No bull - what a farmer wants you to know about how beef gets to your plate
June 15th, 2012
01:15 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman is a generational rancher from Arkansas with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University in Animal Science, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, studying beef cattle management. He is one of many farmers utilizing social media to bridge the gap between farmers and urban customers. Follow his story daily at or follow on Twitter (@AR_ranchhand) and Facebook.

How does our beef travel from pasture to plate? Can you describe this process from the time a calf is born to the moment your knife slices a steak?

In this country, we are blessed with a great group of farmers who care for their animals and a food safety system to ensure things work properly. There are farmers who do things various ways for good reasons for both their customers and their farms. A good balance of science and communication can go a long way in sustaining this process.

Let me go ahead and put it out there: modern farming has been under scrutiny of late from animal rights organizations, mainstream media journalism, and consumer groups. There is a gap of understanding between what happens on the farm and how the customer perceives it. Farmers make up less than two percent of this country’s population and we are partly to blame for not keeping you, the customer, informed on how our food is grown, what the impacts are on food and the environment, and why it is grown that way.

I come from a family farm in Arkansas. I was raised with cattle in lush, green pastures. Fresh eggs were collected from the barn, vegetables came from the garden, and I fed a few pigs and calves to have meat for my family’s table. This may sound like a historical account of farming, but in reality, this describes most modern farms. According to the Cattlemen's Beef Board, 97 percent of cattle farms in this country are family owned and operated.


It would have been easy for me to stay in my own little corner of the world and assume raising cattle was only the way I was taught. I did not know it when I left home for college, but I was on my journey to learn how cattle are raised across the country. I worked for a ranch in Wyoming where cattle were marketed for natural beef programs, and for a variety of farmers in Oklahoma and Arkansas where farming is not their primary occupation. While in Texas, I worked for two of the largest cattle feedlots in the country. There is a multitude of different places out there, all with different ways of managing cattle. With my experience has come a great deal of learning.

First: raising cattle is a lifestyle for all of these folks, a family affair in most cases. Farming takes hard work, dedication, and a passion for that work. Raising cattle can be far from the romantic image of cowboys on the range huddled around the campfire or grandmother’s farm with a red barn and chickens in the yard. We still have the same goals and values of raising animals and producing food, but there are many tools that allow farmers to do their job more efficiently. It is because of the modern farmer’s work today that most Americans can pursue their own ambitions and many choose them off the farm and outside of the home, make many advances in a modern lifestyle and not have to worry about hunting and gathering food for the family.

Second: raising cattle must be economically sustainable. Large or small, farming is a business, as well as the lifestyle for most of us. Farmers have families to feed too. Some get wealthy in agriculture, but most do it because they are passionate about rural America, producing food for their communities and working alongside family. We choose to provide food on the table, provide proper care for our animals, and improve our environments.

ryan goodman

We lose thousands of farmland acres each year to competition from urban development. Farmers have learned to become more efficient by embracing technology and better management tools to produce more beef on fewer acres. In doing this, we have also improved our environment by reducing our carbon footprint by 16 percent since 1977.

My journey has also taught me that farmers are not perfect. Most all the people I have met are genuinely good people, but we make mistakes. A good farmer learns from those mistakes and improves upon them. There are bad apples out there, as there are in any way of life. Farmers do not accept cruel treatment to animals. We should not allow cases of animal cruelty or journalism’s portrayal of such acts reflect on the entire farming community.

Many people in America today trust farmers, but not necessarily modern farming practices. I am here to encourage you to get to know a farmer, not just one, but farmers from a variety of places. We are people who do our grocery shopping in town and take our kids to ball practice just like many of you. The future of food and agriculture relies on a new generation of farmers. Will you shun them and tell them what they are doing wrong or join a discussion to learn about how food is grown and what we can do to make things better? If you do not know how to find them, I would be glad to help through the social media networks I have built. There are lots of us willing to have conversations about how this works.

Farmers need to do a better job of reaching out and listening to your concerns, our customer, because your opinion matters. Get to know where your food comes from. Do not tell farmers what they are doing wrong; rather ask what it is farmers do, let farmers ask questions, and in the course of conversation there will be better understanding on both sides.

Got questions? We'll try to get you some answers. Leave your questions in the comments below, and we'll do our best to get a farmer to share some insight.

Previously - Five sustainable lessons from a family farm

soundoff (497 Responses)
  1. Venkat

    Still waiting to hear how beef gets from farm to plate.

    June 20, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Bob

      I haven't read all the comments but I haven't seen any that address the criticism that cattle farming is grossly inefficient. I heard that it takes 13 pounds of corn to produce 1 pound of beef. Is this accurate? If so it seems as if that 13 pounds of corn and the land it is grown on could be used much more efficiently to produce food and other products.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
      • Thegoodman

        Inefficiency is often called "the free market' by GOP parrots. The outrageously high meat consumption of Americans is contributing greatly to the destruction of our world. CNN is doing their job to address this problem by publishing propaganda pieces that promote the illusion of "down on the farm".

        June 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
        • Been There

          The only propaganda as it pertains to this particular article is garbage posts like yours. Maybe, just maybe, agriculture-that's an occupation of real people-is trying to make an increased effort to tell the real story so that people can know where their food comes from. Rather than people having to rely on staged, slanted, and otherwise false you tube videos put out by groups like HSUS and PETA–talk about propaganda. Read the posts below. Do some research, like I have already challenged you to do, but obviously have not.

          June 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
        • Thegoodman

          @Been There

          I am not a moronic conspiracy theorist or an outlandish PETA extremist. I disagree with PETA on most issues and I am not even sure who HSUS is, they seem to be mentioned a lot in these comments.

          I have done my homework. I grew up in a rural community and have family members that are farmers. I am an engineer, my wife is a doctor, I work for a company that builds and exports products. Your claim that farming is for "real people" and whatever I do is for imaginary people would be more insulting if it made sense. I don't sit around all day smoking weed and making flip-flops out of jute.

          I have done my homework and I am passionate about this topic. The food industry in America is a huge factor in the reason why America is in such a poor state of health.

          As an engineer the inefficiencies of feeding cows corn is absurd to me. If not for the government welfare program known as subsidies there is no way this should be profitable at the current prices of beef. If the free market, and the consumer, truly determine what farmers grown and sell, then why is such a large portion of America's farmland dedicated to growing corn and soybeans that are heavily subsidized?

          My wife is a medical doctor, and her professional opinion is that veganism is much more healthy than consuming animal products. I am not an incense burning Buddhist preaching reincarnation asking you not to harm another entities "life energy" or any similar pile of crap. I am saying that being a vegan is healthier than not. This claim is supported by the opinions of many professions who are more intelligent than you and myself. Their opinions are supported by very legitimate scientific studies that show the benefits of not consuming animal protein. Unfortunately no one gets rich by selling broccoli, so the research dollars for such research are few and far between. Clearly more virtuous endeavors including deciding if grass fed or corn fed beef is fatter, this research earns money. Celery does not.

          Lastly, the industrial farming process is doing irreparable (at least in our grandchildrens' lifetimes) damage to the environment.

          Lets make a list of these things.
          Corn Fed Beef is...
          1. inefficient in a world where energy costs money (fossil fuels purchased from the mid east mostly)
          2. unhealthy (higher fat content, less Omega-3s, less protein/lb)
          3. contributes to the industrial farming process that harms our lands
          4. contributes to the welfare program of corn subsidies

          Grass Fed Beef is...
          1. Directly converts the energy of the sun into meat (grass is the middle man) and requires no fossil fuels
          2. is healthier (more lean meat, more nutritious)
          3. if managed properly, can contribute to the repair of ravaged lands by allowing the cows to be a part of an ecosystem
          4. requires no government subsidies

          What exactly am I missing here? Your "holier-than-thou" attitude as if I am an ignorant hippy didn't have a lot of substance, just claims that I am talking out of my butt. I am not interested in a political fight with a line in the sand, I want all of us to be honest and forthcoming with information, that includes telling the whole story. This fluff propaganda piece put together by CNN does not tell the full story, not even close to it. It tells the fun and happy part of the story, they conveniently left out many important points.

          If you prefer the fatty taste of corn fed beef and think it is worth the cost of taxpayer money, environmental damage, and giving more money to the middle east, enjoy. Personally, I do not think it is worth a single one of those things, let alone all 3.

          June 21, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • greenacregoddess

      This is how it works in our world with our beef:
      – We have about 90 head of mama cows and about 15 heifers (female bovines who have yet to have their first calf) who are bred or just gave birth in the past few months- we have cattle on about 2,000 of our 4,000 acres. The cattle are spread out on various sections. Two of our places are half sections (320 acres) and the other are quarters (160 acres). We're well below our stocking rates (the number of cow/calf pairs you can have per acre to keep the land healthy) on all our places and could bring more cattle in right now.
      -So, the baby calves are born and they nurse on the mamas until they reach a certain weight. During that time, at some point, we do take them away for a couple hours and we brand them, castrate them if they are male and deworm them. The only time we medicate a calf is when they are sick. We have a vet castrate the calves because my father-in-law is almost 80 and its just easier to do it that way. All our calves are born out in the field and the only time we ever assist with a birth is when the heifers are calving in for the first time. When we do this, we keep them behind our house in a 5 acre pin and keep an eye on them and only intervene if they have trouble.
      -We then ween the calves when they get to a certain size and let them graze pasture until they get to a certain weight.
      – This is where the change happens for us- because of the cost associated with marketing and the regulations that are placed on slaughtering animals, our operation takes these calves to the sale barn. To this point, our calves for the most part unless they've been sick are only grass-fed and antibiotic free. But when they go to the sale barn, we have no control over who buys them.
      -This is where individuals need to know about how things work. This is where your dollar does the talking. If you choose to buy beef that its raised in a certain way, then you're supporting what your values are. If you don't care, then you can buy whatever. The other thing to remember too is that the feedlots in my knowledge aren't the processors- they sell the cattle to slaughter plants that pump out the hamburger and steaks. So knowing that part of the process is important too and once again you decide with your dollars.

      Now I'm not everyone but our operation is no different than 90% of all the other farmers that I know and work with. This is kind of the way the beef gets to the table. It didn't say all of this in the article but that's they way it works in our world.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Stella

      Me too...

      June 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  2. greenacregoddess

    I think there is some really helpful dialogue that happened in the comment section. I do want to say "thank you" though because while PETA and HSUS spend a lot of time warping facts and painting a picture that isn't accurate, there are also ag groups that are quick to immediately jump up and say "We don't have a problem" and then proceed to stick their heads in the sand. None of these "groups" are the people- these groups make their money by working people up to get them to start behind a fight that often times they make much bigger than it is. As a city girl who fell in love with the country boy and who is now raising two kids on the farm, it always fun to learn and if you haven't spent time on a farm, you should at least take the time to read a blog or two of people who are actually farming.

    As far as cattle production is concerned, there are the fields and the feedlots. Its the consumer that drives the market for the feedlot type beef because we love our white fat and wouldn't stand the taste of yellow fat. And I could go on and on about how difficult it is to make it work for your bottom line trying to market your own natural grass-fed beef.

    Anyway, there wasn't a lot of "meat" to the article (no pun intended) but its a complex subject. I appreciate that the author looked at both sides saying that as a farmer is not fair to be attacked under false pretenses but at the same time we have to step up and admit that we can make changes too. Just remember, farmers mostly caused the Dust Bowl but when they were given the tools to do things better, they did it, and not only did they do it but they continue to do it and we've now made it through some of the worst droughts without seeing Oklahoma end up on the East Coast. Just work with us and come with an open hand of friendship, it will get you a lot further.

    June 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  3. Nia

    How on earth did this propaganda make it to a mainstream news source? At the very least, this article should be labeled as an "Opinion" piece. CNN, I just can't believe you. You just lost my respect.

    June 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • ro

      "Propoganda"??? Seriously? 9% of the people that actually responded to this email have never even met a farmer. Articles like this are an absolute necessity if we do not want to make that number 90% some day. Farming is a huge thing in this county. Open your eyes a little bit, it is the only thing we actually do in this country! What else do we export? Anyway, I can go on for hours about how out of line your comment was but I think I am going to enjoy this beautiful Iowa day. Things are just wonderful here, great people, low unemployment and a very strong economy....all thanks to a booming AG economy!

      June 20, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  4. Chris

    If humanity ever has World War III, and this crazy world ever comes to an end, and technology is wiped out, and humans are sent back to the stone age, and live live cave men again, I find it hard to believe that the surviving people from PETA, HSUS and VEGANS will pass up a chance to dine on their pretty little dogs and cats, especially when they are starving from lack of food.

    So lets give the farmers a break. These are good and honest people. I am sure that 99% of the people who make fun of and ridicule farmers because they butcher cattle, or hogs, or chickens, are not capable of running a farmers farm just for one week, even with the farmers help.

    So basically if you cant walk the walk of a farmer, then stop the bad talk about them !!!!!

    June 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Kristin

      You honestly think that without any technology we would be able to kill and eat animals with our bare hands? The average human can't even catch a squirrel. If you want to spend hours TRYING to chase down a dog and starting fires with two sticks, be my guest. I'll look around for an apple tree.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  5. Lynne

    @Ryan Goodman- Do all farmers do their own slaughtering? I don't think so but correct me if I'm wrong. I do believe farmers are good people and care about the animals they raise. However, to make money, farmers must sell their cattle do they not? Sell their live animals to big companies and corporations. That's when what happens to our livestock food becomes hazy. Farmers cannot control what happens to their animals once sold and big companies and corporations are all about making a profit. Animal rights aside, We have a right to know exactly how our livestock food is processed from birth to packaging. I don't believe you truly answered that question in your article.

    June 19, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Thanks Lynne for the comment. No, not all farmers do their own harvesting. I have done it myself, but most will send to a small, family custom harvest plant.

      You're right that I didn't explain all of the steps involved in cattle production. That wasn't the point I wanted to make, because a single post would give no justice to everything that happens. What I can do is encourage you to be more open to conversations and encourage farmers to do the same. Although I am from a family farm, I have worked in what many call corporate cattle feedlots. So if you'd like to message me through the contact information listed above, I can answer any specific questions you may have about it.

      June 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Chris

      Farmers love thier animals too. It takes several hours to butcher a cow, and package it, and then you have to sell it.
      It costs too much for farmers to build a facility so they can butcher, and refrigerate their cattle.

      The Butchering process is not a pretty process either. No one, and I mean no one wants to put down a cow
      but it has to be done, so people can eat.

      Farmers take their cattle to processing plants to be humanely put down and processed.

      Farmers are some of the best people on planet earth. Most of them would give you the shirt off their back in a snow storm.

      Its time for city folks to stop making fun of farmers, because if the farmers would stop growing their crops and producing their cattle and hogs, the city folk would be very very hungry. If Farmers stopped farming, a steak would
      cost you $ 150.00 and an orange would cost you 30.00 and so on etc.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
      • Paul

        You're as deluded about the "humanity" of slaughter as is Ryan, with his references to "harvesting" animals. You may as well say that serial rapist-murderers "harvest" women.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Grim Reaper

      Exactly. Junior didn't answer anything and he sure as sh** didn't address farm subsidies or the ethanol debacle we can thank Al Gore for. Slaughterhouses are just that-anyone that says otherwise should visit one and then we'll see what their appetite is for hot dogs. Family farms are fine but they're only part of the picture.

      June 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
      • Been There

        Go back and read the article. If you think he could describe all aspects of cattle feeding, much less that of government farm subsidies and the like in one article, it just goes to show your ignorance. People do their Master's theses and Doctorial dissertations on only small parts of those topics, among many others. If you go back and actually read the article, he is inviting anyone who wants to an opportunity to connect with either himself or other farmers and ask questions. Remember, the only dumb question is the question not asked.

        June 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  6. George Fear

    PETA= People Eating Tasty Animals.
    Actually, I have no problem with the idea of eating meat, circle oif life and whatnot, I'm a part of it. I don't make the rules , I'm stuck with them like every one else.
    What I find barbaric, however, and inhumane is the eating of animals boiled alive. What is even more barbaric is how people try to justify or explain it away.
    Am I hypocrite? Yup! Just like the veggies and vegan who don't seem to realize that even their vegetarian and vegan ways require agriculture which requires the destruction of eco systems and species and who think that buying organic actually addresses a problem.

    June 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Thegoodman

      Buying organic and local does help the problem. Organic farms still consume lots of fossil fuels, the good news is that they are less destructive to their ecosystems (I said LESS). A monoculture is never healthy. Most small organic farms do a terrific job of introducing variety and rotation into their crops.

      The fact is the planet has far too many people as it is. We cannot consume as much as we do and still live in a balanced ecosystem, we are the problem. That being said, we should all work to contribute less to this problem. Being a vegan who eats primarily local organic produce is a great thing on many levels.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Paul

      Gosh George, "People Eating Tasty Animals," that's a good one! You must be one clever boy, to have come up with that!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  7. Brian

    For an article that starts off by saying how it's partly the farmers' fault for not keeping us more informed on how they produce our food...there's really no information in here on how they produce our food. The whole "farmers are people too, and mainly good people" argument is nice, and certainly has a lot of truth to it, but it's still not very informative. Several of the comments posted (thank you, by the way, to the people who posted them) are actually a lot more informative on the actual food production than the original article.

    June 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Paul

      Exactly–there's essentially nothing about "how beef gets to your plate" (and incidentally, the body parts of tortured animals get nowhere near my plate). And then if anyone actually does provide any information about how it gets to your plate, the people who do eat tortured animals are up in arms about it. The severity of their responses, of course, gives a good idea of how self-deluded they are–they can't tolerate any threat to their delusions.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  8. JoeTheDuckEater

    I don't give a rat's behind how the cattle are killed – as long as they taste good when taken off the grill.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Paul

      I don't give a rat's ass how your children are murdered, as long as it's for a good cause.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  9. Ally

    I've been reading the comments on this article for a couple of days now. I have a big question on the corn diet. Several people in the business of producing beef cattle have said that most of their lives the majority of cattle are pastured. And are switched to a corn based diet toward the end to gain weight before slaughter. This is a diet supposedly formulated to make sure the cattle are healthy and gain quickly.

    Detractors are saying that any corn based diet is bad for the cattle and they can't digest it.

    If they can't digest it then they certainly wouldn't gain much weight, so why use it? But how would this notion of corn is bad for cattle be so prevalant if there wasn't some truth to it?

    June 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • What?


      Bravo! I know from your posts you've been looking for 'real' answers, and it's great to see somebody who has questions form a logical progression in their thoughts.

      Corn – the grain – in and of itself probably would not be the best feed for cattle. I'm not a ruminant nutritionist, so I'm not "an expert" on the 'details' here. Corn, mixed into the regular feed of grass/hay, if not added in too large a proportion does not hurt the animals, but 1) causes them to gain weight faster, 2) increases the amount of intramuscular [IM] and external fat ("finish") on the animal, and actually changes the taste of the meat due to changing the kinds of fatty acids that make up the triglycerides in the fat. IM fat is one of the key components of the quality grade – you can't have "choice" beef unless there is a sufficient amount of IM fat. As you surmised – if one is trying to get them to gain weight, then one isn't going to feed them something that makes them sick. This mix of grain/roughage just happens to be exactly what the animals are fed. There could very well be mineral supplements added, too.

      There are times, especially early in the year when grass is just starting to grow well, that the mineral content of the grass isn't sufficient. There is a serious condition that often affects pasture-grazed cattle at this time that is known as "grass tetany". It is caused by a lack of magnesium in the diet, and it can – and usually will – be fatal if not treated. Treatment is relatively simple, and involves direct injection of a magnesium-laced solution into the animal, usually into the intraperitoneal cavity, but it can be done intravenously if the situation is dire.

      Thank you for showing an honest interest in what is done – and why.

      June 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
      • What?

        @ Ally – Upon re-reading my post here, there is a correction that needs to be made. The first sentence in the last paragraph should end with "the mineral content of the grass MAY NOT BE sufficient". The magnesium deficiency doesn't occur 100% of the time, but when it does, it's bad news for the cattle. (I got in too big a hurry.)

        June 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
      • What?


        One last thing on "diet". Ryan mentioned 'supplementing' them with vitamin, minerals, etc. In a lot of places, if not all, you have to provide salt for the cattle. They need it, and they can't get enough from their diet. The potential magnesium deficiency is easily averted by providing an ingestible magnesium source for them – these are readily available in the form of "mag blocks", which are very dense blocks containing magnesium and, usually, other minerals in a molasses-laced "carrier" that the cattle lick. I've been at this so long I forget that some things that are 'innate' to me are completely 'foreign' to others who haven't been around cattle.

        June 21, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Ally, great question. People spend years in school learning about cattle nutrition and continue learning their entire lives. It's a complex process, but here's a brief answer.

      Cattle do not have a stomach like our's. It's made of 4 compartments, the largest being the rumen which is full of microbes to digest nutrients from the feed into smaller parts (volatile fatty acids) that are used for building blocks that can be utilized in the body. This complex stomach is how cows can break down so much plant material that humans cannot.

      Those microbes are made of two populations that break down different sugars. One to break down cellulose (predominant in grasses, hay, plant leaf material) the other breaks down starch (predominant in grains).

      If the animal has more microbes to break down forages, it can handle some grain with no problem. We can transition the animal's diet over to a higher % of grains and be perfectly fine as long as it is done at the right pace to allow the microbes that digest starch to increase accordingly. This is where the animal nutritionists come in and make sure we are feeding the right amount at the right pace.

      Feeding corn might make an animal sick (like an upset stomach) if it is fed too much grain too quickly – called acidosis. If this were to happen, we can back off the higher energy feed (which includes more grains than forages) and feed them a little extra forage to settles the stomach.

      Cattle are on a pasture based diet the majority of their lives. Young cattle finished on high energy diets may spend as little as 90 days or up to 200 days in the feedlots (where high grain diets are fed). Even on pasture, cattle may receive some grain feed. The feedlot diets are not completely corn. These are a mixture of high quality grasses, grains, grain by-products (like from ethanol or distillery processes), and mineral, vitamin, or fat supplements. We utilize grains like corn because starch has a high energy value available to the animal, allowing more energy to be digested and used for growth.

      June 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
      • Ally

        Thanks for the responses both What? and Ryan.

        So what I'm hearing is that a full "corn" diet is truly not right for the cattle. Rather a balance is needed for optimum health. Is a silage mixture considered the "corn" diet? Or more on the roughage side?

        It also sounds like having an all pasture-based "grass" diet can be less nutritious for the animals depending on the quality of the grass on the particular grazing land, or time of year and/or weather patterns. Therefore supplements and those "evil injections" can be required if the grass is lacking in nutrients during a portion of the animals life. Yes? Or no?

        Thanks for your patience. I know otherwise intelligent people who rant about the evils of this or that practice and I'm trying to find that twist of words or grain of truth in something that makes it more understandable.

        June 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
        • Paul W

          Love your questions, Ally. I wish everybody was as interested and willing to get more info.

          Keep in mind that, except for the folks trying to fatten the steer (or heifer) for meat, the diet may not be maximized (via supplementing whatever grains or higher quality feeds, cuz supplements cost $$). Farmers will adjust diets to find the cheapest thing out there that'll get the cow or calf where he/she needs to be. So a momma cow (who will live maybe 10 years, and whose primary job in life is to make babies) will eat what's in the fields, and only get a supplement if necessary for life or a particular production goal (eg, getting pregnant). She may even lose weight in a spotty pasture late in the fall, but she'll make up for it when the pastures get lush again. Like the experts here have made pretty clear, corn has a place in the feeder calf's diet, but it's part of a balanced ration. Silage is a cool farmer's invention, in that it's roughage (which we know the cow's rumen likes), but it's made (in a "silo") in such a way that some of the roughage gets converted to a higher quality/higher protein content. And besides being a great food source, cows LOVE it. Those of us who love the cattle business and love being around cows are very happy watching cattle eat something they love– kind of like the satisfaction city folks get from feeding their dogs! In fact, once in a while I feed my cows a little corn (though it's expensive), just because they love it.

          June 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
        • Ryan Goodman

          That's right Ally, a balance is what we're looking for.

          In case some do not know what silage is – the entire plant is harvested (stalk, leaves, and grain) before full maturity, chopped, and placed in an oxygen free environment (silo, bunk, etc). The plant material is fermented to break down portions of the plant cells, but not moldy. This makes the nutrients more readily available and easier to digest.

          Silage value differs depending on the type grain crop being used (alfalfa, corn, wheat, grasses, or other grains) and how mature the plant is when "ensiled". It can be 50/50 forage/grain portion of the diet up to 25/75. This changes in different parts of the country.

          When I say supplement here, I'm generally talking nutrient or dietary supplement. Most of these are oral through the feed. These can be grain-feeds, sources of extra energy or protein, minerals, vitamins, or things that help the stomach microbes to their job better or more efficiently. This last part is where some people incorrectly label some supplements as antibiotics.

          June 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
        • Been There

          Great questions, Ally. I was just going to add to the others who posted some great answers, that corn is typically "rolled" or put through a roller mill to where the kernel is basically cracked into pieces in order for the starch contained within the kernel to be more easily digested. An un-cracked kernel has a protective coat on it, as does any seed, that, if left intact, is more difficult for cattle to digest.

          June 20, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Carrie

      Hey Ally,
      There is all kinds of info out there about what we do and don't feed cattle. Some is accurate and some is way off base. After having a few people inform me of all kinds of crazy ingredients that they thought went into cattle feed I put together a blog post about what we feed our dairy cows and worked with other dairy farmers and dairy professionals to publicly put out there what we really do feed our cows. If you would like more info "straight from the cow's mouth" check out this post on my blog.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
      • Ally

        Thanks, Carrie. I'll check it out.

        June 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Been There

      Ryan's article can be deemed a success, as there is at least one person (Thank you, Ally) who has their wheels turning and are seeking answers. Very good questions! And remember, the only dumb question is the question not asked.

      June 19, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  10. Bob

    I guess the farmers seem to like your article for some reason. The takeawys for me are:

    1. The author was raised on a farm
    2. Fermaers have reduced their carbon footprint
    3. Farmers are nice people.

    Three useless facts for me.

    June 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Buck

      Your comment was useless.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
      • JellyBean

        Bob is a troll. He likes posting such useless comments in the CNN Belief section as well.

        June 21, 2012 at 7:21 am |
        • This Is Known

          Bob's last name is Uppandown.

          June 21, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  11. Allison

    I strongly believe that there are good farmers, like Ryan Goodman, who do believe in animal rights and providing good food. Like it or not PETA we all were born to die and I know that if I can help serve at least one person in my life I would do it. I can't help but think that the purpose for livestock is to serve us as humans. I have been a vegetarian I whole-heartedly believe in animal rights, but I also see the value in a good quality hamburger. I know that not everyone will agree and may not understand my viewpoints. But gosh dangit this is America. God Bless!

    June 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Paul

      You were born to die, Allison, so how about doing it right now? There are lots of people who could benefit from your transplanted organs.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  12. A fellow journalist

    Thank you, CNN, for displaying journalism integrity and ethics by allowing a much-alligned side to the ag/food story to speak for himself. All too often, the louder folks at HSUS (whose aim it is to eliminate animal agriculture) and PETA (whose goal it is to create inflammatory and news-making "stories" for which the media to use to achieve PETA aims) are the ones who seem to control the media's coverage. CNN, you are giving a farmer the voice to be heard. Congratulations to the decisionmakers at CNN who stood up to the louder activitist groups to make this happen.

    We all must recognize when we're being "played" and "manipulated" by special interest groups. I personally don't want my children growing up to a world with food that is too costly, not consistent in availability, and doesn't contain meat as an option. Therefore, true media outlets will recognize the special interest group manipulation, and like CNN, let the little guy speak.

    June 19, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • andy

      I agree! Very well done story, and 'a fellow journalist' is spot-on in his critique.

      June 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  13. I love Red Meat

    Thank you CNN for allowing someone with actual agriculture experience and knowledge to voice their opinion. Great job Ryan, keep up the good work!

    June 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  14. Guitar

    All slaughter totally needless, and then simply all for that self-centered 5 minutes of flavor in one's mouth. We are a selfish species!

    June 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  15. Loopman

    Having been raised on a farm while still a very young boy, I have always had a deep appreciation for their hard work and tenacity to continue that way of life. My biggest beef (no pun intended) with the farming community is with the large corporate owned producers that have been forced to change their livestock management practices to increase production at the sacrifice of a quality product. Genetically altered beef, chicken and pork is not only unhealthy for the general populace, it is unethical and morally wrong. These practices rank right up there on the "YUCK" scale with pink slime and the like. The FDA should let the farmers do what they know how and have been doing for generations instead of monkeying around with our food supply. What's next? Soylent Green?

    June 19, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • What?

      "Genetically altered beef, chicken and pork"? Please tell us more about this – inquiring minds want to know.

      June 19, 2012 at 8:54 am |
      • intheknow

        There is not genetically altered meat. Don't scare people

        June 19, 2012 at 9:23 am |
        • What?

          He won't be able to come back with much, then, will he?

          June 19, 2012 at 10:10 am |
        • GoOrganic

          Ummm, Intheknow, you need to do more research prior to commenting. Pretty much everything that is sold or advertised on TV is genetically modified. Monsanto owns 99% of the soybeans in the US, which are genetically modified, and their soybeans go into 99% of the food sold in grocery stores. Watch the movie Food Inc., read the book "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollen, listen to some of Michael Pollen's interviews. It's unbelievable what our government allows us to eat. Scary. All westernized diseases (Diabetes, Obesity, etc) are 100% preventable by removing these types of foods from your diet. Go by these rules and it will help immediately. "Eat Food, not too much, mostly plants"- Michael Pollen; Only buy products with 5 ingredients or less. The ingredients in most products are unidentifiable- therefore it's not really food. If your great grandmother wouldn't know what those ingredients are... don't trust them.

          June 19, 2012 at 10:29 am |
        • What?

          @ GoOrganic

          Perhaps you will enlighten us, then, on genetically-altered animals?

          June 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
        • What?

          [Whispering] "There is not genetically altered meat." You know this, and I know this, but apparently "Loopman" and "GoOrganic" don't know this. I just wanted to see what they would come back with – if they came back with anything. Apparently, they can't.

          June 19, 2012 at 11:40 am |
        • Megan

          Cattle in feedlots eat genetically modified corn and soybeans as well as a lot of other stuff they shouldn't be eating, like remenents from the slaughter house. You are what you eat eats and when your pork and your cattle eat genetically modified food, that makes their meat contain the genetically modified make up of what they ate. Studies in Canada are showing pesticides from GM food showing up in fetuses. Wake up people. Some farmers are great. When those same farmers sell their cattle to feedlots to grow up in manure mud and get shot up with antibiotics every day and eat crap they aren't suppose to eat, then farmers take a huge dive in my opinion.

          But do take the author's suggestion to get to know your farmer. Buy your meat directly from them. Do not buy it from the grocery store because that is all feedlot, genetically modified fed, food. Know your farmer, know your food.

          June 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
        • Bageldog

          @Megan, eating genetically modified food does not make your genes genetically modified. This is such a basic misunderstanding of chemistry and biology it is hard to comprehend.
          Yes, eating poisons is a bad thing, but unless that food was genetically modified *to be* a poison, the fact that it is genetically modified is irrelevant to what your body uses it for.

          June 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
        • Been There

          @Megan I'm sorry but you are wrong. I encourage you to visit websites of the likes of Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska and other university animal science departments. From there you can search for studies where trials were conducted to determine if feeding GM ingredients had any affects that were different from cattle fed non-GM feedstuffs. In every single one you will find, they will conclude that absolutely no differences were found between the two groups. No effect on health of the animal, no effect on quality of the meat, and on and on. Some even say that the only Con when it comes to feeding GM is the false, negative perception of the public.

          Also, it is a misconception that GM = pesticides. While certain GM crops such as corn have traits bred into them to resist certain insects, for example, does not mean they were injected with pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals (not genetically coded material) that are applied to crops if there is an infestation of certain insects. I am a little dated, but insecticide products I was familiar with while on the farm were products called Counter, Furadan, and Lorsban. These types of commercial products have nothing to do with GM. The are man-made chemicals to kill insects. And they are not applied close to harvest. They are applied early in the season to where by the time harvest rolls around, they have dissipated and the threat of insect damage is gone. If seed companies insert traits in corn to make it produce an ear that is an inch longer thereby increasing the yield per acre, that is another example of how GM can positively affect the outcome. That is not injecting chemical or other compound, that is manipulating the DNA in a manner that is far more advanced than cross breeding over the course of years, maybe even decades to gain a result. Again, go back and read the studies by universities that specialize in these things to find that GM will not carry through to you as you eat meat. It just plain won't happen, period.

          June 20, 2012 at 12:43 am |
      • Paul W

        Not many living things that aren't genetically altered... Your dog's beautiful coloring is the result of selective or "line breeding" (a nice word for it), when, 15 generations back, a breeder bred the bitch to the male pup with the most beautiful coat. YOU were genetically altered when you ugly dad, who was rich, married your beautiful mom, making you half beautiful. Your dad's genetic destiny, had he not been able to bag a beautiful spouse, would've been a woman as ugly as he. The resulting altered genetics were YOU. Similar altering brings us the most beautiful flowers, the most productive species of wheat, the tastiest beef, even the best athletes (how many accomplished professional athletes breed soft, uninspired couch potatoes?). ENJOY the benefits of all that genetic altering.

        June 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
        • Paul

          Genetic modification is nothing like selective breeding. IT IS NOT THE SAME THING. False equivalency. Crappy logic. etc.

          June 21, 2012 at 9:24 am |
      • Crystalla

        Okay, so you haven't hear of the successfully cloned cattle that I'm sure in the near future will be tested and regulated for safety of human consumption? Or is that not genetic enough for ya?

        June 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
        • Bageldog

          If that's even true, cloned cattle would be the exact opposite of genetically modified cattle.

          People who don't understand genetics shouldn't worry about it.

          June 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
        • Ally

          I'm sure the majority of us have heard about the cloning research being done (mostly on sheep). However, 'What?' was trying to make the point that currently cloned animals are not authorized to be slaughtered and sold as food. That day is likely decades away.

          June 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
        • What?

          Oh, it's 'genetic' alright, but it's not "genetically altered", which was the original premise. I'm still waiting.

          June 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Bageldog

      Everything you eat is genetically modified. Whether it's Monsanto's soybeans or the nice broccoli you got down at the organic farmer's market. There's no such thing as broccoli in the wild. We (humans) bred it into existence. That something was genetically modified by farmers over many generations rather than scientists in a lab doesn't say anything about its safety or how 'good' it is for you.

      There are many things to be concerned about in our food chain; antibiotic overuse leading to superbugs, our overdependence on simple sugar.....genetically modified foods is not one of those things *in and off itself*.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:57 am |
      • Genetically Modified Brocoli

        That stuff gave me the worst case of farts I ever had.
        My mom slapped me and I was ex-communicated.
        And I'm a Mor... I used to be a Moron.

        June 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
      • Paul

        Let's try this one more time: Genetic modification is not the same thing as selective breeding. Selective breeding is not even a kind of genetic modification. The two have nothing to do with each other.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:26 am |
        • Bageldog

          @Paul, you speak with authority for someone who seems to have absolutely no understanding of genetics. Selective breeding is absolutely genetic modification. It is the artificial analogy of natural selection. What's being modified (selected for) are the organism's genes.

          Again, whether or not this is done in a lab or over many generations by farmers is irrelevant to the point, that genetic modification is not in and of itself dangerous.

          June 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  16. Jacob Nyhuis

    Great article, I am a college student and cattle producer, I am currently working on a large cattle ranch in Montana. There has been a negative image put on American beef production and as I am proud to be a part of producing some of the safest and most nutritious food supply in the world I know that we are sharing the same passion and that is a passion for the future of American beef production. I have visited many ranches, feedlots and processing facilities across this country and have yet to see cattle being mistreated. In fact beef producers work very hard to keep the stress levels of their cattle inexistent or low at the most. Many people do not realize that cattle producers don't make much of a salary and some years none at all. The question is asked well then why do you do it; because we have a passion for the industry and providing the best life for our cattle and producing an excellent product for not only Americans but consumers all around the world. As you have said I also encourage everyone to speak with a farmer or rancher and ask questions about where your food comes from and how it is produced it is a right of the consumer. I appreciate your efforts in sharing the story of American beef production and hope that you continue your great work.

    Jacob Nyhuis

    June 19, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Metalhead Falconer from WA State

      I'd just like to throw my thanks out to both the author of this article and all the good, hard-working farmers out there listening. Your efforts make it so that at any time of the day me and my family have access to safe, nutritious, healthy foods. The farmers that I've spoken with have always been kind and friendly, and if asked nicely, almost always let me fly my hawks on their lands (they get the added bonus of reduced rabbits, pigeons and starlings whenever I do, so its a win-win!) Kudos to all of you, and keep up the great – and delicious! – work! <3

      -Metalhead Falconer

      June 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  17. gargle

    I find it ironic that the government promotes healthy lifestyles but then subsidizes corn that gets fed to cows to make them fatter. What?

    June 19, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • strategicstl

      Two things you need to do to promote anti-obesity. Neither would we ever have the political willpower nor necessarily should we be draconian. 1) Have people eat less calories (doesn't matter where they come from as much). A fat tax would work. Think it will fly? and 2) Compel exercise. Sweat and calories. Put that is intensely interventionist where freedom of choice should prevail.

      Instead, encouraging less calories and more exercise is advisable.Otherwise whether corn subsidies or sugary drink sizes, you basically have a "fad diet" that promises a lot and delivers little.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • J-dawg

      Obesity... not caused by the food that we eat... it is caused by the lethargic lifestyle that children are living now. Instead of kids going outside to play baseball, they are playing MLB 2012. Instead of riding bikes with their friends, they are texting on their phones. Instead of making time to go to a park and play, kids are sitting on Facebook or surfing the internet. Kids need to burn the calories that they intake, and we are eating the same food that we did decades ago... there are just less opportunities for kids to burn them off!

      June 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
      • What?

        True, that. Except for one 'modification' . . . it's not that there are "less opportunities" for the kids – or adults – to burn off the calories – it's that there is less advantage taken of the opportunities to burn them off. They had rather busy themselves with the proven body-building 'exercises' that you do aptly listed.

        June 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
      • Been There

        What he said!!!!

        June 20, 2012 at 12:09 am |
      • Thegoodman

        An intense workout will burn 1000 calories. You can eat 1000 calories in a few minutes with little effort if you choose your food unwisely.

        Diet is the biggest contributor to obesity in our country. Combine that with decreased physical activity, decreased sleep, increased caffeine and you have yourself a veritable time bomb of tragic human health.

        June 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  18. advocaremiller

    Thank you CNN for inviting someone who is knowledgeable about agriculture to share their story instead of just what people have read on the internet or seen in some activist video.

    Great job Ryan! I hope to continue to see stories of agriculture shared!

    June 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  19. Robin

    "According to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, 97 percent of cattle farms in this country are family owned and operated."

    That number is probably true, but more than 99% of all meat comes from inhumane factory farms, and all animals go to the same slaughter house. There is no such thing as a family owned humane slaughter house.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • What?

      "and all animals go to the same slaughter house" – really? And which one would that be? The one in Plainview, TX? The one in Liberal, KS? Or how about Green Bay, WI? Greeley, CO? Dakota City, NE? Amarillo, TX? Dodge City, KS? Ft. Morgan, CO? Or maybe it is one of the other several slaughterhouses around the country? Or maybe only one of these establishments works on any given day, so "all animals go to the same slaughter house", whichever one that may be, on that particular day?

      I'm going to assume you left out an adjective there somewhere, because you can't possibly be that naive. (Oh, by the way, at least one of the above list doesn't slaughter "fed" cattle, so you can mark it off the list if you can figure out which one it is.)

      June 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
      • Natalia

        Are you missing the point on purpose? It means that whether animals are raised in family farms or factory farms, they end up in the same places (each in the one nearest to the farm) and are killed the same way.
        There is no such thing as humane slaughter or slaughter done with tender loving care.

        June 19, 2012 at 3:40 am |
        • What?

          I'm going to use little words here, so you can keep up . . .

          When you take an animal to the vet for a 'procedure', the vet "puts them to sleep" prior to cutting on them, then cuts on them, and then they wake up – by design. When they are "put to sleep", they are RENDERED UNCONSCIOUS.

          When an animal is slaughtered – barring kosher and halal – they are RENDERED UNCONSCIOUS. The only differences are that fancy anesthesia isn't used and the animals don't wake up – again, by design. This isn't 'voluntary', people, this is the law, and it has been for over 50 years.

          June 19, 2012 at 8:24 am |
        • Bill-I-Am Shakespeare@What?

          To paraphrase, in the battle of wits, you are fighting the unarmed. Give it up before your heart attack overrides your Bayer aspirin supply.

          June 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
        • What?

          @ The Bard –

          Thank you for your concern. I really am "biting my tongue", for the most part, trying to hold back here, but it's getting harder. I look at it this way, though – if I can get just one person reading these responses to see through the half-truths, misinformation, and flat-out lies that are being dumped on the American public these days (including this thread) regarding meat production, then that's one person who is better educated in reality than there was. Maybe, at some point in their life, they can help somebody else see past the smoke-and-mirrors, too.

          June 19, 2012 at 10:36 am |
        • What?

          @ Ryan Goodman

          Ryan, I was not including the "article" when I mentioned 'this thread' in reference to all the 'junk' being passed off as "information" these days. The 'thread' consists solely of the responses. I wanted to clarify that. You did a find job with the article.

          June 19, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Paul W

      That's nuts. OF COURSE there is humane slaughter, and of course there are such family-owned plants. Veterinarians like me assure that animals are treated humanely. That doesn't mean treated like humans. It means handled in a manner that an evolved, thoughtful person, aware and educated on animal husbandry and physiology, deems adequate to minimize suffering. As already mentioned, slaughtering, when done correctly (and I'd estimate that it happens humanely at least 99% of time; in fact it is the USDA veterinary inspector's job to shut down a plant's operation if this is not the case– and they will do this!), does not cause the animal stress or anxiety. The animal is not aware of pending death, and literally/honestly/medically/scientifically don't feel it happen. Dr. Temple Grandin (Animal Science professor at ColoStateU, and a great movie was made about her a couple years ago) is an excellent advisor/opinion leader on this subject.

      June 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
      • Paul

        "Veterinarians" who work in slaughterhouses are the moral equivalent of the "physicians" who did "medical research" in concentration camps a few decades ago.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:29 am |
        • What?

          Maybe you should tell that to the federal government, who REQUIRES that a veterinarian be on-site at any slaughter facility producing meat to go into inter-state commerce to inspect each and every animal that is to be slaughtered to ensure that they are suitable for human consumption – otherwise they are CONDEMNED, and cannot go into the human food supply.

          June 21, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  20. melvynman

    No more beef for me anymore.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Rick

      I am surprised that no one has mentioned the GMO and antibiotic dangers associated with the mass production of meats in this world. A quick Youtube search on slaughterhouses will show the truth.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • rixy

      I am surprised that no one has mentioned the GMO and antibiotic dangers associated with the mass production of meats in this world. A quick Youtube search on slaughterhouses will show some shocking results. Be nice and yes this is a one sided argument.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • JohnBaxter2012

      You're choosing youtube as you source of information? I understand there are many anti-farm videos and articles out there, but instead of believing social media sites, please try to get reliable information from a farmer, the people that are actually producing the food. Domino's has it right, they don't buy into the lies put forth by certain activist groups, they get their true information from the farmers.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
      • intheknow

        Sadly, Youtube or scare documentaries are where many people are getting their information. Thank you Ryan for writing a well-written piece. As for feeding corn to cattle, I suggest you try an experiment. Release a group of cows where there have an equal opportnity to move either into a corn field (with mature corn) or a lush pasture of grasses. They will go to the corn field everytime. That tells me it is indeed a natural food choice. Despite what Michael Pollan may say, corn has been fed to finish cattle for well over 100 years. The biggest problem is cows will not self-limit. That is why farmers and feedlot operators spend millions of dollars on nutritionists to feed cattle in just the right way. There are a few bad operations which abuse the system and push cattle too fast to get them on the market ASAP. But they are the exception, not the rule. Don't paint all farmers with the same broad brush. It would be like saying all parents are child abusers, just because a few are. But we know that isn't true, because of course we all know good parents. Unforenately for farmers that is not the case. Most people don't know any farmers, so in the void of real information they look on YouTube.
        Please read what real farmers like Ryan have written. It is the truth, and he has no ulterior motive, no book to sell, no movie to market. He is just a farmer, going beyond his comfort zone to let the consumers know we are still here raising animals and producing food for our families and yours.

        June 19, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  21. Ellie, Nebraska Cowgirl

    Wow, I loved all the discussion here! As a 3rd generation cowgirl, I love the livestock we raise, and am very passionate about beef! That being said, I pass no judgement on your personal choices and would love to answer any questions (no matter how specific or silly you think they might be). Tweet me @Ellie_nebeefgal or visit I promise, no propaganda, just an honest point of view from a girl who has grown up raising cattle.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  22. Thegoodman

    "In this country, we are blessed with a great group of farmers who care for their animals and a food safety system to ensure things work properly"

    Haha. What a bunch of propaganda. This article is a shameful representation of the cattle industry in our country. CAFOs are not mentioned once. While it is true that the handful of farmers still personally handling cattle do it properly, the fact remains that most farmers have gotten out of the cattle business. Individuals cannot compete with the prices of business farming operations that have several million head of cattle.

    The beef industry is a thuggish cartel and they always have been, this prop piece is a great example of their attempts to untarnish their "good name". Oprah was sued for saying she doesn't like beef. BigBeef pays out millions of dollars a year to lobbyists to relax regulations and increase subsidies for corn/soybeans, among other things that benefit their monopoly.

    Unless you personally know the farmer, don't buy beef. If you really want some beef, go meet a farmer and make friends with a butcher to get yourself and your family a cleaner, healthier product. You will pay more, but quality has a price (and you wont find it on a $1 menu).

    June 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Brett

      Your comments, although not based on any factual information, bring up a wonderful point of view. This is the misinformation that we struggle with everyday. 90%of cattle that go into our food supply start out in small ( less than 100 head) cow calf operations. These operations are managed by local farmers and ranchers. I'm not saying that the finishing and slaughter of cattle is not big business just stating that cattle are only in so called CAFOs for around 90 to 120 days of their lives. The rest of their lives are spent in wheat fields, fields of corn stalks, or in my case very dry pastures in SW Arkansas.
      The lobbist that you speak of are not paid for by big business either. Every rancher pays a fee when they sell cattle that goes to the beef check off program and the largest farm lobbying group in the US is Farm Bureau which is funded through individual farmers and rancher 35 dollar yearly membership fee and donations.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
      • Thegoodman

        Of course calves are not born in CAFOs, I never implied that they were. The last 90-120 days you mention may be one full half of the animals life. CAFOs contribute greatly to unhealthy/unsanitary meat and pollution. The days leading up to slaughter are important and have many effects on the quality of meat and a lot of beef is finished in CAFOs where the livestock stand in manure up to their knees that is literally considered toxic waste due to all of the antibiotics and other chemicals that are a byproduct of industrial farming.

        A quick Google search will result in literally dozens of organizations that lobby to positively influence public and government opinion of the industrial farming industry. If the good old fashioned "down on the farm" corner of America is such a paradise, why must millions of dollars be spent each year convincing us of that?

        I come from a rural area in Indiana and in the past 30 years a vast majority of farmers have gotten out of livestock because the industrial farming process had driven the price of meat below the cost of operations for small guy taking product from calf/piglet/egg to slaughter. Their options were get big or get out, most got out. We now have cheap meat (in every sense of the word) that is worse for us, worse for the animals, and worse for the environment. The good news is that companies like Cargo-MacMillan have a dozen family members each worth over $1 billion dollars. God Bless the free market!

        June 19, 2012 at 9:11 am |
        • What?

          Sir – you really ought to quit before you get farther behind. I quote: "The last 90-120 days you mention may be one full half of the animals life." Are you serious? Since you're making reference to grain-finishing here, you must be talking about "fed" cattle, which are slaughtered at a weight somewhere north – usually way north – of 1200 lbs. Have you ever seen a calf that reached 1200 lbs in 8 months? 10 months? 12 months? You, like another poster who will remain unnamed, don't have a flipping clue what you're talking about.

          June 19, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  23. Been There

    Lots of comments here attempting to either write the gentlemen’s article off as a PR stunt, or trying to counter the argument of how beef is produced with “facts” that appear to be more like misinformed opinions or closed-minded rants of what some may think is fact. Not that people aren’t entitled to their opinions, but perhaps a little open-mindedness and humility before posting would serve some people on here well. The first point I will make is that those who are calling for more specific information than what the article gives should realize that there is so much more to beef production than what could be outlined in any article. Farmers spend their entire lives learning about it, and like anything, new ideas and technology make for an ongoing learning process. Those who scoff at the fact that there are separate types of degrees in beef production all the way up to PhD should realize this. The article was limited on space, as is any article, and the author was obviously trying to give general points to spark interest and then invite people to engage in further discussion via his blog, social media, and others where you can converse directly with other real-live producers to both speak your piece, and perhaps learn some facts that you can ponder further as they speak their piece. To some of those people that didn’t get this point from the article, I offer a great big “DUH!” Now for some of the other issues that some people outside of the industry claim to be informed about:

    Antibiotics: Like everyone reading this, cattle are vaccinated for certain diseases and sickness early in their life and again later in life when entering the feeding process. When you were born you were vaccinated for things like measles, mumps, rubella, etc, to name a few. Prior to starting school and put together with lots of other kids, you received a booster of these vaccinations. Right? Or at least your parents SHOULD have had you vaccinated if you weren’t. No different when it comes to livestock. Likewise when you get sick, let’s say a bacterial infection like strep throat, what do you do? You go to seek treatment via antibiotics to fight the illness because without it, your body likely cannot fight off certain sicknesses on its own. Likewise when cattle get sick. You can’t cure bovine sickness by offering them a blanket and bowl of chicken soup. Without treatment and provision of antibodies to fight the illness, they will suffer and die. Producers do not like to see the animals suffer any more than you do, plus if they die, the farmer (businessperson) loses money. Antibiotics are not pumped into animals for no reason. If you think otherwise, better check your facts and all the more reason to connect with a producer. They are vaccinated ahead of time, and treated to improve their health only when they become sick.

    Waste: You can’t potty-train these animals. They go on the ground at any given moment when the feel the urge. However in nearly all feedlots, they first must meet STRICT environmental guidelines. I say “nearly” because I cannot vouch for 100% for sure. Waste management systems and permits cost thousands of dollars, and in the largest of operations, millions of dollars. That’s before they even begin the production process. These operations work every day to remove waste from facilities both by mechanical process of literally scraping it up and hauling it out and by highly ENGINEERED (this is a type of advanced degree) drainage systems to relocate the waste to holding facilities for later removal and use as fertilizer. Sometimes it rains, and as you know, water and dirt make mud. There might be manure still there due to continual animal urges, but again, it is promptly removed by one or more of the processes I describe in fairly short order. Again, all heavily enforced and inspected by environmental regulators to ensure compliance and safety for waste management, runoff, contamination prevention, etc. I can take you out to facilities right now where you can walk among the cattle in your Sunday shoes and not get much more than a light coat of dust on them as long as you avoid the freshly made “pies” here and there. Leaving the waste in the facility promotes bad health and disease in the cattle also. Refer to my point above, that producers do everything in their power to prevent disease, discomfort, etc, which if left unchecked, would result in poor health, poor performance in the production of beef, and therefore loss of money to the business. There are facts out there that support the claim that lawns in urban areas are far more “contaminated” with both commercial fertilizers and pet wastes on a per acre basis than can even come close in rural America. Think about that the next time you let Fido out the back door to do his business and spread 75 lbs of miracle grow on your small plot of lawn grass. By the way, there are advanced degrees available in waste management all by itself, believe it or not, and there is a demand for jobs for those with said degrees.

    Diet: The bovine’s natural diet is forage and other plant materials. This includes corn. Corn is an efficient energy source for converting that energy into beef. Now with more ethanol production (green), the distillers byproduct is an even better feed source. Plus, cattle simply love it because it tastes good. The feedlot operator pays big bucks to have the services of a nutritionist who does literally the same thing to ensure a healthy diet for the cattle as your dietician does in the city for you. There is one difference, however, cattle nutrition is geared toward maximizing weight gain in a short time, whereas your diet is to prevent weight gain. But let’s be real here, if the cattle don’t gain weight, there is no beef. So if that’s the case, we need to produce the beef as efficiently as possible because aside from you vegans or other types of non-meat eaters (which is fine—that’s your choice), there’s a lot of demand for it worldwide and a lot of mouths to feed. Also, the producer is in it to make money to continue the business, just like your supermarket in the city, or the Foot Locker who sells you your Nike Jordan’s-they want to make money and will take whatever measures necessary to improve their efficiency.

    Torture: I can honestly say that I have been in livestock facilities that are cleaner than the way I have seen some people live in their house. There are some households in this country that are just plain gross. A true livestock producer will ensure clean facilities and comfort of the animals. Yes, some livestock stands outdoors their entire life. They were built to do so. There is a reason you don’t see cattle in a climate controlled, air conditioned environment. Refer to my comments on disease above if you don’t know why. However, for cases of extreme heat, feeding operations spend thousands of dollars for cooling systems (water sprinklers) to keep cattle cool. Yep, that makes mud, too. When it comes time for slaughter, much research and investment dollars into research have been spent to ensure that the animals suffer as little as possible, if at all when the slaughter process begins. Yep, it’s inflicting death on the animals to recover the beef. If left in the “wild” let’s say, do you think these animals will die a peaceful, painless death if left to disease and predators? If you think so, you are horribly wrong. Watch a nature show as a cheetah kills a wildebeest and tell me if you think that is how livestock should be left to live (and die).

    What I have described here is merely the tip of the iceberg. Now, like the article mentions, if you want more specifics from firsthand producers, do what the article requests and connect with a farmer either via social media or better yet, in person where you can look them in the eye, shake their hand, and at least have an appreciation for what they do even if you disagree with it. Just because there are things people do in this world that you disagree with, doesn’t make them bad people, or what they do bad.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Autumn

      Feedlots are poorly run and the animals are all but tortured by being fed grains and at one point animals (Mad Cow Disease fun). Feedlots are factories nothing more. They are creating Frankencows by the millions and pushing prices up so high that the meat section of the supermarket tells the tale. Feedlots are poison and need to be shut down. Animals live in their own filth and mud. I do not buy ANY meat from any supermarket because of the way Tyson and Cargil torture animals. I buy from a local farmer who sells his meat through Grasshopper. His cows are in fields of grass on a sustainable farm. We need to return to the old way of doing things, kids weren't growing boobs at age 10 because of chemicals and hormones they use to make the cows grow like weeds.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
      • Been There

        Cattle have been grain fed for decades due to advances in nutrition and performance. I grew up feeding cattle, my family still feeds cattle, and I work with producers every day. Your fantasy about factory farms torturing animals is what is misinformed. You can't believe every you tube video you see. Your comments prove the point of people needing get acquainted with producers. How can you call me a liar when I work in that industry that has just begun to get the truth out there (our own fault we didn't start sooner.) And by the way, 10 your kids growing boobs is a direct result of sitting on their rear end playing video games, watching too much TV, and eating hot pockets like there is no tomorrow. Come on out here to rural America where young people learn to work hard and have responsibility at an early age, and the reason they have boobs at a young age is because they are buff with solid muscle, and do more work by 9 am any given day than most people accomplish all day, sometimes all week. Just as my name implies–I've been there!

        June 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
        • tannim

          First, antibiotics =/= vaccines. That by itself undermines Been There by illustrating a lack of simple knowledge that is taught in elementary school.

          Second, the "10 kids growing boobs" argument is blaoney, because it ignores the large increase in dietary phytoestrogens that are passed on through CAFO cattle and their GMO soy feed. They are also passed on through the over-proliferation of GMO soy in processed foods. The hormone imbalance that results causes that and other health problems. Not to mention the pesticide factory that GMOs cerate in GI tracts of both cattle and human. BTW, GMO-fed dairy cows screw up the milk as well.

          Third, the majority of cattle-borne pathogens are due to CAFO operations being so unsanitary. Cattle were never meant to be fed in feedlots; they are grazers. CAFO operations are not better for the beef quality–it is just cheaper and more convenient for the growers.

          CAFO beef is vastly inferior to GFGF beef, and GMO-fed cattle is vastly inferior to organic cattle.

          Sorry, but Been There is missing a lot of animal science and how it is and should be done. So says this guy, whose family has been farming in this nation since the 1830s and in the Old Country in Prussia and the Netherlands before that.

          June 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
        • Been There

          (Had to reply to my own comment since for some reason it didn't give me a link to reply to tannim)

          Well Mr. Tannim, your first sentence is wrong. Look up the definition of vaccine and that of antibiotic. For someone who has been in the business so long, you would think you would have a better understanding of the terms and what they do.

          To quote Wikipedia:

          A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and "remember" it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters.

          An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.[1] The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic(s); today, however, with increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases, antibiotic(s) has come to denote a broader range of antimicrobial compounds, including antifungal and other compounds.[

          Conclusion: Vaccine DOES NOT equal Antibiotics.

          June 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
        • Been There

          And, Mr. Tannim and all of those painting GM products with a broad brush, I suggest you look at the journal articles cited in the summary information below....that being from an animal scientist from a University in the Midwest. Take a look:

          Q: How are cows physically effected by the genetically modified corn? What are the pros and cons of feeding them genetically modified corn versus an organic diet? How is the meat and dairy effected by the genetically modified corn and what are the pros and cons? (November 19, 2010)

          A: We have assessed feeding of GMO grain and grain residue to beef cattle in a few studies that are available online. These are attached as journal articles. To answer your question, the GMO grain and stalks appear to be nutritionally equivalent. It is important that any comparisons are made to a hybrid that has the same genetic background except for the GMO traits.

          Therefore, with the GMO that are available today, these only have agronomic (albeit important) postives or advantages. There is no effect on cattle or end use. If specific GMO are developed with nutritionally enhanced traits, then that could change. That is not available today, though. There are no cons in terms of crop or livestock production. The cons would all be consumer perception.

          There are a couple of Journal Articles that are related to your question.

          J Animal Science 2003.81:2600-2608

          J Animal Science 2005.83:2829-2834

          June 18, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
        • Been There

          I've got more, Mr. tannim and any others out there that need some help....... You want animal science? You got it! Do a quick google search of various university animal science studies both on feeding GMO feed ingredients (see my above post that directs you to some journals of animal science publications as a result of various studies), and while I won't argue that grass fed beef does have its place and has merit to it, I can find studies that show 1) grass fed beef is lower in tenderness and acceptability by the general public, and to even quote one study "......grass fed beef producers in this niche market know this and are responding by genetic selection." GASP genetic selection, I repeat, genetic selection... among grass fed feeders in order to combat less desirable meat as indicated by the consumer. Again, I have nothing against grass fed, but you want scientific facts, so here they are. 2) myth....grass fed is greener for society than corn fed in terms of carbon footprint. Well, let's see....."Methane, an implicated greenhouse gas, accounts for a 3 to 12% loss of feed gross energy in cattle. This loss is greatest for cattle consuming forage-based diets and decreases with increasing amounts of concentrate included in the diet. A quick search on methane.......... explains that replacement of forage with dried distillers grains reduces ruminal methane production." 3) some say natural is better......Hmmmmm. "Media reports and activist rhetoric would lead beef consumers to believe that the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials can spur the development of resistance genes in humans making it more difficult to fight human illnesses. Several layers of protection are in place today in the beef industry that gives us a safe food supply."

          All these things quoted are from ONE university study summary among many others out there.

          June 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
      • Been There

        Oh and buy the way again, you need to go back and review your economic law of supply and demand, if you even had such a thing in your education. If producers are increasing supply, that will not be the cause of prices going up as you imply. Supplies of beef are on a general increase, yes, due to efficiency of feeding and weight gain in cattle. But you forgot that demand is also out there, and the supply is being gobbled up faster than it can be produced. Countries like China are getting a taste of our way of life, and their appetite for proteins (meat) and sugar are increasing sharply, just as one example.

        June 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
        • Logan

          Yes and heart disease and diabetes are rising in China as a direct result of adopting the American diet. Forget all the emotional BS arguments littering this and numerous other threads, as well as all the oversimplification of the issues involved in nutrition, genetic modification, etc. Review the science of Caldwell B. Esslestein Jr., MD and T. Colin Cambell, PhD. No emotion, simply 2 scientists arriving at the same conclusions working from the clinical and research directions. You'll probably dismiss my comments and imply I am lacking in intelligence, but at least take a few minutes to check out their findings and keep an open mind. These are not crackpots, there science is sound and supported. Hopefully, a few people will take a look at their work with an open mind, but for all the others...bash away.

          June 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
        • Logan

          oops...their science is sound...though, apparently, my typing skills are not...

          June 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Thegoodman

      Bovine eat grass, not grains. You are a liar or you are ill informed.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
      • What?

        Mr. Goodman

        Please tell us what "grains" are, and then proceed to tell us why bovines don't eat them. I, for one, would really like to know the answer.

        June 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
        • What?

          Any of you ever notice how it's the ones who make the boldest, most absolute statements who almost always have NOTHING with which to back them up? It's really easy to sit back and run off at the mouth (or keyboard, in this case) when nobody is saying anything back. It gets a little tougher when they have to support the bullspit that they spout.

          June 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
        • What?

          @ "Thegoodman"

          Since you apparently are unable to address my request for 'clarification' about grains, I will address it for you. Here is your very brief lesson in Plant Science 101 for this morning:

          You state that cattle won't eat "grains". By this, I assume you are referring to corn, but since you made it plural, you must be including other things, as well. Oats? Wheat? These are common 'grains', so I will assume these are also on your "list" of things bovines won't eat. Corn, wheat, oats, rice, barley, and rye all fall into a category known as "cereal" grains. You should recognize most of these, as they are the 'grains' that are commonly used to make bread and breakfast cereals, as well as being the "staple" foods in many parts of the world. There's a funny thing about 'cereal grains' that you may find bothersome – they are all grasses. Just like fescue, orchardgrass, timothy, and any number of other forage plants are grasses. "Grains" happen to be somewhat unique because they store more starch in their seeds than other grasses do. Lesson over.

          Now, let's assume that "grains" are just the seeds of the plants. By your logic, since cattle won't eat "grains", they wouldn't eat the seeds of the fescue, orchardgrass, timothy, and whatever else they happened to be munching on at the time. Really? I know that I have personally seen many a bovine go through a pasture and carefully nip the seed head off of a 'grass' stem and spit it out before continuing to eat only the stem and the leaf – well, not really. I'm sure that you have seen this, though. If not, go look for it the next time you see cattle grazing in a pasture. Take a lunch with you, though, and you better take a supper, too, because you're going to be there a long time.

          And, while we're at it, did you know that cattle also browse on trees? No? Well, welcome to reality, sir. Maybe you've learned something today, so you won't be as "ill-informed". (Note: They won't eat all trees, just like they won't eat all grass.)

          June 19, 2012 at 11:08 am |
        • Been There

          By the way, Mr./Ms. What?, Thank YOU for your insights and well written posts!!!!!! I appreciate your way of explaining things very much!

          June 20, 2012 at 12:06 am |
      • Been There

        Fact in Cattle nutrition 101: Cattle will eat any balanced ration you put in front of them. I have seen operations that include things like factory reject hamburger buns (yes bread) from a nearby Wonder factory that have been healthy and gained well. Not moldy, mind you, but just under standards for them to send it out their door to supermarkets. Another I have seen has fed reject Wrigley chewing gum as part of their ration. I stress as PART of the ration of normal roughage and protein supplement and grain.

        You know it's funny. You say the won't eat grain (I assume you mean corn). Yet of all the cattle I have personally fed and my family continues to feed, they still seem to come to the bunk ready to eat when the feed is delivered to them every day, and they lick the bunk clean every time.

        We'll see who is lying or misinformed, friend.

        June 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
        • Thegoodman

          They WILL eat corn/buns/gum/garbage, just like a baby will eat ice cream all day if you feed it to them. That doesn't mean that they should eat it.

          Their bodies are built for a diet that has very little diversity and they are naturally lean animals. When they are fed fatty unhealthy foods you get fatty unhealthy meat. It is not complicated. Bovine have evolved to have a diet entirely of pasture. Fatty grains such as corn and soybeans were not a part of this evolution and are not good for the animal.

          June 19, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
        • Been There

          Well, Thegoodman, you seem to have it all figured out. You must have a degree in animal (particularly cattle) nutrition. (I highly doubt it.)

          I encourage you to read Ryan's post further up that he posted today to answer some questions about feeding corn. And at the risk of repeating information I put in some posts earlier, do yourself a favor and look up various studies by Universities such as Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, and others about grass fed vs. corn fed. Grass fed has its place, but by and large, the desirable choice dictated by the CONSUMER is corn fed. That is the common theme you will find in those studies. Don't take my word for it....seriously, go look it up! Oh, and while you're at it, those same universities also have multiple studies of feeding GM ingredients (not just corn, but also forage) vs non-GM, and they ALL come up with the same conclusion.....GM vs non-GM results in NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in the health of the animal, quality of meat produced, weight gain, and on and on. In fact some of them go so far as to say the only negative thing about GM feed ingredients is the FALSE, negative perception of the public due to the interest groups such as HSUS and PETA. Go to those schools websites, read several studies, then come back here and post your findings.

          June 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
      • Lindy

        I used to own a horse. I know it's not related to a cow but I'm assuming they'd eat the same things. They would eat themselves to death in a grain field if given the chance. Mine did.

        June 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  24. Chicago lover

    All of this discussion and concern about eating dead cows can be easily solved. Eat them while they are alive. They will taste better if you cut off a slab and put it directly on the grill.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  25. Primal 4 Life

    Grain fed feedlot beef is worthless, period. Grass fed and finished beef is superior in every possible way and when done correctly is also good for the environment around them.

    Google Joel Salatin or Polyface Farm for more information on framing cattle correctly.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Ohio Farmer

      Your an idiot,
      My Family has raised grain fed Angus Beer for 95 years.
      We have have a family owned meat shop for 85 years which serves our entire community.
      We feed our cattle 100% corn silage. Always have and always will.
      You can disagree if you want. You may have to explain it though to our 10,000 customers and all of our Grand Champion awards from the Ohio Association of Meat Processors.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • Thegoodman

        You and your family have been supplying your community with a subpar product for 95 years. The longevity of your disservice does not make it legit. Marbling may win you prizes, but it also gets you meat that is fatty and less healthy.

        June 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
        • What?

          This coming from a professed vegan, who, by definition, doesn't even eat meat? But you are able to make the pronouncement that "Ohio Farmer" is supplying a 'subpar' product. Hmmm, so what is 'par'? And how are you – a strict non-meat eater – able to make the determination as to what is 'par' or not? You must admit that this is the apex of hypocrisy. (No, you can't see that far.)

          June 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
        • Thegoodman


          Awww, so the hater is unveiled. You don't like vegans. I understand why you are giving me such a hard time now. I have been a vegan for just 5 months. I am a vegan for several reasons, the most important being that it is much much healthier than the latter. A well balanced vegan diet decreases your chances of getting any of the numerous afflictions that plague our country including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and countless other things. The second reason is that I do not trust the meat industries in our country. The meat produced today is less healthy than 30 years ago due to fat content, hormones, antibiotics, e.coli, etc. The third is that I do not like contributing to the outrageously inefficient industrial farming process that gets meat on our plates. The amount of fossil fuels wasted on meat production is shameful and I want no part in it. Those are the reasons. I enjoy the taste of meat. I have no qualms over an animal losing its life to feed us. I made a red wine braised beef short ribs 7 months ago and it was delicious.

          I said the grain fed beef that the supplier gives to his community is subpar because countless scientific studies have shown grain fed beef to be inferior to grass fed beef, as far as nutrition is concerned. Taste is completely objective and I am sure many people prefer the fat content of grain fed beef. People also love to eat 2000 calories and zero nutrition from McDonalds, that doesn't mean its good for them.

          I think food is the vehicle to provide our body with the things it needs to live a long healthy life. Many Americans think food is only there to provide our taste buds with pleasure. This is why our country is fat, out of shape, and in terrible health. Suppliers like the mentioned ohio farmer are as guilty as the consumer for choosing taste over health, unfortunately we are all paying for it.

          June 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
        • What?

          @ Thegoodman –

          No, sir, I don't "hate" vegans. Not at all. Vegans have made a choice that happens to not include any animal products. That's fine. More power to you. It's not a choice I will make, given the option. But then, that's really the entire point, we do all have options (barring some severe medical condition), don't we?

          What I don't like is when – let's just be honest here – extremist vegans or other a"holier than thou" anti-animal types start 1) telling those of us who happen to eat meat tell us that we are wrong or try to portray us as somehow less of a human being for our choice or 2) start running off at the mouth about things that they know nothing about, and make ABSOLUTE statements as if they are 'experts'. I never even implied that "you are a bad person", or that the choice you had made was wrong, but simply that the 'information' you posted was absolutely wrong (grains vs. grass, "half their life [at 4 months]" in a feedlot) and that you, as a vegan, weren't qualified to "judge" what was a "par" vs. "sub-par" meat product. If you are a recent 'convert', then I stand corrected about "opinion" regarding grass-fed vs. grain-fed – "my bad". But I stand firmly on the other two subjects, and I will repeat – you don't know what you are talking about. "Hating" has nothing to do with it.

          June 20, 2012 at 7:15 am |
      • Primal 4 Life

        It's you're an idiot genius, not your. You have zero credibility, period.


        June 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
      • Primal 4 Life

        BTW you are free to run your operation they way you see fit, however, I would never buy the garbage you pass off to your customers. Grain makes cows sick, period.

        Grass fed and finished beef is superior to your product in every possible way.

        June 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
      • Paul

        Wow, if you got awards from the Ohio Association of Meat Producers, you must be doing something right.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  26. Beau Ciel

    My husband and I bought a 16,000 acre ranch in Arizona, upon my husband's retirement from investment banking. We run 200+ cattle on the ranch and have learned in the past 9 years about ranching, range management, the weather and it's effect on our operations, and so much more! Trust me, we now know that cattle ranchers (not feedlots) are dependent on the health of their rangelands to sustain their own livelihood. If they allow overgrazing or if the rains don't come, they have to sell their cattle, and they have no income the following year. Cattle ranching is a long term lifestyle that requires more hands on management than most people realize.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Thanks for sharing Beau. There's always more than one way to get the job done. It's amazing how much the landscape and environment change from one end of this country to the other. Those changes dictate how farms and ranches are managed, but that is a common theme we all share. We have to take care of our environment first, and only then will it take care of us.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Andy Hope

      We are also constanrly learning more about managing our environment and farming/ranching in a more sustainable way. Over the years we have learned to study the symbiotic relationships between the soils, plants and mammals which graze and brows on the foliage, the result has been the development of Holistic Management on range lands thrughout the world, resulting in improved grass cover, better water cycles and the return of much of the native wildlife, while improving production.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  27. Sam

    I have done much research on this subject including visiting many fantastic local farmers who do it right in my community. I am also acquainted with the director of the farmland preservation program in my area.
    Lets be real this piece is pure propaganda. Had this been from a family farmer I would understand, but coming from the owner of the second biggest feedlot in the country? This is big business and this guy is protecting himself and a few others. Farmers have been forced, because of agribusiness to use inhumane,unhealthy, BUT economically efficient practices.

    GMOs, environmental degradation, dirty air/water, global warming, human health, antibiotics, hormones, and the suffering of millions of animals is not something one article can gloss over. If this article satisfies your concerns I fear for the future of this world.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Thanks for the comment Sam.

      I am actually a student and part of a farming family, not an owner of any feedlot. You are right about the fact that in no way can this post satisfy curiosity about all farming practices. That's why I chose to point out the need for better communication from both sides. There's more to farming than a hand full of posts could ever cover. That's why a number of folks in agriculture are sharing our stories continuously through blogs and social media. Do a search for farmer blogs and you'll find them.

      I share my story constantly on the blog listed at the top. If you have any direct concerns, contact me through the links listed with a message and I'll be more than happy to answer your questions.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:14 am |
      • Andy Hope

        I am living and managing in the UK at present, there are several very good initiatives in place, this past weekend was "Open farm Sunday" where an increasing number of farmers open their farms for the day and give tours of their farms to visitors from the cities, as well as informative tours and talks, country style entertainment is provided to make for an entertaining day out, covered by a small entry fee. We also had the national BBQ championships two weeks ago, with tours and and education centre on site, and we host regular school tours throughout the summer.

        June 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
        • Ryan Goodman

          Glad ya mentioned that Andy. Sounds like a pretty cool event.

          Across the U.S. we have programs called Ag In The Classroom to introduce agriculture to students so they may begin learning about agriculture and food at an early age. I wrote about one event here in Tennessee where we brought all the area 3rd graders to the farm for a day. We had different stations for crops and types of agriculture from across the state. Here's a link to that post – It was fun showing the kids around and the parents had many questions as well.

          June 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  28. mizvaldes

    Thank you, Ryan, for this informative piece. Thanks to CNN for giving you this forum. Super interesting stuff.

    June 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  29. Oscar Pitchfork

    It's only the effete snobs and the unthinking modernists that have a problem with eating animals. They act like the slaughtering process is some newfangled, purposely-barbaric process whereby the neadnderthal in all of us can revel at memories of a time gone by. It has only been in the post WW2 years that the advent of suburbia and the supermarket has removed the actual origins of meat, and produce alike from the collective minds of most average people.Before that, everyone had a closer tie to the farm and had no problem whatsoever with the food-chain process.

    June 18, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • sam stone

      "It's only the effete snobs and the unthinking modernists that have a problem with eating animals."

      I have been a vegetarian for 33 years. I am neither an effete snob or an unthinking modernist. I got no problem with others eating whatever they choose. I simply choose not to

      June 18, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Fiona

      You lost everyone - and devalued anything else you had to say - with "elite snobs and unthinking modernists ".

      Reasons for choosing vegetarianism or veganism: ethics (you have learned about how the animals are raised, handled and slaughtered and you have –after much thought - decided those methods are unacceptably cruel and unethical), religion ( some Buddhists, Hindus, Seventh Day Adventists, and another Christian sect...and perhaps other I am unaware of), health, and concern for the environment.

      Hardly "unthinking" or snobbish. Now go back to playing with your belly button lint.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:17 am |
      • Fiona

        *effete. (even Autocorrect though your word choice absurd)

        June 18, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Darby

      Your insulting response to those who don't eat dead animals would be better received if you didn't hide behind the alias "Oscar Pitchfork". I don't care if farm animals are given daily spa treatments, the ultimate intention is to slaughter them. Society has evolved since the agrarian days of old. We can choose to live healthy non-violent lives. We don't have to kill animals in order to live.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:26 am |
      • Primal 4 Life

        For you, however, you have NO RIGHT whatsoever to impose that thinking on anyone else, period.

        I will always eat animal products and nothing you can ever say or do will change that. Properly raised animal products are excellent sources of nutrition.

        June 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
        • sam stone

          How is expressing an opinion an imposition? Don't you express an opinion?

          June 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
        • Ari

          I agree, I love steak & the protein cannot be matched by non-meat options. My children love it too by the way, med-rare.

          June 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
      • I

        yea darby, stfu

        June 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • The name is Troll, Pat Troll

      Trollin' trollin' trollin',
      Keep them doggies trollin',
      Tho' the threads are flowin'

      June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Lindy

      effete snobs and the unthinking modernists.............. so, that's what the 13 year olds are that are the latest ones giving up meat.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  30. JR

    We met 2 people who own ranches in CA on vacation. I was talking with one of them, and she said that if you ever visited a slaughterhouse you would likely never eat meat again. Hmmmm.....and this comment is from a rancher!

    June 18, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • JR

      I mean that the comment came from a rancher not the post.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • What?

      One of the biggest contributing factors to the entire food "debate" – regardless of what is being discussed – has been the movement of our society from an agricultural/subsistence culture to an urban/city setting. A hundred years ago, there was a considerably larger portion of the U.S. population that "farmed", even if it was only growing their own vegetable garden. Those with a garden would have 'canned' most of their "excess" produce to preserve it, so that it could be safely eaten long after the growing season was over. (There would have been little electricity available in large portions of the U.S., so freezing would have been almost unknown in the average home.) It was quite common for them to raise and slaughter their own "meat", whatever that would have been. In addition to this – and even if they didn't raise their own meat animals – many people hunted for wild game. This wasnt' done to get a "trophy" to hang on the wall; this was done to either provide meat or to supplement the other meat that was available. These people – men, women, boys and girls – learned how to slaughter and butcher their own meat, whether it was livestock or wild game. To these people, seeing and even taking part in the slaughter of an animal would have been a 'routine' occurrence, even though it would have happened infrequently. The "urbanization" of most of our populace has removed people from this setting and from these experiences. It is reasonable to state that over half of the U.S. population is at least two generations, if not more, removed from this process.

      I say all this to make this point – if one "grew up" in a setting where providing your own meat was common, there would not be too much that would be 'disturbing' in a slaughterhouse. If, however, one has never experienced firsthand what happens when an animal is slaughtered, it could be a difficult experience – that is not to say that it is bad, it's just to say that it's very different than what the majority of Americans have experienced before.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Ari

      My ex-boyfriend used to work in a slaughterhouse and he still ate meet.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • tannim

      I have and I do. It's no big deal when one understands that meat has to be processed from the animal to the plate, be it covered in fur, feather, or fin.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  31. rm

    you write "join a discussion to learn about how food is grown and what we can do to make things better? If you do not know how to find them, I would be glad to help through the social media networks I have built"
    .....Please tell me how to connect to these social media networks having meaningful discussions about our food and farming practices. I want to give support to organic farmers and growers of livestock that have a conscious about humane treatment of animals who give their lives to support our existence. And, become more inform as the to challenges of farming with these practices.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Thanks for the comment rm. Send me a message through my Facebook page or blog listed above and I'll help you find what you're looking for.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  32. Mike

    I grew up in Texas...been to many farms and a couple of slaughterhouses. Believe me when I tell you that the animals are mistreated. They're beaten, whipped, chained and dragged to the chute. Then an airhammer smacks them in the skull, usually, but not always, killing them. However, killed or just stunned, they are hung up by a chain, bled dry, skinned, and processed. Thousand of times a day, every day. So you can take your "I must eat meat" and your "mmmm...subway" comment and stick em straight up your rectum. If you think about what you're eating, how it got there, and have even a small amount of soul, you stop.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • Primal 4 Life

      Absolute rubbish. You can take your condescending morality and shove it the same place you suggested.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • Paul

        Which part of what he said is "rubbish"?

        June 21, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Ally

      Mike, I grew up in Wisconsin and have been to many farms. None of which included the things that you mentioned in your post. The rational part of me knows that some places abuse animals and some places don't. My solution is to buy from sources I know that are doing it right.

      And even though you seem to think you're more moral than I am just because you don't eat meat; I'll point out that there may be any number of other "moral" issues that I choose to make a priority in my life which you don't. How could either of us think we're better than the other for a single choice?

      June 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  33. ma & pa

    Frankensteer, if you choose to believe the Netflix films are credible reality, you should see films of reality going on in New York where this giant ape, King Kong, has been witnessed running amuk cilmbing the Empire State Buildings exterior with a beautiful woman clutched in his grasp while grabbing at airplanes. Maybe you can stop him. He,s King Kong and it's all on film so you surely can believe it's true.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Primal 4 Life

      Frankensteer is a highly accurate and very informative documentary. Well worth the hour it takes to watch.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  34. argalifilms

    This article is PR junk. I read it hoping to get some insight into beef production since I do eat it and care a great deal about where my food comes from. I value and respect the people who produce the food I eat but please don't waste my time with useless fluff pieces like this. Blah blah, good people, blah blah a couple of bad apples. Come on, let us know what you're feeding them, how they're treated, processed, sold and shipped. We all know the cattle is drawing the short straw here, no need to avoid the details entirely.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Anne

      If you are interested in seeing how cattle are raised in a feed yard in Central Nebraska, then please visit my blog site where I talk about how I care for my cattle and raise beef. Thanks for being interested in "where your beef comes from" and I hope you enjoy my site.


      June 18, 2012 at 10:03 am |
      • Lindy

        Do you happen to have veal? My neighbour went to see her son-in-law's veal farm that he was very proud of. She never ate veal again.

        June 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
        • Anne

          Hi Lindy,

          No, I do not raise any veal. I only grow beef cattle.

          Thanks for stopping by.

          June 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
        • Anne

          Hi Lindy:

          I do not have any veal. I only feed older cattle that are raised for beef. Thanks for stopping by to ask.


          June 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Ally

      The author of this piece has his contact info at the top of the article. Including his blog, which addresses quite a few of the things you mentioned.

      I also contacted him via Facebook to ask additional questions and he was very helpful.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  35. ma & pa

    Humans are omnivores, needing the nutrients supplied by meat for optimum vitality. Vitamin B-12 is one that helps keep heart and mind strong, especially as we get older. You need not take our word for it but check the many years worth of studies on the subject and let truth replace opinion.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  36. Calm Down

    Wow! Over a fifth of the people that read this article are farmers? I guess that means have a pepper plant outside in a pot counts as farming...?

    June 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • tannim

      And what do you know of farmming at all? I was driving IH combines at age 7 and balers same year. Do you even know how those even work?

      June 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
      • Calm Down

        Hey – I know very little about farming. I was in 4-H as a kid (raised pigs and auctioned them, shot riflery and archery, etc) but work in a different field currently.

        I was just surprised at the percent of people who voted "I am a farmer". Sheesh relax.

        June 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  37. Fiona

    Even the "kindest" rancher of beef cattle brands with hot iron, castrates, dehorns without pain relief. Even the "kindest" rancher sends those animals for whom he "does not accept cruel treatment" on sometimes days-long trips via crowded cattle truck to shadeless feedlots. There his treasured animals will be fed food inappropriate for their digestive systems and be made to stand on mountains of their own gloppy waste, crowded together with acres (in some cases square miles) of equally tortured animals. From there, these beloved bovines will be trucked to assembly-line slaughterhouses, where cows will be - every single day, and many times a day at every single slaughterhouse - inadequately stunned and peeled alive, have legs cut off while alive, be eviscerated while alive.

    This is not "the media" version of things. It is the truth.

    You eat beef, you eat suffering. You support suffering. Farmers/ranchers of beef are part of this.

    June 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • What?

      I'm sure you mean well – well, you mean something, but you could make an attempt to be truthful. All ranchers brand with hot irons . . . really? I don't think so. The subject of shipping has already been addressed – including the mandatory de-boarding with food and water and a minimum 5 hrs rest period.

      And if you can provide proof of animals being skinned and eviscerated alive, please do. Especially "many times a day at every single slaughterhouse". I suppose you have spent multiple days at every slaughter plant in the U.S. to be able to make a statement like this, yes? Have you ever worked on a slaughter line? Have you ever even seen a slaughter line? I'm willing to bet "no" to all of the above, but please enlighten us if I'm wrong.

      June 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • mmi16

      Fiona – your talking like you were inadequately stuned

      June 18, 2012 at 12:51 am |
      • Benn

        Post in English, mmi16. "You're talking like you were inadequately ... " Stoned, stewed, stunted or something else?

        June 18, 2012 at 7:01 am |
        • Ally

          It was a sentence from Fiona's original post. "stunned".

          June 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • What?

      Since you won't – and can't – defend your statements, I'll add to my previous comment. What you posted is the most blatant lie in this entire string of responses. After stunning, the animals are bled. Both carotid arteries and both jugular veins are severed, so that the blood is removed from the body very quickly – and, remember, the animals are "only" unconscious, right? They bleed to death in a matter of several seconds. The skinning operation doesn't even start until the bleeding operation is finished. How many animals do you know are still alive after having all of their blood removed?

      Oh, and by the way – "This is not "the media" version of things." Nor is it the PETA or HSUS version of things. "It is the truth."

      June 18, 2012 at 6:41 am |
      • Catherine

        I can't figure out why you are such an angry little man who hates to be challenged ! I grew up around farm animals, I walked into a slaughter house many times. I am now vegan and have been for 20 year. I'm not vegan because they did not know fear, did not suffer, did not scream and did not know they were going to die. You can use all the rhetoric and BS you want. Either you care that a life is being taken or you dont. Just own it. And I would venture to guess littel man, if you truly have been in a slaughter house you know what I know.

        June 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
        • What?

          "Angry little man"? There's a new one.

          You grew up "around farm animals"? I grew up with farm animals – beef cattle, actually.

          I, too, have been in slaughterhouses many times – including the largest slaughterhouses in this country. Not only that, I have PERSONALLY taken part – a very active part, if you know what I mean – in the slaughter of dozens (and that doesn't stop at "2") of animals.

          You talk about 'fear' – there is undoubtedly some level of anxiety – just as there would be if somebody put you, or any animal, in a completely unfamiliar setting. But on the subject of animals: Do you have pets? Do you ever take them to the vet? Are there other animals around when you go the vet? Are your animals "in sight" of these other animals? In "hearing distance"? Are the other animals larger than your animals? Or more 'vocal' (screaming, I guess you would say)? Do you think either your pets or the others are anxious? My daughter has a cat who looks life a puffball when taken to the vet, because she releases so much hair. Is this "inhumane"?

          Suffer? Are they held in tight quarters? Sometimes. Are they mistreated? They shouldn't be, but – as we all know – there are bad apples in every lot, right? You weed them out the best you can as soon as you can.

          Scream? Interesting choice of words. In all my years of dealing with multiple forms of livestock – even in a slaughter situation, I can honestly say that I have never heard one "scream". I don't know what that is. Will they 'vocalize'? Yes. They do this frequently. Scream – or do the animal equivalent – I'm thinking not, but you apparently are the "expert" here.

          Know they are going to die? I doubt that rather seriously. You – as so many "anti's" do – are trying to attribute human reasoning and emotions to animals who – quite simply – aren't capable of that.

          You claim that I'm using "BS". Really? You go back to specific posts I made just above here – which I assume are the ones you are referring to – any you show me anything in those posts that is BS. (I'm not going to hold my breath.) You've "been" in a slaughterhouse, good for you. Have you ever actually WATCHED the entire slaughter operation to see what happens? If you have, you know full well that nothing I posted was BS – unless you were watching kosher or halal slaughter, which is an entirely different thing.

          Now – this ought to really set you off: It doesn't bother me one bit to cut carotids and jugulars, or aortas, in the case of hogs. You can't eat them while they're alive, and making them dead the quickest and most painless way possible is the right thing to do. I eat meat, and that's the only way to get it to the table.

          I tell things like they are, but I don't 'sugar-coat' them, so that makes me an "angry little man"? When somebody posts blatant lies and I call them on it, that makes me an "angry little man"? That's pretty funny.

          June 20, 2012 at 7:58 am |
        • What?

          Before you get the idea that I am a cold,cruel, heartless SOB in addition to being an "angry little man", I give you this:

          I'm not saying that that animals don't have any "emotions", I'm saying that the 'cognitive abilities' that some want to attribute to them just aren't there.

          I also hunt, by the way, and I hunt for meat – unless I'm exterminating vermin. Regardless, though, of whether I'm trying to put meat in the freezer or get rid of pests, I always attempt to make a clean, sure kill on the first shot. If I miss my spot, there is remorse, but primarily anger at myself for not doing things 'right' the first time. Not that you care, but I rarely have to get mad at myself for missing where I was aiming.

          June 20, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Fiona

      Do any of you tr tr olls read those things a called "books"? Do some research. You don't have to go far to find out what goes on behind the PR shoveled by the Beef Council. I suggest you start with Jonathan Safran Foer's _Eating Animals-_. It's written in plain, conversational English that even the most rock headed and unintelligent can understand. There are better books on the subject, but I believe they would be too advanced for you.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:27 am |
      • What?

        Just as I thought, never been there, never seen that, don't have a flipping clue what you're talking about.

        You are correct about one thing, though – some of us "trolls" don't read books – we've actually "been there and done that". Never – ever – in your entire life, no matter what you do, will you find a 'book' that takes the place of firsthand experience. There's your "truth".

        June 18, 2012 at 11:05 am |
      • What?

        Since you brought up the subject of books, I have a question for you . . .

        If I read a nice book telling me all about how the Confederate States of America won the Civil War, would I then be an 'expert' on the subject? Would I be "highly knowledgeable"? Wouldn't I make a great history teacher, if that was my sole source of information on the subject?

        See if you can – if it's not "too advanced for you" – apply enough logical thought to make the connection and draw the analogy here.

        June 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
      • LFTB4LYFE

        Fiona, this doesn't conform to what your leftie sensationalist friends want you to belive! Are you going to stand for this!? Letting this guy own you, merely by presenting facts and firsthand knowledge?

        June 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
        • the Right is Wrong

          Hey, LFTB4LYFE, Something tells me your a huge Sarah Palin Fan. You probably keep her book next to the toilet don't you?

          June 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  38. Beef-O-Rama

    Cows are fed, slaughtered, cooked, and then served. Its quite simple.

    June 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Mark Glicker

      Sounds simple.

      June 17, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
      • cynix

        sounds tasty.

        June 18, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  39. Darby

    Why do certain people become so angry when many vegans speak out against the mistreatment, breeding and murder of animals?

    June 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

      For the same reason people resent the Church for telling them they can't jerk off. These are natural things. If you don't want to do it for whatever reason that's great but I'll be damned if you are going to tell me it is somehow wrong for me to do it.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Ari

      Nobody is angry with you vegans. Eat what you want, nobody cares. I will keep eating my rare steaks, yum!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Thegoodman

      I am a vegan, however, protecting farm animals is a fool's endeavor. Farm animals are raised to be eaten, it is their purpose in life. If cows were not raised for beef, there would be few cows on this earth. Our need for their flesh actually benefits their species a great deal. There are a million problems in this world, preserving the life of farm animals should be near the bottom of your to-do list.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • Manny

        Wow! I don't believe you're a vegan-what cold pragmatism!

        June 18, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
        • Thegoodman

          Vegan diets are more healthy than non-vegan diets. That is a fact based on several well performed medical studies. Based on that information, I owe it to my loved ones to be a vegan.

          June 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
      • Paul

        I've never come across a vegan who is stupid enough to say the things that you just said.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:36 am |
        • Thegoodman

          What is stupid about what I said? Can you really argue against the success of the species for cows/pigs/chickens? The same goes for corn and soybeans. It may be callous, but it is not stupid.

          I love animals and I do not wish undue harm on any living thing. That being said, an animal whose purpose in life is to provide food for a different animal must die. If the entire planet became vegans, many livestock we raise today would eventually perish from this earth. They have no place in nature due to breeding out traits of individuality and survival and breeding in traits of domestication and dependence on owners. Pigs would make it, but they typically breed with the local boar population to produce a feral pig that is a very successful invasive species.

          I get frustrated with vegans and PETA activists that equate animal feels with human ones. A cow is not capable of complex thought. They certainly experience a range of emotions but not on the level that a human does. To worry about a cow's suffering is like a cow worrying about the suffering of a fly that falls under its hoof. It is possible to kill and eat things humanely.

          I really am asking you, what is stupid about what I said?

          June 21, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Ally

      Darby, why do so many get angry?

      Well from my perspective (I eat meat, but not that often) there are a certain subset of comments that irritate me. There are the people who spout half-truths and misinformation.

      The other group of comments I don't like are people that somehow think they're better than others because they choose not to consume meat. I respect anyone's choice to not eat meat. But there may be other "moral" causes that I choose to make a priority in my life that any random vegan may not. One particular decision in my life doesn't make me better than someone who doesn't value that particular cause.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
      • Manny

        A nonviolent life IS better than a violent one.

        June 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
        • Ally

          A case in point, Manny. You've chosen this single cause as the most important. That's wonderful. But you're not better than others because of it. I don't think buying a quarter of beef from my local farmer every year or so qualifies as a violent life.

          June 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  40. Kevin

    "Lush, green pastures?" "Great group of farmers?" This is an advertisement for the beef industry, not a news article. Perhaps an article about how meat gets to our table could at least MENTION the slaughterhouse part? Perhaps he could list the drugs that are fed to cattle to keep them healthy enough to make it to market. Perhaps he could show some photos of a west Texas feedlot – no grass, just dirt and **** for miles. If you want to eat meat, fine. But one-sided propaganda pieces have no place on a news site. How about telling the other side of the story?

    June 17, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Yogi

      Right on, Kevin. My reaction, please. This article is a propaganda piece written for the beef industry. Now, I accept that the author might be a very well-intentioned person, but he starts off by talking about the journey from cattle to the steak on your table, and then talks in generalizations about farmers and farming. Shame on CNN for publishing this load of garbage!

      June 17, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • totes

      clearly, your first day on just about EVERY article posted on this site is propaganda. the daily Obama is great, gay marriage is great, all religion (but Chrisitanity in particular) is bad cover articles on here should clue you in. if you are interested in fact based analysis and truthful reporting that isn't spun in one direction or another, cnn is definitely not a wise choice. now I need to go get those ribs on the smoker.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Ally

      It was pretty refreshing to finally see an article coming from the perspective of a farmer who is doing it right. Go back for a month on CNN and you'll find dozens of articles that are completely on the negative side of the issue. Don't you think the positive side deserves at least one article?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
      • A fellow journalist

        Well said, Ally.

        June 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  41. Nonny

    Many folks here are freaking out about corn being genetically modified.. All corn has been genetically modified. The big ears of corn we see in the store only exist because of genetic modification. Altering the genetics of something doesn't make it evil or bad :/ without that modification there would be extreme world hunger.

    Good article Ryan, the farmers work hard to keep up our modern lifestyle.

    June 17, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Fiona

      @Nonny...oh, please do some research before posting such nonsense! You are confusing selective breeding and seed selection with genetic modification. GM foods are designed - not bred or selected. Genetic material from one organism is combined in the lab with the genetic material from another (in the case of corn, for instance, a bacterium that destroys the digestive track of cararpillars was inserted into the germ of corn, creating a strain of corn with built-in - but non-selective - insecticide). If you have no understanding of how it works, you will naturally have no understanding of the reasons intelligent people oppose the practice.

      June 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
      • What?

        Non-selective? Really? Please explain.

        June 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
      • Liberal Elitist

        In case you've been off-planet the entire duration of your life, "selective breeding" IS genetic modification. It's just slower than the way scientists work now. And what's a digestive track? Is your food having a race to your colon or something, or did you mean "tract" and just fail all your English classes in a rush to be judgmental and supercilious?

        June 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
        • Paul

          Genetic modification and selective breeding are fundamentally different.

          June 21, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Ari

      Excellent point Nonny. Corn was originally about an inch long, right?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  42. Darby

    Why do we kill and eat animals?

    June 17, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Guest

      Because we're predators.

      June 17, 2012 at 4:39 am |
      • jm

        Guest, that is BS. We can be, but nothing says we have to be. We as humans can make choices, simple as that.

        June 17, 2012 at 6:24 am |
        • heroicslugtest

          Feel your third tooth, on either side of your upper or lower teeth. Look, it's sharp.

          They're for ripping and tearing into flesh. So I suppose nature says we're to eat meat.

          And aren't you people all about mother nature or gaia or captain planet and whatnot?

          June 17, 2012 at 6:30 am |
        • jm

          heroic, who is "you people"? Whether our ancestors ate meat or not is irrelevant – you have a choice today not to. They used to live in trees and wipe their rears with their fingers, too.

          June 17, 2012 at 8:05 am |
        • heroicslugtest

          You people are eco-freaks, environmental extremists, the deluded masses who buy into things because celebrities tell you that you should... You fall into one of those if you advocate an unnatural and unhealthy diet like vegetarianism or veganism.

          Anyhow, living in trees and wiping with fingers was all we knew how to do at one point. We can find better methods of hygiene and shelter these days. Unless we genetically engineer ourselves, however, our bodies still require and are designed to eat what we've always eaten. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and animal flesh.

          Also, it's bloody delicious. Pun intended.

          June 17, 2012 at 10:15 am |
        • totes

          yep jm, we can make choices. and most of us choose to eat meat. that simple. you make your choices, I'll make mine. see, that's how this little thing called freedom works.

          June 18, 2012 at 7:13 am |
        • Britt

          @heroicslugtest now, look at cats and dogs canines. Those are canines, not what we have, and there are a lot more foods harder to eat than meat.

          June 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
      • Paul

        Really? When was the last time you killed a cow? Note that I am not asking when was the last time you ate a piece of a cow that came to you shrink-wrapped.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Beef-O-Rama

      Because cooked beef is tasty and delicious. Anyone ever hear of McDonalds?

      June 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Meat is good for you

      Because animals taste good.

      Also, they provide things like thiamine that we have a hard time getting from plants. Once upon a time, not that long ago, we didn't have a global food market. Not all the plants that would grow in an area could provide all the nutrients people actually need. Vegetarians might talk a good game about beans and rice, but without B12 supplements and a few others, you become very malnourished very quickly from not eating meat. This is a big reason that vegetarianism (and other veg diets) are not recommended for children under a certain age.

      June 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
      • Britt

        b12 is a bacteria, and it is fed to cows so the meat has B12.

        June 18, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
        • What?

          B12 is NOT a bacteria. Try again. Here's a hint for you – try 'cyanocobalamin'.

          June 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
      • Britt

        All living organisms use thiamine in their biochemistry, but it is only synthesized in bacteria, fungi, and plants. Animals must obtain it from their diet, and, thus, for them, it is an essential nutrient.

        June 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
      • Manny

        35 years of no fish, chicken, beef or pork and in perfect health.

        June 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  43. Sarah

    "Consumers aren’t getting the real story about American agriculture and all that goes into growing and raising their food. We’re a group of volunteer farm women and we plan to change that by doing something extraordinary. Our program is called CommonGround and it’s all about starting a conversation between women who grow food, and the women who buy it. It’s a conversation based on our personal experience as farmers, but also on science and research. Our first goal is to help consumers understand that their food is not grown by a factory. It’s grown by people and it’s important to us that you understand and trust the process. We hope you’ll join in the conversation."

    Sound similar? It comes from a website called This website, which is supposedly started by real farm wives, everyday people like "Ryan" here, who want to enlighten the consumer about modern agricultural practices. The domain is owned by Osborn Barr Communications, a PR company that has been on the payroll of Monsanto. Don't be fooled. Monsanto and others are spending a lot of money, in the range of $60 million, to make you believe that what they are doing is A-OK. If you want to do the research, and come to the conclusion that corn and beef fed cows, and genetically altered produce is okay for human consumption, by all means feel free. But don't fall for this weak argument by a corporate schill posing as a farmer.

    June 17, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • jm

      Thanks for getting to the bottom of this. This article sounded a bit Monsanto-ish/PRish/Big AGish to me.

      June 17, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • LuAnn @dairylu

      Sarah, I do not find it a conflict that a company that has done PR for many ag firms helped organize a vehicle for farmers to get a message out. These women are REAL farmers telling REAL stories. For someone to create a domain for them to use isn't unreasonable. For you to minimize this effort simply because you say Monsanto has done business with a PR firm....well, I think that's unfair. Ryan's post talks about how farmers haven't been communicating as much as we should. That's partly because, although we're very comfortable working on our farms, we are less comfortable and knowledgeable about communicating outside of that comfort zone. I hope you and others can actually read these stories and see that mostly farmers are real, hardworking people on life's journey who are imperfect but learning just like everyone else.

      June 17, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      Sarah, thank you for the comment. I am not, nor have I ever been paid by a marketing firm to share a message. I do it by my own passion and desire to share my way of life with others who may not have the opportunity to experience it.

      June 17, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • What?

      When different people/groups/whatever are trying to convey the same message, why wouldn't the verbage sound "similar"? Your logic is the same as that which results in 1+1=11, except for the libel in the last sentence.

      June 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  44. heroicslugtest

    Dear internet,

    Today I leaned that you have to go to college to be a farmer, and that you can actually study "beef management" there.

    Then I took of in my ROFLcopter for a few minutes.

    – heroicslugtest

    June 17, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  45. NY Jets are best!

    Eat face in Florida! Not cows!

    June 17, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  46. NY Jets are best!

    Have you noticed that due to draughts, cattle are being killed earlier due to the cost of feed and hay? Ribs are not near as thick this year. :-(

    June 17, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • ronlong

      Have you noticed that humans, especially in America, are getting fat, fatter, fatest, and "it's coming toward us." Have you noticed, when purchasing clothing, mostly the small, medium, and large are all that's left on the rack?

      June 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
      • Chicago lover

        That is due to all the MSG put on the salad bars.

        June 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  47. raidergirl52

    Reblogged this on Raiderland Adventures and commented:
    No bull – what a farmer wants you to know about how beef gets to your plate

    June 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
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