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Animal Rights

Across the country, the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) invites food and fiber producers to celebrate the 45th anniversary of National Ag Day on March 20. The event is celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country, and in 2018, organizations are uniting for agriculture under the theme, “Agriculture: Food for Life.” 

“We know food and fiber doesn’t just arrive at the grocery or clothing store or magically appear on our dinner table or in our closet,” says ACA. “There’s an entire industry dedicated to providing plentiful and safe food for consumption, as well as a wide range of comfortable, fashionable clothing choices.”

ACA adds, “We rely on agriculture for the necessities of life. From beef and pork to cotton and corn, agriculture is working harder than ever to meet the needs of Americans and others around the world.” 

National Ag Day, which falls during the middle of National Ag Week, March 18-24, is about recognizing and celebrating contributions of ag in the everyday lives of Americans, says ACA.

“Each American farmer feeds more than 165 people – a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s,” they add. “Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better.”

National events

On March 20, ACA will host major events in the nation’s capital, including an event at the National Press Club, as well as a Taste of Agriculture Celebration. ACA also bring nearly 100 college students to Washington, D.C. on National Ag Day to deliver the message of agriculture.

“These events honor National Agriculture Day and mark a nationwide effort to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us,” ACA explains. “A number of producers, agricultural associations, corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture are expected to participate.” 

This year, Vice President Mike Pence will offer remarks during the event.

ACA, an non-profit organization comprised of leaders in the ag, food and fiber community, dedicates its efforts to the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. The group emphasizes that National Ag Day encourages Americans to understand how food and fiber products are produced; appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products; value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and acknowledge and consider career opportunities related to agriculture.

Student contests

Annually, to celebrate National Ag Day, ACA hosts two student contests – an essay writing contest and video contest – asking young people to celebrate the theme chosen for the day. 

This year, Rio Bonham of Tishomingo, Okla. had the winning entry in the essay contest and will receive a $1,000 prize and travel to Washington, D.C. to celebrate National Ag Day. In his essay, Bonham presented a story where children of a rural community go visit career day at their local school, then head to lunch, where one child suggested chocolate milks comes from brown cows.

“Although this scenario may seemed far-fetched, the reality remains that agriculture lies outside many of the young minds that will make up the future of this nation. Even in a small town in Oklahoma, agriculture remains obscure to young adults,” Bonham writes, adding that though many assume an understanding of agriculture is integral in the community. “There is a substantial disconnect between the current high school generation and the generation that produces the world’s food. This disconnect could prove to place a strain on the world’s food supply in the coming years.”

He continues, “From the jeans they wear, to the E-10 they put in their car, to every single thing they eat or drink, high schoolers must not only understand but appreciate all that agriculture produces for them.”

Finally, Bonham suggested that it is the responsibility of the agriculture industry to educate future generations about the industry “in a way that will ignite a passion to carry on the legacy that is American agriculture.” 

“The minds of next generation must look forward to the agriculture booth at their next career fair,” Bonham adds. “That is the only way agriculture will be able to feed the world and it must start today.”

In Wyoming

Farmers, ranchers and agri-businessmen and women in Wyoming are no stranger to the fact that agriculture is the third largest industry supporting the state’s economy. 

Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto comments, “We rank in the top 10 in the United States for barley, dry edible beans, sugarbeets, sheep and lambs, and wool production.”

Cattle production is often top of mind when it comes to the strength of the ag industry in the state, he notes, adding that cattle operations in Wyoming account for $897 million of the state’s total $1.72 billion in economic impact from the ag industry. 

However, Miyamoto also adds that sheep and hog producers, as well as honey producers and commodity growers, are integral in supporting the state’s economy. 

“Along with being an important economic driver in our state, the agriculture industry in Wyoming plays a key role in other industries, as well,” Miyamoto adds, citing wildlife habitat, hunting opportunities, energy development and open spaces are supported through agriculture. 

“On this Ag Day, take some time to visit with and thank the farmers and ranchers of Wyoming,” Miyamoto encourages. “Their contributions to this great state go beyond the food and fiber we all need to survive. Their impact is seen every day if we just look around.”

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

     Over the last 22 years, we have read about the Wayne Hage case with the government, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Books have been written about the case and, of course, numerous newspaper and magazine articles. As we have read all of this over the years, we have all expressed much sympathy for the family as Wayne, his wife Jean and others family members have passed on, and now the battle is left to a son Wayne N. Hage to fight as executor of the estate. Some rays of sunshine have developed lately in one judge’s ruling. 

On May 24, a ruling was announced by Nevada Federal District Court Judge Robert Jones. According to local news reports, “The judge, in a scathing 104-page opinion, found Hage cattle had in fact trespassed on federal land and ordered son Wayne N. Hage to pay damages of $165.88.” 

Now remember, there are other cases ongoing, one of which is a Fifth Amendment “takings” case that is under appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court, scheduled to be heard later this month. Four years ago, a lower federal court awarded the Hages $2.9 million for the takings of their water rights under the Fifth Amendment and $1.4 million in statutory compensation for improvements made in connection with the revoked grazing permit. Later an appellate court overruled the decision, and this month it goes before the Supreme Court. 

The important part of Judge Jones’ ruling is that he blasted the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for behavior that “shocks the conscience” of the court. He went on to accuse federal officials of entering into “a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages, not only of their permits, but also of their vested water rights.” During the course of the long legal battle, according to Judge Jones, the government invited others to apply for grazing rights on allotments held by the Hages, applied with the Nevada State Engineer for its own watering rights in a effort to interfere with the Hages’ rights, and then issued trespass notices and demands for payment to witnesses soon after they testified in this case. In the ruling, the judge ordered Hage to apply for a grazing permit and for the federal agencies to grant it. He also enjoined the government from issuing trespass or impound notices to Hage.

One of the tragedies of this whole case has been the length of it and how it has consumed the lives of the family. E. Wayne Hage bought the ranch in 1978 near Tonopah, Nev. It was a typical Nevada public lands ranch operation, with 7,000 of private acres, grazing permits for 752,000 acres of federal land and water rights. In 1986, Hage stopped applying for special use permits to maintain his water sources and ditches on federal land, arguing he had an “absolute right” under Nevada water law to maintain them, and in 1991, the Forest Service twice impounded Hage’s cattle. When he couldn’t get them back by paying the cost of impoundment, the government auctioned them off for $39,000 and kept the proceeds. That is when Hage filed the suit claiming a “taking.”

This is a ranching tragedy.

Andy Acton of Deep South Animal Clinic in Ogema, Saskatchewan, Canada tells cow/calf producers that it’s important to make sure calves nurse quickly. 

“I have 40 cows myself that I calve out, and once had a situation where an old cow made up her bag just before she calved,” he describes. “When I went into the barn after she calved, it looked like the calf had sucked one quarter. I thought he was off to a good start. Later, I looked at that pair again and wasn’t sure it happened the way I thought, because the other three quarters were still full.”

When he further check out the cow, the quarter of her bag that Acton thought the calf has sucked was blind and had produced no milk. By then, the calf was 14 hours old, and had never had anything to eat. 

Colostrum intake

Even in a well-managed herd, there may be some calves that don’t get as much colostrum as they should, Acton says, noting, in some situations the calf is unable to get any colostrum at all. 

Whether the result is from a heifer that won’t allow the calf to the udder, a calf that doesn’t suck, frostbitten teats or other factors, the importance of getting colostrum into calves remains a high priority. 

“I checked the calf’s blood levels, and it had no antibodies. I fed the calf two liters of colostrum, waited two hours and gave him two more liters,” Acton describes, noting he repeated the process until the calf’s blood levels were normal in terms of protein measurement. 

“Even though the calf was older, we made up for the lack of percentage absorption with extra volume,” says Acton. 

“Sometimes we can make up for being a little delayed, by giving the calf a little more. A person has to be careful doing that, however,” he says. “We don’t want to overfeed a weak calf that might regurgitate.”

Impacts

If colostrum intake is managed to ensure the calf consumes enough colostrum, health and performance for the calf are improved as it grows, Acton says.

  “Some years ago, we tested a group of about 1,000 calves from several different farms,” he explains. “We blood tested the calves to measure antibody level as one of the measures of whether they nursed or not.”

The bottom 20 percent of calves were marked with a failing score for antibody levels, meaning they probably did not get as much colostrum immediately after birth.  

  “Later, those calves weighed about 30 to 40 pounds less at weaning than the other calves. This lower weight was not due to sickness. They just didn’t perform as well,” says Acton.

Better start

Calves get off to a better start if they have adequate colostrum soon after birth. Management of colostrum intake is up to producers.

“In extensive operations where cattle are calving in large areas and with range cows, this would be difficult,” Acton acknowledges. “Those cows are generally on their own. With that kind of setup, we want really good calf vigor – calves that can get right up and suckle quickly.”

At the same time, range calving is particularly susceptible to negative impacts from severely cold weather, he says, noting cows have to be in particularly good health with adequate nutrition to have strong, healthy calves.

“Calf vigor at birth is the key to success on many ranch operations,” he comments. “It requires good nutrition with the cows in good shape and all the vitamins and minerals needed, in a good supplementation program. Then, the calf has a good chance to be vigorous at birth, especially if calves are not at the heavy end of birthweight.” 

Considerations

Calving in warmer weather is an advantage because the calf doesn’t get chilled and has a longer time to work at trying to suckle before he gets too cold and gives up, Acton says, noting there are some advantages to calving later, particularly for operations where cows calve unassisted. 

“When producers want the cows to take care of calving on their own, they have to accept a certain amount of loss,” he says. “There is definite benefit to making sure every calf suckled an adequate amount of colostrum, soon enough, but this requires more labor. The rancher has to weigh these alternatives.”

“It is frustrating to deal with calves in ill health that didn’t get a good start. It is difficult if they don’t have the antibodies in place and can be an uphill battle with some of those sick calves,” he says.

Alternatives to colostrum intake

“There are some things that can be done when we know calves didn’t suckle soon enough,” Acton offers.

Acton continues plasma or blood transfusions, especially for high-value calves, can be an option. 

“It’s much simpler, however, to try to work within that window of time after birth and make sure the calf suckles enough colostrum,” he says.

Heather Smith Thomas is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Environmental and animal rights activists are looking to the skies to aid in monitor their causes. The most recent form of aerial monitoring has been proposed by PETA to monitor hunters in the field for illegal activity. 

In a press release, PETA said it would “monitor those who are out in the woods with death on their minds” while using feed lures, spotlights or consuming alcohol while in possession of a firearm. PETA also intends to fly their drones over “other venues where animals routinely suffer and die,” such as factory farms and fishing spots.

Presently, PETA is not in possession of drones and has not chosen locations for monitoring but is working to obtain them. Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president, says the organization plans to follow U.S. requirements while flying the drones and will fly them overseas where there are fewer airspace restrictions. 

This is not the first time that humane groups have debated the use of drones to monitor hunter activities. Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) has used aircrafts equipped with cameras to film pigeon shoots on the East Coast. During these shoots, hunters aim for the birds after they have been released from cages or launched mechanically. 

Twice, these aircrafts have been shot down while recording a shoot in Berks County, Penn. 

AmmoLand posted a drone practice target on their site for readers to use at the range. Their site also stated that it “sounds to me like this will create a whole new shooting sport.”

In April 2012, it was rumored that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was using drones to spy on agriculturists in Nebraska and Iowa. However, these allegations were never proven.

The fleck of truth in the aerial monitoring was that EPA has been using small private planes, with human passengers, for more than a decade to search for violations with the Clean Water Act.

Many view this as an invasion of privacy but two Supreme Court cases, California versus Ciraolo 1986 and Florida versus Riley 1989, held that observations made from “public navigable airspace” in the absence of a warrant did not violate the Fourth Amendment. 

Kelsey Tramp is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Sharing our stories as farmers and ranchers is more important in today’s day and age than ever,” said Raenell Taylor, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Young Farmer and Rancher (YF&R) Promotions Sub-Committee chair. “The ‘Ag Books for Kids’ program gives us an opportunity to make a difference for agriculture in Wyoming.”

Students from across Wyoming learned more about agriculture again this year and were recently recognized for their participation in the 2018 WyFB YF&R “Ag Books for Kids” contests.  

The 2018 contests included a coloring contest for kindergarten and first grade, poster contest for second and third graders and a creative writing contest for fourth and fifth graders.

The state winners of the three contests all received a $50 gift card from WyFB and an agriculture book titled Ranching: It’s All About Family signed by Gov. Matt Mead. The state runners-up in each of the contests received a $25 gift card from WyFB and an agriculture book.

Mountain View Elementary first grader Dawson Hutchings was the state winner of the coloring contest. Lilliann Otto, a first grader at Laura Irwin Elementary in Basin, was the state runner-up.

LaGrange Elementary third grader Packard Carson, of Goshen County, won the state poster contest. The state runner-up was Dylan Chamley, a second grader from Dubois Elementary.

Crook County fourth grader Jaylin Mills won the creative writing contest. Mills is a student at Sundance Elementary School. Angel Villegas of Crook County was the state runner-up.  

Visit www.wyfb.org to see entries from the winners.