let's talk farm animals

Be careful what you change too

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

There’s growing pressure for animal agriculture to change its practices, whether it be using modern housing systems such as stalls and cages or feeding antibiotics, but a new paper cautions that changes may negatively impact food safety.

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Posted by FFC on May 29th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal health,Consumers,Food,Food safety,Meat/slaughter plants,Research
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Bad, bad big city press

Guest Blog by Steve Kopperund,  Ag issues consultant

 

I’ve decided the general media are pretty much amateurs or hacks when it comes to accurately covering issues in food and agriculture. In no other area of our lives – including the arcane world of high finance – does a single profession get it wrong so much of the time. I’m allowed to say this out loud because I was a general newspaper reporter before I was an agbiz reporter/editor before I was a lobbyist.

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Posted by FFC on May 7th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal health,Food safety,Media,Regulations
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“Pink slime” – What’s in a name?

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

“Pink slime” a pejorative term for boneless lean beef trimmings has been getting a lot of attention from, food advocates and US policy makers in recent weeks. Called “lean finely textured beef within the industry,” the ground beef filler is reportedly not used in fabricating meat in Canada. Never-the-less, the hoopla is spilling over our border and is another example of how a name can affect the industry. 

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Posted by FFC on April 2nd, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Consumers,Food,Food safety,Meat/slaughter plants
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Things you should know before criticizing food production

By Leslie Ballentine, farming and food commentator

This past year, a University of Manitoba student was inspired by a campus talk she heard by the Ontario Farm Animal Council.  So inspired, in fact, that she wrote a thought-provoking article in the student newspaper. Titled: Things you should know before criticizing food production, the article is directed to the students on campus. But I think it should be directed to everyone. And it is food for thought to start the year.

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Posted by FFC on January 3rd, 2012 :: Filed under Environment,Family vs factory farming,Food safety,Housing,Innovation and technology,Misconceptions
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If slaughterhouses had glass walls…

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farm and Food Commentator

There is a common saying among vegetarians that “If slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be a vegetarian”.  Having been to all types of meat plants I disagree.  And so did one of North America’s largest processing companies.

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Posted by FFC on November 21st, 2011 :: Filed under animal handling,Beef cattle,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Meat/slaughter plants,Media,Vegetarian
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Sometimes I just can’t take it any more

Guest blog by:  Gene Gregory, President United Egg Producers

I know that many in agriculture have similar thoughts on the attacks upon our businesses and modern agriculture but sometimes I just can’t take anymore of it.  Here are some of my thoughts:

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Posted by FFC on November 1st, 2011 :: Filed under Consumers,Economics,Education and public awareness,Food safety,Misconceptions,Speaking out
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Recalls happen for a reason, but reasons aren’t an excuse

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Recalls happen either because a company finds a problem on its own or is informed of a problem by someone else, after the product has gone out the door. For farmers and food companies, prevention is the ticket to avoiding these events as well as the financial and public relations fallout associated with an outbreak of food-borne illness. To avoid food recalls means starting at the farm.

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Posted by FFC on June 20th, 2011 :: Filed under Canada,Consumers,eggs,Food safety,Meat/slaughter plants
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Sad but true: Food recalls will never end

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Fact:  There is no such thing as “zero risk”.

Canadians, unlike other parts of the world, enjoy one of the safest, most abundant and diverse food supplies. We don’t know empty shelves or tapeworms.  But despite that, I think it is only reasonable to expect more food recalls in the future.

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Posted by FFC on June 13th, 2011 :: Filed under Canada,Consumers,Food safety
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Rodents as much of a problem for farmers as predators

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Just as livestock munching predators, such as coyotes and bears, pose a serious threat to livestock, farmers are under attack by much smaller animals too:  Rats and mice. I recently read a report by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs which estimates that a colony of 100 rats will eat more than a tonne of feed in a year. That much feed costs farmers about $285, or enough to feed four pigs to market weight.  And the Ministry factsheet says one pair of rats and their offspring can produce 20 million (yes million) young in three years, mice reproduce even faster. 

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Posted by FFC on March 2nd, 2011 :: Filed under Animal health,Education and public awareness,Farm life,Food safety
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If you missed Oprah this week, another inside look at meat processing

 

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Some 10 million viewers got a unique opportunity to see inside a large US meat plant this week when The Oprah Show aired a guided tour of one of the world’s largest meat packing plants.  The tour and the Cargill company staff helped to de-mystify a process that is largely mis-understood and maligned.  I have been to many slaughter plants over my agriculture career, but here is a report on the experiences of one first- time visitor at another Cargill meat plant. The author is a nutritionist and not from a farm. Cargill operates plants in Canada as well as the U.S….

I just got back from west Texas where I toured a big industrial beef processing plant and I am still in shock by what I witnessed there. But I am not shocked in the way you might expect based on the negative portrayals of the beef industry that seem so rampant in the media. Rather, I am stunned by how humanely the animals were treated and by the detailed attention given to food safety at every stage of the process.

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Posted by FFC on February 2nd, 2011 :: Filed under animal handling,Beef cattle,Consumers,Food safety,Meat/slaughter plants
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