ANIMAL WELFARE VS. ANIMAL RIGHTS

I grew up on a dairy farm. The experiences and values I gained from that experience have been invaluable to me. I have learned the value of hard work, perseverance, but just as importantly, I learned how to properly care for a cow.  I realize this isn’t a commonly sought after education, but it is one that I am proud of.

I have a strong connection to dairy cattle, especially Holsteins. I milk cows and I’ve shown cows and there is a definite bond I’ve developed with the animals.  Of course, it’s a different bond than you might have with your pet because these cows are my family’s livelihood.

At home, someone gets up to milk the cows at four in the morning and then milks them again at four in the afternoon. Yes, it is hard work, but sometimes the harder work is caring for the cows.  Of course we treat our cows well simply because they deserve it, but also because if the cattle aren’t healthy, they aren’t producing as much milk.  That milk is putting me through college!  As a farmer, you learn to keep this perspective … yes, you love the cows and you take care of them but also, they are animals and not humans.  You cry over the loss of your favorite cow, but in the end you know that you treated that animal with unparalleled care while they were with you.

This is a fundamental difference – the difference between animal welfare and animal rights.  I believe in animal welfare and I can’t think of a farmer that doesn’t.  Animal welfare means that your animals are cared for when they are sick, provided housing in the winter, soft bedding to sleep, feed and water and a clean barn.  Animal rights are about animals having rights, literally, much like human rights. That, I disagree with.

I am thankful for the animals, especially dairy cows, because they provide us with such wholesome products and I am grateful for the role that they play on earth. It is said well in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Though I know an animal’s place on this earth, I still believe that like anything else in life, the better you take care of something, the better condition it will be in. I have a strong connection to the cows, as does the rest of my family. We see it as more than a job, but rather a passion for dairy cattle. It takes a lot to want to do the incredible amount of work that it requires to raise healthy high producing cows. Animal welfare is a great priority when dealing with dairy cattle and with any livestock operation.

The difference between animal welfare and animal rights is often one that goes unnoticed to consumers. As a consumer, an American, it is your job to know the difference. I believe in animal welfare, and I am sure that you do too, but supporting groups like PETA and HSUS is supporting animal rights, NOT necessarily animal welfare.

As producers, we know the value in animal welfare. As consumers, we hope that you know the difference.

Amy Schaufelberger
University of Illinois student
Daughter of a dairy farmer

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FARM WOMEN LEAVE A STRONG LEGACY

Earlier in November I had the opportunity to visit my aunt in Arizona and to help her celebrate her 98th birthday. Born on a farm in northeastern, IL, this woman has had quite a life as she has lived in cities including Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago as well as traveled internationally. With little prompting, Aunt Vi loves to talk about growing up on the farm. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think about how life has changed for farm women over the past several generations.

My aunt spoke as if it were yesterday about bridling her horse, Beauty, each morning to herd the cows to the pasture and then doing the same each day after school to bring the cows back to the barn for the night. She told me how one fall and winter she and Grandma were “in charge” of the farm while Grandpa was working on another farm some 20 miles away. Each morning, before school, my aunt and Grandma would milk the cows and then load the milk cans in the buggy. With Beauty providing the horsepower, Aunt Vi would take the cans of milk, one from the night before and one from the morning, to the streetcar station in town. There she would unload the milk cans. At 11 years old, less than five feet tall and about 75 pounds this was quite a task. But she said if she timed it right, the streetcar would arrive just as she was backing the buggy to the ramp and the conductor would help her pull the milk cans from the buggy. Each time I look at the milk can that is now a decoration on my porch, I can’t help but thinking about those wintery mornings and seeing my Grandma and aunt caring for those cows.

Like my Grandma, Aunt Vi, and my Mom before me, I have the opportunity to be a partner in our family farm. Although we do not milk cows, our farm involves growing corn and soybeans. My fall days are not spent herding cows, but rather driving a tractor or combine. After the crop is harvested, I find myself preparing annual reports for our landlords and working with my husband to secure inputs for the coming crop year. During the winter months I will attend meetings and conferences representing local corn farmers as their director to the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. Also during these months much of the corn and soybeans that we have grown will be sold and delivered to our customers, both domestically and internationally.

Each time I walk outside and pass that milk can, I think about the many women and men who have had the opportunity to grow food for our brothers and sisters around the world. It is a privilege to work on the farm today, to be a part of this effort to feed the world, and to have grown up with a love of the land in my blood, passed down from my Grandma and Aunt Vi.

For them and for all the strong farm women like them, I continue the legacy and look forward to sharing the joy I get from the farm with my children and grandchildren.

Donna Jeschke
Illinois family farmer, mom, wife &
ICMB Director

CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING WITH PORK!

Forget the gobble gobble – at my house it isn’t Thanksgiving until the ham is sliced. That’s right; our family tradition is to gather around a nice PORK dinner. Yes we have a turkey to maintain the American tradition, but the flavorful ham is the center piece. Growing up on a hog farm, I’m used to spending Thanksgiving being thankful for the fresh ham, bacon, and pork roast that were always available for our table.

pork power food pantry donationFortunately, this Thanksgiving there are quite a few more Illinoisans that can be thankful for fresh meat on their table. Through Pork Power, an effort of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) to provide ground pork to food pantries across Illinois, some of the Illinois residents that must get their Thanksgiving meal from a food pantry will receive a little PORK to go with it.
In a partnership between IPPA, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, and the Illinois Soybean Association, Pork Power has donated more than 42,000 pounds of safe and nutrition ground pork to Feeding Illinois (a group committed to hunger relief and bettering the quality of life in Illinois communities) this year and more than 200,000 pounds of pork over the last three years to feed families in need.
“We are so grateful for this donation of nutritious protein,” said Tracy Smith, State Director for Feeding Illinois. “This donation comes at a critical time with reserves at food banks being very low due to the increase in demand. Food banks have seen on average a 30 percent increase in the number of people seeking food assistance in the past year,” said Smith. “Because of partners like the IL Pork Producers Association, IL Soybean Association, and IL Corn Marketing Board we will be able to put food on the table for thousands of Illinois families.”

So I guess I have yet another thing to be thankful for this year – that Illinois farmers are just as concerned about feeding those in need as they are about feeding themselves. And that in America, even those in need can look forward to a fabulous PORK dish on their Thanksgiving table!

(Check out the awesome pork recipes for your Thanksgiving here!)

Traci Pitstick

Illinois State University student

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NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL LIVESTOCK EXPO, LOUISVILLE

An upcoming event that brings quite the excitement to the city of Louisville, KY is the North American International Livestock Exposition. The event will be held from November 6th through the 19th. It is a large event where many species of animals will be exhibited. As an exhibitor at NAILE, or a visitor, it is a great way to meet many people from across the United States.

No matter what type of animal you are interested in, at some point throughout the two weeks, they will be present and shown. The best animals will be there to represent their breed. Owners of these animals work for months to get them ready for the show. After lots of special care and grooming, the animals are ready for show. There are junior and open shows, this means that youth will get to show against other youth in the junior show and then at the open show exhibitors of all ages compete. These are some of the top animals of their breed and are not only there to be shown but to also promote the high quality genetics of the breed and the farm or owner that brought that animal to NAILE.

Though the shows are a main part of the exposition, there are many other events to attract people to NAILE. The rodeo is always a hit as it is the Championship for the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association and brings in the Great Lakes Circuit Rodeo Finals. I have never been able to attend the Rodeo, but it is a main event of this Louisville exposition. If the livestock shows and rodeo are not up your alley, there is a “Country Store” to keep you busy. This store is packed with almost two hundred venders. One can buy some good food or a nice pair of boots at this attraction and I have done both. Walking through the store is fun and I normally find something that I need.

In its 35th year, the exposition is still going strong. Take a day to come enjoy the shows and the store and walk through the many livestock barns, one would not be disappointed. If it is not feasible to make the journey to Louisville to take in all the action, check out their website www.livestockexpo.org. There is a press staff, which also includes some student interns from Illinois and Kentucky, which will keep the site updated with current happenings and results, along with some stories from the barns. This site also includes pictures from past years and many schedules of shows and hours for events. So be sure to look at the visitors tab.

For those that are going to show on the green shavings, which is always exciting to see the hard work pay off, to walk through the massive country store, or just to watch and take it in, this upcoming event in agriculture is sure to be worth your time. Try to get this on your calendar and check out the website for event times. If you happen to stroll through the dairy barns be sure to come say hi! Look forward to seeing you there.

Amy Schaufelberger
University of Illinois student

ENTERTAINING AND INFORMATIVE: IS THIS THE WAY TO GO?

It seems that those milk producers are always on the cutting edge.  Here in America, we all realize the popularity of the “Got Milk” ads.  They are almost collectables!  But in Europe, there’s a new breed of dairy farmer and they are hitting television screens for the first time in their new video for Yeo Valley.

http://www.youtube.com/v/qLySx6wSSmo?fs=1&hl=en_US

Intro

The sun is up, the milk is chilled, it’s gonna be a good one, yo yo

Farmer 1
Yo I’m rolling in my Massey on a summer’s day
Chugging cold milk while I’m bailing hay
Yeo Valley’s approach is common sense
Harmony in nature takes precedence
My ride’s my pride
That’s why you’ll never see it dirty
And I love it here man
That’s why I’m never leaving early
I’m so girt
In my cap and my shirt
I’m representing for west
So hard that it hurts

Farmer 2
We make this look easy
Cause we’re proper modern with this farming believe me
Wind turbines they’re shining baby
And solar farming no buts no maybe’s
Ye, when we’re down with the soil association
And we do lots of what, conservation
Sustain, maintain it ain’t no thing
We set the bar
Real leaders by far

Chorus
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
We change the game, it will never be the same
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
Big up your chest and represent the West

Farmer 3
This isn’t fictional farming
Its realer than real
You wont find milk maidens
That’s no longer the deal
In my wax coat and boots
I’m proper farmer Giles
Now look
You urban folk done stole our styles
I’m not a city dweller,
Me I like to keep it country
The air is clean and
All those cars will make me jumpy
It’s different strokes
For different folk, my man
Just enjoy the results
Of what we do on the land

Farmer 4
Check out Daisy she’s a proper cow
A pedigree Friesian with know how
Her and her girls they have there own name
We treat them good
They give us the cream

Chorus
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
We change the game, it will never be the same
Yeo Valley Yeo Valley
Big up your chest and represent the West
Big up your chest…
Represent the West…

Interesting that these European farmers are addressing exactly the same questions we’re trying to address.  They mention that they are sustainable and environmentally conscious … and that they treat their cattle well.  Also, I love the line “Different strokes for different folks, Just enjoy the results of what we do on the land.”

Are Illinois farmers ready to get out there and do something like this that is entertaining and informative?  Does this push the bar too far or just far enough?  Is this the way to get consumer attention and give them permission to get farmers farm?

What are your thoughts?

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

A QUICK VISIT TO THE WORLD DAIRY EXPO …

The World Dairy Expo was held September 28 through October 2 in Madison, Wisconsin. As a dairy enthusiast myself, attending Expo is always a great treat. It is the meeting place for over 65,000 people from around the world for this five day event. It is much more than the famed dairy cattle shows and sales, but includes seminars, collegiate and 4-H judging contests and exhibits of all kinds. As a stop for many on the “tanbark trail,” the best cattle from the United States and Canada are exhibited at this amazing exposition. While some are exhibiting, thousands come to watch the show, view the modern equipment exhibits, learn about the latest in feed and nutrition, check out colleges, discover new advances in genetics, and to just mingle with members of the dairy and agriculture industry from around the globe.
A major attraction is the trade show. It includes over 750 exhibitors from within the United States and internationally as well. A trip through the whole trade show, exhibition hall, or coliseum is well over a full day’s event. Freebies and lots of information can be gained on a treck through the trade show buildings. One of these exhibits was the Illinois Livestock Development Group. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board works with this development group to bring cattle to Illinois. Illinois produces lots of corn, and livestock is the number one market for number two yellow corn. It is a win win situation, strong corn state and strong dairy state. There is a strong connection between the gold crop and the big black and whites…or any dairy cow for that matter.
In addition to the trade show and exhibition hall, one can enjoy a variety of exhibits outside and some delicious food as well. Dairy products are presented at their finest at such an event as this. Whether it is the traditional grilled cheese, a milkshake, or some awesome cheese curds, one will not be disappointed. If the cattle are more of interest, a trip through the numerous cattle barns or a venture through the sale tent will be sure to satisfy.

The World Dairy Expo was a great experience and did not disappoint. From watching the shows, to sitting next to many international guest and hearing their opinions of the shows, to enjoying my grilled cheese sandwiches and milk, to talking about future plans with exhibitors present, to purchasing a jacket, expo met my expectations. Though it is a little too late to watch the shows live online, all the results can be found on the website. www.worlddairyexpo.com. Also, the site includes a lot of information about this year’s expo besides show results. Whether you are a diary enthusiast or not, the World Dairy Expo is a great event to experience, so I would suggest that you work that into your plans for next fall!

Amy Schaufelberger
University of Illinois student and Illinois farm girl