Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fueling A Farm Crisis

Thirty billion dollars. That’s what a study issued late October says the Renewable Fuel Standard is likely to cost the meat and poultry industry next year.

Produced by FarmEcon LLC in Indianapolis, the study found that, if the RFS is not revamped, the loss in meat and poultry production next year “will balloon to about $30.6 billion,” while both ethanol production and corn exports will decline because of short corn supplies. Consumers, the study added, will see a 29 percent increase in meat and poultry prices, triggering a drop in consumption of 11 percent.

“It is time to step back and take a hard look at the realty of the 2007 RFS schedule versus corn production capacity and the welfare of the country,” the study concluded. “By diverting increasingly limited corn production into low value-added ethanol production and exports, we have dramatically reduced the actual and potential volume of high value-added, job producing food production.”

The RFS requires a set amount of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline each year. The Environmental Protection Agency recently refused to grant requests from NPPC and many others to waive all or part of the RFS to ease pressure on soaring feed prices.

Monday, November 26, 2012

In Celebration Of Meaty Monday: More Reason To Eat Meat

Need more evidence that meat is “brain food”? A study from the Mayo Clinic found that elderly people who consume lots of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to have their thinking impaired.

Researchers tracked the eating habits of 1,230 people ages 70 to 89 over four years. Those whose diets were highest in fat were 42 percent less likely to face cognitive impairment, and those who had the highest intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21 percent. When total fat and protein were considered, people with the highest carbohydrate intake were 3.6 times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.

 “We think it’s important that you eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, because each of these nutrients has an important role in the body,” said lead study author Rosebud Roberts, a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist.

The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wisdom In Denmark, Ignorance In L.A.

Public officials in Denmark may be getting the message but not, apparently, Los Angeles.

In Denmark, lawmakers have repealed a tax on foods high in saturated fat while bureaucrats cancelled plans for a tax on sugar. Both levies were aimed at curbing obesity. “Now we have to try to improve public health by other means,” said Mette Gjerskov, the Danish minister of food and agriculture.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the City Council joined San Francisco and a few other U.S. cities in endorsing "Meatless Mondays." A resolution, adopted unanimously, urges city residents to pledge to forgo meat on the first day of each week. The move followed earlier city council steps to crack down on trans fats fast-food restaurants.

HOTH applauds the good sense of the Danes, at least on this issue, and suggests someone send the Los Angeles council some good pork barbeque. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Foodie Post Mortems On Prop 37

The left-wing foodie elites have weighed in on the demise of California’s GMO labeling initiative, and the results aren’t pretty.

The initiative, known as Prop 37, would have required foods sold in California that contain genetically modified ingredients to be labeled, although fresh meat would have been exempt. The initiative was defeated, 53 percent to 47 percent.

“The Food Movement Takes a Beating” screamed the headline on Mark Bittman’s Nov. 11 column in The New York Times. “Prop 37 Defeat Reveals a ‘Food Movement’ that Is Still Half Baked,” added Jason Mark in the online Earth Island Journal.

Tom Philpott’s analysis in the liberal magazine Mother Jones came complete with a line graph showing how support for the initiative plummeted—and opposition soared—in the weeks before Election Day. The initiative failed, Philpott concluded, thanks to a “slick, relentless, truth-challenged” opposition lobbying campaign that spent $5 for every one spent by supporters.

“Money, lies and mistakes crushed the forward-thinking votes in California,” added Bittman, “but these are battles lost in a war that will (still) be won. The notions that we need to know what’s in our food and that food should not be harmful have not been defeated.”

HOTH thinks the California electorate simply saw the light in the end. With no evidence that foods containing GMOs are, in fact, harmful, how could anyone vote for Prop 37? 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Biggest Loser

Still smarting because your candidate or cause didn’t win in the recent elections?

Perhaps this will make your feel better. You probably didn’t lose as big as the Humane Society of the United States.

HumaneWatch, which keeps tabs on the anti-animal agriculture group, said HSUS’s lobbying arm, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, lost on just about every race it worked on this fall. Included were efforts to unseat pro-farmer congressmen Steve King of Iowa and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee and a bid to defeat Arizona Senate candidate Jeff Flake.

What about ballot initiatives, where HSUS previously had scored several key victories? Not this time, said HumaneWatch. The radical animal rights group lost on a North Dakota referendum to make broadly defined acts of animal cruelty a felony, while two of its other ballot initiatives never got off the ground.

In one final affront, HSUS Pennsylvania state director Sarah Speed lost in a bid for the state House of Representatives from York County. “In all, HSUS and its legislative arm spent bundles of money and came up empty,” HumaneWatch concluded. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Yet Another Setback for Antibiotic Opponents

HOTH readers already know that numerous studies have shown the risk to human health from using antibiotics in livestock is negligible.

For others, a new study from North Carolina State University may be enlightening. It suggests that antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in pigs can thrive in the environment, regardless of antibiotic use by producers.

The study looked at Campylobacter coli—a cause of food poisoning—in both conventionally raised pigs and those raised without antibiotics over several years. It found identical strains of the bacteria in both groups.

Concluded study author Siddhartha Thakur: "If the environment itself, and not the pig, is serving as a reservoir for C. coli, then we will most probably continue to find resistant bacterial populations, regardless of a producer's antimicrobial use."

Thakur's findings appear online in PLoS One and are summarized on EurekAlert!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Finally, News That’s Fit To Print!

In case you missed it -- and HOTH knows you'll find it hard to believe -- a balanced story in The New York Times on sow housing!

Written by business reporter Stephanie Strom, the story featured Iowa pork producer Tom Dittmer and detailed the pros as well as the cons on individual sow housing. That Strom actually visited Iowa for the story is a victory in itself, since two other Times newsroom representatives declined invitations from NPPC to tour Midwest hog farms in recent years.  

The question now is whether the notoriously anti-agriculture Times editorial page will take notice of Strom’s story and moderate its views on pork production.

HOTH is not holding its breath.