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Grazing the Net

RSS By: Greg Henderson and Friends, Beef Today

Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining. 

If It Might Rain, Take an Umbrella

Mar 04, 2013

If it might rain, take an umbrella
Your reporter is not a climate denier, but remains a climate wonderer. One reason: Things like this: a report suggesting that volcanoes are the reason the world hasn’t warmed more.

Just how precise is all this science? Seems like "the overwhelming majority of scientists" get a lot of surprises. Your reporter just isn’t sure. He reads all sort of stuff day after day and just keeps wondering if global warming is really going to happen.

But of one thing he’s sure: It won’t hurt to get ready, and changing light bulbs isn’t going to help. As the article points out, India and China are increasing their CO2 outputs as they pull themselves into prosperity.

The U.S. can pass all the environmental blue laws the activists want, and it’s not going to stop those folks from wanting to eat better, drive more and get better stuff. So, the world is going to make more CO2. So, if the "overwhelming consensus of science" is right, global warming is coming.

So why don’t we spend more of our resources getting ready? It’s a given that sending money to places like Solyndra, hoping to help them build American factories to compete with Chinese factories is a loser. But basic research? Now there’s something the government can do.

Here’s one argument to that effect from a "clean energy" insider.

I keep remembering (and, yes, repeatedly citing) the argument I lost in my callow youth, arguing that the Rural Electrification Administration was an example of a helpful government program. The fellow with whom I was arguing pointed out that the program killed the incipient wind-generator business that had been developing to provide rural areas with electricity.

Having killed that free-market effort years ago, government is now spending billions trying to get it started again. I lost a lot of arguments in my callow youth, but that lesson stayed with me. It’s one reason I’m so distrustful of the concept of centralized decision making.

But basic research. Ahhh.  That’s what a government can do.

Here’s my example of all that. In 1930, corn got itself hybridized and commercialized. Before that, there was no reason for our granddaddy farmers to breed better corn seed. A breeder who devoted his life to getting a better variety and then sell it one year and everybody would have his seed from then on.

But hybrids changed that. Companies started breeding corn hybrids for profit. Boom. Between 1930 and 2012, corn yields almost quintupled—from 26 to almost 127 bushels per acre.

But nobody came up with a hybrid wheat. So, the government land grand universities did all the breeding development with standard varieties. They did, by the way, a marvelous job and wheat yields tripled before seed companies got DNA to protect their patents. The government did that, and college and USDA-ARS wheat breeders were justifiably proud of it.

But now private enterprise is getting involved. I complain a lot about the price of seed, but I respect the fact that those companies deserve to make a profit if they produce stuff worth buying. And who doubts we will see a spurt in wheat yields in the years ahead?

I suppose my point is that there are things the government can do and probably should do, because they are good things in an altruistic sense. But if there’s a buck to be made, let private enterprise do it. Hence, an opinion: The government shouldn’t be subsidizing or mandating solar cell plants or windmill manufacturers or ethanol. The government’s role should be in maintaining a business climate to allows business to do business and do the research to make good things possible.

Then stand back. We’ll take care of the rest out here in the real world.

The nightmare of paperwork
The Billings paper takes a sympathetic look at some of the reasons behind the industry’s efforts to do a better job of tracking cattle.

Thanks again, beef checkoff
This is a general press account using the Beef Board’s BOLD study to tell consumers how beef can be an important part of nutrition.

Our hungry friends in Vietnam
Not all my contemporaries agree, but it’s good that we’re doing business with the North Vietnamese government. But time passes, wounds scar and it’s nice they’re buying our stuff.
I wonder if we’ll ever forgive Cuba and sell them some beef.

Hard times for ethanol
This reporter frets more about the impact of high corn prices on the cattle business, but I can spare some sympathy for those of you who got into the ethanol business. (But, note above. The government is not very good at this sort of thing.)

Still there are arguments about just how smart the government’s policies have been.

But one Colorado company has what might be a better idea if all you really want from ethanol is "green" energy.

The problem with half-educated
Here we have an opinion piece penned by a senior (yes, I know it sounds sophomoric) at Vanderbilt for his school paper.

I do not like to pick on young people because it’s not their fault their brains haven’t matured yet. But this strikes me as something to consider. The boy’s facts are all wrong and all grounded in the misinformation that permeates the media and is tossed out by adults who know how to exploit all those empty young heads.

For the record. Per capita beef consumption is less than 60 lb. per year. Cattle do not produce more greenhouse gases than "all the forms of transportation combined" and nobody ever claimed that was the case. And if young Skylar and the concerned scientists want to try raising tofu on my pasture land, they’d better fetch along some agronomics nobody has learned yet.

And, it’s "passtime" not "pastime."

Has Michelle been helping Australia?
This Aussie sounds like he’s hungry.

Burger contests
Chili fests and barbecue cook-offs are popular. But we could use a lot more hamburger contests.

I’m a steak fan, but a good double meat hamburger is just about as good.

Jerky get’s some respect
Darned if Consumer Reports hasn’t taken it upon themselves to evaluate beef jerkies. Too bad they limited themselves to the mass produced stuff. I could put you in touch with some jerk that puts that stuff in the shade.

Wolf problem: Solved
No morekilling required.

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