Sunday, January 31, 2010

Punxsutawney Daryl –nice ring huh?

Dear PETA,
I am writing to apply for the position of replacing Punxsutawney Phil.
I saw in the news that you think it’s cruel to force Phil the groundhog to work on Feb 2nd instead of hibernating that day. By all means, I wish the Punxsutawney, PA city fathers would be that cruel to me.

A few of my qualifications: I’m furry. I have no problem getting up at the crack of dawn. I cast a shadow. I love historical traditions. I have a really sharp looking top hat so I can match the rest of you fellas. And I’ll be better than a machine—wouldn’t a battery sucking robot be bad for the environment? I’m 100% organic.

Punxsutawney Daryl                                             Punxsutawney Phil

My life would be a lot easier living in a climate controlled environment not worrying about where my next meal was coming from. I can stand working my shadow off one day of the year if all of my other necessities are taken care of on the other 364 days.

Thanks in advance for your consideration

Punxsutawney Daryl –nice ring huh?

Daryl Donohue

P.S. While times are tough, I think it’s cruel to put anyone out of a job by replacing him or her with a robot.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Are people giving to the HSUS because they are idiots? Or are they being duped?

I got in a discussion on Twitter tonight about Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) fundraising practices. I believe many people think the dollars they give to the HSUS provide dog and cat care.

Ag groups including Farm Bureau have been accused lately of beating this drum because we want to get them out of the legislative arena. Truth is I like a good debate.

During this discussion, I was told that a person "would have to be an idiot" to believe donations would be earmarked for animal care and that "no one could provide one fact" that the HSUS has done anything wrong".

On Twitter, I wasn’t arguing that HSUS had done anything wrong. Instead I was arguing that many people give mistakenly thinking they’re giving for animal care. Reports show that less than ½ of 1% of funds raised goes to grants for small (local) animal shelters.

So in setting out to “prove” that people do get confused, I have found what is in my opinion, real proof that HSUS has done things that mislead people:

From their fundraising and web pages they list these activities prominently:
  • Rescue animals
  • Prevent dog fighting
  • Outlaw puppy mills
  • End euthanasia of pets
  • And other work --shouldn’t that be first since that’s where the majority of the funds go.
And there are a lot of reports out there saying the show up to shoot footage that they can raise more money with and then leave town, sharing none of that money with the local shelters who have to care for those animals.

And on an “ad” on one of their pages you find this:
“When you join our fight as a monthly supporter or give a one-time gift of $5 or more, you’ll receive a story and a photo of an animal whose life was saved by generous donations like yours.”

Now realize it doesn't say that those funds go for care and feeding of the animal pictured, but how many people jump to that conclusion?

When you provide monthly sponsorship of a child in a developing country you also get a photo. And you know those funds are going to support the person pictured. Subtle twist that I don’t think most people--even non-idiots--catch on to.

By having the pet section at the top of the list of topics on their website, I believe they imply that pets are their highest priority. And they have a large sections on pet protection and animal issues.  Both talk about pets.

On the how is my donation used? They call out:
  • Pet adoption and spay/neuter initiatives
  • Animal care centers
Most donors expect highlighted activities to be supported by funds amount to more than pennies on the dollar.

So far a lot of smoke and mirrors. The waters are murky.  In what I’ve listed above, nothing has been said explicitly, but then there is Faye.

The blog world is full of people who thought they gave money for Faye’s upkeep only to find out that the HSUS didn’t actually have Faye in their possession.

From the HSUS letter: “Your gift of $20.10 a month for 2010 — just 66 cents a day — can help thousands of animals like Faye not just survive, but thrive in the new year.”

How are your donations helping them thrive if those dollars aren’t going to care? I recognize that it doesn’t say they are raising money for Faye specifically. I cut them some slack if they only say “survive.” But to me, saying that your donation “will help animals thrive” means those funds are going to animal care. I think it means that to a lot of non-idiots.

The people providing care for these dogs pleaded with people who received the letter to give directly to them instead: “Please consider donating to the other groups who ACTUALLY HAVE IN THEIR POSSESSION and are caring for the dogs HSUS is trying to make money off of, including (but not limited to): Our Pack, Inc.

They certainly think people are giving to the HSUS believing that dollars flow to the animals featured in those campaigns. It should be noted that after taking hits about this deceptive campaign, HSUS did finally agree to donate some dollars for her care.

You may not have heard of Faye, but you’ve heard of Michael Vick.

There was a flyer asking for money to care for Michael Vick’s dogs. Rest of the story is that the HSUS was raising money for dogs they recommended be put down because they deemed they could not be rehabilitated.

After it was later revealed that the dogs were not in HSUS's care and that HSUS recommendation was for the dogs to be euthanized, the donation pitch was altered to remove references to caring for Vick's dogs.

Other bloggers and animal lovers--call the HSUS out for playing on emotions to raise money that really goes for salaries, more fundraising and lobbying.
Why is anyone listening to the HSUS?
Rescues broke-HSUS are millionaires
HSUS fund raising pitch raises hackles

How can you prove that people think they are giving for animal care?  I certainly can’t prove what is in the hearts or minds of people, but here are people of all walks of life complaining about these practices.  There's plenty more out there, but I'm sure that some will say that all of this is no proof at all.

So what do you think?

Are people who give money to the HSUS believing their dollars go to animal care idiots who don’t know any better?  Or are these people being duped?  Do you need more proof?

I usually don’t write a post for just one person, but @Ellie_Moondog, this one was for you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If Michael Pollan was a mom, he might have a different dilemma

I have many issues with the writings (preaching) of Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma and now Food Rules.  A journalism professor doesn't automatically become a food expert due to some internal epiphany in my book.  But many think he is just that.

He wants us all to eat healthier. That I agree with, but we have very different opinions on what constitutes good food choices.
  • His take of eat local whenever possible isn’t feasible. All the farmers in New York state don’t produce enough food for New York City.
  • I don’t think corn is the root of all evil
  • Big farms aren’t bad farms in my opinion. They are a product of the cheap food policy that our government puts forward. And many of them do a good job of producing a high quality product contrary to what those calling them “factory farms“ might think.
There are plenty of other points I would argue with but thought I would treat you to a short post today.

Millions of city folks have read and believe his take on modern agriculture so I was pleasantly surprised today when Laura Vanderkam a working mom brought up some new reasons why his method of eating is not sustainable, or a positive part of her family’s daily routine.

Her blog is a good read and will make even a Pollan disciple think about what they're giving up to eat by his rules.  I'm not a mom, but this certainly applies to my family life as well.  How about yours?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Diva Tells PETA How It Really Is

I don't know who the singer Kelis is or what she sings, but sorry George, she's my new favorite musician.

And she's told PETA everything I ever wanted to say to them--only better.  She might be my new hero too.

Kelis received a letter from PETA regarding her mink and chinchilla that she is apparently known for.  If only every diva responded to them with such passion.  Kelis wrote this open letter to PETA on her Myspace page as reported by

"There is no humane way to kill anything, let me start there. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of life. With that being said, I would eat pterodactyl if you found some and you told me it was meaty and delicious. And after doing a very minimal amount of research……. I found out that the founder Ingrid Newkirk is completely batty. I had a feeling but she far exceeded my expectations. I mean certifiably insane! Lol this chicks will is nuts, google it – it’s a riot! Beyond the fact that I think she’s a diabetic, which means she needs insulin, which is taken from lab pigs (I know this because my sister happens to be in veterinary school), which would be completely hypocritical. It’s like don’t abuse animals unless it can help me.

I feel very strongly about a lot of things such as the sweatshops that spin cotton and the blood on their hands. Btw it’s not just the look of fur. It’s warm as hell and feels glorious, ever rubbed faux fur on your body? Nothing luxurious about that. Then the letter proceeded to name artist and designers who don’t wear real fur. Great! More for me! I don’t judge them, don’t judge me.

If I started wearing endangered animals like polar bear or orangutan then talk to me. (Which btw for the record I would not – I do believe in the preservation of endangered species) But the minks and chinchilla that quite honestly are rodents and if weren’t in the form of a coat I would demand they be put to death anyway are not an issue to me.The death of high fashion. Ugh.

I eat meat, and in fact my mouth salivates as I type the word meat! And the paint throwing that’s just ridiculous! What if I was hurling Loubitons and Pierre Hardy’s at every sad poorly dressed person on the street? As right as I may be it’s just fanatical and crazy. And people have the right to feel as they please. What about art? Survival of the fittest. Natural selection? No let’s just let all the rodents run free and over take our cities. Oh wait they have, NY and LA in particular are infested! Why don’t u save them all from scavenging on the streets and ruining my evening strolls, take them home. Make them pets! Get off my back! Pun intended!

Underpaid minorities picking your vegetables, now that’s fine for you right? Please, fight for their rights. How about the poverty in the communities of brown people around the world. She had the nerve to say (and I quote) “get over it” talking of the issue of black people and slavery in this country verses cows being slaughtered. Is she kidding me? Lol yes she must be. Actually, she’s lucky most black people have real issues to worry about in the U.S and don’t give a crap what her delusional privileged opinions are. But she should try saying that again just for kicks n giggles on the corner of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd in Harlem n see how well people “get over it” lol. If u want to preach do it about something worthwhile don’t waste my time trying to save the dang chipmunk.

Find a worthwhile cause like the women being maimed in these Middle Eastern countries. Or female circumcision. Or women’s rights here in America, we still get paid less for doing the same jobs as men. Quite honestly if you hate the world so much go live in the forest where no one else has to hear you complain about the perfectly good food chain the good Lord created. Everyone has the right to an opinion, and that’s mine on that! xoxo"

What a woman!!

Now to go download everything she's ever done from I-Tunes.  I support people who support us with my pocketbook. If you want to support Kelis beyond buying songs you can:
Follow her on Twitter @iamkelis
Leave comments of support at:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Heaven Forbid--The HSUS Wants You to Think Eating Meat is a Sin

Genesis Chapter 1: God made animals, and told Adam it was OK to eat them.

I teach Sunday School, and I don’t want anyone to accuse me of being sacrilegious, but in my mind, that’s the ultimate reason that animals were created--for the benefit of man. I think all Christians feel that way, that God made man to be superior to the animals.

So when I first heard about the strategy to make people think they’re going to hell if they eat meat, I was incredulous. But the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is crafty enough to make people consider it, even if they don’t whole-heartedly believe it.

The group is using tactics to make urban and suburban pet owners feel guilty—and hypocritical--for treating their pets like members of the family while they eat another animal at dinner.

They are reframing the debate on an agriculture by insisting that it is morally wrong to produce and eat animals. Make animal welfare a religious debate and you can throw science, logic, and economics out the window.

The group asks spiritual people to consider the impact of meat production and consumption on human health, world hunger, environmental sustainability, worker safety, and animal suffering. It also asks members to contemplate whether or not meat consumption reflects God's ideal for creation. Check out their faith outreach page.

A basic message is that “factory farms” are against God’s will and evil. Another message is self-denial and that animals suffer for consumers’ gluttony and luxury. They’ve poured resources into religious outreach adding staff including those who have attended the Seminary.

And it’s not just the HSUS. A number of authors are echoing this moral message with books bearing the titles: “Dominion The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals and the Call to Mercy,” “The Face on your Plate”, “Making a Killing” and “The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The emotional World of Farm Animals.”

The head of the HSUS faith-based division, Christine Gutleben, says the group isn’t really using religion, but is “building on longstanding religious tradition," she said.

They obviously read Genesis a little different than I do. And when take the time every year to blast churches that have live nativity scenes I wonder how much traction can they really get?

But they are reaching religious leaders and their congregations.  A number have issued statements on the use of animals.  Check to see if your church is one of them.   These are not fringe religious groups. 

Over 15,000 people subscribe to the society's faith-based newsletter.

Joel Osteen, who is pastor of the 43,500-member Lakewood Church in Houston, telling his members not to eat pork due to the Old Testament. This is a Christian congregation.

Why target religious folks?

Church goers give more money. And many people are open to this message because they don’t attend church very often, and are looking for easy ways to feel like they’ve done something to fulfill their obligation to God.

For a while they’ve been chipping away at large operations—the ones they call “factory farms”. But their followers can’t define the difference between the little guys and the “factories.”

This new tactic goes to show again that they aren’t looking to improve the lives of farming animals as much as they are out to make the whole world go vegan.

But this appears to be an area where we can beat them. Consumers like eating meat and research shows they won’t shy away from it as long as we continue to give them permission to keep eating it. They can be persuaded that their dog isn’t the same as a cow. They can be reassured that they really aren’t being hypocrites when they eat dinner.

And when it comes down to it, I believe most Christians--even those who are pro-choice--would side on saving a human life over that of an animal.  So we have to be able to demonstrate that people die if livestock is taken out of the food chain.  Those are calories that can't immediately be replaced by advances in biotech or ripping up pasture and planting vegetables where cattle once roamed.

Want to learn more on the tactics used by the HSUS? Look up the work of Wes Jamison an associate professor of communications at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Jamison has been making the rounds at some of the recent farm organization meetings. If you have the chance to hear Jamison.  Go, it will be an eye-opening experience for you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Want to Tweet, but don't know where to start? I'm here to help.

You’ve heard about Twitter and are ready to get started how do you get going?

Pick a good name!
If you haven’t already picked a name, be yourself like @debbieLB or @mpaynknoper.  Or include a description of what you do: @JPlovesCOTTON or @iTweetMeat or @FarmerHaley. Shorter is better--will give you more letters to use in your tweets.

Participate in #agchat #foodchat #meatchat or other chats on twitter
Tuesday nights from 7 to 9 CT a bunch of us get together and discuss topics related to ag. Same time on Thursday the focus is meat. 

It’s a great way to find likeminded people and get some new strategies for being an #agvocate and spreading your story and the truth about agriculture. Then use a tool like twubs or tweetchat to follow the discussion. Much easier than just searching for the #. It’s OK to watch and not participate the first time, but I bet you’ll be itching to join in soon.

Don’t know who to follow. Check out @FollowFarmer
There are a lot of lists on Twitter, but if you want to find a bunch of farmers and ranchers go to @FollowFarmer. There are lists for ag media and producers. Both are a great place to start.  Also as you’re surfing the net, look for icons to follow on Twitter or Twitter names you can link to. Some 90% of Fortune 500 companies are involved in social media and many of your associations are too like the NCBA @BeefUSA or the National Corn Growers Assn. @NationalCorn. They usually make it easy to find them on twitter.

The # is your friend
Any word that has a # (hash tag) in front of it has that # so you can do a quick search on topics under that symbol. #farm #ag #oink #peta #hsus

Double check who you’re following. This tip isn’t just for newbies
Are you RT-ing someone often? Are you a follower, or are you seeing their tweets second hand. You need to check your followers periodically to make sure you are following people following you. Same on RT. You can’t DM someone who isn’t following you. 

Treat your message like a headline
Compelling headlines get attention. Same thing with a tweet. Be compelling or shocking or funny, but don‘t ever be boring.

Use Short URLs or die a slow painful death
If your web address or link is longer than 15 characters, you must shorten with a tool like or tinyurl.  If you start tweeting on your phone, there's a shortening tool there too. If you tweet a link that is too long, nobody will RT it.

RT others if you want them to RT you
RT=ReTweet. Do unto others is a key rule on Twitter. You can’t expect anyone to forward your message if you.   Look for the arrow buttons at the bottom of a message you want to RT. 

Leave room for a RT
You have 140 characters, but try to only use 120--or less so your message can be retweeted more often.

Thank You--always the magic word
RT-ing someone is akin to saying thank you. But saying it directly is priceless and will endear you to that person.

Build Relationships
Some of your followers will grow to be good friends even if you never meet in person. If you’re at an event hold a tweet up or tweet meet to find other attendees on twitter.

If you saw something smart, funny or started following someone your followers could benefit from list them in #FF (Follow Friday) post.  You can do it on another day if Friday isn't convenient.

Find the application for your smart phone or iPhone
You can send and receive tweets on your phone. Makes it easy to stay in touch all day and tweet on the run.  Couldn't live without UberTwitter on my blackberry

Check your @ messages and DM (direct messages) every day
Nuff said.
This isn't everything you need to know, but these are some thing that would have helped me in the beginning. Work these ideas and you'll be on your way to being a Twitter #agvocate in no time. 

And above all
Respect others opinions even though they may not respect yours.  You are out there to be an ambassador of the industry and whatever you tweet could be sent to hundreds of people. 
Simplify your life
After  you really get into this, you'll find you're spending a ton of time updating your FaceBook, Blog and Twitter.  Use tools like TweetDeck or Ping to update all your SM outlets at once.  One and done. 

If you found this helpful follow me at:
@agropinon where I tweet on ag issues
@jody_donohue where you get marketing and PR tips besides personal stuff about me

I follow all of the @s I've mentioned in this post.  I recommend you follow all of them and the many others who I RT or have listed. 

Other tools for newbies:
  • Ohio Farm Bureau's guide to Social Media
  • Blogs with Twitter advice including a 20 minute guide to getting started
  • Mashable's Twitter guidebook.  Mashable is a leading source on social media. 
  • Ragan communications has lots of great writing info and covers a Twitter often.  You'll need to subscribe to get to the good stuff.  Well worth being a member.  These are the sharpest communicators I know.
  • Ann Wiley is a writing goddess. Has the best tips on cutting words and being impactful I've ever seen.  She has a great newsletter too.
Always looking for other tools myself.  So send them my way or post in the comments. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why you should care about the care of elephants

Radical animal activists are crying for the poor abused elephants from Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. They say these poor animals are the victims of injustice because a judge ruled against an animal activist and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

A suit which had drug on for 9 years, was brought by the ASPCA and a former Ringling employee, Tom Rider. A federal district court found that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit do not have standing to bring the suit and did not show that they had suffered an “injury in fact.”

Plaintiffs claimed that Ringling Bros.' use of bullhooks and chains constituted abuse and a "take" of the elephants, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Rider worked for the circus and claimed that he formed an emotional attachment to the elephants and that he had seen a variety of abuse in his time with the circus. Rider filed that he had been “injured” through his employment because of the abuse.

The court didn’t buy it. The court papers are definitely worth reading.

I‘m not an attorney, but even I could follow the language and there‘s a lot of insight that those of us in ag can glean from arguments these groups make. And the curtain is pulled back to show some of their tactics.

Beginning about page 19 the court discredit’s the claims made by Mr. Rider. For a guy who claimed he wanted to keep the animals from being abused he did nothing to stop or expose the abuse. He also didn’t quit his job when he was “forced” to do things he didn’t want to do. And he didn’t try to get a new job in a capacity that could help these elephants once they retired.

Beginning on page 26, the court papers show that Mr. Rider received $122,000 from animal activist organizations. He had no other source of income after leaving Ringling. The documents show that there was a fundraiser held to benefit the elephants and the funds collected were instead disbursed to Mr. Rider.

How does helping Mr. Rider help the elephants? And how shady does it seem that he was paid throughout the course of this suit.

I have often heard about these groups employing the people who take undercover footage of farming and other operations. I had no idea how much the total could really be.

In this economy, how many people would sell their soul for $122,000?

The activists are rallying around the point that the judge didn’t go so far as to say the animals weren’t abused so the issue isn’t fully decided.

If you look at what the radical activists are saying they’re insulting the judge’s intelligence rather than getting to the bottom of why the ruling went against them.

But name calling is a favorite tactic of theirs.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

You can see the bright side even when you’re blinded by the snow glare.

We’re once again digging out from a very cold blanket Mother Nature threw on us again last night. We still had about 4 inches on the ground got another 4 inches of new snow and it’s been falling most of the day.

Feeding cattle in this is a mess, and a few other 4 letter words. But while at lunch today, I saw a little good news on my Twitter account thanks to the fine people at AgriNews.

So farmers and ranchers keep your fingers crossed, but if we believe what they’re saying this could be our year.

“As the economy improves and new jobs created, cattle prices will come into their own and challenge all-time historic highs. Cattle may have been one the worst-performing markets the past few years, but it is on the cusp of being one of the upside leaders in the New Year.

Cattle values will be underpinned by the cold hard fact that the U.S. beef breeding herd is the smallest since 1971, while the hog breeding herd is the smallest since 1964. And poultry numbers are tightening as the egg hatch — the number of eggs placed in incubators each week — is the smallest quarterly average since 2002.

A potent mix of fundaments is brewing, setting the stage for a rip-roaring bull market with livestock prices.

It is no stretch to predict that a shortage of beef, pork, poultry and dairy at the same time is on the horizon. American consumers are soon to experience what economists refer to as “protein inflation,” a scenario not seen since the early 1970s.”

Wow want to read more of what they’re saying click here.  It's worth your time.  And if you're fighting snow, ice and mud like we are it will make your efforts seem a little more worthwhile. 

The meat industry has weathered a few perfect storms recently to bring prices down. It would be nice to see that storm work to push prices upward. And with analysts from Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo singing the same song, I’m resolved to feel hopeful this year.