Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Recently an article was published on the Huffington Post, about cruelty to animal relating to housing of farm animals in modern agriculture.  In it the author Bruce Friedrich talks about battery cages for hens, gestation stalls for pigs, and veal crates for veal calves.  The author attacks the use of these means for housing animals as inhumane and just plain wrong.  On the contrary, I feel that these are all appropriated and justified based on uses.  When considering the nature of their use, one need not jump to conclusions and “jump on the bandwagon,” but rather talk with someone who is knowledgable on the subject, say a farmer or someone related to agriculture who has worked with them in the past.  By talking to a one of these individuals, it will become apparent that they increase efficiency in agriculture, having been used for many years.  These so-called inhumane means of housing are industry standard, while having been verified by a number of independent entities, and are even in use by universities.  If a university who is supposed to be on the cutting edge of technology and research is still using them, are they not appropriate?  I feel that in order to properly understand the entire workings of all systems in modern agriculture one must first discuss it with someone who has a direct connection to agriculture, and more than likely they are very willing to discuss many matters.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Freshman, College of Agriculture

Published – 1/25/13 – Purdue Exponent, West Lafayette, IN

 

 

Dear Editor,

On Wednesday January 30, 2013 an article was published on MuncieVoice.com a local news source.  The article was entitled “Milk and Dairy – Grass-Fed Dairy, Part 2.”  It was written by Elizabeth Blessing and focused on modern dairy production factors including feeding practices, environmental impact, nutrition, and hormone and antibiotic and hormone use.  The article began by discussing feeding practices.  I would like to offer that she mentions the use of by-products such as “candy bakery waste, [and] potato waste,” these are products being utilized because of their nutritional value, but no use in human food production.  These products farmers are being accompanied by employment of a nutritionist, who develops properly balanced feed rations, adequately provide animal nutrition.  Moreover, she claims, “even dead animals, such as cats, dogs, and cattle” are used in feedstuffs for cattle.  It should also be known that feeding of these products is known to cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy.  Feed bans are in effect to prevent the use of these products for many reasons.  Ask yourself, “Why would I feed my pet something that is widely known to cause harm to the other animal(s)?” this affords you the perspective of the farmer, who has no intention or possible gain from such.  Feeding these products would only cause potential harm.  I challenge each and every one of you to consider information presented more than once, especially when it seems to be one-sided and lack transparency.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Freshman, College of Agriculture

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in support of agriculture as portrayed in this past Sunday’s Superbowl commercial from Dodge Ram.  The commercial featured an excerpt of a Paul Harvey speech.  His speech was given to the FFA at their 1978 national convention.  The dialogue talks about all the hard work and long hours many farmers put in.  At one point Paul Harvey says, “And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.”  These long hours are not without vain though.  Farmers are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet.  They strive to make everything the best they can.  Personally myself, every time we have a calf born it is nothing short of a miracle and my family and I work hard to make sure that the calf grows up strong and healthy.  The agriculture industry more than ever is working hard to provide great quality products.  The agricultural community is committed to ensuring quality products through the integrity of their work.  If you have any questions feel free to ask any farmer; they will be more than willing to talk to you about what they do and how they do it.  Talking to a farmer is sure to provide you with information “straight from the farm.”

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Butler, PA

Published – 2/6/13 – Butler Eagle, Butler, PA

http://www.butlereagle.com/article/20130206/EDITORIAL02/702069921/0/SEARCH

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing to clarify points made in an article posted on Alabama.com, an online news source.  The article focused on a national tour by Mercy for Animals, an animal activist group, who is touring the nation protesting outside of Wal-Mart stores.  Their protest is in regard to the farms that Wal-Mart sources its pork from.  They cite their qualms with Walmart’s pork producers as the use of gestation crates for pregnant sows, female pigs.  Gestation crates were introduced for many reasons.  When housed in group housing, sows become aggressive and will fight, injuring each other.  Gestation crates prevent this from occurring.  Also, they allow for each sow to be fed according to her individual nutritional needs.  Around the time of farrowing, giving birth to piglets, sows are moved to farrowing crates.  Farrowing crates prevent the sow from laying on her piglets, as well as allow the piglets a clean dry environment due to their design.  Farmers are consistently working to improve the welfare of their animals to ensure they can live long, healthy, happy, lives, just as you would want for yourself.  Other solutions have been considered, but none have yielded the same benefits, often having more disadvantages.  Check out www.fooddialogues.com for more information.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Center Township

Published – 2/26/13 – Butler Eagle, Butler, PA

http://www.butlereagle.com/article/20130226/EDITORIAL02/702269911/0/SEARCH

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to in response to an article that appeared recently about factory farming.  The article appeared on Vice.com, a self-described, “Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information.”  The article focuses mainly on the ability of journalists to report on conditions of factory farming.  Therein lies a large deal of controversy in this.  It is not that farmers and ranchers do not want to let journalists onto their farms.  They are just afraid that they may take what they see and with little to no background of what is happening, may turn it around on the farmer.  By no means does the agriculture community condone animal abuse or harmful practices.  It seems to be sort of a positive feedback cycle where more criticism leads to less transparency leading to more criticism, ever building on itself.  Agriculture is working hard to make strides to be more and more transparent.  If journalists want to report on farms, undercover videos are not the way to go about it.  The more willing society is to work with farmers and ranchers the more they will be willing to discuss and visa versa.  This is a process that requires both sides to work cohesively together to achieve.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Butler, PA

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing excitedly to say that the concern about bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE], more commonly known as Mad-Cow Disease, can be reduced dramatically.  Within the past two decades there has been a lot of development and controversy over BSE.  BSE is caused by an infectious agent known as a prion.  These prions are mutated proteins introduced to cattle through feeding products made from other ruminants, organisms with four compartments to their stomach (e.g. cattle, sheep, deer, llamas, etc.).  The outbreaks of BSE in the United States have been few compared to the United Kingdom, however they are still of great concern not only to the public, but also to the farmers and ranchers, who strives to produce wholesome healthy products.  To prevent further outbreaks of the disease, many practices have been put in place.  First, a feed ban on mammalian protein products was enacted to ensure cattle, sheep, and other ruminants have a significantly if not completely reduced chance of consuming a prion.  Additionally, there are many tests that an animal must pass to enter the food chain at all, either for pet or human consumption.  The combination of these and other practices has greatly reduced chance of BSE occurring in the United States.  Last year, a motion was filed with the World Organization for Animal Health to reduce the United States classification of BSE risk from controlled to negligible, with regard to BSE occurrence.  The World Organization for Animal Health has recently evaluated the measures taken to control and prevent BSE and recommended the classification change to negligible.  This is great news for producers and show that United States farmers and ranchers take public health and safety as one of their top priorities when producing products for the food market.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Center Township

Published – 3/7/13 – Purdue Exponent, West Lafayette, IN

http://www.purdueexponent.org/opinion/article_2b2ac53b-d019-5272-a490-a3c9e274775b.html

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an ongoing debate in the state of Missouri.  As a beef producer myself, I feel that it is imperative we, as an agricultural community, address the issue.  In Missouri currently, there is a proposed constitutional amendment to ensure the right to ensuring the right to utilize modern practices.  Our industry is coming under ever-increasing scrutiny.  Though some have worked to get out and spread the news of our industry, many of us have continued on about our daily lives, willing to talk but not wanting to be in the spotlight.  Should we continue down this path we will inevitably wind up far enough down the road that there is no return to having any say in what we do.  Potentially, we could end up being at the mercy of others.

In some senses we are at the mercy of society, but we have freedoms yet too.  The aim of this constitutional amendment in Missouri is aimed to ensure that we as an agricultural community are protected.  This however will not be the end all, be all protection of agriculture.  There will be continually more scrutiny.

When facing this we must remember to be their friend and show them why we do what we do, acknowledge their concerns, and work to find middle ground.  The more we engage them, the more we will educate them, rather than the other way around.  I challenge all of us involved in agriculture to utilize our resources to the best that we can so we can work better ourselves.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Butler, PA

Published – 3/12/13 – Farm & Dairy, Salem, OH

http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/letters-to-the-editor/letter-agriculture-needs-to-engage-more-consumers/48480.html

 

 

Dear Editor,

Recently there has been much concern over the labeling of genetically modified foods or organisms [GMOs].  Just last year, in California, there was a proposition to require labeling of genetically modified foods.  The goal and reasoning behind GMOs is to increase efficiency with production and provide a more uniform product.  There is a large fraction of the American public that thinks that there are negative health effects caused by GMOs.  Reality is, there is no evidence to suggest that there are negative health effects; though there is no evidence to suggest there are health benefits for GMOs compared traditional foods or visa versa.  The lack of differences for either side presents a compelling argument for the need to label the supposed difference.  Many will agree, the connotation of labeling GMOs is negative.  Labeling these can be likened to labeling meat as having come from animals killed for their muscle.  The thought, gruesome, but is the reality.  Labeling GMOs does not make the product any different just changes the thoughts associated.  I challenge each and every one of you to evaluate the reasons behind labeling GMOs and then think about the unintended consequences behind adding negative connotation to a product that is no different than others to either side in the grocery store.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Butler, PA

Published – 3/16/13 – Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/letters/gmo-labeling-679546/

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am a beef producer, writing in response to an article that appeared recently on TheAtlanticCities.com.  The article focuses on aquaponics, systems that grow both fish and vegetation exchanging nutrients between the two with the plants cleaning the water for the fish.  The article cites water savings of 90% compared with conventional fish farming.  The author cites this could be a large-scale revolution for agriculture with food demand rising.  What is happening is, the booming world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.  Thus, a general need for more food.  The challenge is allocating it.  Large sections of the US are well established with regard to food supply, while others are lacking.  Techniques like this were developed to help farmers and ranchers provide better quality food product while improving efficiency.  Utilizing aquaponics can help provide more food.  We must realize though, aquaponics typically utilizes indoor spaces.  When working to build these systems we must consider land use.  Since 1984, California has lost about 1 mile2 of farmland every four days.  California has many prime and unique agriculture lands as do other states, and arable areas are being encroached upon.  USDA states, more than 85% of land is not suitable for crop land, due to cities, soils, and/or water availability.  These lands are utilized to raise food animals for grazing, increasing the amount of usable land. Less than 15% of land being crop suitable and that number decreasing fast, we must watch what is developed next no matter what.  Aquaponics is great technology that can be utilized when placed in proper areas.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Butler, PA

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a recent segment on the Dr. Oz show about meat labeling.  There is an article summing the episode online.  As a beef producer I agree with parts of Dr. Oz’s recommendations online.  One of the first that is discussed is “natural.”  The key to remember here is that there are no labeling restrictions on natural.  From there, “free-range” is discussed.  This again has no restrictions, however implies more than the “natural” label.  The next label discussed was “animal welfare approved.”  This label is relatively new and is an initiative by the Animal Welfare Institute.  It is a certification by them that the farm the meat has come from, has worked to ensure their animals’ well being according to their standards.  Finally, “organic” is discussed.  When stamped “USDA Certified Organic,” the product has been grown in accordance with USDA regulations.  Other “organic” labels can be used when organic ingredients are included in the product.  When purchasing meat consumers must be aware that all meat from a specific species is the same, it is just the production method that varies.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Butler, PA

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a recent segment on the Dr. Oz show.  The segment focused on the recent horse meat scandal in Europe.  The fear among consumers is that the incidents of horse meat being found in beef could happen here in the United States.  Beef packers across the nation are consistently under inspection by the federal government to watch their actions.  Additionally, meat being imported is also subject to rigorous inspection.  Just recently an E. Coli outbreak in Canada caused a scare in the United States.  Luckily, the outbreak was caught soon after being imported during the incoming tests on the meat.  This is just on testament to the security of our food chain.  Moving forward it was stated that there is a ban on horse slaughter in the US.  However, that ban was lifted last November, although there are no active slaughter facilities in the nation.  The ban was lifted due to an increase in the number of abandoned and neglected horses.  Just because they are able to be harvested does not mean they will be part of the food chain, especially in disguise.  The safety of our food chain has never been better and is continually improving.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Butler, PA

Published – 3/20/13 – Journal & Courier, Lafayette, IN

http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303200005&nclick_check=1

 

 

Dear Editor,

Can you believe that next week [March 18-22] is National Ag Week.  This is a great time to look at all agriculture does.  Many think of agriculture as being the industry responsible for producing food for the world.  This is a large part however, there is so much more.  Management of our forests is part of agriculture.  Managing the natural resources our earth holds is part of agriculture.  Missing from this is a very large, very important part of agriculture.  Technology is ever-changing and our world is continually growing.  The combination of these two means that agriculture must continually change.  Universities doing research in agriculture fields are a vast part of agricultural advancements.  There are innumerable challenges facing agriculture and the universities are helping to work toward solutions for these.  As part of National Ag Week, I urge you to thanks a farmer for the food they have provided you!

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Center Township

Published – 3/20/13 – Butler Eagle, Butler, PA

http://www.butlereagle.com/article/20130320/EDITORIAL02/703209923/0/SEARCH

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a letter on the 18th of March from Mr. Edmunds regarding the European Horse Meat Scandal.  As many of you are aware from media, horse meat has been found in ground beef being sold across the Europe.  As a small beef producer myself and having toured a large-scale Cargill Regional Beef facility, I am confident that our food chain is safe from contamination of intermixing meat types.  These facilities across the nation are very well-regulated by USDA agents to ensure the proper protocols are being followed to meet and exceed the standards for quality and safety of products.  The 2007 ban on horse slaughter was due to pressure from groups like PETA and HSUS.  The ban however had unintended consequences such as abandonment and neglect following an economic downturn when people could no longer afford to keep their horses.  With no place to turn they left the horses to fend for their own and perish from starvation.  The removal of the ban was designed to alleviate this.  Many cultures still consume horse meat, and just because there are plants applying to begin harvesting of equine animals, does not mean they will be used for consumption in the United States.  With an ever-increasing global economy we are able to trade rapidly with other countries, additionally these plants will create a source of jobs.  In response to the grain and soy based meat alternatives.  As many studies have suggested, the more processed a product is the less healthy.  These alternative products are extremely processed and lack the nutritional value that many meat products provide. For example, a serving of lean beef, contains 10 essential nutrients and vitamins as well as all the essential amino acids.  Check out www.beefnutrition.org for some great information about the power of lean beef!

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Center Township

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a letter on March 18th from Mr. Eckerman.  Like him, I am very excited about the selection of the new Pope.  I feel that he will be instrumental in the future of the world.  Near the end of the letter, the writer suggested joining Meatless Mondays.  The two biggest ideas are to reduce environmental impact and consume a healthier diet.  Let us look at these two ideas.  First, the idea of a healthier diet is great.  Just last year lean beef was shown to be able to be part of a heart healthy diet.  There are 29 lean cuts of beef that all contain a nutrient packed source while containing significantly less calories.  The study also showed that people who follow the diets set forth in it can lose significant amounts of weight while eating beef.  This diet is called BOLD or Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet.  Check out www.beefnutrition.org for more details on BOLD.  Furthermore, the Meatless Monday movement aims to lower environmental impact.  A friend of mine crunched some numbers and found many interesting topics.  The Environmental Working Group claims that if the entire US chose a vegetarian diet there would be a 4.5% drop in environmental emissions.  However, the EPA cites total livestock emissions at 3.1% of all outputs.  How can the drop be bigger than the output?  So if we take 3.1% divided by seven days per week we find that if the entire US adopted Meatless Mondays the we should decrease the amount of emissions by .44%.  Are there not better ways to accomplish a higher drop?  Granted any drop in emissions is excellent but to achieve this less than .5% drop we need the entire US population to adopt the change.  I encourage you to work to find better ways to lower emissions while still supporting the US economy.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Center Township

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Ms. McMaster.  I would like to extend my sincere thanks for her participation the discussion about agriculture.  In my previous letter about gestation crates, I discussed the reasons for the need to end the protest by Mercy for Animals about the use of gestation crates and the reasons for use of gestation crates.  Further, we must consider the financial costs to just abruptly stop their use.  Many facilities are working to phase out the use.  For example, Smithfield Foods the largest pork producer in the US is working to phase out use by 2017.  The European Union however still uses crates up until the fifth week of gestation.  Further in response to the agriculture bills being worked on to “ban” investigations of facilities.  The aim of these bills is not to ban videos, but for groups to turn over videos within a set time period so that the investigation can move forward according to proper legal procedures.  The mentality of producers is that you would not like someone coming into your area and double-crossing you by doing something undercover, so why should they be victims either.  By no means do I condone animal abuse, neglect, or blatant mistreatment, I am completely for BOTH sides being able to work together to find appropriate solutions.  Again, I thank her for her further discussion of agriculture.  Please look at www.fooddialogues.com for more information and follow my blog at www.cattlekidchronicle.wordpress.com.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Center Township

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Ms. Mishra’s column on Wednesday, March 20 about labeling genetically modified organisms.  She advocated for the labeling of GMOs, so “you really know what is in the substance you just gobbled up.”  I would like to ask the question, “do you really understand half of the products names that are on the label of the soda you drank earlier?”  Many consumer do not, now that is not a reason not to label them, but would it make a difference or would it be a scare tactic.  Many proponents of GMOs cite health risks as a need to label.  There is no conclusive medical evidence to show that they cause negative health risks.  Furthermore, as we face a society that is ever-expanding and will inevitably require more land area, we are further shrinking an already small amount of agricultural lands.  Only about 15% of land is arable (farmable).  This number is decreasing everyday.  California for example loosed one square mile of farm land every four days.  This presents a huge problem considering they have some of the best land in the nation for certain crops.  With such a huge decrease occurring constantly GMOs are just one solution to help our food production system “float.”  I challenge everyone to rethink the “need” to label GMOs.  I would like to extend my sincere thanks for Ms. Mishra participation in the conversation about agriculture.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

Freshman, College of Agriculture

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in regard to the recent ag bills being passed in many state legislatures.  As a beef producer myself, I have been following the issues heavily.  The bills are related to the ability of groups to work undercover on farms.  Let’s look at the topic from an abstract point of view.  As an employer, would not you want to hire someone how will double cross you and work undercover trying to expose something.  Yes, as an employer you want to work to fix the situation that may be the problem, so you can continue with your business, however the undercover video that would be filmed for weeks then released will effectively put you out of business and you want to fix this problem.

This is the mentality of the farmer too.  Now, I don’t condone animal abuse in any way, shape, or form, but I also do not believe undercover videos are the way to fix it.  These new bills are designed to allow investigations to be conducted appropriately by law enforcement agencies.  These bills will also allow both sides (farmers and groups) to come to the table more and work to find better solutions for both sides.  I encourage you to look from the other side of every issue before making decisions.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

West Lafayette, IN

Published – 3/22/13 – Indy Star, Indianapolis, IN

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303240022

 

 

Dear Editor

I am writing in response to Ms. Dorfman’s letter of March 27.  In her letter she attacks many of the claims I made in a previous letter.  I would like to offer some clarification on some points.  First, in regard to videos filming our daily live in most public areas this is true.  I would like to offer that many farms are working to implement surveillance systems in order to be able to hold employees more accountable for their actions.  Additionally, these systems also provide the farmer a way to monitor his animals remotely 24/7 in case of emergencies.  They provide a multifold solution to many problems.  I would like to ask the question of why a farmer would find incentives in harming his/her animals, when all this accomplished is decreased efficiency.  Now the key here is not about making money, but spending and using less.  By working to keep animals healthier and in better shape all are rewarded, including the environment.

Additionally, Dorfman cites problems with the issue of utilizing animals for food consumption.  Regarding the harvesting of animals there are government regulations controlling the harvest of animals, reference the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act.  Additionally, Temple Grandin, a well-respected animal scientist from Colorado State, has worked tirelessly to improve the methods of harvest.  I have personally visited a harvest facility and having seen the methods in place am confident that they are more than appropriate, especially considering the “one knock” rule in place, which exceeded standards.  I urge Dorfman to reconsider her views, just as I have in many instances.  Both parties may be at the table and farmers are willing to work, just ask!

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

West Lafayette, IN

 

 

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Mr. Waterman’s letter of March 26 regarding SB 373.  In the article it seems as though there is a notion that all agriculture is “big business.”  I would like to offer that roughly 97% of farms are family owned and operated.  I am also glad that he expressed his concern over where learning how his food is raised.  Many in the agriculture community are always glad when someone else wants to be involved in the conversation.  The agriculture community is working harder than ever to tell the truth about what our lifestyle is like.  The ban on videos and photography is not aimed to prevent you from learning, but to prevent wrongful images from being portrayed.  When a new video comes out, I urge you to look at who published it.  HSUS for example spends less than 1% of its income on actual humane shelters.  Much of their funding goes to lobbying and working to destroy animal agriculture.  Also, PETA operates a  shelter that euthanizes the majority of animals taken in, near it headquarters in Virginia.  Their mission statements sound great, but look at what they really do.  This bill is designed to allow farmers to be better able to tell their story because there will be less wrong information.  In no means however, do I condone animal abuse in any way.  The agriculture community is consistently working to improve all that it does.

Respectfully Submitted,

Zachary Frazier

West Lafayette, IN

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