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Defending agriculture Sides provides tips for ranching in modern society

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Thermopolis – In the world today, most people have a smart phone and can look up anything, but people still don’t know where their food comes from, said Gary Sides.

At the 2018 “Spring Outward and Upward” Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference on Jan. 19, Zoetis Managing Nutritionist Gary Sides, discussed a few challenges the agriculture industry faces in the modern world and gave producers some information to use when defending the cattle industry.

“Looking at the kids who are three or five generations removed from the farm or ranch, they have no clue where their food comes from,” stated Sides. “As an industry, agriculturalists have done a horrible job explaining to our consuming public what we do for a living.”

Culture and agriculture

Sides mentioned when it comes to modern civilization, there are medical systems, planes, cars and all types of technology that wouldn’t function without the one percent of the population who feeds everyone else.

“Producers have freed people like Bill Gates from farming and ranching, allowing them to explore their talents for everyone’s benefit,” added Sides. “There is no culture without agriculture.”

He explained, in third-world countries where modern technology isn’t available, people lead harder lives.

“Women are beasts of burden in third-world countries,” Sides said. “Modern agriculture frees wives, daughters and mothers so they don’t have to work so hard.”

Sides pointed out, in Peru, people live in grass huts, farm steep fields by hand, share pastures and face much harsher conditions, all without modern agriculture.

“On the west coast of Peru, it is extremely dry and rarely rains, and people still have to haul water by hand,” he noted. “The women have to wear hats everyday because the sun is so hot, and mechanized machinery is rarely seen.”

Foods and diet

When it comes to food, Sides said for the past 60 years people have been told to eat a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, which implies reducing or removing meat.

“In the last 60 years, Americans eat more grains, fruits and vegetables while eating less meat, eggs and milk,” Sides said. “We have been encouraged to eat more carbs and fewer animal products.”

“Ancel Keys was a physiologist at the University of Minnesota who surveyed seven countries on what they ate and their death rates after World War II,” Sides explained. “His results showed countries that ate high levels of saturated fat from animal meat had higher rates of heart disease.”

Sides mentioned Keys convinced past-Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) to recommend a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, which led to new dietary guidelines every five years, which haven’t changed for 30 years.

“The problem with Keys’ results is he actually surveyed 16 countries but only included the seven that fit his bias, so the science behind the recommendation is biased,” he stated.

Sides continued, today, as the result of the low fat, high carb recommendations, obesity has increased from 15 percent to 30 percent, and two-thirds of adults are overweight. Type II diabetes has increased from less than one percent of the population to 14 percent, and heart disease is still high, as well.

“This is an epidemic by anyone’s standard, yet a low fat, high carb diet is still recommended, even in schools,” Sides said.

Meat benefits

Beef is a great source for iron and animals products are a major source for B vitamins, according to Sides, who added, “Meat is an incredibly nutrient-dense product, but fat has been difficult to defend.”

He explained fatty acids are required in the diet, and if children don’t get enough fat in their diets, the brain and nervous system doesn’t develop very well.

“When it comes to fat, people think they can live without it, but the fat in beef is actually heart healthy,” noted Sides.

According to a Harvard study, there is not an association between saturated fats and heart disease, and Sides said the link to heart disease is through refined carbs like white flour, sugar, rice and potatoes.

“A diet high in protein and fats with low carbohydrates gives the best blood profiles for cholesterol and heart disease,” he stated. “Sugar and refined carbohydrates are the enemy, not meat.”


Overall, Sides provided information people can use to defend the beef industry, but the best way he has found to defend beef is through God.

“Currently, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is telling people the Bible says not to eat meat, which isn’t true,” Sides stated. “In Genesis, Abraham was visited by God and two angels, to whom he fed a choice calf, curds and milk.”

He mentioned God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins when he kicked them out of the garden.

“God killed animals, took their skins and clothed Adam and Eve. So when HSUS says the Bible doesn’t condone eating meat, the opposite is true,” Sides stated.

Also, when people are trying to defend the agriculture industry they need the facts and an emotional hook to help people understand, according to Sides.

“My challenge is for people to go out and do something other than just farming and ranching because that’s what it will take to keep our industry alive for future generations,” Sides concluded.

Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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