Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The headlines in an area newspaper indicated that Minnesota’s agriculture economy is healthy and strong. As a general statement, I would agree. However, there are segments of our industry i.e. dairy and hogs that have struggled this past year. Some of these struggles are due to too much product on the market or too little purchases because of the recession in the rest of the economy. Foods like dairy and meat tend to be of higher cost over the counter and hence suffer when dollars in consumer’s wallets are tight.
The pork industry was also hit hard by the H1N1 flu scare. Things are slowly turning around and we are hopeful that 2010 will allow us to recoup some of the losses experienced in 2009.
Looming in the background is the issue of animal rights activists and their efforts to mobilize citizens to legislate farming methods. Various propositions regarding gestation crates and the size of pens used for poultry have been passed by voters in some states. California seems to be a hotbed for efforts by animal rights advocates. The California Milk Advisory Board has taken the offense regarding attacks on dairy animals in that state. They have produced 15-minute mini documentaries that feature farm families who are owners and operators of many of the large dairies in the state. The videos are meant to dispel of idea that the California farms are run by cold, uncaring, corporations. These push back strategies are important and needed. Minnesota farmers should take heed. Why now?
The simple answer is that traditionally, the Humane Society of the United States has employed five attorneys. In the last five years that number has increased to 30! Farmers beware. Court fights cost lots of money and stop or stagnate your businesses as these cases move through the system. These threats - to our businesses; to the well being of our families; and to the state’s economy must be stopped. The agriculture industry will serve ourselves better by entering into conversations with the “other side” with the goal being to educate these folks on the hows and whys of various farming methods and the outcomes of changing those methods. The goal should be to find some common ground and work together. end


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