Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Can We Talk?

I recently heard a presentation with statistics regarding what information people want to hear from those of us in agriculture. Research shows people don’t want to hear messages of safe, affordable, abundant food produced by family farms. 

The topics people are concerned about are antibiotic and hormone use, the welfare of animals on “factory farms”, biotechnology (GMO seeds) and sustainable agriculture. Food manufacturing companies have labeled food “no antibiotics” or “no added hormones” or “humanly raised” as marketing tools to charge more for products. Often these labeled products are no different than their unlabeled counterparts. Confusing food labels along with misleading movies, media coverage and websites that connect food production with human health problems, poor animal treatment and environmental harm lead to questions about food.

We love living at Hastings Dairy and producing milk!

Research shows people want to hear how farmers are improving. You’ll be pleased to know there are advances made in dairy production all the time. Milk quality, quantity and sustainability have improved dramatically over the last 60 years. During that time, dairy has reduced their carbon footprint by over 60% due to improvements in genetics, feed rations, animal health programs, housing, cow comfort and overall management practices. Today, U.S. dairy farmers produce more milk with 9 million cows than they did with 26 million cows in the 1940’s. 

My father-in-law, Duane Hastings, handling milk in the 1960's
 As a food producer, I want to address your concerns, share what we do on our farm and explain why. I want you to feel good about purchasing traditionally produced dairy products for your family. I want to assure you we pamper our cows and calves, have measures in place to insure no milk contains antibiotics and that all milk contains the same natural hormones its contained for centuries. I want you to know our goal is to use fewer resources - less water, land, and cattle. I will strive to earn your trust.

Everyday life on a farm is not always perfect. Life and death happen, sometimes animals get sick, equipment breaks down, and we worry about input costs and milk price. I believe the majority of the people in this country are reasonable and have common sense when it comes to food animal production. They want to know the reality of the farm. The vast majority of American’s eat meat and dairy and they know the source of this food is animals.

I also want you to know we are confident in how we operate our farm. We have experience, education, and family backgrounds that have lead us to operate a dairy. We are professional dairy farmers. 

Lad showing some love to one of his favorite cows
I’ll listen to you, answer your questions and have dialogue. I will even show you, I host hundreds of visitors on our farm annually. I will not apologize for what we do. I will not tell you I’m going to change a production practice just because a small group of people, who have little to no experience on a farm, want me to. We sleep well at night knowing we’re doing the best possible for our animals and the people who work with us.

My blog posts use facts, science, common sense, personal experiences, and passion. In today’s society of political correctness and bowing down to appease the loud minority, I believe people appreciate real and honest dialogue. I’d like to hear what you think.

20 comments:

  1. Great blog post! Thank you for sharing this information! :)

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  2. Here's what I think: AWESOME. Love this post. So nice to meet you at the workshop!

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  3. I respect your efforts to celebrate "June Dairy Month," but consumers need to hear that the most important issue facing dairy farmers today is the economic desperation they are suffering from the dire financial straights they are in due to unimaginably low milk prices and skyrocketing grain bills. There is nothing whatsoever in what Congress has just put in both the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill to fix the broken mess that the feds continue to pass as dairy "policy." NMPF and IDFA are indistinguishable in the damaging policies they support. They and their political cronies, like the dairy dictator MN Rep. Collin Peterson, who controls DC dairy policy to the disadvantage of dairy FARMERS, play the K-Street game, exchanging money for political favors that have influenced dairy policy at the literal expense of dairy FARMERS for over 3 decades. We do ship more milk from fewer cows. There are fewer farmers because so many have already been driven out of business. The ones left must milk more cows, producing more milk, SIMPLY to TRY to CASH FLOW!!! That is why farmers used BST in the first place. Farmers cannot meet their business expenses on these low milk prices. 90% of our dairy farmers are out of business since stupid global trade policies favoring the dairy "industry" started to infect Washington dairy policies. The feds and the co-ops are working together to prevent us from covering our basic costs to produce milk. If anyone doubts that, then look at the purchased grain bills. See what corn and soybeans are trading for today. Not a pretty picture for dairy farmers buying grain in competition with the ethanol "green" energy market (a sick joke in itself for many different reasons!!!) and the bottomless black hole of US grain being exported to communist China. This country supports insane ag, dairy, energy, and trade policies. Look at the "open" accounts driven up by this criminal $6 plus per cwt drop? Is everyone "current" with the suppliers? Have dairy farmers had to get into their lines of credit---that is, if there are any even fortunate enough to still have one to access! Until dairy FARMERS receive a fair and just raw milk price, there is NOTHING worth celebrating in "June Dairy Month." Dairy Princess pageants and the county fairs should all be boycotted until dairy farmers are paid a fair milk price. Sad and extreme advice, "yes," but these times dairy farmers face are extreme and sad, and no one in DC or in the major farm organizations or, by far, worst of all, in the dairy co-operatives is even listening, let alone speaking about what dairy farmers need----MORE MONEY IN THE MILK CHECKS! Dairy princesses and the fairs are wonderful signs of hope, but there is no hope for dairy farmers without a fair farm milk price. Longstanding dairy policies are premised on global dairy product imports, like the glue ingredient "milk protein concentrate" (MPC), not on the pure, traditional dairy ingredients like whole milk, cream, and unadulterated dairy products manufactured by traditional STANDARDS using milk, cream, and nonfat dry milk powder. Hopefully, the "June Dairy Month" visitors were told about imports like MPC that the domestic dairy processing "industry" is using with impunity even in products with FDA "standards of identity"and about the fact that the taxpayers themselves will be subsidizing "margin" insurance policies that benefit insurance companies and dairy processors but NOT the dairy FARMERS whose farms they are visiting or the TAXPAYERS!!! Dairy farmers need to oppose the current Farm Bill drafts, or just roll over--AGAIN!!!-- and accept eventual and inevitable loss of your dairy farm businesses and way of life, like all the other dairy farmers who are already gone. Getting paid fairly is your choice---always has been, still is.

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  4. I could not have said it better wow amazing u hit the nail right on the head I hope u don't milk in Indiana because our industry leaders totally sold us down the river it is pathetic what is taking place dairy dad

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  5. Thanks for letting us ask questions, what happens to your male calves?

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  6. We send our bull calves to the livestock auction weekly. The majority of dairy bulls are used for beef production.

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  7. You don't find it bothersome to end their lives young- do you think they would prefer to live? (not trying to be argumentative here..truly want to know your thoughts!)

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  8. We don't "end their lives young". They are sold at the local livestock auction weekly. Anyone who attends the auction can purchase them. The purchaser might raise them to maturity for beef production or use for breeding or another purpose. Dairy animals are food animals with an important purpose of providing food for humans.

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  9. I guess I'm just struggling w/ the ethics of raising an animal with intentions of using them and killing, when it's not necessary for our survival.

    I remember as a child I saw one of my aunt's calves who had slipped into the pond and was struggling to save himself and get out, and his mother was frantic. I think back to that often now...it really seemed he wanted to save himself-he wanted to live. And I'm just questioning now if we, in this time when there are other food options, should be taking away someone's life... i don't know...just trying to figure it out for myself.

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  10. It sounds like you're promoting a vegan lifestyle. Fortunately, we live in a country where we have food choices. I respect your right to choose and hope you do the same.

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  11. I don't know really..I'm learning a lot of new things & trying to figure things out for myself,it's confusing... You seemed like a nice, approachable person and I just wanted to hear some of your thoughts from your perspective & maybe it would help me figure out where I am on this. wasn't trying to promote anything! (feel free to delete my comments if you want) thank your for your words & time.

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  12. Meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables and fruit have been a healthy part of the human diet since the beginning of time. Food choices are personal. We have many food choices in this country, so it’s not always easy to decide. The labels on food packages today further confuse us with marketing claims about what food contains or doesn’t contain, how the food was raised, if it’s “all natural”, etc.

    Animal based products, such as dairy products and beef, come from food animals that are specifically raised for the purpose of producing food to feed humans. Our animals deserve and receive excellent care. They live a good life and we meet their needs by providing quality food, fresh water, comfortable housing and health care.

    I get frustrated when people make dairy and livestock farmers out to be the bad guys. We work 365 days/year to provide quality, nutritious dairy and beef products. I realize it’s difficult for some to understand how we can care for an animal and then send him/her to the auction to be sold for beef production. These choices are not always easy. We love our animals and understand they serve a very important purpose – providing nutrient rich food for people.

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  13. I hope you didn't think that I was implying your were the bad guys, b/c I definitely don't think that! My aunt and uncle own a ranch, and I definitely don't look down upon them either in any way. I'm just trying to figure things out, and keep thinking to the calf I saw as a child, I guess I'm in the group of people who it's "difficult to understand." But I suppose there will always just be some things that I won't be able to understand...

    Maybe it was unfair of me to come on your blog and ask these questions,I hope that you weren't offended by it, and I apologize if you were, it was not my intent. I've just been looking for a farmer, or someone, who does "understand" to ask these types of questions too..rather than just ask them to other people who "don't understand." Thanks again for your words and informative blog, hope I wasn't a bother.

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  14. Animals serve a very important purpose in our lives. Animals raised for food and fiber are also invaluable in human medical treatments, and they provide us with materials that make our lives easier and safer. Animals serve a variety of purposes; food, fiber, recreation, companionship, and research. I hope you will continue your quest to find accurate information. I'm glad you asked questions and hope this dialogue was helpful.

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  15. i'm wondering if i could ask you another question? not so much a question, but just to get your perspective on it?

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  16. Yes, I'm interested in your question.

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  17. I hope this isn't a disrespectful question to ask, just delete it if it is.. but I'm sure you're familiar w/ the undercover videos that have come up the last few years. I'm wondering what is your take on these videos? Do you think these farms are just a few "bad seeds" or did they just get too big and people just stop caring about the animals? what do you think about them?

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  18. Animals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We work each day to care for our cows to ensure they are comfortable, content, healthy and well-fed. Anyone who mistreats an animal should not be allowed to work with animals. I imagine there are a few “bad seeds” in any industry. You can probably find isolated cases of abuse in senior living facilities, day cares, pet shelters, etc. but that doesn’t mean everyone in that line of work is abusive.

    Whenever I see a video or read something negative about dairy, I always consider the source and their motivation. Some groups have an agenda to promote a vegan lifestyle with the goal of eliminating animal agriculture. This type of group might try to put together a story with misinformation and selectively edited video to paint the picture they want you to see.

    The idea that large farms treat animals poorly and small farms treat animals well is false. The care an animal receives has nothing to do with the size of the farm they are raised on. I know dairy farmers from all sizes of operations. The dairy producers I know are good people who choose to be dairy farmers because they love working with animals.

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Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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