Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Only Thing 'Bizzare' Is Grist

Leave it to Grist, a rather left-leaning online environmental/"sustainable" agriculture magazine, to describe as "bizarre" the near-unanimous opposition from members of the House Agriculture livestock subcommittee to the USDA proposed rule on the buying and selling of livestock and poultry. (See yesterday's post about that opposition.)

Article author Tom Laskawy, who like other Grist writers opposes anything big, says the USDA rule is "simple" and would be effective. He says it "mostly consists of requirements to use standard definitions in contracts."

In fact, the proposed rule would dictate the terms of contracts, restrict the pricing of animals and limit producers’ marketing options. No wonder livestock subcommittee Democrats and Republicans admonished USDA for writing a rule that goes well beyond what Congress asked it to do. But in Grist's world, congressional oversight apparently is "bizarre."

By the way -- and for us conspiracy theorists -- Grist's founder has ties to the Tides Foundation, which has given funds to, among other organizations, Earthjustice, PETA, Union of Concerned Scientists, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Ruckus Society, described as a group of environmental anarchists.

The pork industry and modern agriculture production are favorite targets of Grist, which seems to play a little loose with the truth. The publication continues to maintain, for example, that the H1N1 flu, which it insists on calling swine flu, came from a hog farm in Mexico even though U.S. and international health experts ruled that out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

USDA 'Overstepped Its Boundaries'

USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos and USDA GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler must have been squirming in their seats at yesterday's House Agriculture Committee hearing. That's because almost to a man members of the committee's Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Subcommittee castigated them for overstepping their boundaries in writing regulations on the buying and selling of livestock and poultry.

Subcommittee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., pointed out to the bureaucrats that several of the provisions included in the proposed rule "were soundly rejected in the legislative process in the House and the Senate" during debate on the 2008 Farm Bill. (A Des Moines Register blog captured some of the panel members' pique about the rule.)

Nearly all of the subcommittee members, including full committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who attended the hearing, requested that USDA at "least" extend the current 60-day public comment period by 60 to 120 days.

Monday, July 19, 2010

USDA Rule Falls Short Of Goals

Please excuse HOTH's recent absence from the blogosphere. We've been waiting for an analysis of a USDA rule that purportedly will promote competition and fairness in the livestock and poultry industries. An initial review of the regulation finds it falls well short of that mark.

The rule would dictate how hogs -- and other livestock and poultry -- are bought and sold in this country and would prompt nearly all livestock and poultry contract disputes to be resolved through litigation in federal court.

NPPC will be weighing in on the rule before the comment period ends -- now scheduled for Aug. 23. (That is just four days before a scheduled USDA-Department of Justice "workshop" on competition in the livestock industry to be held in Ft. Collins, Colo.) The organization has asked for an extension of the comment period, citing the weak economic and business impact analyses conducted by USDA.

Over the coming weeks, HOTH will provide details on the effects on pork producers of various provisions of the proposed GIPSA rule. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So Much For The First Amendment … Sort Of

It looks like the folks at Youtube have removed the “18+” requirement to view the video “Truth About Modern Hog Production” on their Website after the Pork Network wrote a column bringing the issue to light.

The video, labeled as “inappropriate” for viewers under the age of 18, gives a virtual tour of a Missouri hog farm, showing an inside look at modern hog production. While Chris and Kevin Chinn (the owners of the farm and producers of the video) never received an explanation from Youtube for why their video was labeled inappropriate for minors, they speculate that anti-agriculture activists organized the stunt. (Shocking!)

Let's share the Chinns' story and the story of thousands of other hog farmers by sending their Youtube to friends, family, neighbors and organizations to better tell the story of modern hog production.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bigger Really Is Better

The anti-meat, anti-farming crowd like to say that large-scale livestock production hurts the quality of life of rural communities. Of course, no evidence is offered. Well, we have proof that crowd is full of ... pig poop.

A study conducted by Iowa State University of Iowa towns situated near large livestock operations found that residents' quality of life improved over a 10-year period, with incomes rising and poverty rates, infant mortality, crime rates and unemployment all declining.

In looking specifically at hog operations, the ISU researchers concluded that the greater the scale of hog production in [a] county, the higher quality of life ratings from the community.