OP-ED: Ag industry highlights many benefits

Guest Column

Guest Column

In response to Mr. Kranz’s, “Running on the White Line” article:

Meat is defined as the muscle fiber of animals used for food. As agriculturists, it is our moral responsibility to ensure the proper CARE for our animals from birth to harvest. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 there were 2.1 million farms in America, each of which MUST abide by the same laws and regulations including those relating to animal welfare. The Humane Slaughter Act states that all animals must be rendered insensible to pain and suffering in a rapid and effective way before being hoisted and exsanguinated.

Only 3 percent of U.S. farms are considered “corporate”, but 90 percent of these corporate farms are family owned, according to the EPA. In order to produce a food supply for a world that is growing by 140 people per minute, we must continue to employ the most efficient and safe practices possible, according to the World Population Balance. Some of these livestock management practices might include, using feed sources such as corn that can be easily converted into nutrients and energy for the animal, putting dairy calves in their own, individual calf hutch in order to prevent disease transfer, or washing and disinfecting sow facilities frequently. In addition, many new low-stress animal handling techniques have been implemented on farms across America. These new techniques improve animal and human handler safety.

American agriculturists are constantly focusing on producing a safe, wholesome and quality product. Although regulations have become stricter over the last 50 years, agriculturists are still able to raise healthy livestock in a humane environment while continuing to feed a growing population. According to an Alabama cooperative extension system food scientist, “The American food supply is the safest in the world thanks to industry and government efforts.”

According to U.S. regulations, all animal food products must be fresh and have proper labeling, including an expiration date. Meat is a nutrient dense food source, which means calorie per calorie it provides more important nutrients than many other foods. Meat also is a complete protein, having all the amino acids one’s body needs. It contributes to normal brain development in children, promotes normal growth and development, prevents anemia, helps fight infection and heal wounds, helps keep the immune system healthy, helps prevent memory loss in elderly people and promotes concentration and learning abilities, according to Duane Fimreite and Richard Staack who authored “Physiologically Functional Foods: Where do Meats Fit In?” Furthermore, beef by-products enable us to use 99 percent of every animal. Some of these by-products include gum, pharmaceuticals, shaving cream, makeup, asphalt and paint, according to John Ross, who authored “When is a Cow More Than A Cow.” In addition to meat, other livestock products are nutritionally beneficial to a healthy diet, one of these being dairy foods.

Milk is nutritionally unique, and is an excellent source of nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, and riboflavin and niacin and provides three of the five “nutrients of concern” that children do not get enough of. Dairy foods are by far the most significant source of calcium in the U.S. food supply. According to the Dairy Council Digest, numerous studies published in the past year add to accumulating evidence that dairy products reduce the risk of osteoporosis and hypertension, achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, and have a beneficial role in preventing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and the insulin resistance syndrome.

American’s agriculture industry offers many benefits to our country. Unfortunately, there is the occasional bad apple that gives the wrong perception of agriculture to consumers. Just as in any other industry, these people do exist; however, this is why the majority of American agriculturists work day in and day out to promote excellent animal health and well-being.

As concerned farmers, ranchers, consumers and undergraduate students of the college of Agriculture and Biological Sciences at SDSU, we take pride in our way of life. Agriculturists have a common passion for feeding our world and feel that we have a moral responsibility to care for and protect our livestock. Although we come from a variety of agriculture backgrounds and interests including, beef production, dairy production, sheep production, swine production, grain production, range management, veterinary medicine, meat science and agriculture economics we all share a common passion for the industry. Agriculture is our livelihood and is a part of who we are. For this reason, it is in our best interest to properly care for every aspect of production agriculture. Most importantly, caring for the land and animals is the right thing to do, and we are proud of the sustainable legacy we are growing to support future generations.

For more information concerning safe food and where your animal products comes from visit www.fsis.usda.gov, www.midwestdairy.com, or visit one SDSU’s livestock units found near campus.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lauren Barber, Meat Science

Sara Berg, Agriculture Education

Jennifer Bosch, Animal Science

Melissa Gradert, Agriculture Business

Jace Hollenbeck, Meat Science

Ann Kolthoff, Animal Science

Melissa Lax, Dairy Science

Mark Misar, Agronomy

Megan Mortellaro, Range Science

Rachel Patrick, Dairy Science

Dustin Theis, Agronomy

Tyler Urban, Animal Science