Eliz Greene
Eliz Greene
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Ever wonder where you milk comes from? I got a chance to find out last week when I visited a dairy farm in Western Wisconsin and met 100 hard working dairy farming women.

Having only the media view of “factory” farming,  I was firmly on the organic/free range/family farm side of the argument. I have to say my view has changed – still need more info, but it isn’t as black and white as I thought. I visited a dairy farm with more than 800 cows — which is huge. It is run by a family (2 brothers and their wives) and some hired help (total of 12 people I think). They’d like to have more help, but can’t afford them with the low milk prices.

I had assumed “confined” cows would be unhappy cows, dirty cows, sad — but I was wrong. Over the hour-long tour, our host constantly talked about “cow comfort” from the different types of bedding to how the feed was presented. They invest in various types of fans and misters to keep them cool – they even had motion sensitive back scratching machines for the cows. It was a bit like uncomfortable to watch one cow use it — she seemed to be REALLY enjoying it.

As anyone who has breast fed knows, if the mom is stressed or uncomfortable, the milk doesn’t flow. I hadn’t considered this concept in regard to dairy cows, but it makes sense. From that perspective, it seems ridiculous that a business person would set up a situation where conditions would limit production. No, indeed this farm was all about making the cows happy.

Our host talked about his routine and it was obvious how hard they work – long hours – and they are struggling to make a profit.

With their cute little kids running around it is hard to believe this was what Time Magazine calls a “soulless” operation.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • The farmers I met are VERY busy, care deeply, and deserve our respect.
  • There’s more to this issue than I ever imagined.
  • I don’t know enough yet — it is time to get more information and start really understanding where our food comes from.

I suspect there is more than one right answer and the people who are most qualified to help me understand are the people working hard to produce our food.

So, farmers out there, please help me out!

  • What should I know that I don’t?
  • What do I think I know, that is just plain wrong?
  • What should I be reading?
  • Who should I rely on for good, unbiased, information?

I talk all the time about “grow foods” and making healthy choices. It is time for me to really understand what that means. Please make a comment below and help me share the best information with the people I serve. Thanks!

To the busy women I serve, get yourself and your family out to a working farm and see where your food is produced. Become an informed consumer and support the people working hard to put food on your table.

Get more valuable information in Eliz’s new book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart, or in her Award Winning Blog.

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Eliz Greene survived a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggled to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and searched for a way to hold on to the perspective and passion she found in her near-death experience. Drawing on her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.

As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com.

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Eliz Greene

About Eliz Greene

Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher. Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

86 Responses to “The Soul of Farming: Busy Woman’s Guide to Eating Better”

  • Thanks for visiting the farm Eliz! We want you to know that our goal as farmers is to feed our family & yours safe, nutritious food. We do care for our animals-my kids all have baby calves to be responsible for and they learn quickly to love the farm life & the responsibility that comes with feeding the world.

  • It’s refreshing to see that things like the TIME article and the more extreme liberal media organizations haven’t turned everyone against modern agriculture.

    The big thing to keep in mind is that the population can’t be fed on the small-scale methods that so many people demand. In providing the life that animal rights groups want for farm animals, you have to answer the question: who is allowed food, and who is not?

    There are some farms that aren’t up to spec on care and facilities, yes. But they’re the minority. The animals in the majority of the farms are happy, safe, and comfortable. The food is nutritious and safe. This system is working, and it’s feeding the world. A change would only serve to hurt people who depend on America’s productivity in agriculture.

    Also, for individuals who think most American foods are bad: blame the processors. The people who buy the raw goods (milk, crops, eggs, etc.) and turn them into fatty, sugary, unhealthy products. The farmers have no say over what their product is turned into.

    Anyways…that’s my 2 cents 🙂 Thank you so much for giving farming a chance, and offering the agriculture community a chance to talk to you. I really admire your open-mindedness and your willingness to learn, and go against the flow of the media. Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks Kelly. I appreciate your insights. Judging entire groups of people by the actions of a few is always unfair, I’m glad to learn about the other side. I also agree about the processing of foods being a major issue impacting health. It is amazing what can be done to the raw goods and still be called food! Thanks again!

  • Great article! I am glad to read about a consumer with an open mind. Milk, egg, meat, and wool producers provide for animal comfort to ensure continued production and because they are not ‘soulless’. Like animal producers, farmers of corn, soybeans, wheat, fruits, vegetables, and other produce also care for the land. They are sometimes labeled the first environmentalist. The concept is that if the land is not nurtured and cared for, then their livelihood is destroyed, being directly connected to the land gives them more motivation to protect the environment than most individuals. There is a great article floating around the agriculture community that you should read: http://www.american.com/archive/2009/july/the-omnivore2019s-delusion-against-the-agri-intellectuals

    Unbiased information can be found through the USDA, FDA, your local or state extension office, local land grant universities, keepourfoodsafe.org, and safefoodinc.org. We are what we eat, literally, and this topic can be quite emotional and divisive, unfortunately even among scientists and professionals, and unbiased information can be difficult to find.

  • Eliz- thanks for taking the time to visit the dairy and write this entry! America’s farmers are important members of their communities. They provide the safest, most secure food supply in the world while working to ensure the well-being of their animals. Unfortunately, most people never get the chance to visit a farm, so they don’t get to experience firsthand how hard farmers work. For more information about modern agriculture, please see the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Web site (www.animalagalliance.org) and our Facebook (www.facebook.com/animalagalliance).

  • Thanks for noticing that the dairy farmer does care about their cows. We love our girls and they are treated almost as if they were pets. They each have their own personality and are very social with us and each other. I am doing everything I can to save our farm Here is our story in case you are interested:
    My name is Janice Grimes and my husband Todd and I live in Webster, Iowa. We, like other dairy farmers, are struggling to stay afloat. The price of milk has decreased so much that we went from being able to pay all our bills, to losing about $5000.00 each month. We have cashed in our retirements and life insurance policies. Weve borrowed more money from the bank to continue operating and I was forced to return to work off the farm. This has left my husband to do all the milking by himself and it has taken a toll on us. We are living from day to day, not sure if we will go bankrupt and lose our farm, our home, and Todds parents house, which is also part of the farm. Our closest dairy friends are barely hanging on and we lean on each other for moral support. Last week, one of our dairy friends filed for bankruptcy and three other local dairy farms have also been lost due to the crisis. We couldnt sell out even if we wanted as dairy cows are worth practically nothing at the market.

    The USDA has tried to help by instituting the MILC program. However, the MILC rate is based on the Boston Milk price. The Boston price is the highest in the country and although an adjustment is made for feed costs, it still only adds about 1000.00 to our income. It is simply not enough to ward off bankruptcy.
    The lack of money is now having a trickling down effect and there is loss of income and business to local veterinarians, hoof trimmers, dairy supply stores, milk haulers and feed mills.

    I have been doing everything I personally can to bring attention to this crisis and to try and enlist the help of our government officials. I have written to every member of the Senate Agricultural Subcommittee, Secretary Vilsack, President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Iowa Governor Chet Culver and members of the newly formed Dairy Caucus. I have received little, if any, response.

    We had a glimmer of hope when the Senate Ag committee began to hold hearings on the dairy crisis. However, I was very disappointed in the speakers that provided the testimony. Where was the testimony from the dairy farmers? The dairy farmers that did testify were tied to large companies, the Farm Bureau or end processors. I read and heard that cooperatives and processors reported the following:
    There are too many cows producing milk, thus there is an oversupply.
    Its too late to help the small dairy farmer
    It is better to do nothing now and allow the market to find equilibrium.
    The price support program should be eliminated as it is a burden to everyone

    The local dairy farmer is LOSING money every day. However, the price of milk has not decreased that much in the store. We KNOW that someone is making a huge profit and it is NOT US. It has to be the cooperatives or the processors, so why would the very people who are making money be testifying to the ag committee?
    We want our voices heard. The testimony pointed out above does not represent us and is not in our best interest. The cooperatives and the processors (creameries) are looking out for themselves at our expense.
    We would like Congress to adopt the following:
    Double the MILC rate being paid to dairy farmers and make it retroactive to March as suggested by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
    STOP the importation of milk products (milk protein concentrates) from other countries!! If the processors and cooperatives really want us to believe there is an oversupply of milk, then why are they importing it??
    Secretary Vilsack has the legal authority to set the price of milk to the cost of production per U.S. Code TITLE 7 Chapter 26 SUBCHAPTER III 608c 18 (18). I know he is aware of this as Farm Aid, on June 18, 2009, delivered 13,000 petitions signed by dairy farmers asking him to do so. The National Family Farm Coalition sent a letter to him on March 2, 2009 requesting the same thing. We would like Secretary Vilsack to set the price of milk to production until the government can look into the situation and see what is truly going on with the market price.
    Have Congress, the agricultural subcommittee or the dairy caucus look at long term reform for the dairy industry

    I am sick and appalled that dairy farmers are committing suicide. I am saddened that the CWT program is sending hundreds of thousands of dairy cows to slaughter in an effort to decrease the number of cows in the system. This program is NOT working.

    Dairy farmers are an important part of this nations food supply. If the dairy industry collapses, it will affect all Americans. Dairy farms simply cannot continue to lose thousands of dollars every month.
    Ive heard this crisis referred to as the perfect storm. For my husband and me, it has been the perfect hurricane. We will not be able to survive much longer. We need emergency assistance now (and we are talking weeks, not months). We cannot wait for future programs to be developed. Without immediate help, we will lose everything we have worked all our lives for our farm, our home and our most important concern, our dairy cows who we birth, bottle feed, nurture, medically treat and provide comfort for in the hopes that the milk they produce will provide a living for us and will enter the American food system for all who consume dairy products.

  • Hi Eliz,
    I am a dairy farmer in Indiana. I sincerely appreciate your comments here. You asked a lot of questions, but you have learned a very important concept that some other folks just miss, and this is it: Farmers simply cannot mistreat an animal and expect it to perform, produce, or grow. Much of our learning curve is to continue to improve our animal’s comfort and nutrition while somehow balancing it with profitability. As much as we love to farm, it is our occupation, and it is the vehicle by which we raise our families and pay our bills. The quality of milk in America is better today than at any previous time in history, thanks to higher quality standards and improved testing. Thanks for being open minded.

  • Eliz,

    I’m glad to hear of your experience. I’m an undergraduate in Animal Science, and we talk everyday about how the consumer should be more connected to the farm. There are many things to learn about a farm, and dairy specifically. Growing up on a small dairy, I know that there are many things I don’t even know still. My best advice would be to tour several farms, and if your state has an agriculture extension agency, to get in touch with them. They can give you much needed information about animal agriculture, as well as produce, insects, and just about anything that deals with agriculture. I’m glad to know that you have had a change of heart about animal agriculture. I wish you continued success in your research about the agricultural field, especially dairy farms. “Got Milk?”

  • Eliz, thanks for visiting a dairy farm to get the real story, my parents have a dairy farm so I know it first hand. You’re going to find the most honest and informative answers from the farmers. They’re just trying to work hard to make a living, and with the media these days it’s getting harder to do. All farmers know that they have to take care of the livestock and land so it will take care of them. Many Americans need to be reminded that without farmers…there would be no food or clothing for anyone, so we need to be supportive of them. No matter where you live or what you do, every life is touch by agriculture, so please keep talking to farmers to get the real story.

  • I applaude you Eliz for visiting a farm to learn first-hand how farmers care for their livestock. The media portrayal of modern day farms is inaccurate, today’s farmers are no different than farmers 4o years ago. My husband and I farm with his parents and his brother’s farmily. Our hogs live in modern barns to protect them from the elements of the weather, predator attacks, and disease. Hogs can not sweat, by housing them in climate controlled barns, we are able to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We have eliminated trichinosis and parasites by housing our hogs indoors. We monitor how much feed and water each hog gets daily, and if one hog isn’t eating, we know it immediately. We use a nutritionist to design the diets our hogs eat based on their nutritional needs. Our top priority on our farm is the comfort of our hogs. Healthy animals produce healthy food, and part of being healthy is being comfortable. Hogs are very dominate by nature, they have a pecking order with a “bully on the block” who controls the amount of feed each sow gets or doesn’t get. By housing our sows (female hogs) in individual pens, we can ensure each sow is receiving the right amount of feed during her pregnancy. If a sow is overfed, her pigs become too big to pass through the birth canal, which can be fatal for the sow and pigs. Likewise, if a sow is not fed enough, her pigs will be small and unthrifty and may not survive. Our sows are given a bath prior to giving birth to prevent infection and for the comfort of the sow. Our sows give birth in heated rooms with heat lamps for added warmth for the piglets. This enables us ensure the piglets body temperature is consistent because newborn pigs are not able to stabilize their body temperature for the first days of life. Our children love to help us in the hog barns, their favorite place to be is the farrowing barn, which is where the sows give birth. Our children are learning how to repsonsibly care for our hogs, and they have a great deal of respect for our livestock. Thank you again for visiting a farm and for asking the questions!

  • Thank you for posting these thoughts, Eliz. It’s a refreshing example of what can really happen to get everyone on the same page about the farming industry. I’m happy you had such a great experience on that farm! Hope people learn from your experience!

  • Kudos to you, Eliz, for actually getting out to visit a working farm, rather than trusting the flybys of those out to sell movies, books and magazines under the banner of “our food system is broken.”
    (Full disclosure) I work for Tyson Foods. People don’t realize that the overwhelming majority of the food and fiber produced in the U.S. originates on family farms. ( if you want to see a great example of one of the app. 30,000 U.S. chicken farms, watch this video http://bit.ly/ykGSn ).
    Also, whether it’s cattle, hogs, chickens or turkeys, animals that are stressed and uncomfortable don’t eat well, and don’t produce.

  • Thank you thank you thank you! For taking the time to see the real situation for your self instead of just belieiving what you see on tv or read in a publication. People in agriculture really do care about the land, the animals and the end product which reaches you the consumer. Farmers and Ranchers are proud people who work long hours each and every day – they do not go home like the majority of the world and simply leave the job behind. “Their job is their life.” Todays producers feel it is an obligation not simply a job to produce a safe and healthy end product for you the consumer as well as their own family.

  • Thanks for visiting a real farm. I am an organic valley producer that beleives organics is a great choice. but dont short yourself or your children because you are misinformed.try the website a good choice and let me know what you think.

  • Thank you for taking the time to visit a farm, Eliz. You are welcome to visit my farm in southwest Wisconsin.
    For those who cannot visit a farm, I am sharing my farm and life through my blog: curiousfarmer.wordpress.com

  • Great perspective. If you want to learn more about dairy farmers and what they do day in and day out to care for their animals, produce quality milk and take care of the land, visit http://www.discoverdairy.com. It is designed for kids and teachers, but the videos are an excellent representation of today’s dairy farm. There are other great Web sites, too, with lots of good information, like http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org. My husband and I have a dairy farm in PA with 70 cows, and I grew up on a dairy farm where my parents and siblings now milk 1,000 cows. Regardless of the size, almost all dairy farmers care for their cows as individuals, are committed to producing a high quality product, and are deeply connected to the land where their families live and work. We love what we do, despite the current economic hardships.

  • Don’t believe that “abuse” and “cruelty” is normal – it is not!! Volume does not mean cruelty. There are many forums online people can talk to farmers; no matter whether it is dairy cows or poultry or pigs or beef cattle or rabbits there is misinformation.

    Another thing to keep in mind is even among farmers there are things we do differently. Someone with 10 cows will have different management than someone with 800 – basics may be same but different doesn’t mean better/worse – just different. What works for those animals/people in that situation? “Free range” chicken sounds good until dogs kill 100 hens in a half hour and wipe out ALL. If not caught the farmer bears the cost – hundreds of dollars to get them to laying size!

    Wish more would be open minded to see rather than just spreading misinformation. Thank you.

  • Eliz: congratulations. You took the time to do something few people, regardless of the topic, do today. You made an effort to understand something you don’t, rather than jumping to conclusions. I’d encourage you to consider asking questions and learning. That’s the best advice I have. I think you’ll find nearly any farmer is willing to talk about what they do. They run a business and most are very good at what they do. The best thing to know though, they are also very modest and typically farmers will “undersell” how truely special their jobs are to the world.

  • Thank you Eliz for investigating the true story of food production. We are overrun with a lot of false information these days. Our family runs a cattle ranch in Wyoming. My husband’s grandfather homesteaded here in 1916 and our roots run deep. Our lives revolve around the cattle and the land. I can assure you that the famers and ranchers, that supply our nation with a wide variety of food, have SOULS. Thank you again for visiting a dairy and seeing first hand what the farmer does.

  • Eliz,
    I was there with you last week, and I am so moved by what you have done with the information you “harvested” that day. You’re experience is proof positive that we (farmers) must continue to tell our stories, because everyone wins when people understand where their food comes from. And like you, they will have confidence in farmers of all shapes and sizes, and confidence that the food they feed their family is safe, wholesome and raised by people who truley care. I could see your wheels turning as you asked so many honest questions, and I am overwhelmed with grattitude to you for what you went on to do with that information. Your open mind, and incredible talents will help us tell our story, please do continue on your journey of understanding, we will continue to help in any way that we can.

  • Thank you, Eliz, for taking the time to visit a farm. I really wish more consumers – and journalists, would do that. Like any profession, there are a few bad actors. Unfortunately articles in Time Magazine seem to paint all of us with one brush. The truth is, 98 percent of the farms are still family owned and operated. My husband and I, along with our two sons, 20 and 16, work on our farm raising corn, soybeans and cows. My youngest son was basically “raised” on a tractor, because at 6-weeks-old I strapped his carseat in our cabbed tractor to help in wheat harvest. He spent many hours since then in a tractor and truck and now drives them himself.
    I work part-time at the local newspaper as the agriculture reporter and write a bi-weekly column about our family farm. My latest entry was about the Time Magazine article, http://www.marshallnews.com/blogs/1146/entry/29567/, but many of my columns, (located on the blog and the opinion page) are humorous looks into our day-to-day life on the farm. I welcome you to read those for another view of farm life.
    As a person who grew up in the city, I bristle every time I read an unfair stereotype of a modern farm. The farm I live on is not exactly like the farm my husband and his siblings grew up on – we have cabbed tractors, are more specialized and raise more acres with fewer people.
    My husband is a 7th generation American farmer and each generation has built on the experience of the prior generation to become more productive, more sustainable and to take better care of the land and animals.
    However, the past generations have passed down the “soul” of the farm, which includes the work ethic, the love of the land and the love of farming. That has not changed with modern farming – just as it didn’t change when horses were replaced with tractors in the 1930s and 1940s.
    My boys work 12-15 hours a day in the summer on our farm, at least six days a week. As soon as they come home from school (the oldest now is away at college) they ask, “What do you need me to do today, Dad?” Both boys have done this, while still maintaining top grades and being involved in activities.
    Both our sons would like to come back to the family farm after graduating from college. We hope we can give them the opportunity to be 8th generation American farmers.
    Thank you for taking the time to visit farms and ask questions.
    Sincerely,
    Marcia Gorrell

  • Eliz: Thanks for taking the time and making the effort to learn more about one of the most critical elements of human health – your food supply. As with many issues, there is a lot of biased information available about agriculture and the food it produces. When you cut through all the fluff to the basics, I feel there should be no argument between conventional and organic agriculture – we need both if we want to ward off mass global starvation! And, we need farmers to be profitable if we want them to continue feeding us. If we don’t, we’ll just end up importing our food the way we import oil. Do we really want to get our food products from China and wonder if they are laced with melamine? We need to consider those consequences.
    From reading your background info, it sounds like you were motivated to learn more about your food supply because of health issues. As I listen to all current health care debate, I think 99% of it is missing the point. If we really want to control health costs in this country, we need to provide wellness incentives. A huge chunk of our nation’s health care bill is directly tied to poor lifestyle choices – eating too much of the wrong things (note this is an individual’s choice, not the farmers), smoking, etc.
    Thank you for speaking/writing candidly about your experiences and for providing the opportunity for input!

  • I applaude you for visiting the farm and keeping an open mind. Many people in today’s society do not take advantages of opportunities like this as I think they should. In order to learn more I would suggest you visit other farms such as hog, beef, and poultry farms as well. It always amazes me what you can learn from the people who directly care for these animals everyday. I would also suggest visiting some row crop farms if there are any in your area. All of these industries combined are what make up the American Food Production and one cannot survive without the other (even though many of them think they can). I think after seeing all of the “parts” you will be able to form a better informed opinion on how US agriculture works.

  • Eliz, thank you for visiting a dairy farm to get the straight scoop from a farmer. I have worked in the dairy industry for nearly thirty years and know dairy farmers to be hard-working, community-minded family farmers who are committed to providing quality care for the animals on which they depend for their livelihood and committed to preserving the natural resoursces that are critical to their long-term viability. I have been on many farms throughout the country and have always come away with a deep respect for farmers and the multi-faceted value they bring to our lives. For more information about dairy farming, I recommend you visit http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org, which offers a wide range of information about dairy farming practices. Additional information can be found through USDA/state departments of agriculture sites, Cornell University and the National Dairy Council. Also, if you care to learn about dairy farming in the state of Washington, my home state, please go to http://www.akeyingredient.com. You have my best wishes!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. As you can tell, the agricultural community is proud of the industry they work so hard in. It is truly appreciated the message you send about the life and times of those who feed the world. While not directly involved in agricultural production today, I am proud of being raised on a farm with row crops and livestock. And, today I work in the agricultural industry with people who love it as much as those who work the land. We have chosen to raise our family outside city limits and believe it’s important for our children to understand where their food comes from. We constantly look for ways to teach those lessons to our son. We attend county fairs, livestock events and tour fields that our near our home to demonstrate how food gets from the farm to the kitchen table. It’s a lesson we will continue to teach and hope more join in.

  • It is refreshing to find people who go exploring to find the truth, rather than let media or common perception dictate their thoughts. Thank you for shedding a positive light on the world of agriculture, it is a side of the story the world rarely sees. American agricutluralist are not the enemy, in fact as you experienced yourself they are mainly a hard working class of people who are deeply dedicated to their chosen profession.

    For unbiased information regarding the world of agriculture the USDA- United Stated Dept of Agriculture- http://www.usda.gov- is a great learning tool. Your local and state extension services are a great resource as well.

    I think the American public needs to be reminded how grateful we should be to have such a cheap, safe, and available food source. In my lifetime I have been so tired I thought I’d fall asleep standing up, I have been so cold I didnt think I’d ever thaw, so sick I didn’t think I’d get through the day, but in all of my years I have never been hungry. I am hesitant to take that fact for granted when so many people around our world are not so fortunate. I think that the public needs to be reminded that if you have eaten today, you have enjoyed the fruits of the labor that an American farmer has worked tirelessly to produce. If you are pursuing a caeer outside the world of agriculture you rely on someone else to produce the food and fiber that sustains your life. Have we thanked them today for providing us with these resources and these freedoms?

    Thank you for your honesty and your curiosity. Both are refreshing.
    Kate Miller
    Child, Grandchild and Neice of an agriculturalist we all should thank.

  • Thank you for the great blog! As a dairy farmer’s wife and active dairy farmer myself, it is heartbreaking to read articles like the one in the Times. We as farmers try our hardest every day to make our cows healthy and happy. I loved your comment about the connection to breastfeeding and cows. I have two sons 2 years and 10 months, and I have actually used some of my breastfeeding knowledge on the farm. (like mastitis relief)

    Thank you again for your support of the American Farmer and as you now know, that means a whole of lot of hard working, dedicated people. To learn more about our 4th generation family farm, visit our website at http://www.zweberfarms.com

  • Wonderful post! It is very heartening to see people like yourself take the initiative to visit a real dairy and question what is being broadcast.
    I am the Chief, Colorado Bureau of Animal Protection (BAP). The BAP does over 12,000 animal cruelty and neglect investigations every year in only half of the counties in Colorado alone. Of those, well under 1% of those investigations involve livestock, usually back yard operations. I am not aware of many (if any) cruelty investigations done on any agricultural operations in Colorado (operations where animal products are the primary source of income).
    Just thought you and your readers would like to know that bit of documentable information.
    Thanks for everything you are doing.

  • Here are a few of my personal responses to your questions. 1-What should you know that you don’t (or is just plain wrong)…. Know that when you hear the negative statistics about “Corporate” farming that those numbers include most of your every day family farms as the family farm has incorporated for tax purposes, just like any other family business. 2-Farmers and Ranchers DO care about the environment…. Agriculture provides most of the wildlife habitat in this modern world by way of crops (we leave unharvested strips of row crops for food) and field stubble not only to protect the soil but provides habitat. 3-Conservation and farmland protection practices found on just about every farm are not cheap. The most common structures In my neck of the woods; Terraces, which run about .99 cents a foot with the average terrace 1500 to 2500 feet, Waterways run $1900 an acre for shaping. Reading Material….. could include publications such as the High Plains Journal and visit your local County Farm Bureau Association and I am sure they could assist you with a finding a farm(er) to meet with. Thank you for going to the trouble to educate yourself as well as others. You are correct there is more than one correct answer. Your article makes me feel hopeful!

  • Thank you for having an open mind and telling the world about your experiences. Modern advances in agriculture are the key to feeding the world, in a safe, environmentally sound way. I grew up on a dairy and over the years I have seen advancements bring about a whole new level of animal care. In fact, the cows on our farm today have got it easy compared to my grandfather’s cows who had to fight the elements and forage for food.

    I especially liked your comment, “It seems ridiculous that a business person would set up a situation where conditions would limit production.” You are exactly right. Today’s farmers do what is right for the plants and animals under their care.

    The best suggestion I can offer you in learning more information, is to contact your local Extension office and do what you have already done. They can put you in touch with area farmers. Where better to learn about food than from its source? In addition, the Extension service also provides a wealth of unbiased information regarding food and nutrition. They can teach you what different food labels mean and how to make the correct choices in the grocery store.

    As you can tell by the comments left here, the agriculture industry anxious to share our story. If it is only one busy woman at a time, we home the message gets out.

  • Subscribe to the High Plains Journal (hpj.com). I interned there this summer and had to fill the shoes of our copy editor while she was out of the office. They do a great job searching for articles on hot topics in agriculture and often present more than one opinion. Check it out!

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts after visiting a “large” dairy farm. As someone who has sepnt my entire life working with dairy cattle, I can tell you that they can be like pets and are mananged with their care and comfort foremost in mind. Also, the best way for you to learn about how your food is raised it to do what you did – go visit with farmers and see how they manage their farms.

  • Thank you so much for your insight and the motivation to go see for yourself! I appreciate so much that you use your experience as a mother, your intuition and just plain good sense to realize that producers respect their animals and treat them accordingly. No one who works as hard as the lovely family you met can work as hard as they do and not love what they do. That includes their animals and the land they live on. Bless you for finding out for yourself. My family had a small dairy when I was growing up in Western Oklahoma. It was handed down by my great grandfather. You’d be suprised what they would do to create a “happy cow” environment including their favorite music on the radio played in the barn, (at least they thought it was). You can be assured, alot of pride goes in to the nutritious and safe products American producers present to your table.

  • Thank you so much for speaking honestly and visitng this dairy farm with open eyes and an open mind!!!! So often we as people make false assumptions about other people that we don’t understand. Thank you to the farmer that also allowed you to visit their farm!-more of us need to do this for consumers. I am a dairy farmer from Southern MN, we have about 100 cows, and farm with my father in law who has about 80 cows. Our farm is also a family operation, focused on caring for our animals with the best of our abilities!-please check out my blog to learn more. Just know that if you have any questions, this dairy farmer is very willing to answer them for you!

  • Eliz,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m so glad you took an opportunity few do.

    I know you asked for resources to learn more about food production and agriculture. Here a few you might find helpful:

    Purdue Agriculture Dept (for emerging research):
    http://www.ag.purdue.edu/Pages/default.aspx

    Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (for a broad view of the science of agriculture):
    http://www.cast-science.org/default.asp

    The American Farm Bureau Voices of Ag Blog (for producer perspective):
    http://www.fb.org/

  • I tend to be on the organic side of things too, seeing as how I’ve only worked on/seen organic farms. But as usual, it’s more than the label. I think it’s more about knowing where your food comes from, whether organic or not, and supporting your local economy as much as possible. I’d prefer to buy from a local farmer who isn’t certified organic but cares about the welfare of their land/livestock/consumers than buy from a large organic farm from thousands of miles away. Shipping in food from all over the world or country to your local grocery store is not sustainable for our economy by way of depleting an unrenewable resource as well as bringing in food from another country because it’s cheaper and easier for someone to make a profit while our country’s farmers are struggling and shutting down. While we are experiencing global economic hardship, it is really important to support our local economies, the people that make up our community. When you can go to a farm, or even the farmers market and talk to the farmer, you’re able to ask how they plant and care for their produce or how their animals live. But of course, you never really know what you’re buying unless you’ve spoken to the farmer. Even better if you can see it! Nothing’s black and white. Knowledge is power. Keep on asking questions!

    I personally like to support local farms by buying their products at the local grocery stores as much as possible as well as going to farmers markets and supporting CSAs. This works by buying a share, which is often a basket of vegetables every week during harvest season. The customer pays a set price and can often times get a lowered price with hours of volunteering. This can be a great family outing on the weekends to really get your hands dirty and planting, weeding, and harvesting the food you bring home to eat. By supporting farms like this, you invest your money so they can do the best they can to support the local community with food. If they have a bad season because of drought, too much rain, anything, they don’t go under because you’ve helped support them. The consumer experiences both the feast and the famine while supporting the locals and consuming less fossil fuel to get veggies/meat/dairy from ground to plate! http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home is a good help in finding local farms, CSAs, farmers co-ops, stores that sell local produce, as well as places to learn how to grow some of your own at home! Homegrown tomatoes are like bursts of sunshine in your mouth. And you can’t get more local than that!

    Thanks, Eliz! What a great discussion!

  • Eliz – from the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time to do your own research. My husband and I are third generation dairy farmers in east central Minnesota. Two and a half years ago, I resigned from my job with the State of MN to become a full time dairy farmer so we could raise our family on the family farm. You nailed it on the head, happy, healthy cows produce wholesome, nutritious milk. Nobody is more aware of this than dairy farmers. The comfort and well being of our cows (and calves) is king (or should I say queen) on our farm. The importance of animal comfort and care follows through to all species, as many above me have pointed out. Our cows have a nutritionist who visits us every few weeks, the cows have the opportunity to see a hoof trimmer once a month (I don’t even get MY nails done that often – ok never), our veterinarian is out every other week for herd health (mostly checking for pregnant cows). As far as unbiased information, the best place for that, as far as I can think of is university research, if you are a WI resident, check out the U of WI website, or the U of MN is http://www.extension.umn.edu/Agriculture/. Also, this is one of my personal favorite blog entries http://terryetherton.org/category/rbst-facts-and-information/. Please e-mail me if you have any more questions, or need any more information. Again, thank you!!

  • I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for not only taking the time to visit this farm, but also for taking the time to blog about it and help tell our story. Being a part of a family farm is the greatest thing. I couldn’t think of a better place to raise our children, but one lesson that they learn early on is that the farm always comes first especially the care of our animals. Just last Saturday our 3 year old son had his first soccer game of the Fall season and Daddy missed it because we had a gilt having her pigs early and she needed help. So Daddy missed the soccer game in order to help the gilt, but our son completely understood. In fact after the game, his priority was wanting to get to the farm to see if there was any way he could help. Although modern technology has allowed us to become more efficient and feed more people from our family farm, we have always kept the care of our pigs at the forefront. As a fellow mother, thank you again for not only taking the time to get to the bottom of this issue, but for sharing your insight with others. It is greatly appreciated.

  • Great article! I am a grass seed farmer in Oregon. Our state has just passed legislation that will make it much more difficult for many of us to raise our crops. This was passed partly because of farmers not being heard and partly because of farmers unwillingness to change. I love that you really have an open mind and are willing to take a step back and see the truth.
    Getting your kids involved in a local 4-H club would really open your eyes to agriculture.

  • Eliz – Thank you for doing what other journalists have not done before writting an article about farming “VISIT A FARM”. Everyone in the media is trying to revert farming to what it was forty years ago, and if that happens there will not be enough food to feed the people. Farmers are often quiet people and have not spoken out for the industry for a long time. They all assumed that their products were speeking for themselves – safe and healthy food. This is not the case anymore. Many farmers are struggling to make ends meet, and a huge part of that is the negative media coverage. I am the 4th generation in my family to farm and my husband is a 3rd generation farmer. It is a profession to be proud of. No one works harder than a farmer. Early morning to late at night – every day of the year, including all holiday’s. There is not day off in farming. It is a profession with passion – if we weren’t passionate we would not work two jobs just to keep farming the land to put food on peoples tables. It is a profession of compassion – we stay out all night to make sure our animals don’t have problems with giving birth, we are in the barns with the animals making sure they have enough food, we are up all night with a sick animal. It is a profession of strength – many of us are 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations of people to work on the land. Farmers have strong values and even stronger ethics. We stand by the food we produce and are proud that it is being served on your table.
    It takes the average American working until April 15th to pay for their taxes for the year, but it only takes until the middle of February to pay for all the food their families will eat for an entire year. This is what American Agriculture has brought to the people – a safe and affordable food supply.
    You can find more Ag facts and misconceptions by visiting http://www.farmfacts.fb.org and http://www.ageducate.org.
    Thank you again Eliz for visiting a farm you are welcome at mine anytime.

  • Eliz,
    I wanted to thank you for spending Chick Day with us! It was a wonderful day and I am so glad you got to see how hard our dairy producers work to make our milk. As an aside I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your discussion after the farm visit. It really hit home for me and I needed that!

    I think that the biggest thing you can do to more understand where your food comes from is ask questions. I know that those of us in the dairy industry are always willing to talk about how the milk is produced. There are always going to be some operations that fall into a more factory like setting but the TIME article had a statement that every producer I know holds near and dear to their heart. “…and every farmer knows that if you don’t take care of your land, it can’t take care of you.”

    The article was written to show a negative side of agricutlure but what they missed is exactly what they said. If our producers don’t take care of their land and animals then they can’t take care of us. A cow who is stressed, ill,l poorly fed will not produce milk or a calf. A steer who is overcrowded will not gain as well as a steer that is housed with adequate bunk space. So my advice is question everything and remember what you learned last week. I think that you met enough people on one farm who could give you answers to all of your questions. That is perhaps where the best information comes from, allowing the producer to share their story.

  • Eliz,

    It’s great that you did this and spread the word, and this was a well-done writeup. Not a lot of people are aware that there are so many shades of grey between factory farms and free-range organic ones, and this is a terrific illustration of that fact. Kudos!

    That said, I hope this one visit didn’t convince you that all industrial production is as benign as what you saw on an 800-cow dairy farm, or that that’s the impression you want to convey here. That’s not the scale of the operation that the Time article was discussing, for example — I think they had something more like a Tyson factory farm in mind (not that I’d encourage you to tour one of those, necessarily).

  • Hi Eliz,

    Great article. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit a farm and share your experience with your readers. Not enough people make the effort to see for themselves where their food comes from, and there certainly is a lot of misleading information out there about food and agriculture. I have also visited a dairy farm to see where milk comes from, and had many of the same observations as you. It was actually part of a web video series called “The Farm Virgin” in which I visit all kinds of different farms and ask farmers questions first hand about what happens on the farm. The show is produced by FarmOn.com which is a social networking site where consumers can connect directly with farmers, ask them their own questions through the forums and by commenting on videos and blogs. I would encourage your readers to visit http://www.FarmOn.com and also watch the Farm Virgin video about dairy farming at http://www.farmon.com/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itemid=270&video_id=81

    Cheers everyone,
    Ben

  • 1- You should know that nearly 95+% of all farmers are classified as family farms.
    a- the first requirement of any “sustainable” system is that it is profitable
    2- If you ever begin to think you know everything about anything, that is what is completely wrong.
    3- You should read/subscribe to Truth in Food http://www.truthinfood.com/
    4- For the most unbiased information, go to the source. Each issue you question is fact dependent and can only be appropriately responded to by the person growing your food. But you already know that!

    THANK YOU for expressing your faith in our food system!

  • Eliz- Thank you so much for posting this blog. I wish more people would take the time to really learn about agriculture and how we try out best to grow healthy food for America. So many people take advantage of farmers and growers and believe everything the media tells them. I’m a sophomore at Michigan State University studying Animal Science and Dairy Nutrition, and it’s very difficult to have to defend myself and my lifestyle against college liberals and extreme PeTA members. It’s frustrating to work so hard for America’s food supply, only to be taken advantage of and harassed. So thank you so much for getting the word out there!! My advice to you is to keep researching, visit more farms, and whatever you do, do NOT believe PeTA/HSUS without doing your own legitimate, unbiased research. They tend to twist things to their benefit. You’re doing a great job! THANK YOU!

  • Thanks for visiting the dairy and sharing what you saw. Please visit all of the other aspects of animal and crop farming. I”m sure you’ll continue to find positive situations to share with your followers. If you’d like names of farmers to visit and contact, please let me know and I’ll help you to answer your questions. Check out: http://www.animalagalliance.org/

  • Your blog is great, and I am very glad you are interested in learning more about your food. I would recommend that you listen to THE FARMERS and RANCHERS that raise your food. We raise beef cattle and always welcome visitors! If your food is coming from a good place, they will always welcome visitors. If you trust the name and the people who raise it, your food will be well cared for and thus healthier (for you and the animal).

    Stop by for a visit to my blog. It will get much busier as we start to wean our calves and care for them at our house.

    Again, thanks for spreading the message that not all “big operations” are bad for the animals!!!

  • Thank you for taking time to look for the truth! As you can see, those of us in agriculture truly appreciate being heard! You compared breastfeeding to milking cows– that is exactly right! There is a saying that cows are the “Foster Mothers of the Human Race,” and farmers do truly treat them with the love and respect of mothers! Kudos for looking for the real story and thank you so much for sharing it!

  • Thank you, Thank you, Thank you- from the all the family dairy farms in California!!! We appreciate you sharing the true dairy life to all of your readers!

  • If more people would be WILLING to recognize that farmers are the world’s first environmentalist, there would be less to fight about in the Ag world. Farmers (dairy, row-crop, orchard, vine, etc…) are dedicated stewards of the land and all her resources. Without quality soil and plentiful clean water, the farming industry cannot put food on your table or clothes on your back. Educate yourselves, think for yourselves and be proud of yourselves for having done so.

  • Way to go, Eliz! I am so glad you took the time to see what life on the “factory farms” is all about. Most people just believe the propoganda they see on TV.

    Yes, we want the best for our animals and land. We want food to be healthy and abundant. We want the freedom to run our business. And, yes, we want to make a profit while we are at it. I grew up on a dairy and am so glad my kids are experiencing the same lifestyle that I had as a kid. They are learning to work hard, respect and take care of the gifts God gave us, and to aprreciate the “milk” of our labor.

  • As a former milk, yogurt and cheese lover I can tell you how I understand everyone’s need to avoid some other truths about the dairy industry… True, the cows may be happy “confined”; yet comfortable – Certainly, they would love fields of grass and sunshine better – But, they are “giving” milk – nonetheless. Still, even as severe as war conditions can be… The Nazi occupation and concentration camps as an example… Those nursing mothers who were used for other purposes such as experimentation – and were allowed to keep their babies – still gave milk under the most horrific conditions. I think biology has more to do with it than what we can give credit to as “happiness”.

    Also, I think it’s so sad that these beautiful cows are sent to make hamburger at such an early age… After all, they are only teenagers when they are sent to slaughter – usually crippled and “unproductive”.

    And it’s a pity that they are impregnated every year or so – to only have their calves torn from them – As I understand some will bellow and cry for days… Sometimes the calves they mourn for are already ground and packaged as “bob veal” – or are at least tethered to their tiny space in line for their turn to become some other packaged variation.

    No… Many can say these animals are “happy” and that it’s a “good life” – but surely, upon closer inspection these are all very tragic circumstances. And all without necessity for goodness knows, no icecream cone can be worth this amount of suffering.

    I don’t expect you will post this – or at least leave it up for too long… You have a 100% thumbs up on the dairy industry comments. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to spoil it all with some sour truth about milk. Thank you anyway for allowing me to state my view.

    • Bea, thank you for taking the time to post your comment. I am posting it because I invited people to share their thoughts. What I asked is to be better informed about where my food comes from – I’m interested in all voices even if they challenge my opinions.

  • Congratulations to you for choosing to get the facts for yourself and not just go on what others say. There are many farms and farm families (98% of all farms in the U.S. are owned by families, family partnerships or family corporations) that would gladly share their operations with you and let you look at other industries other than just dairy, such as poultry, swine and beef cattle.
    We do work long, hard hours on our ranch but we love being outside, with our families and caring for our land and livestock. We couldn’t imagine a better life for our kids than learning about the cycle of life and our responsibility to care for God’s creations.
    Regarding Bea’s comments, I believe her reference to Nazi camps is not only incorrect (how do you know about the quality and quantity of milk produced by those women?), it is incredibly disrespectful to the people that had to suffer that unthinkable torture. Our animals are NOT tortured. All of their needs are met including shelter, water, and a diet that is scientifically balanced to meet all of their dietary needs – hence the lack of obesity in farm animals!! We do work hard to provide for the needs of our animals – you can call this “happiness” or meeting their needs, but they simply do not do as well in situations that challenge their health – blizzards for our cattle that have to be outside, extreme heat in the summer, inadequate pasture due to drought. We work hard and spend much of our income to continually improve our facilities to better care for these creatures. When the time comes, they give their lives so that humans can receive nutrition, life-saving pharmaceuticals and clothing rather than allowing them to suffer and die while we attempt to find a way to dispose of their carcass. Everything lives, Everything dies and Death with a purpose, gives full meaning to life.
    We will continue to work hard and make the best use of the resources that we have to feed the ever-growing population of this world. If people choose not to eat animal products, that is fine but there are millions of starving people, even in our own country, that need us to be as efficient and diligent as we can so that we may feed the world. That is our calling and we are up to the challenge!

  • I appreciate your willingness to travel to a working operation and learn more, especially as 4th generation rancher in Arizona. I think it is important to hear from the producers themselves as you are doing. Also to note that science based facts our agriculture industry uses. We try extremely hard and put a lot of money into 3rd party research so when we explain nutrition to consumers it isn’t based on emotions. If there is anyone reading this and would like to learn more about production agriculture in Arizona I invite you to contact me at my blog and I would gladly help you learn more!

  • I feel so sorry for Bea, she obviously has not had the opportunity to visit a farm like you have. We farm because we love the animals, on a per hour basis we all make less than any hourly wage earner you know and today dairy farmers are losing their years of equity and many are losing their farms because the cost of production is less than the payment received. I talk with people who raise their chickens free range and speak of losing whole flocks to coyotes, dogs and coons, and organic producers who have to sell an animal that gets sick and need to be treated for a respiratory infection or injury..and this is the type of production some food fadists think is good for the animals? It is the goal of some out there today to stop the use of all animals, food, research or entertainment, it is only through those of you that see for yourselves that we can combat their lies…

  • Thank you for taking the time (from your obviously busy schedule) to visit the Wisconsin farm and for being willing to challenge your own perceptions on modern food production.
    You asked producers what you should know. I work with and have come to know many American farmers, especially livestock producers. It pains them to see how their life’s work and passion for farming is conveyed to the public through blatant lies and twisted statistics by those to wish to disparage American agriculture. Perhaps the most damaging has been the Humane Society of the United States. The general public believes this organization is the same as their local dog and cat shelter. Most have no idea that the goal of HSUS is to abolish animal agriculture in the U.S. PETA is someone less threatening because their extreme activism is at the forefront of their tactics. Conversely, the “mainstream” perception of HSUS, along with their incredibly large budget, is a real threat to animal agriculture and has many producers concerned.
    Thank you for being a voice of reason in the fear-fueled campaign against modern agriculture. I am convinced, if it was possible for each American to see modern livestock operations, like you did, we wouldn’t have this problem. They would realize, as you did, that our farmers are stewards of the land, take their moral obligation to their animals to their communities very seriously, and take a lot of pride in feeding the world with wholesome, safe, and nutritious products.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • this particular farm may have had more conscientious operators but it does not represent all industrial agriculture. the conditions for most animals raised in massive industrial settings remain horrific.

    • Zach, I wish you had been more informative in your comment. Have you visited a farm where the conditions were as you describe? I’ve met many farmers and haven’t met one yet that doesn’t deeply care about the animals in their charge. Have you, personally, had a different experience?

  • Eliz,

    First, I want to thank you for your willingness to share your new found perspective. It can be difficult to not only alter your perceptions about an issue, but also to share your new opinion.

    I know that you review your posts before they are publicized. I understand this response is long, feel free to post it in its entirety, only the informational portion, or not at all.

    As a seventh generation agriculturalist (both sides of my family is involved in many aspects of farming), I am personally compelled to respond not only to the request for information, but also to counter some points in previous posts.

    Biology does have a lot to do with the amount and quality of milk a dairy cow produces. The dairy industry invests thousands of research dollars (and hours) into discovering optimal conditions to maximize production. “Happy” cows have the most potential to maximize their biological ability to produce milk.

    To dispel some of the myths, dairy COWS are not slaughtered at an early age. Also, cattle, including dairy cows, are not usually “crippled” or “unproductive” when slaughtered. I know this from personal experience. I have been to packing plants; I have seen it first hand. The animals entering our nation’s food system are healthy and very much “productive.”

    Every baby, regardless of species, must be weaned. Much research has been conducted to find the optimal time for weaning and the best method to reduce separation stress for both the cow and the calf. As for the calves, many are moved to “stocker” operations where they are grass fed for several months…in the “sunshine.”

    So to recap the “tragic circumstances,” dairy cows have thousands of people working toward maximizing their comfort. Yes, there are some “bad apples” out there, as with any industry. But the dairy that you visited is NOT abnormal. The condition for many animals in American agriculture is as optimal as the farmer can make it. Farmers care deeply for their land, their animals, and their way of life.

    Some will say this is still industrialization. To those people I ask: Why would a dairy farmer invest finances in a farm and a herd if there were no profit to be made? They have to feed their families. Unfortunately, “profit” for farmers is not a paycheck at the end of the week. Farmers invest their lives in their operations and there is no blueprint for success. Every farm is different and thousands face bankruptcy every year. There is nothing lazy or greedy about farmers getting up before the sun and going to bed after. They work long, difficult hours because they love what they do. They are the original “work-aholics.” There are no hobbies, benefit packages, or early retirement for farmers; just cows to feed.

    For more information on today’s world of agriculture check out these resources:

    On Facebook, the Animal Agriculture Alliance fan page can provide a lot of information and links. Be sure to check out the AAA’s “favorite pages.” These pages cover a wide spectrum of issues in agriculture.

    For an EXCELLENT web site on the journey your food takes to get to your plate, check out Feedstuffs Food Link at http://www.feedstuffsfoodlink.com/ME2/Default.asp.

    To read commentary on the importance of spreading the message of agriculture, visit Advocates for Agriculture blog at http://advocatesforag.blogspot.com/2009/07/dealing-with-misinformation.html.

    For dairy-specific perspectives, check out the Facebook fan page “The Wife of a Dairyman” and this dairy farm informational video available through YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJRy82i8e5Q.

    Eliz, I hope you find this information useful. Once again, thank you for keeping an open mind and informing yourself!

    -Laici

    • Thank you Laici for your wonderful and informative comment. I’m pleased to include all of it! I feel like I’m learning more all the time – but that seems to lead to more questions. I guess at this point I know enough to know I don’t know enough — and I’ll keep learning! Thanks again!

  • Thank YOU for taking a look at an industry that CARES about their animals.I can’t tell you how much we love our “girls” in just a few words,but they are totally with personality and character! Cows are awesome! I can vouch that most dairymen take better care of their cows than alot of people do their pets!!
    Thanks,you did a great job and anytime you want to tour some more farms,let me know!!

  • Bea,
    Unfortunately, you seem to be missing the points about what really happens. The amount of milk women produce when they are not receiving adequate nutrition and water is diminshed. Our dairy farmers who want to make a profit are surely not withholding food, nutritional supplements and water.

    I can assure you that most of the cows do not bawl for days when separated from a calf. The majority are not crippled teenagers when they go to slaughter. The teenage years of a cow are before she has her first calf which is usually about two years old. The majority of them make it through five cycles of milking and calving before they go to market. If they are crippled, they cannot even go to the market. They have to be able to walk freely.

    One more thing for the author, not all farms will welcome guest because of the need to prevent disease or because of insurance, or its their busy season with cows neeeding attention. Please do not make assumptions if someone is unable to host a visitor, just ask if they know someone who does host visitors.

  • Zach,

    I am concerned that you indicate there is a pervasive problem and yet you do not give details to indicate that you personally witnessed such horrific conditions. I have been in dairy my entire life and have seen very few that are not managing well. One of them was a man who had just been hospitalized with a life threatening problem. He and his wife were the only ones running the farm, so while he was hospitalized she was trying to keep up. We were there to purchase the cows because they could not manage his health and the farm. Incidentally, it was not a large scale farm, it was a small family farm.

    Can you provide some evidence for your comments.

  • Eliz
    From a Clifornian who supports dairy farmers’ efforts to grow more nutrient dense forages for their dairy herds, a BIG THANK YOU for your open minded attitude to learning more and your humility about what it is you don’t yet understand. AMAZING!
    This facebook group may be of interest to you as you search for new understandings of the complexities surrounding this issue.
    http://www.facebook.com/Farm2U?ref=nf

  • Eliz —

    I really enjoyed hearing your presentation Sunday in WI. I have learned to juggle my balls a bit better in recent years, but also recognize taking care of “me” is usually not one of them. Thank you for giving me more to think about. And thank you for sharing your farm experience. I have come to appreciate the fact that farming enjoys great diversity, but the farmers share a core value, and that is their dedication and compassion to their livelihood, land and animals. Donna

  • Thank you for caring and sharing. I have spent the last 9 years on a family airy in Pennsylvania. It is a small operation where we milk around do of our girls’. They each have a name and coincidentally it always seems to fit. For example after milking “Sneaky” when we put her group of cows out of the milking area if we forget to latch the door she uses her head to push it open and sneak back in. Some of the girls’ are 16 years old and till going strong. Their owner gas devoted his entire life to them and has more love for his girl’s thanyou could even imagine. At 8 years old he milked them before school and jumped off the bus a mile away after school to run through a short cut across a covered bridge to get home earlier than the bus would have gotten him there to milk the girl’s again. If you want to see the hardest working, most passionate people visit a family farm. And trust me it’s not because your making big bucks! You struggle every month to pay for your feed and expenses and pray to God to continue doing what you love from year to year.

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