Or maybe a rancher too.

As I am preparing to give a persusasive presentation in my speech class, I was trying to decide what topic would be easiest to choose. Then I got to thinking why not choose a topic that I really want to share and inform these 30 people in my class. It might only be 30 people, but afterall we all make a difference only 1 person at a time. So I have chosen to focus on the negativity that has recently surrounded animal agriculture.

There has been so much negativity directed toward animal agriculture recently through media, newpapers, and animal rights groups. News articles are easy to find that criticize the industries for treatment of animals and our methods of food production, but can you really have enough appriciation for the products that cattlemen produce?

PETA and HSUS are out there to eliminate animal agriculture because they see animals as having rights to be free from human control. Articles featuring quotes from vegetarians open the doors to what outsiders think about animal agriculture: “Animal production is basically toture” and “We should just go back to a dozen chickens running around the yard”. Even news magazines like Time have turned liberal into scaring Americans into thinking meat is bad for your health and the well-being of the country. Do we really appriciate the facts of animal agriculture?

With more than 1 million farms and ranches, aside from all cattle related operations, the cattle industry is the largest segment of American Agriculture. There is much criticism about factory farms and the well-being of animals, but in reality 97% of cattle ranches are classified as family operations. Farmers and Ranchers are the ones that will stand up most strongly against animal cruelty, because being a part of a family operation, these people depend on their livestock for their livelihood. In fact, the average size of the American cattle operation is only 40 head. In January 2007, there were 94.5 million head of cattle in the US and 660,000 head of cattle are harvested each week. The American cattle industry contributes $66 billion annually to the US economy. Consumers spend an average of $76 billion on beef products each year!

Contrary to recent negativity, beef is a vital part of a healthy diet. Beef is the number one source of Protein, Vitamins B12 and Zinc, and a major source of iron and available conjugated linoleic acids. There are 29 cuts of beef that meet the government guidelines for lean. Per 8oz serving beef provides: >10 grams of total fat, <4.5 grams of saturated fat, and <95 miligrams of cholesterol.

The beef industry is committed to providing a safe and healthy product for international consumers. Each year the industry spends $350 million to impletment beef safety measures. The industry created Beef Industry Food Safety Council is an industry-wide council that uses science based strategies to improve the safety of beef. Created in 1987 the Beef Quality Assurance progrma works to assure animal health and well-being to provide a safe and quality product. The Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 established industry standards for Animal Handling and Slaughtering. All of these programs are implemented to oversee beef quality and safety to provide the best quality protein source available.

Since the beginning of organized cattle production in the 1860s, cattle prodcuers have been working together to make beef production more efficient and productive. We take a great pride and passion in our work and the products we provide to consumers, and as a result of this hard work the American food supply is safer and cheaper than ever.

Take time this season to Thank A Farmer for all of the hard work a small portion of Americans put forth to feed a growing world population.