Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moving to Cattle Country

We are moving soon, moving to the middle of South Dakota where cattle is a BIG cash crop. For entertainment there is always....HUNTING!! How am I going to get along with my neighbors, one might ask. Here's how. I do not insist on my view being right for everyone and I work hard at understanding other points of view. That is why I spent hours reading the beef producers website. As a voice of the industry, I expected a skewed perspective, just as I don't go to PETA for objectivity. What I look for everywhere is honesty. Even in a biased presenter one can find honest information if there is honesty about the preconceptions from which the information is given. So, is meat a tasty source of nourishment? I sure think so. Do cattle farmers care about the environment? Some do very much, some do as it relates to their livelihood, and I am sure some could give two shits about clean air and water, especially if they don't live on or near the farm. I have lived around dairy farmers, beef and hog farmers for a lot of years. I have rented houses from them, called them friends and developed a lot of respect for the hard work they do. If you have read the last few posts you may have gathered that we are vegetarians. You would be wrong; we still eat fish. We also eat eggs, yogurt and cheese. So from a more rigorous perspective than my own, one could say those previous posts were pretty hypocritical. I don't think so, because I am now and have always been moving a couple steps forward then a step back. I move toward compassion, mercy, concern for justice and for the Earth. But I fall short by a mile or so. So how would I tell a person who is doing their best to support their family and provide product that a WHOLE bunch of people want that what they do is bad for the Earth? Well, I would if asked. I would put it as honestly and as straight forward as I know how. What I wouldn't do is condemn them for continuing to do it. We ARE omnivores after all. We are built to digest meat, and in moderate amounts, its pretty good for us. I do believe, however, that the time is past for large scale animal production and consumption, given the impact on the environment. Grazing cattle on the arid plains of the American west is not going to add appreciably to environmental degradation. After all, there were some 20,000,000 buffalo and goddess only knows how many antelope, mule deer and assorted other large ruminants fartin' and poopin' all over the West before we White folks got here. But we aren't talking about family farms and ranches here. There are approximately 97,000,000 cattle and calves, 61 000,000 pigs and 455,000,000 chickens in the US alone. That's 613,000,000 critters emitting ammonia, methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, dropping urine and feces by the tens of thousands of pounds every minute. Furthermore, most of them aren't out there grazing on the arid plains or on the Midwestern family farm :
CAFO's Milk Millions Off Taxpayer- Misguided federal farm policies have encouraged the growth of massive confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, by shifting billions of dollars in environmental, health and economic costs to taxpayers and communities, according to a report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). As a result, CAFOs now produce most of the nation's beef, pork, chicken, dairy and eggs,(emphasis mine) even though there are more sophisticated and efficient farms in operation. "CAFOs aren't the natural result of agricultural progress, nor are they the result of rational planning or market forces," said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist in UCS's Food and Environment Program and author of the report. "CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations" enumerates the policies that have allowed CAFOs to dominate U.S. meat and dairy production..... The report also details how other federal policies give CAFOs hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to address their pollution problems, which stem from the manure generated by thousands, if not tens of thousands, of animals confined in a small area. "If CAFOs were forced to pay for the ripple effects of harm they have caused, they wouldn't be dominating the U.S. meat industry like they are today," said Margaret Mellon, director of UCS's Food and Environment Program.
And, to their credit, I got this off of another industry site,
So I reckon that is about what I would tell my cattle raising neighbor, if she asks.

No comments: