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A summary of the Animal Rights Conference 2017

Tri State Livestock News | Posted on August 17, 2017

The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report today detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, held August 3-6 in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was hosted by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and The Humane League, along with other animal rights activist groups. Activists in attendance were encouraged to be as extreme as necessary to advance their goals. "Breaking the law can often be a good thing to do," said Zach Groff, Animal Liberation Collective. Groff spoke about the 'nature of confrontational activism' such as "protests, open rescues from farms without permission, vigils…" According to Groff, "this is a type of activism that can often upset people, it can rile people up." A major focus of this year's conference was on pressuring restaurant, retail and foodservice brands to adopt certain policies, with the end goal of forcing them to stop selling animal products. In one session on "Engaging Institutions," a speaker from The Humane League said the group had "basically harassed" one national sandwich chain with a campaign. When an audience member commented about 'humane' policies not being as good as complete liberation, Krista Hiddema, Mercy for Animals (Canada), hinted at no animal products being sold as the end goal, stating "we're never going away." Hiddema also stated that "we [the animal rights movement] are winning against the largest organizations in the world," and "they are terrified of us."

Urban floods intensifying, countryside drying up

Science Daily | Posted on August 17, 2017

Drier soils and reduced water flow in rural areas -- but more intense rainfall that overwhelms infrastructure and causes flooding and stormwater overflow in urban centers. That's the finding of an exhaustive study of the world's river systems, based on data collected from more than 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring sites across 160 countries.

Grain-free pet foods are no healthier, vets say.

The Washington Post | Posted on August 17, 2017

These grain-free, all-meat and raw-food diets are inspired by the meals eaten by wild relatives of our fidos and felixes. But are these diets really better for our pets? Veterinarians and pet nutrition researchers say probably not.According to clinical veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University, grain-free foods were one of the fastest-growing sectors of the pet food market in 2016. “All I ever hear is, oh, on a good diet, it’s grain free,” said Dena Lock, a veterinarian in Texas. The majority of her pet patients are overweight. “Grain-free is marketing. It’s only marketing,” said Cailin Heinze, a small-animal nutritionist at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. “A lot of foods market themselves by what they’re not including,” and the implication is that the excluded ingredient must be bad. Some pet owners have a false impression that grains are more likely to cause an allergic reaction, but “it’s much more common for dogs to have allergies to meat than to grain,” Heinze said. Chicken, beef, eggs, dairy and wheat are the most common allergies in dogs. And it’s not that there’s anything particularly allergenic about these foods, she said, they’re just the most frequently used ingredients.

Modern farm families steeped in core values

Ottawa Herald | Posted on August 17, 2017

Seems some people outside of agriculture routinely try to define the family farm. These same folks tend to question corporate farming whether family owned or not.Let’s look at a Kansas family farm. In our state, many are based on owner operation. This means the rights and responsibilities of ownership are vested in an entrepreneur who lives and works the farm for a living.The second key to defining the family farming system would include independence. Independence implies financing from within its own resources using family labor, management and intellect to build equity and cash flow that will retire the mortgage, preferably in the lifetime of the owner.Economic dispersion is the next important step in defining what a family farm should entail. Economic dispersion would include large numbers of efficient-sized farms operating with equal access to competitive markets worldwide.No family farm would be complete without a family core. This family centered operation must have a family who lives in harmony within the workplace. All family members share responsibilities, and the children learn the vocation of their parents.

White House opioid commission to Trump: ‘Declare a national emergency’ on drug overdoses

The Washington Post | Posted on August 15, 2017

The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a preliminary report on Monday stating that its “first and most urgent recommendation” is for the president to “declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.” “With approximately 142 Americans dying every day,” the report notes, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, states that the goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

Northwest wildfire outlook turns for the worse

Capital Press | Posted on August 15, 2017

Northwest fire officials said Tuesday that record-dry conditions, continued heat and incoming lightning storms threaten to escalate a worsening fire season. Some 17 large fires were burning in Oregon and Washington, with more lightning expected to strike the dried-out region over the next several days. Idaho officials reported a dozen active fires of more than 1,000 acres.“We’re moving from a moderate to a high level of activity across the state,” said Washington Department of Natural Resources wildfire manager Bob Johnson, chairman of the Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group.

Fed: Local food movement can spur job growth

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 15, 2017

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has released research examining how the growing popularity of locally sourced food can be harnessed to boost economic opportunities for both rural and urban communities. Regional food systems are a promising avenue for economic growth through creation and enhancement of jobs and businesses, Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in a foreword to the research. Those opportunities can advance the financial security of low- and moderate-income households and communities, they said.

High-tech ideas to fix opioid crisis compete for Ohio grants

Columbus Dispatch | Posted on August 15, 2017

 A call by Republican Gov. John Kasich for scientific breakthroughs to help solve the opioid crisis is drawing interest from dozens of groups with ideas including remote controlled medication dispensers, monitoring devices for addicts, mobile apps and pain-relieving massage gloves.The state has received project ideas from 44 hospitals, universities and various medical device, software and pharmaceutical developers that plan to apply for up to $12 million in competitive research-and-development grants. The grant money is being combined with $8 million for an Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, a competition similar to one spearheaded by the NFL to address concussions.Research grant-seekers in Ohio, which leads the nation in opioid-related overdose deaths, proposed solutions aimed at before or after an overdose

Voluntary pet insurance on an upward trajectory

Benefit News | Posted on August 15, 2017

Employees with pets are happy employees — data shows that pet ownership reduces stress levels and the risk of heart attacks and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels — and employees who don’t have to worry about coming up with money to pay for their furry friends’ often-costly medical bills are happier still. Hence the rise of the pet insurance benefit, which is steadily gaining ground on the voluntary menu. In 2016, premiums paid for pet insurance (sold both as a voluntary benefit and to individuals) rose 21%.

Modern small scale farming- could it sustain us?

Strong Towns | Posted on August 15, 2017

Could any of our communities actually survive on local food alone? Could we ever get to a point where local food makes up most of our diets and where local farmers are successfully supplying that? The more I study this, the more I realize it would be pretty darn tough, if not impossible. But, being an apartment dweller who hasn't had the opportunity to spend much time on farms, I wanted to talk to some real farmers to find out if this rang true from their perspective. Were they supporting themselves with their farm income? Could their harvest (and the harvests of their neighboring farmers) feed a community? I interviewed six farmers from around the country (as well as two people who serve in roles supporting local farmers) in both urban and rural settings, growing both produce and animals. All of them opened their farms in the last twenty years and most started in the last ten years. Between the high start-up costs, physical labor required, a regulatory environment geared for corporate farms and the public’s expectations about how much food should cost, it’s very hard to make it as a small-scale farmer. This was clear in my conversations with farmers and it bears out in the statistics as well. Mark and Kena Guttridge opened their family farm, Ollin Farms, in Longmont, CO, just over a decade ago. They spoke honestly about the economic challenges of their profession, even ten years after getting started: Kena: We do have other jobs because economically we cannot survive with the farm. It sounds beautiful and amazing but if we do just that, the farm would probably close.