Should We Sit Down with HSUS in Common Cause

Ag Sec VilsackMany eyebrows were raised during Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s speech at the AFBF convention yesterday. It was really a stand out moment in an otherwise pretty good speech and I wonder what you think about it. The photo is from his press conference following the closing session.

Sec. Vilsack was talking about creating strategic alliances and reaching out to groups that we may not agree with. He used several examples. But this is the one that stood out.

And frankly those who are engaged in constructive engagement They shouldn’t be faulted for doing so. Now I know that there are not too many fans of the Humane Society in this room. But egg producers thought it was in their best interest to avoid fifty different referendums, fifty different sets of rules. So they sat down with folks and they reached common ground. After all, isn’t that what we’re asking our Congress to do? Isn’t that what we’re asking our political leaders to do? To sit down and make common cause? I think the egg producers have the right idea. Now, the issues may be different for different types of producers. But we need to be constructively engaged at all times and conversations. We may not find agreement. But I think we will substantially reduce those who oppose farming and substantially reduce the reach of those and hopefully be able to get enough proactive activity that results in a five year bill.

I can’t agree with him on this. My reason is that when it comes to an organization like the HSUS which has a well known desire to end animal agriculture there is no “common cause.” I see efforts to do so as admitting defeat and just hoping to buy some time before losing the game. And we’re not talking about a game. We’re talking about people’s livelihoods and one of the most promising and productive sources of food to feed a growing population.

So, what do you think Sec. Vilsack meant by using this example and stating that he thought it was a good idea? Is it a portent of things to come? Should we expect to see our USDA sitting down with HSUS in common cause?

You can listen to Sec. Vilsack’s remark here: Sec. Vilsack Remark on HSUS

2013 American Farm Bureau Convention Photo Album

Do Vegetarians Have Smaller Brains?

Scientists at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, have discovered that going veggie could be bad for your brain – with those on a meat-free diet six times more likely to suffer brain shrinkage.

The study involved tests and brain scans on community-dwelling volunteers aged 61 to 87 years without cognitive impairment at enrolment, over a period of five years. When the volunteers were retested five years later the medics found those with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 were also the most likely to have brain shrinkage. It confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B12.

Vegans are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish.

This study confirms other findings which shows that overall human brain sizes have reduced by an average 11 percent since we adopted an agricultural diet based on cereal grains rather than the meat-based diet of our Palaeolithic ancestors.

Source: The Healthy Skeptic

Why Is Everyone Hating on Meat?

Many of us still have the sting of “Michigan’s Meat Out Day” on our mind. Among the purported reasons for reducing (or eliminating) meat from your diet are to save the Earth from global warming, (cows fart you know), reduce chronic disease, save you money at the grocery story, cure and prevent cancer and prevent childhood obesity. While I will acknowledge all of the issues mentioned above are issues in their own right, I must say that not eating meat will not solely cure any of the above problems.

People have been eating meat since biblical times so I’m not quite sure why everyone is “hating” on meat these days. The latest campaign I’ve come across encouraging people to go “veggie” is from The Cancer Project. They currently have a series of PSAs encouraging people to eat more veggies to help prevent cancer. The ads focus on preventing cancer in general as well as one specific to the prevention of prostate cancer and one on how to “keep our children cancer free.”

In one ad the “Veggie Hunter,” a scientist, searches the jungles around the globe in an attempt to discover remedies to save us from cancer. Ultimately he finds the “cure” in the veggie isle of his local grocery store. In another ad, “Protective Gear” mothers search for ways to keep their children safe from harm only to discover the easiest solution consists of feeding her children a healthy vegetarian diet for the prevention of obesity and cancer.

While vegetarianism may be right for some, it is not right for all. I do agree that it is very important to eat fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains every day. But I also think (backed up by thousands of research studies) that eating meat is also a healthy way to prevent cancer, obesity and other diseases.

HSUS Lays An Egg In Iowa

Apparently only some media were allowed to attend a Humane Society of the United States “news” conference this morning in Des Moines, IA. But a post on a Des Moines Register blog says that it was “closed to journalists.” Now how can you have a news conference if you don’t allow media to attend?

This photo, provided via Facebook and credited to an Iowa Farm Bureau photographer, shows those not allowed in. However, there are already stories on AP and Pork Magazine which I assume means they had someone there? And the Des Moines Register had a reporter doing live tweets from the event. Pretty confusing, eh?

We do know what HSUS is up to and it’s part of their tried and true method to drum up sympathy and support. This time they’re attacking poultry and egg production. They released a nasty looking video which is supposedly shot by HSUS employees who went to work at two different poultry production facilities for a couple weeks. So, they got jobs under false pretenses. Hmm. Now I should believe what they claim they show? You can imagine how easy it would be to set up the shots you want in order to get an effect even if what the viewer thinks they’re seeing isn’t real. Not much credibility there, especially when you’re a political lobbying organization doing the production! If you have the stomach to watch you’ll hear a number of unsubstantiated claims, even with their own production efforts. Pretty pathetic.

To get a much better perspective on the realities of poultry production, especially when it comes to using cages or not using cages, I highly recommend a read of a Des Moines Register guest column by Dean Kleckner, Chairman, Truth About Trade & Technology. He wrote it before today’s event. In it he says, “The Humane Society of the United States, however, would like to turn eggs into emblems of cruelty and death.” That’s got to be a tough goal since eggs really are a well established symbol of life. He goes on to write:

The truth is more complicated. Arizona Republic columnist Linda Valdez visited an egg farm that uses cages. She confessed to thinking that she would see chickens treated “like cogs in an industrial machine.” She discovered something different. She described a clean, efficient operation that produces good eggs at a reasonable price.

Then she visited a “cage-free” farm. “Layers of chicken excrement build up on the floor,” she reported. This is what the eggs lay in until someone picks them up.

For consumers of eggs, it’s a discomforting thought.

For well informed consumers who depend on modern farming production practices for safe and affordable food, the HSUS is a discomforting thought.

HSUS Feeling Heat in N.Y. Times

The Center For Consumer Freedom is dialing up the heat on the Humane Society of the United States. This is their full page ad that’s appearing in today’s New York Times. It highlight’s “the failure of the Humane Society of the United States to devote a significant amount of money to supporting America’s underfunded pet shelters. The ad explains that HSUS shares only 1 dollar out of every 200 dollars it collects with local, hands-on pet shelters.”

You can find out a lot more by going to the organization’s just-launched website, You can download a pdf of the ad with this link.

The ad reads:

Shouldn’t the “Humane Society” do better?

The Humane Society of the United States is NOT your local animal shelter. In fact, it gives less than one-half of one percent of its $100 million budget to hands-on pet shelters.

Meanwhile, this wealthy animal rights group socked away over $2.5 million of Americans’ donations in its own pension plans.

Surprised? So were we. The dog-watchers need a watchdog. Join the discussion at

Cattle Company Forces Change in Michael Pollan University Lecture

1_00_off_burgers_large Finally, someone puts some pressure on Michael Pollan. He’s scheduled to speak at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in an unopposed keynote speech for college students geared on the topic of animal agriculture and food production. However, in a recent article in the Triple Pundit, sources revealed that David Wood, chairman of the Harris Ranch Beef Co., urged the university to put on a forum with well-respected agriculturalists on the panel to counteract Pollan’s statements. Way to go David! Here is an excerpt from that article…

After receiving pressure from the owner of an agribusiness — that just happens to be a major donor — the university decided to turn what was to be a guest lecture by noted sustainable agriculture guru Michael Pollan, into a “panel discussion” including a scientist favored by the beef industry, according to the Los Angeles Times. In an angry September 23rd letter to the university president, David E. Wood, chairman of the Harris Ranch Beef Co., wrote, “While I understand the need to expose students to alternative views, I find it unacceptable that the university would provide Michael Pollan an unchallenged forum to promote his stand against conventional agricultural practices..”

Allowing Pollan to speak unchallenged had made Wood “rethink [his] continued financial support of the university.” Wood has pledged $150,000 toward a new meat processing plant on campus. Pollan, who has encountered such resistance to his appearances before, told the university he could lecture, or he could participate in the panel, but not both. Cal Poly made its decision, and quickly assembled a panel featuring Pollan, Gary Smith, Monfort Endowed Chair in meat science at Colorado State University, and Myra Goodman, co-founder of Earthbound Farm Organic, one of the largest organic businesses in the country.