This type of subject deserves a story….

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When I was 17, the cattle market was booming. Good rainfalls brought good calves and good grass, which good grass is quite rare in my part of the state. Well, that year seemed like the perfect year to start a cattle business, so I did what every other teenage girl strives to do, I decided to start my own cattle herd. My father was running 900 head and had 20 perfect 2 year old heifers and a pair of bulls to go along with them so he offered to sell me his heifers at market price. So I came up with a business deal, I would buy 18 heifers clean and clear, finance the other two (with interest) as well as the two bulls. I would lease the land per acre, each month and I would compensate my father for the feed at the end of the year. I was ecstatic the minute I signed that check. I immediately went on-line and purchased hot pink ear tags (the neighbor already had blue) as well as the other necessities needed for raising cattle and created an excel spreadsheet compatible with my computer and my iPad for record keeping. Every time that I could go and check on them, I would bring a sack of cotton seed cake (a pelleted feed that is like candy to them) and the minute I started honking my horn, they would start running and bellering (an excited moo) towards the truck to be first in line for the cake. Looking at my pretty ladies with their pink ear tags I would swell up with pride especially when calving season began. I think that I can speak for most ranchers and farmers when I say that there is a sense of pride when they look over their thriving herd or good crop, a sense of accomplishment after hard work. Now when it comes down to business, I believe in one thing; a quality product starts with quality care. That is a saying that I take to heart. During my first semester of college, I became Beef Quality Assured certified (I will have a blog about that in the future) and managed my herd away from home. I am continuing my animal productio education by going to seminars and speeches for livestock producers. Keep in mind that I was raised and taught throughout my life to have the highest respect for animals. However, there is a fine line between what has been known of as animal rights, and animal respect. The way animal rights activists are going now, is that they will not be satisfied with animal producers until all of us give our cattle individual temper-pedic beds and we keep our calves in our rooms as we cuddle with them. I can not fit that many calves in my room, nor can I afford to buy them all temper-pedic beds but I can work with them calmly and with the best, most humane livestock handling equipment avaliable. Through safe handling and a good enivrionment, well tempered cattle and on overall good product will be the result.

Now I want to get to the point of this blog… when someone accuses me of being cruel to my animals, my feelings get hurt. Plain and simple. Someone who believes that they know my story and think that they know how I feel about my cattle (cattle in general) and tells me that I don’t care for the well being of my animals, it breaks my heart… PETA finds the very few animal producers that are inhumane and video tapes/takes pictures and claims that every animal producer treats their animals that way. I’m not going to defend inhumane producers because sadly, there are very few, however, I’m defending the most of us who are honorable and who treat every animal with respect. Here’s my argument, if animal activists can use circular reasoning to sling mud on the agricultural industry, I can use circular reasoning to sling mud on them. For instance, A PETA woman is an animal activist, she posed naked on a grill, family friendly people do not pose naked on grills at a public event, therefore, every animal activist is not a family friendly person. A little ridiculous isn’t it, I don’t know these people and I’m making false assumptions about them. Is that fair? How about this one- A man was caught shoplifting from a convenient store, the man was associated with PETA, therefore, all people associated with PETA shoplift. Once again, it’s not fair to make these false assumptions about people I do not know. So why is it accepted for these people to do that to us animal producers? Even more puzzling, how are they becoming influential with these false accusations? I honestly believe that the root of all this, is the lack of agricultural education in today’s society. There are plenty of agriculture education classes in small rural towns and you if you pay attention, it’s rare that you see an animal rights activist that was in FFA or 4-H. These programs need to be expanded in to more urban areas to students that do not have experience with livestock or any other agricultural industry. There is an FFA program in Chicago where public school students are chosen by lottery to attend and learn about agriculture. These student didn’t all grow up with agriculture experience and with this educational experience, they were exposed to the industry and a lot of them enjoyed it. http://ilfbpartners.com/chicago-ag-sciences-high-school/

I started to ramble a little but I honestly think that education for our students in public schools and engagement of the community will help strengthen the support for agriculture. We need agricultural advocates, we need a community who understands not only the industry but the good, honest people behind that industry as well.Those of you reading that may be animal rights activists or PETA members, I ask only that you have an open mind and walk in our shoes a little bit. You may just find that we’re not that bad, just misunderstood

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