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Famine: In a finding that surprised absolutely no one, the U.S. Government Accountability Office  reported the Environmental Protection Agency broke federal laws in its efforts to seize control of the nation’s streams and surface waters.
The EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” when it covertly blitzed social media to coerce the public into backing President Obama’s controversial “Waters of the United States” initiative.
“The (EPA) essentially became lobbyists for its cause by including links that directed people to advocacy organizations,” the New York Times reported in December. “Federal agencies are allowed to promote their own policies, but they are not allowed to engage in propaganda, which means covert activity intended to influence the American public.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the EPA’s “baseless” tactics “have undermined the integrity of the rule-making process.”
“(The) EPA will go to extreme lengths and even violate the law to promote its activist environmental agenda,” he said.
It’s a situation that has us asking (yet again), “Who Watches the Watchmen?”
Feast: Kudos to Wisconsin lawmaker Jim Edming for authoring a common sense bill that benefits farmers, their neighbors, motorists, environmentalists and local governments.
His legislation will allow farmers to lay pipelines for liquid manure along or under highways, and would allow local governments to authorize permits for producers who want to install these systems along public roads.
With every truckload they remove, farmers put less stress on local roadways, consume less gas, minimize soil compaction, and generally open up traffic for faster vehicles. Manure pipelines are a proven, reliable, safe and productive means of transporting liquids — and Edming’s legislation may help expedite their use. 


Famine: Penning a scathing essay for Forbes, contributor Henry I. Miller savaged embattled Chipotle for a systematic failure to protect its customers, knowing full well that its current agricultural practices were putting consumers at risk.
“Outbreaks of food poisoning have become something of a Chipotle trademark,” he wrote. “The recent ones are the fourth and fifth this year, one of which was not disclosed to the public … Chipotle is a company so out of control and negligent that it repeatedly endangers the public.” 
We won’t re-publish the entire piece, but we strongly encourage you to seek it out and read it for yourselves. 
After Chipotle built its fast-food empire by painting modern farmers as villains, it would be easy for us to delight in the chain’s self-induced current woes. However, we need to remember that hundreds of people nationwide have suffered serious illnesses as a result of the company’s questionable practices. And thousands of Chipotle’s minimally paid workers have paid a stiff price. Our attention should be on their health and recovery, not just Chipotle’s incompetence.
There are really only two questions now: Can Chipotle survive if it continues to ignore the latest advancements in agriculture? And will customers continue to buy into Chipotle’s now-debunked marketing ploys moving forward? 
The jury is out on both fronts.
Feast: The second-annual “Dairy Strong” conference, hosted in Madison, Wis., brought together more than 600 dairy farmers and agribusiness representatives from 18 states and three other countries. The three-day gathering included educational seminars on angel investing, farmers’ rights during visits by regulators, evolving relationships between farmers and veterinarians, the importance of ventilation testing, and high-immune response technology and breeding selection.
The event also included a group discussion about the successful Yahara Pride Farms conservation group in Dane County, a coalition between local farmers, the Clean Lakes Alliance and others to reduce phosphorus in local rivers and lakes.
In short, it offered the kind of focused, robust information that the dairy industry and society needs to continue evolving in the 21st Century. 
Famine: Speaking of “information” …
We believe that the more the public can learn about modern farming, the better. To be blunt, there are too many consumers being spoon-fed misleading talking points by anti-farm forces. As a result, we take seriously our commitment to providing clear, objective and – most importantly — accurate information about how food travels from farm to fork.
That’s why it pains us when we see the way another player in this sector — “Agri-View,” Wisconsin’s largest ag newspaper — print a factually questionable story about estrogen hormones in milk that was written and published almost two years ago.
When farmers rightfully challenged the piece — noting multiple reporting inaccuracies and oversights (which we won’t repeat in our publication) as well as the sheer lack of editorial oversight that comes when publishing an outdated report — Agri-View printed one of the most appalling non-apology apologies we’ve ever seen by a “professional” publication. Among other things:
  • It blamed “a computer glitch” for the placement of a story AND photo in both the front of its dairy section and its Web site. No further details were provided.
  • It noted that the story originated from the Wisconsin News Connection. (That’s also known as “Passing the Buck.”)
  • It never disclosed how its internal fact-checking/accountability system failed in the editorial department. Or, what steps would be taken to prevent a repeat in the future. 
  • And, most pointedly of all, it never printed the words, “We’re sorry.”
Farmers are fighting misinformation on many fronts every day. What they don’t need to be doing is RE-fighting the same battles that took place years ago, again and again and again.
 


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