Thanks to the plethora of pork in the Asian diet, it has been a good few weeks for American pork producers. First, the Japanese made a deal to bring in a lot more American pork. Then China dropped some of the tariffs on American soy beans and pork and signed a big “first of others” order. Finally, it was announced that the USDA is adjusting the 52-year-old rules covering the handling of swine in US plants. The rules were grossly outdated and not in sync with modern packing house technology.
The feds announced that they are putting more of the inspection load on company employees and the arbitrary limits on packinghouse production line speed have been removed. The lines will now produce about 10% more pork per hour. The new rules also establish higher inspection standards which place the onus on the work of both company and government personnel. It all sounds pretty good, huh?
But some folks have their frown faces on. The criticism runs from cutting back on the number of USDA inspectors in favor of in-house workers will put the whole food chain in danger, to, “It’s a power grab by the President.” The script is pretty much the same sky-is-falling, fill-in-the-blanks stuff we hear from activists of all ilks.
Perhaps the most ludicrous claims are contained in the summation of the activists’ clamoring as seen on Channel 8 in Des Moines: The changes will endanger workers, increase the suffering of pigs and threaten the food supply, said advocacy groups for workers, animals, consumers and the environment.
The new rules have already been tested in live plants and like those rising seas we’ve been told about, the advocacy groups’ predictions have failed to materialize.
Let’s face it folks, a slaughterhouse (a term we don’t use anymore) is not a fun place. But, it is a fact of life. It is also a fact that US meat packing is the cleanest, most humane and most efficient in the world. It really doesn’t have anything to do with inspectors and everything to do with the competition-based system that keeps the producers feet to the fire.
Think about it. If you run a bad plant with lots of bad product, the world finds out pretty quickly and you are out of business.
A Hog Raisin’ Man
I was headed down Carnation Road after talking to Ken Jones on his hog farm outside of Olathe yesterday, and it hit me. The Tom T. Hall song, I mean, “Who’s Gonna Feed Them Hogs?” The chorus was, “Here I am in this dang bed and whose gonna feed them hogs.”
Ken is not in the hospital, but his dedication to a good life for his hogs matches that of Tom T’s song subject. As you’ll see in the story nearby on this page, he even tried to sleep in the sty to keep his little pigs warm on a really cold night.
But then that is what farmers and ranchers do. They’ll stay up all night guarding a flock from predators. I have known some to tend smudge pots in fragile citrus orchards when the frost comes calling. More than one horseman or woman has slept in the barn when a mare was ready to deliver a foal. I was one to change water in the middle of the night before we had all this digital valve stuff. It all goes with the territory.
If you don’t know Tom’s song, just put “Hog raising man” in the Google box and it will show up, with him singing it.
You won’t find Hank Kimball here
I thought it would be a good idea if I checked in with the county agent, what with me writing about farm and ranch stuff and all. So I stopped in to the Colorado State University Extension Service in the Friendship Hall at the Montrose County Fairgrounds.
Hank Kimball* wasn’t in, but a lot of other friendly folks were. One of them was Kelsi Seymour, a Texas lady out of Texas Tech who is now on the CSU staff here, helping the extension service and farmers with marketing matters.
She wanted to let everyone know about the pasture management event coming up on Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Delta County Fairgrounds in Hotchkiss. The extension service has developed a forage establishment, renovation and management demonstration plot there.
According to Seymour, “Open House participants will also be able to, among other things, demo range land monitoring apps that help users interpret soil and plant signs in landscapes in order to make better management decisions.” There will be a self-guided tour of demonstrations and booths, covering subjects like pasture, livestock, soils, invasive weed management and others.
Anyone with questions may call Kelsi or Seth Urbanowitz at 970-874-2195.
*Who is Hank Kimball? He was the county agent on “Green Acres,” a ’70s TV show about a New York lawyer who buys a dilapidated farm. It’s on Amazon’s Prime. I watched a couple of episodes and realized that I was easily entertained in those days. Well, there was disco too.