Ag producers need to educate the public about so-called animal-welfare groups

COMMENTARY

I love to eat. Like millions of fellow Americans there?s nothing better than the food grown and produced on this nation?s farms and ranches.

I?ll eat a thick, choice rib-eye steak hot off the grill any time. And make sure it has all the fixings?baked potatoes, steamed green beans, salad, fresh bread, and a glass of red wine.

I also like a home-cooked omelet with my Sunday morning paper. You know the kind, three eggs filled with saut?ed mushrooms, diced red peppers and onions, cheddar cheese, wheat toast with a couple strips of bacon on the side and a tall glass of cold milk.

And dessert, who doesn?t enjoy a great piece of apple pie, with ice cream, all produced by farmers and ranchers across Kansas and this country of ours?

You can?t beat good food, prepared right. There?s nothing like it.

That?s why it?s so hard to stomach hearing about the many ways our Kansas and American farmers and ranchers are under siege today. Still every year we expect farmers and ranchers to grow more and more food with less land. And every year they do so.

But the attacks and smear tactics come from all sides. Environmental groups, animal welfare activists, everyone seems to have their own agenda and the media just can?t seem to tell the whole story.

That?s the reason we in agriculture must tell our story. Consumers are people and people forget.

They forget our farmers and livestock producers make sure we eat the healthiest, most affordable food on the planet. These producers also take care of their livestock because it?s the right thing to do. It is part of a farmer and rancher?s values that embody everything they d.

It?s also up to us in agriculture to expose the Human Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for who and what they are.

In case you haven?t heard, these two organizations are leading the charge to ?step up for animal welfare.?

However, HSUS has one goal and one goal only?the total elimination of all animal agriculture in this country. Go to their Web site and check it out. HSUS wants to remove meat, milk and eggs from the human diet, yours and mine.

Most American consumers have never lived or worked on a farm. Still they retain nostalgic visions of their grandparents or great-grandparents? farms. You know the story where these farmers and ranchers of old grew their own vegetables, milked a few cows, raised pigs for bacon, ham and pork chops and cared for a couple dozen chickens who laid eggs in an old white wooden chicken coop.

Like a lot of things from the past, nostalgia might appear to be better than it really was. Many of our grandparents were barely able to eke out a living while raising a large family.

The days of yesteryear on the farm took a lot of hard work from sunup to sundown. Many still went hungry or broke and times were lean.

Today?s animal husbandry, or care and feeding of livestock, is no accident. Rather, it?s because of the dedicated men, women and children who raise and care for this state?s livestock.

For generations, Kansas farmers and ranchers have watched over and nurtured cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens and other livestock from sunup to sunset?every day of the year. The more comfortable these animal producers make their animals, the more productive they?re going to be and the better opportunity they?ll have to make a profit.

The health and welfare of livestock trumps everything else on the farm, even a producer?s own comfort. That?s been the recipe for success for nearly 150 years and with any luck it?ll be the same for another 150 years.

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John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas.

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