Letters to the Editor

Farm stewards

April 24, 2011


To the editor:

These days, everyone from celebrities to journalists to politicians has an opinion about the “right” way to raise food. Often, their criticism of farmers and ranchers like my husband and myself relates to the environment: People say we aren’t doing our part to protect the planet.

In connection with Earth Day this week, I’d like to offer some food for thought. While these naysayers talk about minimizing impact on the environment, America’s cattle farmers and ranchers get up every day and do it. We care for the land because it’s our full-time job. On average, each cattleman has 13 different practices in place to accomplish environmental goals, such as nurturing wildlife, preventing erosion and conserving and protecting water.

We’re constantly creating new, innovative practices that help us do more with less. Many experts agree U.S. livestock production practices are an environmentally sustainable solution for raising food and should be considered a model for the rest of the world. The average American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide, compared to 26 people just a few decades ago. The beef we raise today requires less land, water and energy than before, and each serving provides 10 essential nutrients to your diet. The things we do to protect and enhance the land are unique to where we’re located, but, no matter what climate or geography we live in, we are responsible and care greatly for our cattle and the environment.

Today, and every day, I’d like to extend my appreciation to my fellow Kansas farmers and ranchers, the original environmentalists.


labmonkey 7 years, 1 month ago

Surely you cannot think you know as much as Hollywood celebrities on this issue.

appleaday 7 years, 1 month ago

There is a difference between farming and agri-business, something that many celebrities point out. Farmers do a magnificent job being stewards of the land.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

If we take a hard look at the monster feed lot factories where the lions share of beef cattle,hogs and chickens are raised then there is room to disagree with the letter writer.

In the feed lots animals stand in their poop,get zero exercise and in general are there only to get fat. This is the source of problems with meat NOT the small family farms.

Corp farming and feed lots are likely not the healthiest source of products.

Know what goes into the meat you eat. Buy Local and Buy Organic.

There is a reason why EU nations and Japan many times do not buy USA produced meat. It's called quality control and lack of serious USDA inspections.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Environmental activists have been successful in alerting all, including small farmers, on the advisability of sustainable practices. This self serving letter would be better if it ackowledged environmentalists were (are) right.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

She calls environmentalists "naysayers" and then goes congratules herself. My point is the environmentalists did much to lead the way & the tone and content of this letter falsely asserts otherwise.

labmonkey 7 years, 1 month ago

Scott, I have a feeling you know very little about farming..

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"On average, each cattleman has 13 different practices in place to accomplish environmental goals, such as nurturing wildlife, preventing erosion and conserving and protecting water."

The real facts are that industrial farming techniques, on the whole, do tremendous damage to wildlife habitat, send millions of tons of soil downriver every year, make lakes, rivers and streams too toxic to drink or fish in and the pollution from agriculture that makes its way down the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico has created a massive dead zone.

Perhaps the Wulfkuhle family is an exception in their stewardship of the land, but if so, why is she so defensive about appropriately grave concerns that environmentalists have about industrial agricultural practices?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

They would certainly be harmful to your willful ignorance.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Anyone who spends much time on this forum gets exposed to a good deal of it.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 1 month ago

The difference between responsible farming and agri-business with it's less eco-friendly techniques may be the difference between having a billion people on this planet in 1800 vs. 7 billion now. That's 7 billion and growing. It's going to be difficult to sustain eco-friendly food production, fuel consumption, or any planet stewardship while our population explodes. Any talk of environment must include population control.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

Are her cattle fed grass or corn? Do they raise them until butcher weight, or sell them after 6-12 months to a CAFO, where they'll be given massive doses of antibiotics and hormones? Do they apply herbicides and pesticides to their field crops? Not only do these chemicals pollute the soil and water, they are absorbed by the grain and passed along to anything that eats them. Do they get subsidies from the government? 2/3 of farmers do. Have they torn out the windbreaks planted after the Dust Bowl?

Centerville 7 years, 1 month ago

Lesson: whenever liberals come snooping around, farmers should just pretend to be the Joad family. And keep any tractor with an enclosed cab hidden in something faux painted to look like a corn crib or a chicken coop. That way, the farmer won't have to take a lot of grief for having the audacity to earn enough for things like running water and new shoes. As far as libs are concerned, the only good farmer is a poor farmer.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

"Recipients of Total USDA Subsidies from farms in Douglas County, Kansas totaled $49,787,000 in from 1995-2009." http://farm.ewg.org/top_recips.php?fips=20045&progcode=total&regionname=DouglasCounty,Kansas But teachers and janitors are bankrupting the country.

deec 7 years ago

I've been thinking a lot abut your post. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I agree that subsidies to corporate farms are the big problem. However, we like to pretend that we live in a free market economy. If that is true, why should some businesses, such as agribusiness, be subsidized while others are not? We do pay more for our food than we suspect,due to the subsidies to farmers. Those costs are hidden, but the subsidies keep food prices artificially low at the market. If we must pay farmers to farm, then policies should be manipulated to encourage the young farmers who need a hand up to get started. They should not be an annual handout until retirement. Perhaps a program similar to the student loan programs could be initiated. Land is plentiful and available, especially in rural areas. I live in a farming community now, and there are auctions every week for farm ground. Corporations and gentleman farmers are driving up the cost of land, to be sure. They have helped decimate rural populations. Farm policy should encourage new small farms, not reward multinational corporations. People could also grow some of their own food where allowed and feasible. Vegetable gardens could replace chemically-polluted lawns, for example. Besides, in a country where a huge proportion of the population is morbidly obese, we could afford to eat a little less.

funkdog1 7 years, 1 month ago

There's a world of difference between feedlots and the work that good ranchers do. Kansans musn't forget that cattle have taken the place of millions upon millions of bison that used to graze our grasslands.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

But most cattle are not raised to butcher weight on blue skies and grass. They are shipped off to CAFOs to be fattened up on chemically-tainted corn feed in torturous conditions. Agribusiness is not the same as a family farm. Chickens stuffed in cages so closely that they cannot move and kept inside stuffy buildings are not the same thing as chickens roaming inside a pen to forage.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_Animal_Feeding_Operations "A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) is an animal feeding facility that confines animals for more than 45 days in an area that does not produce vegetation during the growing season. The term "CAFO" was first coined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to describe facilities that have a potential pollution profile. Definition through transformations aspect to CAFO is a production process that concentrates large numbers of animals in relatively small and confined spaces, and that substitutes structures and equipment for land and labor.[1]

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Prairie fires haven't been wholly "natural" for many centuries. There's ample evidence that Native Americans have been burning the prairies since well before the arrival of Europeans and their replacement bovines.

BTW, what is the EPA's "ludicrous position?"

Ken Lassman 7 years, 1 month ago

It's kinda sad when farmers and folks concerned with the way food is raised can't have a civil dialogue. Instead, the conversation spurred by this letter seems dominated with name calling on both sides, unfortunately. Do you really think that's what Brenna had in mind when she wrote this letter? I have no problem with responsible farming and ranching, of which there is quite a bit of, and I have no problem criticizing irresponsible farming and ranching, which I believe occasionally occurs as well. Why is it all one or all the other? Are folks on both sides so insecure that they can't entertain the possibility that our state has examples of both? Seems to me that it's time to turn down the heated words on both sides and find the common ground--literally in this topic--and plant some seeds of trust. It's that time of year, you know.

Unreal 7 years ago

Yes, once again proving how wonderful of stewards animal farmers are to our environment:


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