Guess what I learned in computer class today

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Editor's note: the following is a speech written by 8th grader Elisabeth Loseke for a 4-H presentation in response to a class assignment using inaccurate information about the beef industry.

You would think that in 8th grade computer class you would learn to type faster and with more accuracy. I had hoped to learn about hardware and software, programming and internet usage. However, as I recently discovered, someone with a major agenda is using keyboarding curriculum to send out an error filled message to over 25 thousand junior high kids about U.S. meat production and its affect on the rest of the world.

I’m Elisabeth Loseke and this is my 6th year of being a member of the Wranglers and Silver Star 4-H clubs. I show market cattle and horses along with participating in sewing, photography, and veterinary science projects. Since I’ve helped on my family’s feedyard my whole life, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to produce premium beef.

My antagonist is the HSUS, or Humane Society of the United States. This organization has an annual budget of over 100 million dollars. Less than one half of one percent of this budget is distributed to local humane societies. Instead, they use their financial resources for salaries, benefits, lobbying, and media. This “media” is now overflowing into public school curriculum. Molding young minds into their way of thinking will have an extensive impact on their long term goal of abolishing all animal agriculture.

This is what I was assigned to type:  “For much of the world, cereal grains supply the main source of dietary protein. The United States consumes about one-fourth of our planet’s beef. By eating so much beef we are using a lot of natural resources:  grain, the land the grain grows on and water. It takes seven or eight pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef, compared with about 4 pounds of grain to produce a pound of pork and two pounds to produce a pound of chicken.”

Maybe this lesson somehow helped to improve my typing skills, but it left a very negative impact on me. Because less than 2% of the United State’s population is directly involved in production agriculture, and only a small part of this group produce beef cattle, very few people really understand this industry. As a 4-Her and a cattle producer, I would like to do my part in being an advocate for the beef industry. Using my assignment, let’s evaluate myth versus fact.

As former Kansas State University professor Doctor Upson states:  “The limiting factor of world hunger is poverty due to lack of literacy [it] has nothing to do with what our cattle eat or what we can produce”. Yes, cereal grains are a source of dietary protein. However, beef gives humans 73% of the amino acids necessary for maintenance and growth compared with the 53% they receive from corn. As the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology said in July 1999, “Foods of animal origin represent about 1/6 of human energy and 1/3 of the protein on a global basis”. Arthur de Vany, a California State university expert on Stone Age diets said in April of 2001, quote” it’s easy to tell from the skeletons of our ancestors whether they were agriculturists or hunter-gatherers. The agriculturists have bad teeth, bone lesions, small and underdeveloped skeletons, and small craniums compared to the hunter-gatherers. Tomorrow’s challenge is ensuring livestock diets for the developing world”.

My assignment said that by eating so much beef, we are using many natural resources including the grain, land the grain grows on, and water. In actuality animals turn a liability into an asset. 6% of the earth is permanent pasture that can only be harvested by herbivores. Of these herbivores, cattle are the most efficient in converting these plants into human food. This is not a competition with humans for land or feed.

Only 3% of earth’s total surface area is tillable farmland. With this, farmers are expected to feed the world. Only 18% of the U.S. cropland is used for feed grain production. When my assignment mentions that cattle eat so much grain, they aren’t acknowledging that only 15% of a mature beef cow’s diet is grain and 85% is forage. A study found in the journal of Animal Science shows that livestock production accounts for just over 11% of all U.S. water use. This includes the water used to grow crops to feed livestock and the water consumed by livestock. Because of extensive research and education, the U.S. farmers have become more and more efficient in crop and animal production, allowing the United States to enjoy one of the most inexpensive food supplies in the world.

The final sentence stating that it takes seven or eight pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef, is laughable. The fact is that on average one pound of beef is produced from 2.6 pounds of grain consumption. A market steer’s finishing ration is less than 60% grain. Market cattle can convert 7 pounds of total ration into a pound of gain.

If HSUS really wants to help people in developing countries, they would be trying to educate them so they can be productive and therefore have the financial resources to buy and produce high quality food. I hope that you will help me tackle this enormous task of telling people about our safe and healthy food supply. BEEF, IT’S WHAT I’LL HAVE FOR DINNER!

 

 


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