farm Bureau’sMission is Strong Agriculture...... Strong Nebraska.
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NEBRASKA FARM BUREAUFEDERATION
Steve Nelson, president (Axtell)Mark McHargue, first vice president(Central City)Rob Robertson, chief administrator/secretary-treasurer (Lincoln)
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sherry Vinton, second vice president(Whitman)Nathan Bartels (Elk Creek)Andy DeVries (Ogallala)Del Ficke (Pleasant Dale) Jason Kvols (Laurel) John C. Martin (Pleasanton)Scott Moore (Bartley)Kevin Peterson (Osceola)Tanya Storer (Whitman)Shelly Thompson (Whitney)
NEBRASKA FARM BUREAU NEWS
ispublished monthly, except July, by NebraskaFarm Bureau Federation, 5225 South 16th St.,Lincoln, NE 68512. Periodicals postage paid atLincoln, NE and additional entry offices.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to:
Nebraska Farm Bureau NewsAttn: Tina HendersonP.O. Box 80299, Lincoln, NE 68501.
ast month another major food company announced itsdecision to phase out the purchase of pork from farm-ers and suppliers that use individual housing for pregnantsows. The elimination of “gestation stalls,” as they are com-monly called, has recently become the trendy thing to do by food companies, despite the fact that groups like the AmericanVeterinary Medical Association continue to acknowledge themany benefits of individual housing of sows.These decisions of course are met with favorable reactionfrom extreme animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States, which, no surprise, is directly involvedin pushing food companies toward these decisions. With thenation’s largest animal rights group changing its tactics fromworking the ballot box to food company board rooms, thechallenge for farmers to help put meat on the table for Ameri-cans and for a growing world population is likely to becomeeven more difficult.
HSUS’ PETA-LIKE AGENDA
For those of us familiar with HSUS’ PETA-like agenda of reducing, refining and replacing meat in the diets of consumers,it can be difficult to understand why companies like McDonaldswould partner with a group opposed to meat consumption.Decisions made by these companies are not only disappoint-ing, but frustrating. However, these decisions make more sensewhen viewed through a business perspective.Food companies, like any other business, don’t relish negativepublicity. Failure to follow the direction of the animal rights ac- tivists puts a target on the back of food companies and others that don’t follow their lead. Nebraska Farm Bureau found thatout first-hand when our Facebook page came under attack by HSUS activists when we shared our support for farmers in their right to continue to use individual sow housing.Rather than face the attacks of these extremists, it can beeasier sometimes for food companies to appease HSUS by gradually phasing-out certain farm practices. The phase-out ap-proach is commonplace in HSUS dealings with food companiesand their legislative efforts. It ensures the immediate impactsof any decisions aren’t felt immediately by farmers, consumersor food companies. It’s a win for food companies in the sense that it allows the company to demonstrate its commitment to“humane treatment” of animals and appease HSUS. HSUS gets the immediate pop of being able to use the latest “win” to tout its success in its fundraising efforts and the impacts of thedecision are simply kicked further down the road.
The whole situation reminds me of the frog in the cooker story. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water it will jump out, but if it’s placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it won’t perceive the danger and will be cooked todeath. In this case, HSUS is the slow cooker and farmers, foodcompanies and consumers are the frog slowly having the heatapplied because the negative impacts of these decisions are tocome later.Unfortunately, recent history tells us the impact of decisionskicked down the road do eventually come home to roost. Justask the Europeans who earlier this year faced the pinch of anegg shortage and price surge resulting from animal welfareregulations put in place back in 1999 at the urging of animalrights activists.The rules required enhanced cages for hens in egg produc- tion and phased out individual housing for sows. The ruleswent into effect this past January.An article in the Wall Street Journal in April documentedmany of the problems that occurred, including people in Cen- tral and Eastern Europe traveling to neighboring countries insearch of affordable eggs. It also noted the average consumer in the European Union paid 76 percent more for eggs at theend of March 2012 than at the end of March 2011. NationalPublic Radio even documented the situation, noting that pricesfor eggs in some regions of Europe jumped 250 percent.The woes of the EU were echoed by a british pork producer at the most recent annual meeting of the Animal AgricultureAlliance. Mike Sheldon, a British pig farmer, said at the con-ference that the regulations advocated for by animal rightsactivists in the EU ultimately would force many farmers out of business. Should we really be surprised that all the talk about abacon shortage was started by pork producers from the EU?
LET’S LEARN FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION
It’s critical that American consumers are aware of what’shappening, not only here but abroad. The European Union’ssocial experiment with animal welfare gives us the advantageof seeing what really happens when the full brunt of the PETAand HSUS agenda comes to fruition.Poland’s agriculture minister Marek Sawicki had it right whenspeaking about the cage situation: “It’s not roosters who’ll pay for the upgrade of cages. The consumer has to.”At Farm Bureau we believe in a consumer’s right to choose their food and companies’ right to make its own business deci-sions. In this debate there’s only one interest that’s trying tolimit both, and that’s HSUS and its animal rights brethren.If they get their way, someday these animal welfare decisionswill come home to roost in the U.S. and it won’t just be farm-ers who suffer!
By Steve Nelson, PresidentNebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Food Challenges for American Consumers
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