Baxter Black: An interesting season
March 16, 2013
It's been an interesting season for those of us in agriculture. Several shifts in the world's social gyroscope have come to light that will affect the public's perception of our farming world. For years, the "anti's" have led the battle to disparage the safety and health benefits of eating and raising meat, but facts are rearing their ugly head.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a 10-year study that revealed that more than half of the cases of food poisoning were related to produce (fruit and vegetables). The majority of the remaining sources were attributed to poultry. Fewer than 7 percent of the total was traced to beef consumption (E. coli in hamburger meat).
The study attributed this small number to significant safety improvements in beef handling. It also is worth noting that most of the contamination, be it meat or produce, is related to food handling after it has left the farm.
In a related issue, the irradiation of meat and produce is gaining traction. The slow acceptance of this life-saving procedure, which kills the microbial pathogens from the field to the kill floor, is the public's erroneous perception that you can get X-rays from the food you eat. It is one of those puzzling wives' tales like your feeder calves contracting IBR from IBR vaccination, or that smoking stunts your growth, or that Notre Dame really is a better football team than Alabama, even though they lost. In the end, you need to be able to trust your friendly local scientist.
Speaking of which, we had a big splash. A vociferous British Luddite (anti-technology) animal rights, eco-looney proclaimed to the world that his blindfolded opposition to the use of genetically modified foods was wrong! Maybe Prince Charles will take notes! What caused this stark turnaround was his realization that without modern agriculture methods, the growing population of the world will be ravaged by an inconceivable famine. I admit, I felt relief that at least one of the pied pipers allowed common sense to be a factor in his decision.
Which brings me to the abandoned horse travesty. I hear more and more states are considering a horse meat plant. Yet we are still piddling as Rome burns. The problem continues unabated. Horse rescue missions, wild horse feedlots and pastures are swamped, and the price of hay is exorbitant. I don't know how much longer those who caused this tragedy can keep up their protest. Forgiveness for "unintended consequences" can only go so far.
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And to top it off, U.S. carbon emissions have plunged to a 20-year low! What surprised the EPA czars was that the drop was not the result of direct government regulations and interference. It was caused by free-market forces, specifically the infusion and production of cheaper natural gas instead of coal.
How bout that? Mark one up for us.