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Pot-bellied pigs and a road less traveled

We don’t spend all of our time here at Missouri Farm Bureau on just the big issues. Nope, we keep up on the rest of agriculture as well. Here are some stories you may have missed.

Farmers in the state of Washington have been feeding their pigs leftover medicinal marijuana plants. According to the farmers, the pigs have an increased rate of gain. The jokes here write themselves, but I strongly suggest you resist the temptation…Ok, so I’m not good at resisting temptation. Would these be pot-bellied pigs?

Continuing along this theme, the New York Times reports that pot growers in California are illegally diverting streams, using water set aside for several endangered species. Not only that, but the pot farms are causing erosion.  The Times is quick to point out that these are “industrial” pot farms. The journalist is clearly torn between approving the cultivation of marijuana and complaining about the environmental side effects. Local officials maintain that there is absolutely nothing they can do about the problem. If the Fish and Wildlife Service, the EPA, local regulatory agencies and the court system can police the pot farmers the same way they do California farmers, the pot growers will be out of business in a week.

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream stores have announced they are now GMO-free.  Wait, you mean they haven’t been up until now? I prefer my ice cream without a political agenda, so I guess I’ll avoid Ben and Jerry’s, which won’t be a problem, as I’ve never seen one of their stores.

On a related note, Chipotle, home of politically correct red beans, has announced they’ll label all of their products as containing GMOs. They can’t source enough GMO-free ingredients. They shouldn’t stop there. Maybe they should mention that all of their menu items are produced with sunshine, which can cause skin cancer.

The New York Times has a glowing profile of a rancher in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, who has been busy raising money on the West Coast for his dream of producing grass-fed beef. Not only that, but he’s a great-grandson of the poet Robert Frost.  Ah, the story has everything. Grass fed beef! Poetry! Hollywood investors! No way Mr. Frost’s neighbors could ever be as interesting. Nope, they’re all part of the industrial agriculture complex. Or as the story puts it: “If change is going to come to the cattle industry, it’s got to come from educated people from the outside,” Mr. Frost said, quoting from Allan Nation, the publisher of The Stockman Grass Farmer, considered the grazier’s bible. Well, I guess there is little hope for us uneducated people inside agriculture. Maybe we ought to recruit some poet’s grandkids here in Missouri to help us figure out that cows eat grass.

I wish Mr. Frost great success. I also wish that just once the New York Times could write about farming with respect for the people already in the industry. That would really be a road less traveled.

(Blake Hurst, of Westboro is the president of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.)

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