Downwind"Ag Literacy Pillar 3" (and Jet Fuel)
I have been writing about the Pillars of Agricultural Literacy – Understanding the intersection between agriculture and society. The last two months, I have reviewed pillars 1 and 2 (available on the Cook County Farm Bureau website, www.cookcfb.org).
Now on to Pillar 3: The Relationship between Agriculture and Animals
When I was growing up, life was pretty simple. Mom and Dad occasionally said, “Finish your vegetables,” and I did. They never had to tell me, “Finish your meat”. That was a given. I was then, and am today, a carnivore.
I will be the first to say, I don’t “get” animal rights. I do however “get” animal welfare and I hope that readers understand the difference. In this column, I’m not going to try to debate and argue the animal-rights nonsense that is out there.
Growing up, many of my influential years were spent on the farm caring for and raising hogs. This included quality feed and water access, comfortable bedding, clean and sanitary conditions, veterinary access and treatment, climate monitoring and control, and so much more.
The welfare of the hogs was as important as the welfare of the Bob on the farm. I instinctively understood this that if the hogs were not healthy and strong, the family would be unable to enjoy the same comforts.
Thus, my Dad, the Farmer, and my mom, the Nurturer, instilled in me and my siblings the understanding and knowledge of the crucial nature of animal welfare at the base farm level.
We are not alone in this sentiment. Every farmer and rancher I know proudly carries the animal welfare torch as a part of who they are. Why? Is it love of animals? Is it to pay the bills? Is it to succeed with quality and healthy livestock? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Speaking of livestock, I feel a bit like I’ve been corralled and herded in recent months. I have traveled way too often recently using large aviation craft. At least farmers don’t make their livestock wear masks for hours at a stretch. Talk about inhumane treatment! I have worn masks for extended periods of time in Denver, Phoenix, Reno, Gillette, Washington, DC, and Chicago and many parts in-between.
I prefer the occasional airline trip just to stay in practice on how to stand in line, shuck my shoes and belt in public, and spend a small fortune to give my car a resting spot for a day or two (in my next lifetime, I am going to build a parking lot, stripe it one size too small and allow a bunch of other people to pay me the privilege to put their car there).
On the plus side, airports are a great people watching venue. People are strange. I am in shock and awe by what people wear, do, and say around others.
- Did you know that crop tops, pajamas, and bunny slippers, are airport appropriate attire?
- There’s the “loud talker” in need of attention.
- There’s the family that has 18 bags mostly carried by dad. Where could they possibly be going and for how long?
- There are the first-class flyers who are very proud to get on the plane first so they can sit there even longer.
- There’s a student taking break from college… an adult beverage at 9 am?
- Why are so many people lugging their little dogs around?
- Just a heads up to the flight attendant… Thanks for the enthusiasm but no one seems to be paying attention to your safety message.
Flying also gives me time to write a column and to ponder/amuse myself (if not others). I ponder the new push to use corn-based ethanol or soybean oil as a sustainable aviation jet fuel. Millions of Americans have used billions of gallons of ethanol and bio-diesel fuel for decades in cars and trucks. It's good stuff, it burns clean, and supports the American farmer instead of OPEC. The White House is asked for Sustainable Aviation Fuel to meet 100% of airline fuel demand by 2050. Suddenly, corn and soybeans are in the driver seat!
At 30,000 feet, I hope the corn or soybeans used to make the jet fuel is the good stuff, blended and distilled with love and care. Maybe the corn and soybeans that came from the Rohrer family farm?
I’m so proud…my dad, the Farmer, delivering people and dreams all over the world!