Veterinarians on Call Videos

Veterinarians on CallZoetis has created a series of YouTube videos with veterinarians to show the public how farmers of all sizes take care of their animals.

In new YouTube videos released today, swine veterinarians Dr. Matthew Turner of North Carolina and Dr. Tara Donovan of Wisconsin join veterinarians and farmers from across the country in speaking out for responsible livestock farming by hosting a film crew to document their work. They are among 12 veterinarians who demonstrate modern animal wellness practices on dozens of U.S. farms and ranches in the YouTube reality series “Veterinarians On Call,” www.youtube.com/vetsoncall.

“Veterinarians On Call”, presented by animal health company Zoetis™, shows the public that regardless of the size of a farm, farmers and ranchers benefit from raising animals in the most comfortable, stress-free conditions and housing. Doing so avoids disease, saves money on care, and keeps animals growing at proper weight until ready for market. In other words it would be counter-productive to and a risk to their businesses if farmers raised stressed, underweight animals. 



The film crews documented veterinarians working on farms as small as a couple hundred animals, to some of the largest U.S. farms responsible for hundreds of thousands of animals a year. The farms are an accurate representation of America’s 2.2 million farms, 97% of which are family-owned.

The 12 veterinarians who volunteered to be filmed are:

Dr. John Groves, Missouri

Dr. Rick Leone, Colorado

Dr. Don Goodman, Texas

Dr. Tom Noffsinger, Nebraska

Dr. Paul Ruen, Minnesota

Dr. Ross Kiehne, Minnesota

Dr. Angie Supple, Iowa

Dr. Pete Ostrum, New York

Dr. Lindsey Peck, New York

Dr. Matthew Turner, North Carolina

Dr. Tara Donovan, Wisconsin
Dr. Lynn Locatelli, New Mexico (to be published 2013)



How Many Machines are on Your Farm?

Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Should we sit down with HSUS in ‘common cause’?”

The results of this poll are skewed due to the hacking by HSUS. In the end, the poll read that eighty one percent voted Definitely, fifteen percent said Never, and four percent thought we Should in some cases. The attempt to affect our poll reflects the HSUS/PETA goal of an end to animal agriculture. They are working to get the livestock industry to make concessions that drastically change production methods. When that happens it becomes a very slippery slope very quickly. It will only be a short matter of time before allowing chickens more room in cages becomes allowing all animals the right to life. Treating animals humanely is not the same as treating them like they are humans – but many activists see no difference.

The hacking we are referring to was having almost 400 poll responses to the Definitely answer come in during a few hours one night last week and none since. If you take them out, the answer Never would have been the highest result by far.

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Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “How many machines (tractors, etc.) does your farm own?” Some of the urban folk believe that if you own more than 1-2 pieces of machinery, that would classify you as a large farmer. We disagree with that. So let’s see how many pieces of equipment most farmers/ranchers own. Let us know!

ZimmPoll is sponsored by New Holland Agriculture.

Poll Hijacking

The question of whether agriculture should sit down with groups like HSUS to find “common cause” is our poll question this week on AgWired.com and while the answers had at first been running well against such dialogue, the poll has now been “hijacked” by HSUS supporters voting in favor. Overnight last week, the poll received nearly 400 responses in the affirmative – and some of the comments of those supporters show exactly why all of agriculture should be very afraid of their agenda.

“Let animals be animals, not commodities.”
“Stop the torture and Killing of the animals.”
“People should just stop eating animals period – there’s no such thing as humane murder.”

The ultimate agenda is obvious – the end to animal agriculture. Once the livestock industry begins to make concessions to animal rights activists that drastically change production methods it becomes a very slippery slope very quickly. It will only be a short matter of time before allowing chickens more room in cages becomes allowing all animals the right to life. Treating animals humanely is not the same as treating them like they are humans – but many activists see no difference.

This website is very well-read by animal activist individuals. We have an obligation to not just defend, but educate. We get lots of comments on our posts about topics like this and it is important for the agriculture community to use this forum for intelligent dialogue and healthy debate. Sometimes it’s easier to just call them wackos and be done with it, but better still to rationally explain that livestock producers know way more about how to care for their animals than HSUS does, and we really like to eat meat!

Do you think agriculture can find “common cause” with HSUS?

New Communications Director at Animal Ag Alliance

Animal Agriculture Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith announced the appointment of Emily Meredith as the Alliance’s new Director of Communications.

Meredith, formerly of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, joins the Alliance after receiving her J.D., with a concentration in food and drug law, from Seton Hall University in Newark, New Jersey.

As the Director of Communications, Meredith will develop, oversee and implement all aspects of the Alliance’s communications strategy, including social media initiatives.

During her time at USDA, Meredith served as a speechwriter for several agency officials. She also participated in managing communications relative to recalls, authored congressional testimony and participated in strategy sessions for issues management.

Meredith holds a B.A. in International Affairs and Journalism from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Currently, Meredith is awaiting admission to the state bar associations of New York and New Jersey.

National Grange Releases Third e-Book

The National Grange just released their third e-Book. They’re using my e-book store of preference, the Kindle Store.

On Oct. 12, the National Grange released “Notes and Quotes: On the Origin of the Ritual and Early Years of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry” as a Kindle download available through Amazon’s Kindle Store.

The text, written by author C. Jerome Davis, delves into the early history of the Grange as well as the meaning of many of the ritualistic aspects of the organization.

The digital version of the 1974 text has 121 pages, including index, introduction and footnotes.

“‘Notes and Quotes’ provides an unprecedented amount of insight into the founding of our Order,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said. “C. Jerome Davis spent years researching and collecting the information that shaped this book. Not many people were able to read it when it was first published, due to a small run of printed copies, so I’m glad that people will finally get the opportunity to get their hands on this excellent book.”

The National Grange has signed a 90-day exclusivity deal for “Notes and Quotes: On the Origin of the Ritual and Early Years of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry” with Amazon and the Amazon Kindle Store. The e-book will be added to the Barnes and Noble Nook Store after the exclusivity deal expires. Continue reading

Pork Slogan Target of HSUS Lawsuit

One of the most successful advertising slogans in the world of food is the target of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture filed on Monday by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

The lawsuit charges that the National Pork Board “struck an unlawful backroom deal with a D.C. lobbying organization for the purchase of the iconic ‘Pork: The Other White Meat’ slogan. The deal allows $60 million in pork producers’ money collected for marketing and promotion purposes to be diverted into industry lobbying efforts aimed at harming animal welfare and small farmers.”

The slogan was developed by the National Pork Producers Council in 1987, prior to the formation of the National Pork Board, and has been credited with helping to increase pork consumption in the United States as much as 20% by 1991. The Pork Board purchased all rights to the slogan from NPPC in 2006, to be paid over 20 years in annual installments of $3 million each. The Pork Board used the slogan with the tagline “Don’t be Blah” for its 2008 advertising campaign, but started using “Pork. Be inspired” last year.

NPPC CEO Neil Dierks responded to the lawsuit by calling it a “bullying tactic” on the part of HSUS. “NPPC is reviewing the HSUS complaint, but it appears there is no legal merit to this claim, and it is another desperate attempt by the radical activist group to severely curtail animal agriculture and take away consumer food choices,” said Dierks in a statement from NPPC. “This also is the latest bullying tactic by HSUS in its efforts to force NPPC to abandon its position on allowing farmers to choose production practices that are best for the welfare of their animals.”

Even NPR is able to see that. A post about the story on the NPR food blog notes, “remember, this all comes from the Humane Society, which would love nothing better than to bankrupt the National Pork Producers Council.”

HSUS also includes “an independent pig farmer and on behalf of its pig farmer members” as a plaintiff in the lawsuit and they are asking the court to “cancel the unlawful purchase and ensure that the remaining balance—tens of millions of dollars—will benefit the producers who fund the checkoff instead of NPPC’s anti-animal, anti-farmer lobbying agenda.”

Organic Pig Farming

Here’s something you don’t see everyday. A group of agricultural journalists from many countries playing with some organic pigs. This is on the Asbergby Farm during the 2012 IFAJ Congress. We met Olle and Catharina Linder who are organic farmers raising pigs and cattle. You can see how they keep their pigs in the video.

What do you think of this type of pig farming? Would it work in the U.S.?

2012 IFAJ Congress Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the 2012 IFAJ Congress is sponsored by DuPont Pioneer

USDA “Meatless Mondays” Uproar

An internal USDA Greening Update newsletter that promotes “Meatless Mondays” caused a bit of an uproar on Wednesday.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) sent out a news release linking to the newsletter and questioning USDA’s commitment to the livestock industry. The newsletter talked about various “greening” initiatives by the agency and suggested that “one simple way to reduce our environmental impact while dining at our cafeteria is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative.” But it didn’t stop there:

The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat.

Within an hour after the NCBA release went out, USDA pulled the newsletter from the initial link and a statement was sent out by USDA press secretary Courtney Rowe. “Today, we have received a number of inquiries regarding a rumor that USDA is encouraging “Meatless Mondays,” she wrote, adding a statement from an unnamed USDA spokesperson that “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed.”

The offending document was found on another link, and you can read the whole thing here where we uploaded it to our server. Just deleting the document from the link does not address this issue at all, since this is an internal newsletter that was sent to USDA employees. That makes this more than a “rumor.” While the Secretary may have been unaware of this gaffe and it may not be “official” USDA policy, the message has been sent to USDA employees that meat is bad for the environment. Not only does this have to be pulled, action should be taken against whoever wrote it and an immediate retraction should be made in a new “Greening Update.”

This is animal activism in a government agency that should be supporting all of agriculture and it is unacceptable.

Livestock Reports Not Sexy, Hard to Understand, and At Risk

For anyone who has ever done livestock market reports in the media, you know how complex and how intertwined they are. What happens in one market can greatly affect all of the others (including what goes on in the grain markets), and understanding these relationships is certainly not an easy task (doing markets for Chuck back during our days at the Brownfield Network was some of the most difficult work I’ve ever done!). That’s why during the recent Farm Foundation webinar on data collection, the concern turned to how USDA might be facing budget cuts to some of its reports, including those in the livestock sector.

“They’re not sexy,” said Jim Robb, the Senior Agricultural Economist and Director at the Livestock Marketing Information Center. “I think that compared to the Census of Agriculture, [which is not targeted] and you can explain to a bureaucrat or politician and put in a rather concise package, this is a whole array of market reports that really is much harder to explain in a simplistic context, and that contributes to why these are being targeted.”

Robb went on to point out that too many reports are not mandatory, and thus, at risk in the budget. And losing these reports, many a monthly or quarterly update on the annual report, would leave too big of a gap in information. “Annual is not satisfactory in an industry that is biologically based,” he said.

Robb made a final, compelling argument for why the government needs to keep many of the reports. “Quality data do not magically occur. This is a classical public good. We cannot just do random reports and expect markets to function effectively.” He encouraged private companies, government officials, and commodity groups to lobby for these reports to be continued. He echoed what some other speakers on the Farm Foundation webinar said that while some commodity groups could provide the information, it would not be the unbiased and trusted source USDA continues to be.

You can here more of what Robb had to say here: Jim Robb, LMIC during Farm Foundation Webinar on Data Collection

Plus, his slide show to go along with the audio is available here.

And you can hear the entire hour-long Farm Foundation webinar here:
Farm Foundation Webinar on Data Collection

Bailey Ballou 2012 LMA Champion Auctioneer

The 2012 Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) World Livestock Auctioneer Champion is Bailey Ballou of Elgin, OK. Bailey participated in a press conference call just now which I thought I’d share with you in case you couldn’t be on it or are interested in what Bailey had to say. The competition was held last Saturday in Turlock, CA. If you listen in below you’ll hear that Bailey is going to be a champion spokesperson for animal agriculture during his coming year!

Raised in southwest Oklahoma on a dairy farm, Bailey attended livestock auctions with his grandpa. Like many children, he was enamored with the auction chant and would try to emulate it while at play. When he realized, as an adult, that he would like to make a career of the art of bid calling, he set out for auctioneering school in Missouri. That was in 2003.

Nine years later, he assumes the title of 2012 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion on his fourth attempt, having competed previously in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Bailey was sponsored by Oklahoma National Stockyards, Inc., and Oklahoma City Livestock Exchange, both of Oklahoma City.

As champion Bailey takes home a 2012 Silverado pickup to use during the year of his reign; $5,000 cash; a championship sculpture; world champion Gist belt buckle and a hand-tooled leather briefcase from LMA; world champion ring sponsored by Turlock Livestock Auction Yard, Inc.; the Golden Gavel Award sponsored by the World Wide College of Auctioneering; and a James Reid, Ltd. money clip sponsored by CattleUSA.com. That’s a pile of winnings!

So if you’d like to get to know Bailey a little better then take a listen: Bailey Ballou Press Call

You can also hear what his chant sounds like here: Bailey Ballou Chant

Locust Trace AgriScience Farm

Locust Trace AgriScience Farm is the newest career and technical high school in Lexington, Kentucky with energy and environmental being key factors in the facility design and agriculture being the educational focus.

Locust Trace features spacious classrooms with adjoining labs, 6.5 acres for gardening, a state-of-the-art greenhouse with an aquaculture area for raising native fish, a soaring auditorium with a garage door for brining in livestock and machinery, an expansive equine barn and arena and an on-site veterinary clinic.

Students study in one of five programs: Intro to Agriculture, Environmental and Wildlife Science, Agriculture Power Mechanics, Equine and Vet Science, and Small and Large Animal Science.

The school is designed to be net-zero in energy through the use of photovoltaic solar panels and net-zero in waste disposal through the utilization of constructed wetlands. The school is also minimally hooked up to water municipalities. All the rain water is collected from the classroom building and the equine barn/arena to be utilized for all crop irrigation and livestock watering. An on-site well has been accessed to back up the rain water collection system in case of a drought. Sustainable agriculture is a focus in all programs.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Sara Tracy, who serves as the Community Lesion for Locust Trace, Brian Miller, Administrative Dean, and Danielle Milbern, Jr. at Locust Trace AgriScience Farm. They explain what it is like to work for and attend such a unique high school as well as a perspective into the diverse set of opportunities students can take part in.

Listen to my interview with Sara, Brian and Danielle here: Interview with Locust Trace Representatives

Locust Trace AgriScience Farm Photo Album

Animal Agriculture Alliance Summit Wrap-up

To get a wrap up of the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit I spoke with President/CEO Kay Johnson Smith. Kay was given these beautiful flowers in recognition of her service during the organization’s celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Kay says this year’s Summit was a little different than normal since it focused more on how to effectively communicate with the consumer and better understand what the consumer wants and needs to know. It also provided a cross-species networking opportunity which is one of the benefits to this type of meeting. I asked Kay what stood out in her mind after listening to the presentations. One was a step by step method to communicate with the consumer which gave specific workable ways to accomplish this. Another was presentation on the PennAg Industries Association Today’s Agriculture display at the 2012 PA Farm Show.

You can hear my interview with Kay here: Interview with Kay Johnson Smith

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

Advocating For Animal Agriculture

The Chairman of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, Chris Ashworth, closed out the 2012 Stakeholder Summit after introducing our final speaker. I visited with him to learn how things are going with the organization.

Chris talks about the fact that they are celebrating 25 years of advocating for animal agriculture representing all animal species. He says that this past year they’ve had a lot of success at the state level impacting legislation that supports agriculture. He says the Stakeholders Summit had a record attendance and that social media came to the forefront as a tool to communicate agriculture’s message. Yes indeed!

You can hear my interview with Chris here: Interview with Chris Ashworth

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

Becoming Authentically Agriculture

ZimmCast 348Let’s talk “Authentically Agriculture” with Michele Payn-Knoper, Cause Matters and founder of the weekly AgChat Twitter conversation. Michele was a presenter at the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. Michele says her presentation title means “that agriculture really needs to do a better job of connecting on a human level.” She spoke about the values, validation and voice that’s needed for agriculture and challenged the group to think about these ideas. Even though you may be a farmer you’re still a human being first and to start at that level to connect with other human beings is the basic first step. Sounds like good advice to me.

We also talked about AgChat and the AgChat Foundation which both Michele and I serve on the board of. It is amazing that the weekly Twitter conversation has been going for over 3 years and Michele says there has been participation from over 15,000 people from 15 countries. She says the outcomes from the conversation are fascinating. I’ll also use this chance to promote this year’s AgChat Foundation Agvocacy 2.0 Conference which will take place August 23-24 in Kansas City. Submit your application here.

Listen to this week’s ZimmCast here: Authentically Agriculture with Michele Payn-Knoper

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong and Monsanto, for their support.

The ZimmCast is the official weekly podcast of AgWired. Subscribe so you can listen when and where you want. Just go to our Subscribe page.

Building Relationships With Consumers

The moderator for the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit was Tom Steever, Brownfield, who is currently the President of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Tom was also one of our presenters so it was interesting seeing him introduce himself, speak, thank himself and then present himself with the AAA coffee mug token of appreciation. It was also hilarious. Tom took over moderating duties for Tom Brand, NAFB, Executive Director, who could not attend due to a family emergency.

Tom’s topic was “Strengthening the Bond.” I took that to mean a discussion about relationships and I was right. His message was that “the farmer has a story to tell and that the farmer should tell to consumers.” By doing that we can build the relationships that will help them better understand where our food comes from. And he also points out how farm broadcasters can help tell the story of the farmer.

You can hear my interview with Tom here: Interview with Tom Steever

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

Gaining Consumer Trust

If you need a speaker on the subject of social media and content marketing then you need Shelly Kramer, V3 Integrated Marketing. I met Shelly last year and she talks about what I do better than I do and I like that. I’m sharing a short excerpt from her comments at the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit on blogging which is near and dear to my heart as you all know.

Shelly was here to speak on “Closing the Trust Gap,” and her comments on how individuals and companies can accomplish this are spot on. I fully agree with her idea that you used to spend money on media and then you got business. Today you spend time on media and you get business. Now, that media is yourself and/or social media (mobile website, blog, podcasts, social networking, etc.). Of course time is money but to utilize these tools properly you have to invest time and give it time to develop. She also made a point of saying how big a mistake it is to think you can hire the company president’s just out of college daughter to run your social media accounts. If you think about that hard enough for a minute you’ll understand why. However, it happens and it is a setup for potential disaster.

You can hear an excerpt of Shelly’s comments here: Shelly Kramer Talks Blogging

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

Animal Agriculture Alliance Celebrates 25 Years

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Here’s Steve Kopperud receiving a present since Steve was the founding President. I hope that’s the right title. The AAA was given birth by the American Feed Industry Association and was originally known as the Animal Industry Foundation.

Speaking of the American Feed Industry Association being a founding member/organization/supporter of the AAA, here’s Sarah Novak, Vice President, Membership & Public Relations at AFIA, receiving a 25 years of support award from AAA Chairman Chris Ashworth. During our Stakeholders Summit reception last night all the long time supporters of the AAA were recognized and photos are in the online photo album.

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

College Aggies Online Scholarship Winners

The winners of the College Aggies Online Scholarship are attending the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. Here they are from Casper College with their adviser, Marty Finch. The college team was presented a check by Animal Ag Alliance Chairman Chris Ashworth and and Kay Johnson Smith, President/CEO.

I visited with the students, Kaycee Carpenter, Trinity Holland and Jessie McClellan. I asked them to tell us about the College Aggies program and what being here means to them and why they are such strong supporters of agriculture.

You can hear my interview with our scholarship winners here: Interview with Scholarship Winners

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

Ag Voice in Today’s Media

What is agriculture’s voice like in today’s media? That’s the question posed to the panel that Janie Gabbett, Executive Editor, MeatingPlace, served on here at the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. Janie used some great examples of how big issues like LFTB and BSE have been handled by the mainstream media and talked about how industry stakeholders can and should handle these situations.

Janie gave some great advice. For example, she says that you have to have factual information readily available before these issues blow up. That’s because journalists are under ridiculous deadlines and need instantaneous information and resources. She says that if you wait to put it together until you’re asked for it then you’ve lost the opportunity. I agree. She also makes a point of using the social media platforms like blogging since even the media are doing so as well as consumers and animal activists. She also makes a great point that those of us in “industry” media should be looked to as a place to make sure good information is available. MeatingPlace is followed and read by mainstream media just like AgWired is!

You can hear my interview with Janie here: Interview with Janie Gabbett

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.

Regulatory and Activist Lessons From Europe

Lessons Learned From Europe was the topic addressed by Mike Sheldon, Greenway Farms Limited, during the opening session of the 2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. Mike talked about regulatory burdens and activist influence. You’ll hear him say in my interview with him that what’s happening there is coming here to the USA.

I asked Mike what he wanted to communicate to our group here. He says that he first wanted us to know how big the impact is going to be on hog production when closed confinement stalls for sows are banned next year. He says this change is happening in Europe and will happen here as well. This change is going to be huge. He says that minor changes can be dealt with but a change of this magnitude which will require massive investment to implement without showing a greater return is going to be hard to deal with.

You can hear my interview with Mike here: Interview with Mike Sheldon

2012 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Thanks to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and United Soybean Board for their sponsorship of our coverage of this year’s Summit.