Scare Tactics

February 19, 2010 10:33 AM

*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.


Ron Gibson
West Weber, Utah

Today's technology has greatly improved our ability to decrease our carbon footprint. As stewards of the land, farmers care more for the environment than anyone else in the world. We make our living off of the land; why wouldn't we take care of it?

News reports and articles about animal agriculture are continuing to increase. Unfortunately, these reports are shedding an unfavorable light on agriculture. Misconceptions by the public often lead to challenges for us. It is our job as farmers and ranchers to educate the public and ourselves. Public perception is vital to the success of the dairy industry.

Unfortunately, our dairy has been forced to increase our carbon footprint significantly over the past two years. To compensate for a ban on rBST, we have had to purchase 130 additional cows and build additional facilities to handle these cows. That is crazy! More cows also mean more manure, fuel and stress on the environment.

Innovative practices are crucial to reducing the carbon footprint of the dairy industry. Most of milk's carbon footprint comes from the production phase. We need to be allowed to use sound science to produce our product and reduce our impact on the environment.

Scare tactics from a very small percentage of the population should not be slowing our industry's advances in being more efficient. It often feels like the tail is wagging the dog.

We have a choice: We can either invest in more cows or increase efficiency of production per cow. Increasing herd size takes time and capital, both of which are hard to come by.

One thing we are excited about is BMR corn silage. We have used it on a trial basis for two years now. It is very high in digestibility, and therefore there is less manure for each pound of dry matter fed.

It is a simple fact that our country has never gone hungry. I hope that we never do. Farmers care more for the environment than anyone else in the world. There are many safe, proven production practices available now that can reduce the dairy industry's carbon footprint. We need to band together and step forward to ensure that we are allowed to utilize the tools technology has given us and be a stronger, more positive voice for agriculture.

Gibson's January Prices  
Milk (3.76 bf, 3.14% prt): $15.57/cwt.
Cull cows: $50/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,400/head
Alfalfa: $100/ton
Cottonseed: $295/ton (spot)
Corn:  $184/ton (spot)


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