Monday, September 26, 2011

Regulations Never Came Up When I Milked Bossy

For the second time in a month, the Obama Administration postponed action on bills dealing with clean air and pollution emissions, and this certainly affects segments of the agricultural community. Some call  this backing down, while others consider it common sense. During the past decade, interest groups and stakeholders on all sides have spoken up, and a few scaremongers from the extremes have used the debate to further causes or raise money. Most of us realize that cow emissions are not the major reason why polar bears are having trouble locating solid ice floes. On the other hand, those who claimed the EPA wanted to impose a livestock flatulence tax were probably getting a bit hyperbolic.
Bovine air emissions weren’t much of a concern when I hand-milked our family cow in the 1960s. Personal experience taught me to be more worried about Bossy’s solid particulates. As noted Midwest writer Michael Perry says, it’s foolish to stand behind a sneezing cow. And the old Guernsey had other ways to vex a 13-year old kid, like coming in for milk time with a mud-caked udder or twitching at a fly violently enough to kick over a partially-filled bucket. It was years later when I first learned of CO2 concentrations and climate change possibilities.
Today, the real pollution might be coming from the alarmists on both sides: Those who blindly push for regulations without knowing the facts or the consequences, and those who loudly attack any regulations no matter how beneficial they might be.
The best way to clear the air is through the use of unbiased research and scientific analysis. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology has two timely publications dealing with air quality.

·         Air Issues Associated with Animal Agriculture: A North American Perspective: A team of experts led by Dr. Larry Jacobson examine a large amount of data and go beyond the generalizations and accusations often associated with the air quality topic. Dr. Frank Mitloehner presented the timely material at three rollout events in Washington, D.C., on Monday, September 19. The paper and a video of the presentation are available here

·         Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in U.S. Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities for Mitigation.  With input from 22 experts, this 116-page Task Force Report provides up-to-date information on the science of carbon sequestration and GHG mitigation for various sectors of U.S. agriculture, including logistical and economic considerations for implementing practices designed to reduce this country's GHG emissions from agriculture. The publication will be available in October. Check the CAST website.

Credible research, thoughtful debate, and sensible policymaking will help achieve what we need: a strong ag economy and a safe environment. Back on my boyhood farm, we needed the milk, and even though I’m not much for rules, occasionally I wished someone would have regulated Bossy. I put up with a few of her tail-slaps to the head while I was milking, but when the tail contained solid cow emissions, it was time to clean up my environment. Where was the EPA when I needed it?  by dan gogerty

Note: photo from

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New CAST Intern Uses Her Farm Background in Multiple Ways

CAST’s newest staff member has solid roots in family farming, and as she enters her third year of college, she has found ways to branch further into the world of agriculture.
Michelle Mensing recently added the role of CAST Student Administrative Assistant for Marketing and Membership to her resume. The long title fits the many years of experience Michelle has had working with ag-related projects. While growing up on a farm near Orient, Iowa, she actively participated in 4-H and FFA activities. “We had strong programs with good advisors,” she stated. She especially appreciates the firm foundation in communication she built while participating with those organizations. Michelle was a member of the speech contest team, and during her senior year in high school, her FFA soil judging team went to the national finals in Oklahoma.
When ag classes and sports team participation ended in the summers, Michelle stayed in tune with farming by working as an intern for the Wallace Centers of Iowa. Henry A. Wallace was born in Orient, and the organization that has his family namesake is active and award-winning.  Michelle worked in various ways with their “Prairie Harvest Community Supported Agriculture” program, and she has been especially involved with their youth activities in Des Moines, Iowa.
Michelle says “I didn’t realize how important an agriculture background is, but now I realize how ag ties into everything.”  She has also tied it into her program at Iowa State University where she has added an ag business minor to her finance major.
With her experience and goals both firmly grounded in agriculture, Michelle can immediately contribute to the busy schedule facing CAST this fall. As Melissa Sly, Director of Marketing and Membership, points out, “Michelle is already assisting with the many upcoming activities. She is especially focused on the 40th Anniversary event and the Borlaug CAST Communication Award breakfast gathering at the World Food Prize.” CAST staff members are pleased to have Michelle join the team.