Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maine Senate enacts animal welfare plate bill - Fosters

Maine Senate enacts animal welfare plate bill - Fosters: "Maine Senate enacts animal welfare plate bill

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A bill to create a new specialty license plate to raise money for animal welfare programs has won unanimous approval in the state Senate and now goes to Gov. John Baldacci for his signature.

Democratic Sen. John Nutting of Leeds, who sponsored the measure, said Tuesday the new plate provides a great opportunity for people who want to support the cause of animal welfare.

Money raised from the special plates are to be divided between the state's animal welfare and sterilization funds.

Nutting said that despite the poor economy, the bill's supporters managed within 78 days to raise the $50,000 needed to guarantee a minimum of 2,000 plates."

Other states are sure to follow this example. As diligent members of society ensure your state keeps the money directed to LOCAL humane society activities. DO NOT allow this to become a contribution to the Humane Societey of the United States. Family farmers and ranchers cannot afford to have States become conduits of revenue for the HSUS's war against agriculture.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Animal Welfare - Part II, Equine Cruelty Act of 2009

Horses are livestock and should not be classified as “companion animals.”

Ranch horses are valuable tools for gathering and cutting, roping and sorting. Certainly, a good dog is beneficial when working cattle as well. However, I have never seen a cat push cows out of the brush, head a bull, or heal.

Draft horses and mules are valuable tools for farming. Working alone, in teams and hitches they are very effective for plowing, discing, drilling, cutting, baling, hauling hay and grain. When was the last time you saw a team of Dobermans pulling a plow, or a four up of Chihuahuas running a hay rake? Perhaps it was a team of Persians pulling the hay wagon to feed cows in two feet of snow in Eastern Oregon?

Horses are livestock and are raised to perform a job or service. Are they a valued part of the ranch or farm? Definitely. However, they are not, and should not be considered as “companion animals.”

Public policy, being forced upon private property and family farms and ranches is wrong. Without argument, Americans do not commonly consume horse meat as some do in Europe and other parts of the world. Yet, animal rights advocates feel it necessary to get legislation and initiatives passed to abolish all processing of horses and transportation of horses to processing facilities.

All horses are not created equal. Family farmers and ranchers that breed, train and utilize horses responsibly are being negatively impacted by flawed policy and mis-information. Horses that are unsafe or too old to perform should be humanely disposed of. If the Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 passes, these horses will likely injure themselves, other horses, humans or endure unnecessary pain and suffering. That is not humane.

Horses used to have a salvage value. Recently, due to a weak economy, high feed costs and legislation and initiatives, many small horse owners are abandoning their horses at shows, rodeos, and even in the high dessert, home of the wild mustangs. These actions have resulted in overcrowding at shelters, a reduction of the wild mustang’s natural forage and even starvation of the domesticated horses. These are the truly inhumane acts.

Work to ensure safe and humane transportation of horses, but allow horses to be processed again in the United States. Help save the family farmers and ranchers and join in defeating the Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 and supporting safe transportation and the construction of domestic horse processing facilities.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Animal Welfare - Part 1

Discussion on the topic of animal welfare and animal rights has again reached high intensity. Stories in the news are highlighting the efforts of various organizations ranging from violent and destructive actions taken against businesses, to protesting eateries, to writing and supporting legislation at the state and federal levels. Since the majority of our country's population is at least three generations removed from production agriculture, it is important to first understand the difference between animal welfare and animal rights and be able to recognize the motives behind organizations actions.

Animal welfare is based on the principles of caring for and utilizing animals in a humane manner. Organizations that honestly promote animal welfare are seeking to improve how animals are treated and their general well-being. An individual or organization that supports the animal welfare premise believes that humans have the right to eat and use animals. However, exercising that right encompasses the responsibility of humans to raise those animals in a humane manner and with proper care and treatment.

Those involved in production agriculture are continually modifying their operations and changing their management routine to be better stewards through university and industry specific research. Changes in management, which have been made over the past 100 years, have NOT been effectively communicated with the public and thus, have resulted in stereotype assumptions being made based on media coverage of an organizations “hot story.” Therefore, reactions and actions by the public are based on emotion and not fact.

Animal rights are based upon the philosophy that animals have rights equal to those bestowed upon humans. Organizations that follow and promote this philosophy are determined stop all use and even the ownership of animals through the passage of legislation and initiatives that will stop the raising of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, breeding, hunting and entertainment purposes. Two of the better known organizations in this category are the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). A third, and lesser realized, is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). While the HSUS may share the words “Humane” and “Society” it is NOT the same as your local city and county Humane Societies that are involved in many positive endeavors.

The HSUS was once considered an animal welfare organization that has long since shifted its policy and resources from directly serving the welfare of animals to distributing information and actively pursuing legislation against farming, fishing, hunting and animals in entertainment. President and CEO of HSUS states his organizations position fairly clearly in the two following statements.

“The HSUS works hard to enact laws that protect farm animals from the abuses they all too commonly suffer throughout their lives…. Whether through ballot initiatives, state, or federal legislation, The HSUS is a leader when it comes to making humane public policy changes.”
“Animals raised for food are not just objects or commodities—they are fellow individuals….”
It is the promotion and passage of legislation and ballot initiatives by these types of organizations that places bans and restrictions on production agriculture that is most perilous; resulting in a very real threat to food supply and safety. This has been most recently observed in Arizona, California, Colorado Florida and Oregon with additional measures pending in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and a multitude of others.

These actions, while believed by the public to impact only a few “bad apples” and progressive in nature have and will negatively impact all of production agriculture. Passed legislation and initiatives have resulted in: an increase in predation of livestock and pets by dogs, coyotes, wolves and mountain lions; an increase in abandoned horses that become malnourished and suffer from the lack of proper health care; a negative environmental impact on wild horses due to domestic abandonment; and the likely reduction in swine, poultry and egg production in California and Arizona through the passage of Propositions 2 and 204 respectively. While portions of some legislation may be reasonable and beneficial changes, the destruction occurs in the “details” and “language” of bills that are written by individuals with little to no background in production agriculture and plenty of assumptions.

Producers must continue to implement humane strategies and modify management techniques as new scientifically supported information becomes available. They must also communicate more effectively with the public and provide a face and their positive story to the consumer.
Consumers must take the responsibility to gather their information from qualified sources and reach educated decisions based on fact, not emotion and rhetoric.

Agricultural commodities grown and produced in the United States of America are the safest in the world. Further, American producers are the most regulated and restricted stewards on the planet. Should the current trend of “anti-production agriculture” legislation continue, the United States risks becoming a net importer of agricultural commodities and importing food and fiber from countries that do operate under the same regulations and guidelines as we do here at home. Becoming dependant upon foreign nations for our food supply is an issue of National Security.

“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Genesis 9:1-3

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beef In A Diet

A friend of mine emailed the following response to me from Atkins Diet Reviews and a response to the question: "How much weight can I lose on a low carb diet?"

The section of the response that sounded the "Common Sense Alert" is as follows:

"NOTE: BEEF, Oh my god -it is very bad for you and does not leave your intestine for months and months (look it up on Internet…it’s the worse food for you-unless used in moderation and VERY VERY small portions)"

So, let's evaluate this.

I am a regular beef consumer, partaking of the delicious and nutritious delicacy at least once per day, every day of the week, in the quantity of approximately one pound per serving (closer to two pounds when ingesting a homegrown steak) for the past 21 years. On average this equates to roughly 7 pounds of beef consumed per week, and 28 pounds per month. If we take the stated "months", conservatively, to represent just two months, this would indicate that I have 56 pounds of beef residing in my intestines. That is the equivalent of a 50 pound block of salt or minerals.

Certainly, a block of salt is much denser than digested food, but for comparison sake we'll use the average size block of salt as 10"x10"x12" or 1200 cubic inches of space (approximately 3 basketballs). In my personal situation, I estimate my intestinal cavity to be approximately 7"x7"x14" or 686 cubic inches (this is based on a 32" waist), which is basically 57% of the space that would be required to contain the block of salt, which is at least twice the density of digested meat. Therefore, we should take the area of the salt block and multiply it by 2 which would give us an area of 2400 cubic inches (approximately 5.5 basketballs) or 72% more area than is physically available. Remember, this does account for the space occupied by the intestines themselves, nor the other vital organs housed below the heart, lungs and stomach. If this were the case, I highly doubt that I would still be the same waist size now, that I was in 1986, a 32".

While the individual indicated that the information was on the "Internet", an actual source was not given and I was unable to confirm her data personally. However, the point is, information on responsible websites should be factual and at least pass the "Common Sense Test." If you are a person who gives advise and responds to questions, do yourself and others a favor, be factual, honest and forthright.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dear Mr. Limbaugh

Mr. Limbaugh,

I'm a 39 year old, 3rd generation Christian, Conservative Agriculturist. I’ve been listening to you since the beginning at KFBK and appreciate all of your efforts for the conservative movement. However, you really need to do some further research into the HSUS. HSUS is NOT the organization at the local level that does all of the good work for cats and dogs and other companion animals.

The Humane Society of the United States is playing solely off of the emotions of Americans. They back their plots with little science. They sway big name celebrities to push their agenda and they focus on portions of our society that know very little about where their food comes from.

The HSUS is a serious threat to family farms and animal agriculture in the United States. While our "leaders" (I use the word lightly) in Washington can bail out banks and businesses by printing more money, food cannot simply be printed! Agriculture has always based its production methods on sound science and research. I am simply asking you to do the same, especially when it comes to supporting an organization that threatens the bread and butter of our country.

There is a very good, unbiased, article at that gives an accurate depiction of the HSUS. In all honesty, the HSUS is on the same level as PETA, ALF, and the Gore Greenies, and we all know your position on those groups.

As I have great respect for you and your efforts, I felt responsible to let you know of this situation before it tarnishes your good character.

Thank you again,

Jeff Fowle

Mr. Limbaugh can be reached at the following:
email -
phone - 800-282-2882

Is Grass Really Greener?

I've begun hearing an argument among "green" activists and some Grass Fed niche marketers that grass fed cattle are "greener" and produce less methane (CH4) than their grain fed counterparts.

Folks, go back and review your feeds and feeding class, nutrition class and biochemistry class.

First, grain has a higher TDN (total digestible nutrient) than forages. Due to higher TDN, in most comparisons, grain digestion results in an average of four times less methane (CH4) production. In addition, due to the higher digestibility of grains, it requires less energy to breakdown, thus results in a higher net comparable energy gain than forage digestion.

For example, think back to that steer you fed in 4-H or FFA. When you started them on feed your ration was probably around 80:20 (roughage:concentrate or hay:grain) and over the course of feeding, as you neared the end point, that ratio changed to around 35:65. A lower energy, higher protein diet was utilized to maximize growth at the beginning of the animals growth curve and transitioned into a higher energy, lower protein diet to encourage inter muscular and subcutaneous fat deposition. Now, remember how that steers phenotype changed over the course of feeding him? At the beginning, he walked around the pen with a what? "Hay Belly?" Correct! and as time went on, that belly gradually diminished as the ration increased in the percentage concentrate being fed. That "Hay Belly" is methane gas (CH4). OK, enough for the feeds and feeding lesson.

Those in the beef industry need to make sure that the information they present to the consumer is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I fully support niche marketing, however, utilizing mis-information to gain a market share, mislead the public and potentially hurt others within the industry is not the Christian thing to do. Utilize the true scientific merit or consumer preferance to support your endeavors.

For those in the general public, before you believe what you read or hear on the news or from a friend, or organization, always check the science.

The grass is not always greener.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adjudicated Water Users Face Difficult Questions

Adjudicated water users in Siskiyou County are facing difficult questions in trying to decide whether or not to participate in the Scott and Shasta Valley ITP Programs.

After the state listed the Coho Salmon, the CDFG convened the Shasta-Scott Recovery Team (SSRT) in late 2002. The SSRT advised the CDFG that it needed to work "with" the communities of the Scott and and Shasta watersheds to develop a programatic permitting process that would allow agricutural diverters to continue routine ranching and farming activities and "be in compliance with the Fish and Game Code and the CESA. The primary objective was to provide agicultural water users a simple and cost effective means to obtain "necessary" permits and continue viable agricultural operations.

CDFG knew that they would not be able to handle the program on an individual basis and so an agreement was reached with the respective Resource Conservation Districts. Beginning in 2005, "outreach" was done to notify diverters that they could participate in the Program after they were established, by signing a "letter of intent." These letters "allowed" for agricultural activities to continue while the Program was developed.

In the fall of 2008, the draft Program was presented for public comment. However, the document introduced a new layer of regulations, guidlines, restrictions and responsibilities that threaten the viability of the very agricultural operations it was designed to protect. Yes, an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) is designed to protect the landowner from take. Additionally, the CDFG introduced a new interpretation in the application of the 1602 permit, by requiring a permit in order to operate an agricultural diversion. Traditionally, 1602 permits were required for any disruption of the bed, bank or channel of a waterway and/or "substantial " diversion of flow. The word subsantial is crucial in understanding the "new" interpretation by CDFG. CDFG has publicly stated that one diversion is not likely to cause "substantial" change in flow, however, cummulatively, all the diversions in the system could. Therefore, they needed a Program that enrolled all diverters in order to try and gain control over adjuducated water rights that are currently managed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) through court decree.

Many of the diverters in both watersheds have installed fish screens, measured headgates, fish by-pass structures and rock weirs, all measures to minimize and/or alleviate the potential of take. Many of these structures were installed by the CDFG for the purpose of protecting the salmon and eliminating take. So, now the questions begin.....

First, are diverters that have been proactive and installed fish friendly structures willing to sign up for a program of unknown cost that presents real threats to private property rights and adjudicated water rights?

Second, can the CDFG legally require a landowner to get a permit when that landowner has already implemented the necessary mitigation measures to avoid take. Especially when those mitigation measures were approved and installed by the CDFG.

Third, can the CDFG legally require a landowner to get a permit for an activity that is legal and decreed by a court.

Fourth, how many landowers are going to be tempted to call it quits?

The agricultural producers in both the Scott and Shasta Valleys have endured compromise after compromise and at some point, a line is drawn. We've seen an increase in water fees, the implementaion of two TMDL's, the Klamath TMDL is soon to follow. The California Air Resources Board is implementing detrimental diesel regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency is developing new regulations for spraying. The Williamson Act is continually on the chopping block. Production costs have long since passed reasonableness compared to product market value. At what point does the agricultural community say enough is enough?

About Me

My photo
Jeff Fowle is a fourth generation family farmer and rancher from Etna, California. He and his wife Erin and son Kyle raise registered Angus cattle, Percheron draft horses, warmbloods, alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay. They also start and train horses for riding, jumping, and driving. Their family run ranch has incorporated many environmentally beneficial and water efficient technologies and management strategies. Jeff attended college at Colorado State University for two years and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Following college, he worked in Washington State for a year as a herdsman for BB Cattle Company and then returned to Etna, California in 1995 to own and operate KK Bar Ranch and Siskiyou Percherons. The latter was started by his grandfather, Clarence Dudley, who devoted much of his time to the Percheron Horse Association of America, specifically to developing their youth education program.