Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Musings

I often get reflective on Dec. 31st. It's not necessarily about just the past year but about my thoughts and what I find is just important in my life. I never make New Year's resolutions because I can never keep them.

I find the greatest thing that happened to me personally in the last couple of months was to be named to the Youth Committee of the American Lowline Registry. Here is where I can give of myself to what I believe is the most important single activity I can be involved in. Guiding a child in a direction which allows them to be a wonderful contributing member of society. Combine that with Agriculture and I just love the whole process. Our current discussions of the committee is on the formation of the American Lowline Junior Assoc. and then the next item is the National Junior Show in June.

As I read my email this morning I clicked on Scrapbook Junkie, an LSS near my mother's. If your wondering where the store is, it's on the southwest corner of I-45 and NASA Rd. 1. (Ok, I know they now call it NASA Parkway....but I don't like the change). I had thought about submitting an entry for their design team but decide against it as I wasn't sure I could do the traveling. I love the store and I frequent it when traveling over to my Mom's.

A Scrapbook Junkie

This morning I decided to read the blogs of the design team and the owner, Beth. There on Beth's blog was a picture that bought back a flood of memories. Earlier this month Endeavor flew over the Clear Lake area of Houston, the home to NASA. Endeavor was piggy back aboard it's 747. It is an incredible site to see. I didn't get to see Endeavor but I remember a day way back when.....high school. I was either a senior and Columbia was due to fly over. We rarely had morning announcements. That morning of the fly over our principal would tell us when the shuttle was on it's way in. He would announce it and we were to file out of class as in a fire drill. I don't know about the rest of the school but I was in Drafting and when the announcement started the four classes in the shop wing hit their doors in an all out dash for the door. We had the very best view in the entire school for the fly over. This door emptied into the student parking lot. The entire school started to cheer with arms pointing. To grow up with astronaut families in the seventies was definitely an experience. That was when astronauts where on the same level as movie stars. I remember my Mom having to go outside and tell the press they had to stay off our lawn on Commander Conrad's return from Space Lab. I baby sat for Commander Lovell. Several astronauts who walked on the moon were members of our church. Commander McCandless' daughter and I were good friends. I was devastated with the Challenger and Columbia accidents. The Challenger accident was one of those moments in my life that I can relive the moment as it happened when I found out about the accident. I'd just gotten out of class and had gone to Schlotsky's in College Station for lunch before I went to my afternoon labs. There on the television after sitting down was the news and the story. Right there in the middle of the store I started to cry. I knew Mike Smith and his family, the pilot of Challenger, they lived down the street from my parents. So I reflect this day on my dreams, my friends, my family and the community from which I come.

Oh, then I couldn't resist to visit OLW, see October 17, 2008 post for link. I love the current word, "START." What a great word to start the New Year. I just have to think of a LO to do with the word. When I get it done I'll share it

One last item....I found this really cool little add on from another blog I visited this morning. I decided to ad it as a gadget to my blog. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page. There you will find a "Live Crude Oil" ticker. I loved it since our business is servicing the oilfield. Yes, I suppose I fit the true stereotype of a Texan....cattle, horses, and oil. I'm missing the tumbleweeds.

On this day as in year's past I am reflective.....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 California Prop 2

I suppose after much thought I'd look up and see exactly what California Prop 2 was really all about. First I'd thought I'd quote the Proposition 2 as it appeared on the State of California's Voters Guide website.


  • Requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.
  • Exceptions made for transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes.
  • Provides misdemeanor penalties, including a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in jail for up to 180 days.
Then just below on the same page is the economic impact to the State of California.

Summary of Legislative Analyst’s Estimate of Net State and Local Government Fiscal Impact:

  • Potential unknown decrease in state and local tax revenues from farm businesses, possibly in the range of several million dollars annually.
  • Potential minor local and state enforcement and prosecution costs, partly offset by increased fine revenue.

I thought then if you really want to look into as I have I would go to the websites I've added below.

American Veterinary Association

Beef -

I found all three articles basically the same. They presented both sides of the issue. I think the thing that interested me the most was the division that occurred in the California Veterinary Medical Assoc. So divisive was it among the members of the Assoc. there is now two associations in California. The other were veterinarians who opposed Prop 2 they formed the Association of Californian Veterinarians.

So where do I stand. Like most farmers/ranchers we are against this Proposition. We see it as an attack by animal rights activists. The states of Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon have passed similar statutes on veal calves and sows. Most veal producers are moving to a different confinement system then those of the past. As for sows research has been done over and over on different types of confinement systems to insure a higher survival rate of piglets.

I find myself falling into the economic impact of this future law when it comes into effect in 2015. Most individuals do not understand the the potential in agriculture of any shift in the cost of inputs or weather can cause financial collapse of the agriculture operation. It doesn't matter if it is the family farm or corporate farming. Both our egg industry and broiler industry are what called integrated industries. A corporation owns all of the production of the eggs and broilers that we consume. There are only about seven or eight corporations in both industries that produce both products. To require larger cages requires more space. To be honest it would be cheaper to move the operations in California out of the state where it will be cheaper to produce eggs. This will be a large loss to the state of California in revenue. The cost to the consumer will go up because of the cost of transportation of eggs into the state. I'm sure the 64% of voters who passed this bill didn't even think of the cost of their eggs and pork increasing.

As I sit and look at what is happening around me in agriculture since the stock market went in the tank I see as gloomy near future. I've watched fellow cattle producers dump their cows on the market because they can no longer feed through the winter. Pilgrim's Pride has filed for bankruptcy protection. Tyson is also having problems. All as a result of speculators involved in the Futures Market with grain. Producers of Eggs, Broilers, Milk Producers, Beef Feedlots, and Pork Producers all have to buy large amounts of grain to produce the meat, eggs and milk you drink. They use the futures market to guarantee a price on the grain they need. This gives them an exact amount of dollars they will put into a calf that will go to your plate as a ribeye or hamburger. Same with the broiler, the egg, a gallon of milk and the pork loin. Tyson ventured into pork production and other companies have followed so pork like broilers is mostly integrated. Those inflated grain prices have caused a burden on these companies and food prices won't go down until they have run through the grain they purchased earlier this year via the Futures Market. Then it still may not go down even though the transportation costs have gone down. Grocery stores rarely lower prices once the consumer is used to paying a particular price for their product since they run on a very small margin.

I suppose the thing that drives me the nuts the most are the animal rights activists. Disease and injury is a greater risk in these larger systems. When it comes to chickens and pork their control of disease is the greatest issue. In chickens that range in the open or even in covered pens that are moved each day their is a greater risk of disease. In laying house they can control the environment to keep disease at a minimum. This is so true I could not enter a laying house if I wasn't an employee. The same is true in a farrowing operation (swine breeding). So that argument is mute. And as I mentioned above one small thing should go wrong in any agriculture operation it can mean the difference between profit and loss. Should disease hit a laying operation the only thing the egg producer can do is empty the entire facility of hens, which are humanly destroyed. Then totally clean the entire facility and wait for the next available delivery of replacement pullets. This throws the entire process by the corporation in their ability to meet delivery on their normal rotation of replacing older hens with younger hens in all of their laying houses.

The other thing that seems to drive me nuts more then anything is that the great majority of our population has no idea that the most dynamic industry in the US is agriculture. Without the continued research in agriculture we would not enjoy the availablity of food we enjoy today. If I could scream at the top of my lungs I would. You enjoy the lifestyle you have today because of the ability of our country to feed our population. Wake up and realize we have a hunger problem in this country for reasons other then our agriculture systems. Wake up and realize I'm not the dumb rancher. If I have to I can grow food other then our cattle to feed myself. Could you? Your food doesn't come from a grocery store. It comes from people like me. So animal rights activist I doubt greatly that you could do what I do. Trust me if our economy so totally collapsed you would be in a heap of problems trying to get food. Every producer would protect their food for their family first, I'm no different.

Finally, there is an estimated 3500 jobs lost in California as a result of this bill. That is another economic impact that the state doesn't receive tax revenue from those who lost their job. Californian residences will be paying for their loss of jobs. Right now we in our current economic position as a country just don't need more jobs lost.

I can only conclude the voters of California were STUPID!

Just my thoughts.