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Animal ag remains in bull’s-eye (Editorial)

(May 15, 2016) Commercial agriculture, in its major pursuits, continues to be proactive in response to an assault by organizations — and indeed, consumers — blissfully ignorant of the industry’s 21st century contributions to their world.
Animal agriculture is on the front lines not only in the Mid-Atlantic, but across the country.
Fortunately, what we shall call spokes-organizations, continue to form to help level the playing field for the frequent contentious dialogues between the two camps.
Here’s a sampling: The Animal Agriculture Alliance has slated a “summit” for May 5 and 6 in Arlington, Va.
It is themed “Securing Animal Agriculture’s Future: Action, Please!”
One of the panel discussions at the summit will explore the alliance’s allegations of faith-based assaults on the animal ag industry.
The alliance charges that “animal rights extremist organizations have a long history of spreading myths and misinformation about animal agriculture through a variety of channels. Many may be surprised to learn that several animal rights organizations have staff members dedicated to communicating their messages to faith-based communities and organizations.”
About two weeks after the alliance’s summit, on May 18-19, the Center for Food Integrity will host a meeting in Chicago addressing the growing consumer concern over the treatment of animals raised for food.
CFI research reveals that a near-record 60 percent of consumers strongly agree that: “If animals are treated decently and humanely, I have no problem eating meat, milk and eggs.” Yet, a much smaller percentage of consumers, only 25 percent, strongly agree that U.S. meat comes from humanely treated animals.
Jumping into the fray are the nation’s corn and soybean growers.
Most of what comes off their fields goes into the feed for the nation’s livestock.
Check out the American Soybean Association, noting that by far the largest chunk of the soybeans annually produced here is fed to livestock and poultry and thus also to “feed” the economy.
A new checkoff-funded analysis shows animal agriculture, U.S. soy’s top end user, increased gross national product by $123 billion in economic output, improved household earnings by over $21 billion and added 645,629 jobs from 2000 to 2014.
According to the United Soybean Board’s Economic Analysis of Animal Agriculture, during 2014 alone, U.S. animal agriculture’s support of the national economy included $440.7 billion in economic output and 2,363,477 jobs.
“With 97 percent of soybean meal going to animal ag, the strength of poultry and livestock production is incredibly important to the U.S. soybean industry,” said Mike Beard, a soy checkoff farmer-leader who grows soybeans and raises hogs on his farm in Frankfort, Ind.
During 2014, U.S. animal agriculture consumed an estimated 27.9 million tons of soybean meal, or the meal from about 1.2 billion bushels of U.S. soybeans.
This soybean meal was fed primarily to: Broilers: 464 million bushels; hogs: 327 million bushels, and dairy cows: 112 million bushels.
We are left with the assumption that legislation designed to control the way the agricultural industry goes about its business of feeding all of us is not only thoughtless but ignorant and in the extreme dangerous.
Could there come a time when the livestock industry, particularly in the Northeast, weary of the shackles continually put on it by urban lawmakers, simply throws up its hands in despair and says goodbye?
The Delmarva Peninsula, for instance, provides a living portrait of the inter-relationship between the livestock/poultry and the corn/soybean industries,
So, inform your friendly neighborhood animal ag activist that depend on the industry, either directly or indirectly, and its collapse would have an impact far beyond the farm gate — farmers, equipment dealers, seedsmen, the works.