Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I was published!

Okay, we're not talkin' Newsweek or anything, but I was excited.  I wrote an article for the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman and it was published in last week's edition.  Here it is:

Pride in our Farms, Strength in our Numbers

By: Christi Slater

My husband and I have recently returned from a Farm Bureau Young Farmers Conference. While we were there, speakers Troy and Stacy Hadrick told us the importance of being an ‘Advocate for Agriculture’. They told us that there are many aspects of farming that people are simply not aware of and it is up to us, as local farmers, to speak out.

We have only been home for a few hours and I have already seen the same television commercial three times. It is for the Humane Society of the United States . Most of you have probably seen this commercial. It has those awful images of abused and neglected dogs and cats, a horse and dairy cow. It stars actress Wendi Malick asking you to give a monthly donation to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

 This commercial is very disturbing, but it also paints a very untrue picture of how agriculture and, more specifically, livestock production actually operates. I found many falsities within this advertisement. One in particular that I would like to touch on was the dairy cow getting pushed with a forklift. As life goes, livestock does die. Whether it be from illness or to feed families. Pushing them around with machinery is NOT normal practice. However, the fact that we have to use machinery to move deceased animals is the truth. These cattle are massive, heavy creatures. Overweight people in nursing homes are moved with a lift system.

We care about our animals, even when we have large quantities of them. Our cattle are fed at night before we even feed our own family. We take pride in our herd. We take pride in all of our farm. It is our life. If we don’t have a healthy herd of cattle when it comes time to sell, then we don’t have money to put food on our table and clothes on our kids.

We know each one of our cattle individually. Some of them even have names...until our kids ran out of names for them. Just like children, these cattle each have their own personalities. We can tell you which one will be first to the feed bunk every night. We can tell you that ‘Red Cow’ (told you we were running out of names) likes it when you pet her right there on her head. We can tell you that every night when we feed them ‘Barb’ will nudge the other girls out of her way. While most producers don't give their cattle names, they can individualize the cattle in their herds. Whether a producer has a herd of five head or 500 head. They can stand at the gate and tell you about those cattle.

  Before hearing the Hadrick’s speak I was not aware of the challenges that face all of us in the agriculture industry. The HSUS uses more than 95% of it’s budget for travel and lobbying against family farmers. None of the $19 per month that they are asking you to donate goes to your local animal shelters. They are not affiliated with local shelters or Humane Societies. Perhaps if you want your money to go to better use you should donate it directly to your local animal shelter. This is where there are kind, caring people that volunteer their time to help animals in need. Many of them are even family farmers just like you and me.

 It is not just this organization that portrays us in a false manner. Family farmers need to be aware that these are the images of us that are being portrayed. More importantly, these are the images that people believe to be true about us. Let people know this is not who we are. Many people are simply not educated or aware. Get involved in your local organizations. Just join. You don’t have to sign up to be president, committee chairman or even bring a covered dish. Just become a member. Farm Bureau offers a number of opportunities to connect with other farmers and hear speakers that educate within the agriculture industry. There are also many online groups you can join that will increase your agricultural awareness. There is strength in numbers. It is not just my family that loves our livestock, land and lifestyle. It is every farmer, rancher and cattleman. Take pride in yourselves and your farms. As the saying goes, a day in the country is worth a month in town.


  1. Very well put! I too wholeheartedly agree and its great that you spoke out and I am sure someone has heard you. The people who are not in touch with what goes on at the farm/ranch are the ones who miss out.
    Just now, I brought my coworkers into my office to watch the goatcam that I have set up at home. It was showing how one the momma goats were calling to her babies who decided the other side of the fence was pretty exciting. Momma was not impressed and toddler was not listening. They all got a hoot out of it and while the baby was not in harms way,,I was trying to show them how much like people these creatures really are! Also, how smart and wonderfully attentive. You just learn something every day when you have animals.
    P.S. I hooted on the sentence...livestock fed before the family. It is exactly that way at our place and sometimes the children speakup,,,but truly,,,they don't starve! :)

  2. Amen! The Sierra Club is also a big supporter of the HSUS and also have much of the same agenda. I just noticed their symbol on the back of my bathroom cleaner. I use "Green Works" by Clorox because it doesn't have the harsh fumes that can choke you up like other cleaners. It said "The makers of Green Works proudly support the Sierra Club". Well, looks like I will now be shopping around for a different cleaner. No more Clorox products for me!

  3. Thanks! ..and thanks for the info Steph. I didn't know that about the Sierra Club. Guess I'm looking for a different cleaner too. :)