Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Skepticism On Organics

Perhaps organic farmers’ free ride on food safety is coming to an end.

An Associated Press story prompted by last week’s organic egg recall noted there have been more than 20 recalls of organic food products in the last two years. It questioned the exemption given to small and local farmers in this year’s Food Safety Modernization Act and even added this dose of reality concerning chickens: “While many people like to buy cage-free eggs, those chickens may be exposed to bacteria on the grounds where they are roaming.”

But not everything in the article was positive. The reporter claimed that smaller farms have “obvious food safety advantages,” including more control over what is produced, reduced shipping distances, inspectors checking a farm’s organic certification and customer oversight of a farm’s operation.

HOTH thinks hog farmers will get a chuckle out of some of those “advantages.” 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mark Your Calendars!

Here’s your chance to hear the Supreme Court discuss … fatigued pigs.

Two weeks from today—Wednesday, November 9—the high court will hear arguments in the National Meat Association’s challenge to a California law barring meatpackers from slaughtering non-ambulatory animals.

The California law was enacted in the wake of a highly publicized incident involving downer cows, but the law also affects pigs that arrive at packing plants healthy but temporarily unable to stand. There is nothing wrong with these animals that can’t be corrected by simply letting them rest for a short period. Yet the California law requires these so-called fatigued hogs to be euthanized.

The National Meat Association challenged the law on the grounds that it is preempted by federal statutes. NPPC, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the National Farmers Union sided with the NMA, arguing that euthanizing fatigued pigs prevents proper testing of the animals for disease and that the California law would cause serious income losses to the pork industry.

According to one estimate, banning fatigued pigs from slaughter nationwide would remove up to 60 million pounds of pork from the food supply.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy This

For the past month or so, HOTH has watched in amusement the "Occupy Wall Street" ... uh ... movement, bashing corporate America. But now the anarchists, socialists and professional hippies who make up 99 percent of the protesters will turn their ire on farmers.

The same people who think jobs and economic activity magically appear apparently want food to be raised in idyllic community gardens where everything is grown organically and animals roam free, and the lion lies down with the lamb and ... (But we digress.)

How such collectives would feed this country -- ask the old Soviet Union how that system worked! -- not to mention the world hasn't been articulated.

Actually, the OWSers do have one thing correct: They do represent the 99 percent of people who do not produce food in this country. For the hard-working family farmers -- and most farms are run by families -- who do, though, a little appreciation rather than patchouli-scented blather is in order.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Putting Farmers’ Best Face Forward

Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan helped the Animal Agriculture Alliance launch a Website Tuesday, showcasing the work and contributions of American agriculture, including hog farmers. corrects misconceptions about modern agriculture and features video tours of beef, poultry, dairy and hog farms. It also includes a pledge visitors can sign to support “the dedicated, hard-working farmers and ranchers of America.”

Scanlan, a Nebraska native who has made support of agriculture a feature of her year as Miss America, has a video on the site, highlighting the role of farms in Americans’ lives and the nation’s economy. 

The launch of comes a few days before Food Day, an event organized by liberal groups that criticize modern agriculture and downplay its importance. The National Pork Producers Council is a sponsor of

Monday, October 17, 2011

EPA: We Won’t Crack Down on Farm Dust … Cross Our Hearts!

Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson swears she has no plans to increase regulation of farm dust. Really!

In a letter to two senators last week, Jackson said she plans “no revisions” in air quality standards for dust on country roads. In a subsequent statement, EPA said it hopes the letter “puts an end to the myth that the agency is planning to expand regulations of farm dust.”

Talk of increasing farm dust regulation has been Exhibit A for those arguing that EPA is “out of control.” One of those most vocal on the issue, Nebraska Republican Senator Mike Johanns, praised EPA’s latest statements, saying it provided “clarity to ambiguous and sometimes conflicting comments previously made by the agency.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Revenge of the ag nerds: FFA jackets are now hip

The vintage mecca known as Urban Outfitters is no stranger to controversial products. They have outdone themselves this time, adding a very un-urban clothing item to their arsenal…an FFA jacket. Known for catering to the hipster culture, Urban Outfitters is not one to design clothes for country folk, which leaves me wondering how many of their shoppers “believe in the future of agriculture”.

On its Facebook page, Urban Outfitters claims they are “the biggest small retailer in the world”. How’s that for a contradiction? What’s more, arguably the most rural fashion statement, besides pearl snaps, is an FFA jacket. Am I the only one who sees the irony?

The cost of a new FFA jacket is $52, about a third of the Urban Outfitter price. Check out the Urban Outfitters jacket here. How do you feel about it? Disgusted? Proud? Want to sell yours on eBay?