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HSUS Attacks Farmers, Consumers in Ohio

Posted on February 2, 2010 06:32 by Andy Vance

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a self-declared "sophisticated political organization," submitted a petition to Ohio’s Attorney General this week in support of placing an "anti-cruelty" measure on the statewide November ballot. The proposed measure would allow voters to require the newly created Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt standards that will effectively end livestock production in Ohio by making it economically unfeasible to feed chickens, hogs, or veal calves in the state.

Utilizing a large corps of paid petition circulators, the group will seek to collect more than 600,000 signatures of registered Ohio voters upon approval of the petition forms by the Secretary of State. In doing so, they will attempt to circumvent the will of the Ohio voters in passing the measure to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board last November.

HSUS, it is widely known, is a radical activist organization dedicated to reducing and replacing animal-derived proteins and products from the human lifestyle. Equating animals with More...

There's Power In Numbers

Posted on January 29, 2010 15:09 by Andy Vance

I just left the NCBA Membership Committee meeting at the annual convention in San Antonio, where members discussed the report of the Governance Task Force, a critical issue and opportunity before members this year.  Perhaps as important, the members of the committee discussed a proposal to adjust NCBA dues this year.  Reflecting the concerns about challenges facing agriculture in general, and cattlemen in specific, the proposal is driven by the need for NCBA to "maintain and enhance expertise and services in Washington, D.C."

The basics of the proposal revolve around an increase in the base dues for membership.  For example, as a producer who owns fewer than 100 head, I pay $50 to enjoy in the numerous benefits afforded NCBA members.  Under the current proposal, my dues would become $100, or roughly $8.33 per month.  To quote my conversation earlier with NCBA President Gary Voogt, that's roughly equivalent to one tank of diesel in your F-350, or four bags of mineral supplement.  "You wouldn't do without either of those," Gary told me, "so why would you do without your NCBA membership?"


In terms of percentage increase, the dues tier in which I fall appears to be the most affected.  Other dues brackets increase anywhere from $100-$180 per year, according to how many head a member owns.  As Voogt, and members of the committee pointed out, membership in NCBA provides tremendous representation in Washington, DC, and with regulation and legislation adding cost to our bottom line and threatening to put farm and ranch families out of business, More...

Jan Lyons Talks NCBA's Governance Task Force

Posted on January 28, 2010 17:34 by Andy Vance

NCBA launched a Governance Task Force two years ago to examine the structure and operations of the organization's Board of Directors.  Co-Chaired by Past NCBA Presidents Jan Lyons of Kansas and John Queen of North Carolina, the Task Force reports this week on a set of recommendations that would vastly streamline the current Board, but would add a House of Delegates to encourage grassroots membership activity. 


Addressing members at this afternoon's NCBA Federation Division and Policy Division Forums at the Cattle Industry Annual Convention in San Antonio about the Task Force Report, Lyons and Queen are explaining the findings of the group, and answering questions about how their recommendations might change the very structure of NCBA.


talked with Jan Lyons about the Task Force's report and recommendation, and you can listen to our conversation.  Lyons spoke with me about the need for NCBA to be "more nimble," More...

Hundreds of Ohio Cattlemen's Association members gathered in Columbus over the weekend to discuss issues and opportunities in the industry, to debate policy guiding the organization, and to recognize outstanding beef producers for their achievements.  Like most, if not all, NCBA affiliates, OCA will send a delegation to San Antonio this week for the Cattle Industry Annual Convention.
Ohio Poultry Association and Ohioans for Livestock Care Steering Committee Member talked with members about the campaign, and outlined key strategies for further strengthening the relationship between farmers and consumers.

With Ohio farmers' focus in 2009 on passage of state Issue 2, to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, OCA leaders began their annual meeting with a symposium on what was learned from the Issue 2 campaign, and what preparations were underway for a presumed HSUS-funded ballot initiative in the future.  Jim Chakeres, Executive Director of the

I spoke with Jim Chakeres about the Issue 2 campaign, and about House Bill 414, otherwise known as the implementation language for Issue 2.  You can read more about HB 414 here.  The current discussion over the Board's implementation centers primarily on the issue of funding the Board's operations and

enforcement activities.  The proposal in HB 414 is to increase the rate assessed on each ton of commercially produced feed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture as a commercial feed "inspection fee."

Held the week of the Cattle Industry Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas, the OCA meeting typically features a keynote address from a National Cattlemen's Beef Association officer.  This year's meeting featured NCBA Vice President Bill Donald, a rancher from Montana.  Donald discussed the differences between ranching in Montana and farming in Ohio, but focused most importantly on the need for the members' shared efforts through NCBA.  Donald about the report of the NCBA Governance Task Force, to be presented at this week's Convention.  The Task Force report would streamline NCBA's Board of Directors considerably, creating what Donald called a more effective, more nimble organization.  Listen to Part 1 of the Interview , and listen to Part 2 of the Interview here.

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Culling Cows

Posted on January 12, 2010 06:55 by Andy Vance
We sent some cows to town last week.  That's the phrase we always used when it came time to cull cows growing up: it was time for those cows to "go to town." Unlike when the proverbial cows come home, these cows won't be returning to production for one reason or another.  Culling cows has always been a tough decision for me, as I know it is for many producers in my boots.  As the owner of a small herd of registered breeding stock, there are a number of key considerations that go into the decision to cut a cow from the lineup and to send her on to the stock yards or to another breeder.

I'll share some of my thoughts on the process.

My first question is always how important is the cow to my overall herd.  This may sound silly, but I assign different values in my mind to each cow in terms of how her genetic profile and production history rank her among her herdmates. This, by the way, is neither as objective or subjective as it may sound, and this "value" may change given the relevant circumstances.More...

New Year's Resolutions

Posted on January 7, 2010 07:46 by Andy Vance
While I opted out of setting the traditional New Year's resolutions about losing weight, writing the great American novel, or starting my own business (already checked that one off my bucket list), I did take the occasion of turning the calendar to think about my goals and strategies for my cattle herd in the New Year.  My endeavor into beef production is fairly specialized.  As a breeder of registered Shorthorn cattle

who also has a time-consuming professional schedule off the farm, my thought process and frames of reference may be somewhat different that the cattleman who earns his entire living from his herd.  Nonetheless, the process still focuses on good business decisions, and good production practices.

In my case, I partner with another family to handle the day-to-day chores and management of my cowherd.  With roughly 20 cows and a handful of their retained heifer offspring, we are certainly a small operation.  Even so, to get the most efficiency and most effective management, I needed a herd manager more fully dedicated to consistent and continual observation and handling of the cows.  Our partners are fellow Shorthorn breeders who have a great herd in their own right, and our goals are similarly aligned.  One of the key lessons I learned in our first full year together is that communication between partners is essential.  For any young producer getting started in the business, partnering with a family member or other trusted partner may be a way to leverage additional resources like land and management, but the importance of a solid set of expectations and communications practices can't be understated.  The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, as they say, but the road to success is paved with a good set of joint goals and expectations. More...