Archive for the ‘chicken’ Category

TIME Article Proves People Are Not Interested in Facts

September 2, 2009

I had a subscription to TIME magazine and I will be cancelling it based on the unfounded rhetoric the magazine has recently published. Writer Brian Walsh penned the cover story entitled, “The Real Cost of Cheap Food.” To say that this one sided article has raised the ire of the agricultural industry would be an understatement. The story is the same old tired rhetoric that corporate America is the one to blame for the number of farms decreasing and that agriculture is responsible for obesity. And guess what, the article also mentions that organic is here to save the day.

In the following interview with the Mr. Walsh on Agritalk, his backstroke is quite evident and bounces all over the place trying to cover his lack of journalistic integrity. In the interview Mr. Walsh admits that he did not get the other side of the story and that TIME chose to run this one-sided story. In the interview (linked above), Mr. Walsh claims in the story that organic production could feed the world if given a chance. Mr. Walsh also claims in the interview organic production is better for you, tastes better and is easier on the land in his opinion”. when the Agritalk host asks him about animal antibiotics, he states his opinion and those of others but dismisses, the opinions of veterinarians in the business. TIME is supposed to be a news magazine not PEOPLE. The story lacks fact and does cause one to draw the conclusion that fact has taken a second seat to sensationalism in all media.
I encourage you to write TIME magazine and express your displeasure with this absolute attack on our industry. It is important that you speak up and not let people outside of agriculture speak for you and about you. Let your voice be heard!!!!

Please read Raoul Baxter’s post on MeatingPlace, discussing the inaccuracies of the TIME piece just in case you think I’m the crazy one.

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ILC 2009: Dr. Alastair Cribb – Making Decisions Based on Science Versus Emotion

August 9, 2009

At the International Livestock Congress I talked to Dr. Alastair Cribb, Dean. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine University of Calgary about the balance between making decisions based on science versus emotion.  Sometimes this can be a very grey area and will continue to be in the future as both scientific advancement and emotions increase.  

See more ILC 2009 content

ILC 2009: Barbara Beane – KFC – Food Innovation and Safety in the Chicken Business

July 22, 2009

With the event of H1N1 poultry food safety has become a very popular topic amongst the general public not just agriculturalists.  At the International Livestock Congress in Calgary, I talked to Barbara Beane of KFC about how KFC is bringing innovative and new products to the marketplace. We also discussed how KFC manages food safety.  

Check out additional International Livestock Congress content

When "Urban Farms" Cross the Line

June 18, 2009

There is increased press and interest in the concept of “urban farms.” The preached benefits are community support, less fossil fuel use and the ever popular “its safer food.”Where I think we have crossed the line of common sense is that some cities in Ontario allow back yard chicken coops for urban egg production. People have we lost our minds? What would ever possess you to start an egg farm in your backyard? It surely is not food safety or trying to make your neighbours happy. Have you never heard of the grocery store? In the linked story an Owen Sound city councillor justifies this nonsense by stating,

“It speaks to food safety. It speaks to food security. It speaks to so many
things.”


I would say that it speaks to human kinds apparent lack intelligence. For those of us that are reasonable, it is fairly well understood that urban farms are not going to improve food security and safety in a country, city, town, or village anytime in the future.

For the sake of interest I called the City of Lethbridge Regulatory office and asked if I would be able to start a chicken farm in my back yard. The lady laughed and said no!! I told her who I was and asked her if this was a common request. She replied that they do get some requests every year from Lethbridge residents to have chickens, goats, sheep and ponies in their backyards. Do some of the urban residents of North America not trust the food system or are they thinking this will save them a dollar. Why not support the experts and buy from farmers and the grocery store. What is next, we don’t trust doctors and so we allow people to give each others surgeries.

Farming is a serious occupation that some discredit by thinking they can just do it themselves in a safer fashion. Lets not discredit the hard working people of rural areas by calling some lady that has 10 chickens in her back yard a farmer. This is no different than someone who has a 10 foot by 10 foot corn crop in their back yard is not a farmer….they are a gardener. Lets let some common sense prevail and quit this nonsense of cities like Guelph, Brampton and some US cities.

Support the REAL farmers!!

H1N1 Is Not A Food Safety Issue

May 27, 2009

Pigs are a host for the H1N1 virus, and yet while no pigs died directly because of the virus, it was called “swine flu” and the news story became focused on food safety. It sprung a lot of attention onto concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) as if the food supply is not safe anymore because of H1N1. Like what happened with BSE, people quickly moved to the worst-case scenario and not the story closer to reality. In reality, these are animal health issues and not food safety issues based on the good detection work of CFIA. BSE and H1N1 are not CAFO issues either. If you fed contaminated feed to your free-range cows, they would be just as susceptible to BSE as the cow in the feedlot. As agriculturalists, we need to grab a hold of these media spins quicker and be more proactive in terms of public relations. The unnecessary pain and damage to our industry is too great.

Breaking Down the Sustainable vs. Conventional Farming Debate

May 8, 2009

Tuesday on #agchat there was quite the discussion about many agricultural topics (see the Agwired review). The whole goal of agchat is to discuss the five questions posed by the moderator @mpaynknoper. The goal is not to have specifically a pro GMO or organic discussion but rather a pro agriculture discussion with all stakeholders.

I will save you from all the details of the battle that has been raging on twitter this week regarding sustainable versus conventional farming but the reality is that both sides need to start to listen to each other. We need to get past the rhetoric that Monsanto is the evil empire and all people that eat organic food smoke pot and live in a grass hut down by the river. Today, a pro sustainable ag blogger posted some thoughts that showcase how strong the rift is between sustainable and conventional agriculture.

There is a place for both sustainable and conventional agriculture in the marketplace. For either side to suggest that we should do away with the other would be ignoring the demands of the end user. There is demand for both sustainable products and conventional products in the marketplace.

My wish is that the pro sustainable (organic) believers would take off the “Monsanto is evil” blinders and start realizing that transgenic traits do serve a beneficial purpose to the marketplace. I have many friends at Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow Agro, Bayer and Pioneer Hybrid and I can tell you none of those people are evil or want to control the food system. I would encourage all of my sustainable (pro organic) friends on Twitter and abroad to start opening their mind to what is really happening in agriculture (get it…….RealAgriculture).

Bill Lapp — Advanced Economic Solutions — Discusses the Commmodity Market Outlook

March 9, 2009

I just listened to Bill Lapp, an economist with Advanced Economic Solutions speak about the outlook for commodities in Edmonton. Lapp was very interesting, candid and provided great insight into the commodity market.

The key points that Lapp focused on were:

  • Brazil, Russia, India and China have led the world growth over the last 10 years.
  • The rising US deficit is going to be an ongoing concern. As the US dollar weakens commodities should strengthen.
  • Commodities tend to jump and then plateau. He showed a chart of corn prices back to the 1800’s and showed the group that this has been in case with corn over history.
  • World coarse grain usage is now rising much faster than long term gains. The result is going to be acre battles between major crops. For example, corn and soybeans.
  • The ethanol industry in the US has moved from the gold rush to significant financial issues. Currently, 20% of the ethanol production capacity is idle in the US.
  • The US cattle and chicken industries are under significant financial pressure.
  • Food use of soy oil is going to decline in the US for the fourth consecutive year due to the growth of canola and palm oil. In the US consumers view, canola is a healthier oil.
  • The North American recession has created real financial trauma. The longer the economy is slow, the more likely the US moves to a protectionist agenda of which Lapp is extremely concerned about.

    If you are ever presented with the opportunity to hear Bill Lapp speak I encourage you to attend.

The Grain Markets Provide Reflection

January 8, 2009

It is sad but so true.  The graph to the left not only describes what has happened to the grain markets but also mysteriously looks like a Christmas tree.  I found this picture at the blog Eds World: Grain Marketing.  As Ed describes in the blog, he is not sure if he should laugh or cry.  

As Ed states you should choose to laugh because if you think back on the last 24 months it really is an unbelievable story.  In one breath ethanol is being blamed for high food prices and shortages of grain and then prices have bombed lower with higher supplies and a growing global recession.  
We need grain prices to get to a level where both the farmer and the livestock industry can be sustainable in the long run.  A major part of this is stability in the price and not the massive price swings as we have experienced in the past.  When the price moves that quickly no one can capitalize on opportunities.  The major question now for grain prices is what happens next? 

Dick Bond is Leaving Tyson Foods

January 5, 2009
According to a press release from Tyson Foods this morning, President and CEO Dick Bond is leaving the company effective immediately. According to Reuters, Leland Tollett who was the chairman and CEO from 1995 to 1998, will resume the post until a replacement is found. By revenue Tyson is the largest processor of protein in the world.

It would seem that there is more to the story than Bond just trying to pursue other interests. Planned corporate transitions do not usually include resignations deemed to be “effective immediately.” The stock has not been very a real favorite of analysts through the commodity surge last spring but as of late had been working its way back to the twelve month highs. On the news of the resignation this morning the stock is down almost 6%. In a Wall Street Journal story posted this morning Tyson restructured its lending agreements a month ago by providing all its assets to gain further flexibility and a one billion dollar revolving loan.  There has been speculation this morning by several news providers that Bond was forced out by lender pressure as a result of the restructuring a month ago.  Of course this is being denied by Tyson at this time.  

It is obvious that the ride in coarse grain prices negatively affected Tyson’s earnings which resulted in Bond and the company attacking the merits of the ethanol industry in the US. There has been a lot of conversation on Wall Street as to what Tyson’s strategy would be going forward in order to solidify earnings in this very volatile environment.  Some speculation has circled that Tyson will sell off its red meat division to focus more on pork and chicken.  This seemingly came closer to reality after the proposed sale of Lakeside Packers in Brooks to Nillson Bros became public.  Several industry insiders are also saying that the sale of the red meat division would create working capital and allow Tyson to show institutional investors a restructuring plan is being implemented.  Although it is easy to suggest a sale of the red meat division, the reality is that finding a buyer of such a large holding can be very tricky and may require a multi-package approach based on the limited amount of buyers and lack of profitability in the industry.

When the new CEO is chosen it will come with a new direction and change for the company. I think that it will be interesting as to whether the choice will be internal or external.  Hiring an external CEO would showcase the thrust for change at Tyson while an internal choice could mean more of the same in the short term.

There is no doubt that these are very interesting times at Tyson Foods and will continue you to be in 2009.