Monday, March 22, 2010

Yellow Tail

Every morning on my way to work I pass by the Lake County Farm Bureau, which has displayed the add "Don't Buy Yellow Tail Wine!" Now I haven't bought any Yellow Tail wine, but to be honest I really haven't ever bought any wine from this company in a very long time. However, just this week I was wondering what has Yellow Tail done to basically raise the hackles of the Farm Bureau. Is it because it is in Australia and there are many more US wineries that are deserving of our money, or maybe its because they practice unfair labor laws or grow their grapes in third world countries effectively skirting the law.

Well the reason behind this major boycott is; they gave $100,000 to the Humane Society of the United States to help with spaying and neutering programs. This is the dastardly act that has brought about the ire of the Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau states that the Humane Society is part of a group of lobbyists how create unwieldy animal welfare laws that hurts livestock farmers. I can understand this to a point and I am wondering how Nick Janovski, my meat CSA farmer, feels about this donation. Is he upset by it and will this ruin his buisness?

But in the end, I am a bit skeptical about this protest, since I know that CAFO's and the Farm Bureau are very, very friendly. Quite frankly, I am cynical of the Farm Bureau; who walks hand in hand with large corporations that help to destroy small family farms and our environment.

So even though I haven't bought Yellow Tail wine in quite some time, maybe the next time I am at the store I might just buy a bottle or two and do a little toast to Bob Barker.


  1. By all means, toast Bob Barker if you want to honor a man who was a major force in getting the mandatory neutering law passed in Los Angeles that has resulted in the number of animals killed in shelters there going up by 26% (as was predicted by the law's opponents.) And Barker is working very hard to get it passed for all of California and anyplace else he can find a legislator willing to propose a similar bill.

    The agenda of "animal rights" fanatics like Barker and the radical vegans who took over HSUS does NOT have the best interest of animals (or people) at heart. There is an interesting new book you might want to read, "A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement" by Wesley J. Smith. And, if you think that the $100,000,000.00+ that HSUS raises every year goes to helping those sad-faced animals in their ads (like a recent survey showed that 78% of the public believes), you are fooling yourself; only 1/2 of 1% of the money donated to HSUS goes to programs that actually help animals. The rest is spent on promoting, small step by small step, a radical vegam agenda. The money that Yellow Tail donated would not have gone to help actual animals. You might want to check out for more info of how HSUS spends its money.

    Instead of Barker, you should toast Nathan Winograd (the No-Kill movement)and Bill Bruce (who transformed Calgary's Animal Control), two people who have shown that they do save animals that HSUS, PETA et al. write off.

    Geraldine Clarke
    CA-Animal Legislation

  2. It was sarcastic and a bit of a witty comment since most people know Bob's sign off. Hey in the end CAFO's do more harm than any terrorist organization. They destroy our health care system and treat livestock as stock and not as live. So in the end I like HSUS and even PETA (all though they have become a little zealous of late) more than a CAFO.

  3. Chris, you are right the large industrialized, faming machine is truly destroying our health, and our planet. As for Animal Rights groups and their agenda one truly must examine the outcomes. Unfortunately, spaying and neutering have become vital to keep the population down. A Vegan agenda , what exactly is that? I'm Vegan and I don't think I am radical, I like to eat, whole, locally grown, organic foods, in season. The current practices in the dairy, beef, poultry, pork and fish industries are horrific and downright scary. So I choose not to partake, and choose to protect other beings from being desecrated.

    Keeping the population down would do a lot to minimize abuse and having animals owned by the likes of Michael Vick and other notorious tough guys. There are many ways to do this, so instead of looking to place blame and segregate , we all have to work together , since most of these organizations really are working for the same thing, even though they go about it differently.

  4. Hi Chris - Thanks for this blog post. I work at the Humane Society of the U.S. and we've been disappointed by the reaction of many farm groups to YellowTail's support of our spay/neuter programs.

    As you may be aware, our organization has been successful in promoting modest animal welfare improvements for some of the most intensively farmed animals. For example, the HSUS supported Prop 2 in California, which called for laying hens, pregnant sows, and veal calves to be housed with enough room to stand up, turn around, and extend their limbs. This measure passed by a wide margin and will go into effect in 2015.

    Not surprisingly, the website cited by Geraldine Clark was created by a front group known as the Center for Consumer Freedom that represents agribusiness interests.

    Regardless of our personal dietary choices, I believe that most people want to see farm animals treated humanely.

  5. Chris:

    I also have purchased meat from Nick and the first time that I went to pick it up was the last time that I bought any. Have you been to his place. When I stopped there last fall to pick up a turkey there was a fence across the drive so I was unable to drive in but from the road all you could see is weeds blocking the house. Paper, cans and bottles all over the ground and trash was blowing everywhere. The pigs were laying in a sea of mud with gates and fences and feeders laying on there sides in the mud. A livestock trailer was back up against the fence and pigs were going in and out, I don't know if that was supposed to house them or what. A couple of goats were in the pen with the pigs pleading to get out. Two donkeys were in a pen on the side which included the septic field. I could see no food or water and there were waist high weeds in the entire pen. If you buy from this mess you are, quite literally, playing with your life.

    I would guess that Nick would be unhappy with this donation as he apparently likes the "rustic" approach. You might want to use a different example. I would suggest you stop by before eating anymore of those products.

  6. I guess I should state my creds. I do pay the big price to buy cage-free organic eggs (but that is only because the unenlightened town I live in now does not allow me to keep hens - nice and quiet hens who wouldn't disturb the neighbors.)

    I buy what veggies I don't grow from local farmers and most of the meat I eat and ALL of the meat I feed my dogs and cats (thanks to a local halal butcher who sells me his not-for human-consumption trim, organs and bones at affordable prices) comes from pasture-raised animals. I couldn't be more politically correct for someone who does not subscribe to the vegan religion.

    But being politically correct does not sway me from my conviction that Prop 2 (as cited by Hillary above) is an absolute disaster for California agriculture. There was another proposition, written in consultation with CA farmers, that was trying to get qualified for the same ballot which would have provided for ALL of the same protections for animals but would have still made it possible for farmers to make a living under the new law. And it had other important provisions (like the monitoring of ammonia levels which is even more crucial than space requirements for the health and well-being of chickens) that the HSUS-written Prop 2 didn't think to include because the movers and shakers in HSUS don't have any actual knowledge of animal agriculture.

    The farmers behind the alternative proposition didn't have the big bucks necessary to get it on the ballot, so California is now saddled with a law that will make it impossible for egg farmers to make a living. They are moving out of the state (and there are a whole lot of promotions going on from other states that are inviting them in.) So, after 2105, Californians will be paying much, much more for their eggs which will be trucked in from other states. (And what does that do to your carbon footprint?!)

    HSUS wants to destroy animal agriculture. Here's a verified quote from a big HSUS spokesman: "My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture." JP Goodwin, employed at the Humane Society of the US, as quoted on AR-Views, an animal rights Internet discussion group in 1996. ( )

    Peter, I am glad that you are not a radical and I hope that there are many vegans like you. I've got lots of vegetarian friends but the vegans I've known have all been basically religious fanatics. I've raised chickens and animals that provide milk for most of my life and taking eggs from a hen who is not broody and milking a goat or cow is far from exploitation. These animals, if it were not for the fact that humans need the protein that they provide, would never have been bred, would never have felt the sun on their backs and enjoyed life if they had not been bred to provide sustenance for humans. I understand the arguments for vegetarianism but the arguments for veganism, if animals are treated well, do not make any sense.

    And, yes, the Center for Consumer Freedom does represent agribusiness but it also represents a whole lot of us who are working hard to stop the lobbying that HSUS is doing that threatens our animals.

    Geraldine Clarke

  7. I am glad to see some discussion happening on this site. I have stopped buying meat and eggs from the store. I would have stopped buying milk as well but Illinois laws are a bit restrictive when it comes to that. New Hampshire and other small states have better regulations for dairy. It is of course radicals on both ends of the debate that make things so difficult.

    I am not saying that I am for the full agenda of any group because in the end that would probably mean that I was blind and ignorant. Every person needs to look at the issue fully, look past the talking points and make a decision on their own.

    So thank you for the lively discussion and please continue it.

  8. Harry:

    I used to buy meat from farmers markets but had then same bad experience that you had. I foolishly assumed that the cute animal pictures that my vendor had up on his booth at the market were real. One day while out riding motorcycles in the country we decided to drive past "our farm" to get a feel for a real small farm. What a disaster. Broken down pens, old cars, trash and the cattle were standing in a field of mud looking quite forlorned. I got the vendor thrown out of the market and contacted the State to see what could be done. Its interesting that we are on the state for too much inspection at Rick Bayless and not enough when there is an outbreak of samonella or E-coli. I think we should all take your advice and visit Farmer Nicks and all of the vendors that sell things like meat, eggs and dairy. It can be very enlightening and may save you from a bad case of food poisoning.

  9. Geraldine:

    I love the sun on their backs comment since most veal calves, battery chickens and confinement cows and pigs never see any sun at all. You can't justify the horrific conditions that these animals are forced to endure as justified if it pays well. If the chicken operations cannot make and living as well as treat the animals well then they need to move on. You say this as if these "family farms" are cute little operations with a pretty red barn and picket fence. The chicken raising operations, which I am quite familiar with, use large pole barns and raise up to 100,000 chickens at a time. When you enter the building the ammonia is so strong your eyes tear up and you can't breathe. When a chicken dies, and many do, the others peck the remains until little is left but a pile of feathers. Veal barns are worse. The calves are in pens so small they can't turn around. The smell is the worst I have ever experienced and the saying is that the "trick is to get them to market before they die". Veal is primarily dairy calves that are kept anemic (no iron in the feed) and that is why the meat is white. The problem is that they are in such bad physical condition that one problem, water is usually the culprit, and they did in droves. I have seen them being taken out and dumped in piles. On to confinment pig operations. Thousands of pigs living on concrete. Conditions we would now allow on death row. The sows can't lay down for fear they will lay on a piglet and cut the profit. Our meat system is deplorable, but cheap. Don't assume that small farms are always the solution. Check them out. The discussion on the seller from Grays Lake is an example. Go see the farm before you buy. The trip may be a great investment. Chris - you should schedule a trip with your students. It would be a great learning experience for the. Don't try to schedule a trip to a industrial farm as they will not let you in and will use security as the excuse.

  10. Harry,

    I have been to Nick's farm several times in last few months. I have never seen anything that would cause me concern about the treatment of his animals. From speaking with Nick I know that he genuinely cares about his animals and treats them very well.

    As to your exact comments, I can say that I have worked at a farm and work with a farm that has pigs (in fact Farmer Nick sold the piglets to the farm and they had no complaints as well). My experience with pigs is that they will lay in mud from time to time and that they will knock things over even their own food troughs.
    I personally have never had any qualms about his farm or the way he treats his animal. But I encourage you to speak with him. If you do not like his answers then I suggest that you find another farmer to buy food from. We all have to do our own research at times, but for me I will continue to buy from him.

  11. Buying from a local farmer is always better than buying from a store. CAFO's never treat their animals in a humane fashion. These are not farms they are factories who neglect the health of their livestock and workers in order to make more money at a faster pace. This type of production also destroys the local environment. Many of these CAFO's create the same amount of sewage as the entire City of Chicago on land that is a fraction of the size. And remember that just because an operation is organic does not mean they treat their animals in humane ways.

    Small farms treat their animals exponentially better than any of these factory farms. However I encourage all of you to talk to your local farmers and to have an open dialog with them. Through these dialogs they will discover that we, their customer base, care about their animals as well.

    Farmer Nick is always willing to speak with me and I have seen him having long conversations with many of his customers. When I went to his farm he spoke with me and let me look at his animals. So in my opinion he treats his animals with respect and in a humane way.

    Also educate yourself on the issues read and watch documentaries. There are many great movies that have come out of late that cover these issues, such as King Corn, Fresh the Movie, Food Inc, and many more. Also find some books and read them like The Meat You Eat and Holy Cow and Hog Heaven a buyers guide.

    Buy Fresh, Buy Local, and Buy Smart

  12. I just love comments like "I know he cares about his animals". Everyone knew that Bernie Madoff was a great guy but 12 billion dollars later not so much. I will try to go past Farmer Nick's this weekend but I have to visit inlaws in East Troy for Easter so I will be sure to go by then to see if I or you have the wrong house. There can't be that big of a difference of opinion. Did you go into the "farm", did you see where the piglets are raised. What about the goats and donkeys, did they look healthy. The feeders that I saw were huge commercial feeders laying in the mud, the pigs didn't just knock them over. You saw no trash, no blowing paper? Where is the pasture for my pasture raised pork. I didn't see any chickens or bulls for the beef that you bought, did you?

    I'll report back next week or two weeks at the most. I'm going to contact the state as well and see if it is registered and in good standing. If I was wrong I will stand corrected.

  13. Chris, thank you. It's very nice to find a blog by a person who takes the time to listen to all sides and actually investigate the facts.

    Anonymous (do you have a name? - I know this site makes it hard to post under your own name), what could you construe from what I said that I justify raising animals in cruel conditions?!! And, yes, the animals who provide me and my pets with eggs, milk, wool and most of our meat DO live feeling the sun on their backs. I've seen them in their pastures (or raised them myself) and I've lived down the road from dairies that could be models for those "Happy Cow" commercials. (Yes, believe it or not, there are happy cows in California!) And your comment about "the ammonia is so strong your eyes tear up and you can't breathe" proves my point that Prop 2 was written by people (HSUS) who have absolutely no experience with animal husbandry because (unlike the competing proposition drafted by farmers who actually know what impacts animals adversely) Prop 2 does not address ammonia levels. The point behind Prop 2 was not to protect animals but to drive farmers out of business.

    HSUS and other "animal rights" fanatics are doing their best to demonize all animal agriculture to convince the public to pass laws that will make it impossible for farmers to continue in business. And farming IS a business. Unless they win the lottery, farmers cannot continue to feed the nation unless they make enough profit to support themselves. The effect of Prop 2 will be that all chicken and eggs at prices that ordinary people can afford produced for California tables will now be raised outside of the state where there are NO controls on how those animals are raised. If HSUS had worked with California farmers instead of demonizing them, there could be a law in CA that protected animals but still allowed farmers to make enough profit to stay in business in the state. Good farmers know that animals thrive in healthy conditions which makes for more profit. City-dwellers seem to think that there will always be food in their supermarkets even if they pass laws that drive farmers out of business.

    I've spent the last five years of my life fighting HSUS-backed legislation that, if passed, would assign to oblivion the ancient, rare, wonderful breed of dog that I've devoted 40 years to preserving. I've learned a lot about HSUS in the process. Since HSUS was taken over by Wayne Pacelle and other radical vegans in 2004, the organization has raised deceptive propaganda to new heights. (One example, their long campaign against Ringling Bros. Circus was recently thrown out of court because HSUS was paying the principle witness in the case whose testimony was not, how should I say this?, not exactly truthful. Ringling is now suing HSUS for racketeering under the RICO statute. The evidence that will come out in that lawsuit will be very interesting. And I could cite many, many, many more instances of HSUS deception.)

    Prop 2 is so draconian that it has become a wake-up call for all Ag interests in the country. If it had been more sensible and not an all-out attack on animal agriculture, it wouldn't have had the effect of mobilizing the industry. The very people that you deplore, Anonymous, will now be paying the piper and calling the tune and animals will suffer for it. So the HSUS vegans will have won a battle but will lose the war. I wish it were different.

    Geraldine Clarke

  14. Well, Geraldine, so many innuendos, so little information. For instance. "Ringling is now suing HSUS for racketeering under the RICO statute". I guess we are to assume that they are guilty, but anyone can sue anyone for anything in America so this means absolutely nothing. I, personally, would like to see the destruction of all commercial farms. We would then be forced to return to a village format where we would get our milk, eggs and meat from the guy down the street. We not be buying eggs, here in the east, from California where the cost of shipping and refrigeration far surpasses the value of the eggs and is the reason that the farmer gets so little. In Europe, as an example, the eggs in most stores are not refrigerated because they are fresh and are purchased fresh. Here we have to refrigerate them because they are 6 to 8 weeks old when they get to the store. I noticed that you did not mention the breed of dog that you have spent 40 years "fighting" for. I fear it is a "killer" breed and I would like to see it gone, but we don't know because you didn't tell us. You weren't being deceptive were you?

    I think the problem here is your negative take on everything. You want to "fight" for things and people that don't agree with you are "deceptive". How about working toward something, instead of always fighting againist and what if other people have an opinion that they believe in and what if you could "agreee to disagree" without labeling them deceptive.

    Ringling Bros and all circuses should have been banned years ago for keeping large animals in little cages.

    Ammonia would not be an issue if the animals were kept in a reasonable space which is dictated by these rules in Prop 2 and city people are not functioning with a goal of putting "farmers" out of business they are trying to make "people" that like to call themselves farmers ethical. A losing battle at best.

    And finally, you know those California cows aren't real don't you?

  15. Are you the same "Anonymous" that I was talking to before? It is so confusing when people do not have the guts to sign their posts with their own real names.

    Please let me know anything that you want me to provide verified information about and I will be very happy to do so.

    (Chris, I'm sorry but your blog seems to have been hijacked by issues that are not its main focus. Is there some way I can contact you or you can contact me? Can't seem to find a "contact" link on the site. This is what happens when you get visible enough to appear on google alerts.)

    Back to Anonymous:

    <<< <"Ringling is now suing HSUS for racketeering under the RICO statute".>
    I guess we are to assume that they are guilty.">>>

    What did I say that said that they have been proven to be guilty? That is for the courts to decide but the court did throw out the original lawsuit based on the "evidence" that HSUS provided. The discovery process in this new lawsuit will prove to be very enlightening but we will need to wait and see what the truth is. (But I don't think that HSUS will come out very well in the discovery process. (surpressed giggle))

    And as to your insinuation that "I noticed that you did not mention the breed of dog that you have spent 40 years "fighting" for. I fear it is a "killer" breed and I would like to see it gone, but we don't know because you didn't tell us. You weren't being deceptive were you?"

    Absoluely no deception intended but details were left out in the interest of brevity. If you must know (and you could have found out by very simple googling), the breed that my father and I devoted our lives to is the saluki. Your assumption that I have a "killer" breed is very interesting and very typical of "animal rights" activists who want to demonize anyone who opposes them. Do you really think that the only people who oppose you are dog fighters? This assumption (whether real or feigned for effect on your part) that the people who oppose you could only be evil dog-fighters is "interesting". Sorry but I cannot satisfy your interesting assumptions about my breed.

    But back to the subject of this blog, your proclaimation that "I, personally, would like to see the destruction of all commercial farms. We would then be forced to return to a village format where we would get our milk, eggs and meat from the guy down the street.", that, if effected, would result in mass starvation. Unfortunately, we do not live in a village world anymore. We must figure out humane ways to provide for our urban population. There is a lot of good thinking going on about how to do that in a humane way but getting your food from a quaint family farm is not a possibility now unless you are rich enough to own your own farm.

    Geraldine Clarke

  16. Well it is true that this conversation has gone beyond its original focus, however I have enjoyed reading the exchanges and the different view points. However we must all remember to be respectful of others ideas even if they do not coincide with ours. For instance I love the notion of living in a small village and kind of did for awhile in New Hampshire but I still had to go out of that village to shop and do other things. Of course I do miss that rural life style now that I am in the suburbs (I still cringe a little when I say it), but I enjoy my life here to just in a different way. I want a more sustainable food system but for more reasons than just humane treatment. By working together I am sure we can find some commonality if we are all willing to give a little and be truly open minded.

    Well I am moving on to other topics farm education, my backyard garden-I already have seeds sprouting the new germination rack is working quite well updates soon- and many other topics as they come.

    Thanks for stopping in and I hope that just because the subject moves on you do not. Keep reading and continue to grow.

    if you want to contact me more about stuff