FEAST: A panel of scientists, academics and even retailers has studied an animal welfare issue and come to the conclusion that farmers actually know what they’re doing.
In California, where growing concern about animal welfare has led to the demand for cage-free eggs, a research project has concluded that a cage-free environment is not only the most dangerous for the hens, but it also exposes farm workers to the most harm.
According to FarmandRanchJobs.com, “Researchers found that cage-free hens had the strongest bones but their mortality rates were more than double that of hens in the other two houses due to increased levels of disease and hostility … Additionally, workers were exposed to high levels of pollutants and experienced more ergonomic problems in the cage-free system compared to the others.”
Naysayers who consider the findings “industry propaganda” might be surprised to know that the study was funded by animal welfare scientists, academic institutions, egg suppliers, and food retail companies. Researchers from the University of California, Iowa State University, Michigan State and USDA Agricultural Research Service conducted the study at a farm over a period of three years. They examined environmental impacts, hen health and egg quality.

FAMINE: In Adams County, Wis., a long-running war on agriculture has been playing out between a vocal coalition of special interest groups and several longtime family farmers. Now a duo of politicians are jumping into the fray and displaying the kind of hypocrisy that erodes public confidence in our elected officials. 
State. Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and Rep. Scott Krug (R-Rome) are pushing legislation that will give tax financing to a proposed golf resort in the area. 
This is the same duo that has been critical of farm developments in the past and now glibly overlook the fact that a new golf resort will use more water, more chemical fertilizers, more pesticides and, overall, leave a much higher carbon footprint than any CAFO proposed for the region. The need for people to eat, it would appear, is less important to them than the need for having another golf course. 
FEAST: We salute the thousands of families that participate in county and state fairs all across the country. They are the backbone — and the future — of agribusiness in America.
Whether these youths are showing animals or displaying produce, holding demonstrations or hosting hands-on activities, they (and their supportive parents) are a simple reminder of the value of hard work as well as the rewards of patience and persistence.
In a country where most consumers are two generations removed from agriculture as a lifestyle, the value of these fairs — and the people who make them vital and rewarding — cannot be exaggerated.
If America is going to remain a leader in farming, the next great innovators likely will emerge from the smiling faces of our youngest generation. 
FAMINE: Chipotle’s ongoing hypocrisy is stunning. After dropping U.S. pork producers — ALL U.S. producers — for using antibiotics to treat sick pigs (perhaps they think it’s more humane to allow the animals to suffer and die?), the $10-for-2,000-calorie burrito chain started sourcing the meat from Karro Food, a U.K.-based firm.
One might applaud the fact that they’re willing to go the distance in attempting to spin Bad Science into Good Marketing, except for one really important fact … it turns out that Karro also uses antibiotics on sick pigs.
In fact, many U.S. pork producers actually rely on a higher standard for the use of antibiotics than Karro.
As long as the profits keep rolling in, we don’t expect Chipotle to change direction. But the next time you think about where you’re dining, remember that Chipotle has quite literally declared economic war on American farmers.
FEAST: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) just put a spike in the heart of militant anti-ag organizations. In a study, EFSA found that farm size does not make a difference when it comes to bovine diseases.
“Production disease impact on the individual animal’s welfare state does not depend on herd size or farming system,” the study abstract reported.
This is a blow at the very heart of organizations, such as Mercy for Animals, whose entire existence is predicated on the falsehood that “Big Equals Bad.”
The research validates what most consumers take as common sense: There are good farmers and bad ones — and the size of their farms is irrelevant. A compassionate farmer is conscientious whether on a CAFO or an organic farm.  In short: The farmer defines the farm, not vice versa.
FAMINE: Whole Foods Market Inc. dug itself into a hole and then, given the chance to do the right thing, somehow managed to dig itself in even deeper.
A year after the grocer agreed to pay nearly $800,000 in penalties for overcharging in its California stores, a new investigation on the other side of the country — New York City — discovered similar deceptive practices. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs investigation tested the packages of 80 different kinds of pre-packaged products and found that all of the products had packages with mislabeled weights.
One or two mislabeled items out of 80 is certainly “inadvertent.” But 80 out of 80? It looks to us like Whole Foods is trying to sell a whole lot of something … but it isn’t “food.”
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09/30/2015 2:32pm

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