• Oprah’s One-Week Challenge

    Posted on February 1, 2011 by Mike Haley in Agvocate, Farm, livestock care

    Today I did something I usually abstain from; I actually took time out of my day and sat down to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Why? Because she was talking about a topic that I care about, animal agriculture and the welfare of animals on farms.  Of most importance, I wanted to see what her guest said about modern agriculture. Those guests included Michael Pollan, author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and Kathy Freston, a vegan author and spiritual advisor.  During her show Oprah issued a challenge to her staff and audience to go vegan for one week.

    Oprah Winfrey

    Oprah Winfrey

    After watching the show I considered taking Oprah up on her challenge.  How hard could it be?  I have gone for a week before without eating steak, and I also like salad! So, I began by doing the logical thing and Googling “what does it take to be vegan?”  Of course the answer is that a vegan must reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose.

    In essence to fulfill Oprah’s challenge I began to make a list of things I would have to sacrifice for the week.  I began with the logical answers of steak, chicken and milk.  Then I started thinking about the definition of a vegan, I would have to give up all animal products, so I broadened my list to include gelatin, lanolin, honey, rennet, whey, casein, beeswax, stearic acid, and broccoli.

    So I know what you are thinking, “why can’t a vegan eat broccoli?”  Well as I made out my list I noted stearic acid was a byproduct of animals, a byproduct that makes tires.  Tires are used by the farmer that grows the broccoli, by the truck driver that delivers it to the grocer, and would require that I walk to the store in…. I guess bare feet as even rubber shoes have animal products in them.   So in essence I could grow the broccoli in my garden using organic methods and fertilizing it with manure; oh wait that is an animal product as well.

    So as much as I wanted to take Oprah up on her vegan challenge I am just not positive I have it in me.  I will also congratulate any vegans out there that are able to find a way to live a vegan lifestyle, yes there are individuals that do and it is no small task.

    For me, I will continue to be satisfied knowing that me and the other farmers that raise my food do so in an ethical manner, caring for their animals to make sure that they live a healthy and content life.  If you question the level of care that farmers provide their animals I encourage you to find a farmer and ask him your questions directly because despite popular belief, farmers know more about what they do every day on their farm than Google does.

    In fact, that’s my one-week challenge for Oprah. If anyone has a chance to get this to her, here’s my challenge and invitation to help her succeed:

    Oprah,

    We’d like you to spend a week seeing what happens on farms, asking those farm families the questions you want answered. My wife Pam and I would be glad to help make arrangements with friends here in Ohio and across the US. In fact, we would welcome you starting your tour here at our farm.  If you come in the next few months, we’ll be able to show you calving. We can show you how we work to provide good nutrition and how we work with partners to take beef to the table. If you’d like to start a bit later in the spring, we could show you planting, etc.

    Looking forward to your visit. Respectfully, Mike Haley

    UPDATE: After I made this post several farmers formed a Facebook page asking Oprah to visit their farm.  Feel free to join as well! http://www.facebook.com/visitmyfarm

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  • Caryl Velisek

    In the final analysis, we all have canines (teeth) for tearing meat along with the grinders. And people will always believe what they want to believe whether it is fed to them by a scientist with the facts or a celebrity that is worshiped and/or has an ax to grind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/visitmyfarm Visitmyfarm

    We have close to 1,000 farmers on our Facebook fan page. http://www.facebook.com/visitmyfarm Thanks to Mike, we are trying to convince Oprah to get out and see some American farms in action where quality food is grown and animals are well cared for. Until then there is some good discussion going on.

  • http://www.ngaiosixpack.blogspot.com scrappysue

    oprah and beef – now there’s a can of worms! i hope you get a reply from her, and i wish u well with the challenge!

  • Keith

    It’s seems to be easy for those sitting in well padded seats, lofty homes and moving around in private jets to set standards for everyone else. I wonder how many people and guest to the show prepare their food and make sure they have a balanced diet. How do they really monitor thier protein intake, fibre, B complex, iron etc all those health constituents found in meat. They don’t give guide lines for a vegan diet. Funny, I’ve never seen a healthy vegan athlete!! or a healty looking vegan for that matter.

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  • Mary

    Oh Mike, Don’t forget to remind them that petroleum is a by-product of animal/plant(s) that lived long ago so that make-up is off limits also. Mary

  • http://coffeeandabookchick.blogspot.com Coffee and a Book Chick

    Additionally, I think Oprah did a fantastic job indicating that she is a meat eater and stating that going vegan would be very difficult for her. She put a challenge to her staff as well to try it and that was that. Oprah isn’t a vegan, nor does she claim herself to be one.

    • http://flavors.me/farmerhaley Mike Haley

      I could not agree more, this is a big world and there is room for a diverse set of people to live and respect one another. I respect vegetarians and vegans for the choices that they have made as I noted in this blog post. There is lots of emotion involved in this debate as farmers spend their life caring for animals and often are portrayed differently, leading to some of the negative feedback in the comments. My hopes are in time the conversation will be more rational from both sides of the aisle. I also agree that Oprah did do a decent job of getting people to represent three different types of diets on her show and have no problem with her eating a vegan diet for a week.

      I believe that there is lots of misinformati0on out their about agriculture, therefore the one thing I do ask of them anyone before changing their eating habbits due to ethical concerns then they at least talk to a farmer to get their side of the story as well.

      Thanks for your comments and I hope you stop by again from time to time.

  • http://coffeeandabookchick.blogspot.com Coffee and a Book Chick

    I’m disheartened by so many of the comments I’m reading. It’s a shame to read that a vegan or vegetarian is denounced immediately just because they feel they are doing what is good for an animal. If someone wants to not eat meat for whatever reasons – whether health, or compassion, or what have you – why do we have to get nasty with each other? Waste of time, in my opinion, and does nothing but reinforce negative stereotypes. And I feel the same way no matter who is doing the name-calling.

  • Reisclef

    Well, who’s saying you need manure and tires to get vegetables to a table?

    BUY LOCAL!!!!

    You had a good article going until you went out of your way to slate vegans. It’s not small or nothing philosophy. Perhaps if you truly wanted to take oprah up on it, you could at least use alternatives such as sunflower spread instead of butter etc.

    Mind you, as your article is biased due to the nature of your trade, why am I bothering to reply? I just hate when people don’t look at both sides of the story. Don’t quit your day job as a farmer to write.

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  • Heather

    Don’t forget all the bugs that meet their fates so that lettuce or cucumber can get to your plate. Even Organic growers use organic pesticides which have the same result as any other. DEATH of the bugs. You may not be eating them but your eating the lettuce lead directly to their death…

    Is it better to kill 100 bugs or 1 cow? Who sets worth when you start on the path?

  • http://trouvers.com/ Richard Parker

    “The Oprah Winfrey Show” hosted Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and wellness expert Kathy Freston to discuss about vegan lifestyle. The team of Oprah even tried this lifestyle for seven days. The final results were amazing, some of the staff even decided to go on with this lifestyle.

  • Rhian Jones

    I’m a vegan, it is really easy to buy boots that are non leather and look like leather. See links: http://www.beyondskin.co.uk http://www.bboheme.com You can have make up that is not tested on animals and animal free ingredients. You can have hair spray that has no animal products. Soap is easy, so are most lovely toiletries and clothes. I don’t like meat substitutes, I create amazing food that does not mimic a dead animal, easy.
    I appreciate that farmers have to make a living, but we need to cut back to save food production, growing plant based food yields more food for the planet.
    http://www.vegansociety.com/resources/animals/ World meat production has quadrupled in the past 50 years and farmed animals now outnumber people by more than three to one.1 In other words, the livestock population is expanding faster than the human population and is projected to continue to expand as the Chinese middle classes increasingly adopt meat-centred diets and as the Western taste for meat, eggs and dairy products continues to grow (along with our waistlines).
    Vegans care about the planet, their fellow beings and the animals who are caged, tortured and made to suffer all in the name of food. There is plenty of food available without killing a sentient being. Why are humans drinking the milk meant for the calf?
    Open your eyes, industrial farming is not the way forward, eat less meat, best of all go vegan.

  • Rachel

    Mike- I enjoyed your well thought out blog. I respect your farm and your wish and want to do right by the animals on your farm. You should be commended for sure, not all farmers try to provide a more ethical existence for the animals.

    I am a miltary wife and mother of two and my whole family is Vegan. We also try and not buy any products that are tested on those animals either. My family is also Buddhist and one of the precepts we live by include a Vegan diet. Your tire comment about the Broccoli is valid and correct. However, most Vegans I know do try and shop as locally as possible and grow as much as they can themselves. I personally buy from an Amish farmer who uses a buggy to deliver to the farmers market.

    The point is at the end of the day we all try and do our best for the things we believe in. It isn’t constructive to the debate to knock areas where people may fail when in the end they are ultimatley trying to do their best. As a Vegan and enviornmentalist I am pleased to see someone come out of their comfort zone and recycle their soda cans. It is better in my opinion to applaud that effort instead of pointing out that they are carrying a plastic bag over cloth. All things people do to make the world a better place should be acknowledged and not mock or looked down on because of the things they don’t do. No one is perfect and when we know better, most people really do try and do better.

    Rachel

    • http://flavors.me/farmerhaley Mike Haley

      Thank you Rachel for your thoughts. I also thank you for finding a farmer and supporting him, I have several neighbor Amish that I work with often.

      I respect your life choices and agree all of us can find little things we can change daily to improve the surroundings around us for the next generation.

      Thanks again for the comment and I invite you back to my blog to check in on whats happening on my farm.

  • http://veggieburgher.blogspot.com/ Jennifer

    I think I’m the first vegan to chime in on this discussion. First, I did not see the Oprah show but heard about it. The main thing I’d like to say is that it’s heartwarming and very encouraging for me to see so many farmers care about animal welfare. I applaud you all. I wholly support local, independent farming and participate in my local CSA program. Through that program, I’m able to purchase locally raised beef or dairy for my husband, an omnivore. It is extremely unfortunate that the meat and dairy in most chain supermarkets and used in most fast food restaurants that so many Americans frequent comes from industrialized factory farms, which has been widely documented as having horrific conditions for animals. I recently read Temple Grandin’s Animals Make Us Human, where she reports on her 30 years of consulting for industrialized farming, and it was chilling. I would love to see a day where independent farms take the place of industrialized farms. Our world would certainly be a better place.

    It’s unfortunate, though, that so many of you who are angry at the Oprah show for generalizing farming are doing the same with vegans in this discussion. How we choose to eat is an extremely personal choice. “Vegan” means something different for just about every person. I’m friends with many vegans and have never heard of any of them not eating vegetables because tires made with animal products touch the soil they grow in. For me, and I think I’m safe to say for most vegans, it means not eating dairy, meat, or seafood and not using animal products like leather, suede, gelatin, and the other products you listed.

    For me, it’s been extremely easy to do. There are so many non-leather/suede handbag/shoes options that look like leather (sounds like the vegan on the Oprah show had many of you fooled!), and they’re cheaper than leather (most of those sold at Target, for example, are synthetic), that I never have any problem finding vegan options. The same with makeup—it’s actually pretty easy to find makeup without animal ingredients that isn’t tested on animals.

    As for a healthy diet, what makes a diet healthy are nutrients, not a specific type of food. I don’t eat any fake meat because it’s processed and unhealthy. I make nearly all my own food out of whole foods, so my diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils), whole grains, whole soy, and nuts—which is everything that the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the largest group of nutrition experts in the world, recommends for optimal health. In addition, the ADA’s research shows that vegetarian and vegan diets prevent and treat many diseases (more info at http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=1233&terms=vegetarian+diets).
    The result is that, at 37 years old, I’ve never been healthier, fitter, or thinner in my life. I never get sick (no exaggeration) and am more fit and thin (I lost more than 30 pounds after going vegan) than I was when I was in college. My diet gives me energy, strength, and happiness. Not eating or using animal products is my personal choice that I feel good about; for those who choose to eat animal products, I hope they’re able to support your farms, where animal welfare is a key concern.

    • http://flavors.me/farmerhaley Mike Haley

      Thank you Jennifer for your response!

      First I would like to say that I respect your decision to eat a vegan diet! I also think its great that you have found a local farmer CSA that you are able learn more about how the food you and your family eats is grown, this is something that most Americans have lost sight of over the last century and is one of the biggest problems facing farmers in the future. I just want to touch on your comment about factory farms for a second, I would encourage you to also see for yourself how cattle, pigs and chickens are raised on these farms as what shows up in the media is often very biased. Some good places to learn online are http://www.ohiopork.org/ for pigs, http://www.usaeggfarming.com/ for chickens and http://www.ohiodairyfarmers.com for dairy. Personally I feel that the large model is not necessarily bad for livestock, its more about management. That said, if you are concerned about how food is raised the best thing to do is exactly what you are doing, buy directly from a farmer!

      • http://www.walkinginhighcotton.net Jamie (@va_grown)

        Both comment here make sense. You can’t judge all livestock farmers by the terrible industry videos animal rights groups put out and you can’t judge all vegans by those same extremist groups. Everyone needs to get out of their houses, their studios, their libraries, and GO TO THE SOURCE to see where your food is coming from and what you think about it.

        I didn’t see the show, but I will say this…I get very upset because we work with heritage breed sheep and there seems to be a movement to end livestock agriculture–then what happens to all those animals? All those individual species? All those precious unique genetics? Our farm can’t grow endlessly, there’s a carrying capacity, so to maintain the genetic lines, we have to balance responsible breeding with responsible culling. Why is it important to save elephants and tigers and whales, but not sheep, cows, or chickens?

        Same with the leather boot discussion–are those synthetic materials that replace leather really better? Are there poor wage, child labor, or work condition issues with those synthetic materials? Are there chemical or industrial pollution issues behind the companies producing those “non-animal” (non-renewable) products?

        With agriculture, the question is always bigger than you think.

  • Amanda Littlechil

    Mike, asking Oprah to come and see how a farm works has been something I have wanted to do for years. My reason is to teach her why we do the things we do and answer any questions she has in why we do them. For instance tagging a calf or dehorning them or even medicating them. Some might think that is cruel or unneeded, but we now it’s best for the animal and we could explain to her or someone like her why we do these things. They could also see how much time and effort is put into raising a herd of any type of animal. (We have a saying on Facebook right now about how a farmer doesn’t get a snow day.) I want to also teach her about the farming part also so it would teach many people that our food, beef or rice, doesn’t come from a store, it come from a farmer.

  • Jim Petrik

    The only reason the elites can debate about food production methods in this country is because none of them have ever gone hungry! We have the safest, cheapest food supply in the world and that is a fact. We have a great story to tell – don’t let Oprah tell it for you!

  • John Bradley, Spring Valley Farms

    Races and athletic competitions are not won by vegetarians, the West was not won by vegetarians, no war in history has been won by non-meat eaters, bridges and tall buildings are not constructed by vegetarians, roads and super highways are not built by vegetarians, CEO’s of big and small successful corporations eat beef. This nation of the United States, was built on excellent sources of protein , lead by beef. Check out what food and protein source(s) are on the training table of all our major college and university sports training tables. Beef is always there. Maybe the people that choose not to partake of beef (Oprah) and acquire their protein source form grain have lost the brain cell power to make intelligent choices of protein!?

  • Marsha

    I think if you read the link in the above Oprah story, where it says she issued a challenge to her staff, you will see is all they gave up was certain foods. They did not do a total non animal ban for a week.

    • http://flavors.me/farmerhaley Mike Haley

      Marsha,

      The reason cited on Oprah’s show to go vegan was for ethical reasons. As in its not right for an animal to be used for human advantages. Anyone that cites ethics for being a vegan and does not adopt the entire program is just lying to themselves, IMO.

  • Acorncreek Farm

    Soaps and Detergents are made from Animal fat, do they take baths?

  • http://www.iloveiwig.com Tim Iwig

    I would love to have Oprah spend time at my farm seeing what kind of care my dairy herd recieves as well as how we handel our milk from the cow all the way to the consumer in a glass bottle. my cattle recieve care and feed before we humans do at our place. These last few days have been an incredible challenge. I would say that we succeeded in spite of the cold and blizzard conditions. Oprah at my pklace for a week… she couldn’t handel it.

  • K atie Bilbrey

    I do not and will not watch Oprah, a lesson learned fom my dad! Love her or hate her, I will not support her! I will however be tuned in if you ever get a response to this post and she decides to visit your farm! Thank you for feeding our families!

  • Shana Beattie

    Couldn’t agree with you more it took a lot for me to sit down and watch Oprah as well. Being a swine and cattle producer from Nebraska the entire episode was hard to swallow, although it was something I needed to see. To see what they are saying about animal ag and of course how Oprah potrays it. As I watched the well put together and trim Kelly Freston so poetically place her case for a vegan lifestyle, I had to wonder how truly vegan she really was with all the make-up (is it animal by product free), does she wear leather shoes etc. Another point they didn’t mention is the cost of this vegan diet. As Americans we do not know how blessed we are to have a safe, quality food supply that is very economical. The vegan products that she recommended to replace red meat and dairy are expensesive and processed, the very thing Pollan suggested to stay away from. I would be happy to show my family farm to others, where providing a quality supply of beef and pork is our top priority, while giving my children the best lifestyle possible.

  • http://flavors.me/farmerhaley Mike Haley

    Thanks everyone for your comments! Wish I had time to respond to each of you individually but dont have power on half the farm due to the weather and tending to the cattle is taking extra time today!

  • http://lebanon.extension.psu.edu/Agriculture/FarmMgt/CapitalRegionIntegratedCropManagement.html dgv1

    I am a production agronomist in Extension. Most farmers know their Extension Agent most consumers are unaware of this resource. That said the goal of our research and development is to offer unbiased testing so farmers can produce a safe and abundant food supply. I specifically am tasked to increase crop production in my County and Region of Pennsylvania(I wonder when Extension should delv into Ag Literacy programs like this). We perform unbiased testing of products to deteremine their utility in crop production. Farmers then may choose what they feel based on sound research from extension, industry and personal on farm testing that will increase yields and decrease their costs to produce other products like meat, milk and eggs.(This is more difficult since 35% of our corn is now being used for fuel).
    People have choices to eat what they want however in some areas people cannot afford to eat what they want they eat what they can afford and or what is available. Our Church give alot to the foodbank for those that even have jobs but do not make enough to feed the family. They are getting a pretty good diet.(Even our prisoners get a well rounded diet another issue) The U.S has always used Ag products to leverage politics around the world. With a growing population we can feed the world at a 1000 calory diet. We cannot do that with production limitations that are not high yielding. We spend a little less than 15% of our income on food and that is changing. In many countries they spend more than 50% of their income on food. I know that my food bills have increased in the last few years more than 60%. We purchase food for our family based on price. That is my choice. I do not have ill will toward someone wanting to eat the Vegan way, Organic, Sustainable whatever clever marketing of food method they want to select. What people do not realize is that Ag is using more Integrated Crop Management where we value scouting of crops, use thresholds for control. It costs money to the farmer to buy fertilizer, lime and pesticides and they are not cheap. In most cases farmers use only what will return to them in increased yield and profit to stay in business. In the future more emphasis on local foods will develop more fully but it will increase our food costs in some areas. If the fuel prices continues this will hasten the local foods initiative but the production technologies will still need to increase yields locally and allow for a production that can keep prices down. Further, people will need to learn how to produce their own food. Our classes locally on gardening are gaining popularity at Penn State for those to farm/garden their own. I am used to this we raise our own beef, eggs, and pigs as well as produce all our potato, grapes, raspberry and sweet corn needs on a small scale to meet the family food needs(Just like it was years ago). This can be done anywhere even on a roof top, with raised beds. It takes time. If the food price continues to increase I am considering expanding our garden and might even begin to use the pond to raise some fish.
    It is great to align with a group to demand food produced in a certain way but keep in mind that if we lose the farming base perhaps you might have to produce it yourself. Global food, free trade that is fine as long as they produce it according to USDA, FDA and EPA in those countries and are regulated just like the American Farmer. It is unfair to the US Farmer to ship in grain that is produced without regulation. If we go global then we need global standards.
    Ag is distructive no matter how you look at it. However we have developed technologies to lessen that impact on water, environment and allow for us to spend money on other essentials. I trust our food system USDA, FDA, EPA if hormones and antibiotics are found in the meat….prove it I am sure the regulatory agencies would have been all over it . Last year many farmers lost money on wheat due to an outbreak of a natural toxin in the wheat from prolonged rain during flowering. Most failed to go to the bread/flour market because of strict testing by the government and ended up being fed to livestock.
    I use antibiotics on my cattle and pigs when they get sick. Would consumers rather me let them suffer? I observe the slaughter withhold times on the products I use inject them in the area of the body not prone to meat damage and I am sure most cattlemen are doing the same. Look at it like your children would you let them get a fever or infection and not do anything about it? The industry demands Beef Quality Assurance, Pork Quality Assurance to ensure consumers get safe products. There are really are some basic common sense answers to these debates if we allow for some unbiased information. When we approach these with a feeling then that can complicate the common sense of the issues. Consider a diverse diet and a mineral supplement(I use one with selenium just like I give my animals) most likely you will live to in your 80′s if you allow technology to improve your life. Excersize is not a bad idea as well.

  • PattyU

    Bravo!!! I hope she accepts your challenge! I’m so glad you did this! :)

  • Melissa

    Awesome!! I love how every time one article or show comes out about vegan ways of life, vegetarianism, or cutting out animal products, thousands of proud farmers and producers stand up!! I grew up on a dairy farm and raise cattle myself. I am planning on going back to the farm after college graduation, and it always makes me proud to be a part of feeding the world. It’s all production agriculture!!!

    If you want to check out a good dairy blog;

    http://orangepatchdairy.blogspot.com/

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  • Marlysue Holmquist

    We watched this show for a while, since it was a snow day here in Kansas and we were both home and inside for a while. But, the narrow view of the world that was presented was as difficult to listen to as other shows with one-sided information. Oprah has a network to send her own personal messages around the world. We who farm are independent and don’t always have national venues in which to send out our messages. And we don’t act as a group with our messages because we value our independence.
    We didn’t watch the rest of the show since we had a bucket calf in the barn to feed, and we needed to check on all of the cattle one more time to make sure they were well-fed since it was going to be so cold in Kansas last night! I’m afraid people like Oprah Winfrey would never understand the life we have chosen to live in the rural areas of this nation. She doesn’t know the respect we give to the land through good conservation methods in order to grow grain crops to feed people, or the hard work it takes, and the care we give to the animals we are raising to feed the people of this nation.

  • Jim Petrik

    Great comments- I am a South Dakota pork and beef and grain producer. My wife, kids and I would also be happy to have Oprah visit this part of the country where we still do things the way they should be done. We take a lot of pride in the way we raise our animals and by the way we look a lot more fit than Oprah despite being big meat eaters!

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  • roger losey

    AMEN!!! With a very small percentage of people actually producing food and a much smaller percentage raising livestock, we are going to be looked at under a microscope and often times unfairly scrutinized. what burns me is that vegan people are often very vocal on their beliefs and will search the web to satisfy their taste, then post it on facebook to promote their beliefs. many online universities will not allow research papres from biased websites that end in dot org because they may not be truthful and cannot back up their claims with nonbiased research. outspoken people who try to scare people and cannot back themselves up should be taken to court and sewed, however, the extra attention only makes things worse. there are alot of good comments on here and i agree with most all of them. we do need to find a way to educate the public better and show them the benefits of animal production and not let the few uneducated outspokens to scare people. we as an industry should also make sure that a few bad apples within agriculture be more closely examined because only the worst is shown to the public, not the norm. that doesn’t make for ratings in the news media. God gave us an appendix to eat raw meat and survive. over time we have domesticated animals to harvest our food supply more efficiently. i get attached to certain animals like most any other person would, but i understand animal behaviour and their purpose, and i know i have a soul…great post mike!!!

  • Carrie

    Mike,
    Your blog was shared with me this morning and I think it is absolutley dead on. I have to agree that oh so many times we are “preaching to the choir”, however it is farmers like you who help share your story. We may be a small majority, however if we get out and tell the “true story of agriculture” our voice will not be silent. I encourage everyone who comes in contact with this message to contact Oprah and invite her to come be a farmer for a week. It is in the teens this morning in Kentucky. Guess what…… my family is out checking cows every 2 hours as we are to start calving soon, chopping ice, and feeding hay in the cold wind and snow. I would love to see Oprah out doing that! Thanks to all farmers for what you do!

  • http://www.extension.org Mark Light

    Do a search on facebook and join our fan page – Oprah, come visit my farm

    Our hope is to start a national movement to garner attention from Oprah for equal time.

  • Caryl Velisek

    All good comments. But, as an ag journalist (and long-time raiser of beef cattle), what I keep saying, and writing, is we are preaching mainly to the choir. I am guilty, too. People in agriculture are busy at what we do. It’s hard to find time to tell our story to those outside but we must. My late husband always said farmers are great because of our independence but that very independence keeps us from acting as a group. I know we have farm bureaus and the grange and many other groups that work hard for us but we are still a small percentage of the population, (because of our hard work and efficiency) and people outside of ag just don’t understand. They often don’t even know where their food is from or anything about it. We need to find ways to talk to them. Like Oprah is doing, maybe. Loud, but with the right facts to back us up.

  • http://www.fourleafcloverdairy.com leontien

    Well written!
    Were just across the border in Indiana and I wouldn’t have any problem showing oprah (or anyone else for that matter) our large dairy farm! It just breaks my heart to know that two hours from here in Indianapolis 8 out of 10 kids don’t get 3 meals a day and Oprah is worried about going vegan!?! Why not try to help the children of this country first??
    Oprah come on down and have a look at what is really happening and how we make sure you get the best quality food there is…

  • Glenna

    I’m so glad Michael Pollen was on and was trying to balance the vegan influence. Did you see what the ‘veganist’ was shopping for with that family??? All processed ‘meat’ (Well, the veagn variety!). I am happy for people to eat vegan, but make it more sustainable…grain and beans! (Or whatever ‘real’ food is available to you!) The message I get is that we can all eat animal products…but maybe a bit less of them and choose meat you know has been raised well. Thank you farmers for feeding us!!!

    Here’s an interesting article written by a previos supporter of veganism…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation

  • Heather

    Thank you for defending animal agriculture. I’m not sure that not many people realize that the person raising the beef in your grocery store may actually be providing the vegetables or milk too. Farmers really do care about providing safe, wholesome foods. Congratulations Cargill for facing the enemy head on and defending the meat processing industry in a very dignified and professional manner.

    The beauty of being an American is we are all allowed to have and voice our own opinions. The unfortunate part is that people like Oprah and her celebrated guests have an unprecidented influence on our society as they broadcast their opinions to the masses. Thank you for volunteering to host the great “Oprah on the Farm” event. I’m sure that your volunteer staff will be record breaking.

  • http://fromthetractorseat.wordpress.com Jillian

    Well written!
    My fiance and I were wondering the same thing today– if the vegan lifestyle is restrictive of natural fertilizers and things processed with things made from animal products (like your broccoli/tire example)? I’d be interested in hearing a vegans perspective on it.

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  • Susan Mykrantz

    You had me worried when you mentioned going vegan, but once I read your post, I felt more comfortable. I guess I think it takes too much work to really stay healthy on a vegan diet. It is much easier to get a balanced diet with high quality meat, milk and cheese, along with those fruits and vegetables. And high quality food starts at the farm. I don’t think people realize all of the extra effort that you and other farmers put in to keeping your animals fed, comfortable and healthy during this type of weather.

  • jr pittman

    Wonderful post! This was refreshingly polite, and well thought out. I too farm, and often wonder why those who want answers don’t seek them at the source.

  • BlackRiverAngus

    Well said. After watching this today I stood in our barn and did my evryday chores. I was almost upset that oprah went about this, this way. I like your comment espicially the one that says that oprah should come and tour farms and see ethical treatment of animals. I also agree any farmer would know more than google does. Thanks for our input. I no longer feel like the only one kinda upset over her show today.

  • Chris

    Great job Mike! I posted a comment on Oprah’s page and asked her to visit your farm. They haven’t let it appear on their comments yet.

  • http://dairyinnovation.wordpress.com Ashley Messing

    Great post!

  • http://www.northernstarr.com Tracy Repasky

    ‎Thought Oprah [todays show] was funny when Kathy Freston, the Veganist was talking about how she could not look an animal in the eye knowing they were going to suffer so she could eat them, but was wearing leather boots, make-up and had hair products in her hair. I guess it must be ok to her to use animal products to wear though…

    Also, who says there are too many sheep in the US? Actually, markets have been fairly high the past few months because there are NOT enough sheep for the demand. We here at Northern Starr Livestock Services are proud to raise cattle and SHEEP may I add!

    Thanks for your involvement!
    Trace Repasky

    • Lisa Maxwell

      I only caught the last 15 minutes or so of the show. When I saw the tall leather boots on the “Vegan Expert” I also thought to myself “Why are you wearing those boots,that make up,hair products,etc. Don’t you know they all came from animals?”My 12 year old daughter made the comment “bet she drives a car with leather seats and uses hand lotion,too.”I missed the comment about too many sheep in the US. We raise a few sheep, and have several friends with larger flocks, and I can tell you that the market for lamb is pretty strong in Maryland. The word has gotten out that lamb is low in cholesterol and high in iron,protein, and B vitamins. We need to educate Americans that they need to thank farmers for their hard work and dedication to an industry that impacts everyone’s life in so many ways than the average person realizes.

  • http://www.michellehouts.com Michelle Houts

    What bothers me most about today’s show is that the Cargill representative, who IS an expert in her field (and who did a fantastic job) got so little airtime while the other guests who are self-proclaimed, not-doctors, not-nutritionists experts in theirs dominated the show. And non-farm folks, particularly young people listen to Oprah and take her word as gospel. Education must start early. Is it any wonder that The Beef Princess of Practical County will never be an Oprah Book Club Selection?

  • http://www.ter-ronfarms.com Ter-Ron Farms

    Awesome article. Do these people have not one shred of common sense? Personally I would rather eat beef, chicken, butter, and milk rather than all those fake versions they showed us. Fake chicken? Puhleeze. And Oprah, come to Canada and I’ll show you our beef farm. You’ll be impressed. I promise.

  • Joy Bauman

    Well written post. I hope she takes you up on your offer to visit the Buckeye State!

  • http://AOL Marlene A. Haas

    It just goes to show you, the people who are suppose to be so smart, are, in fact, the dumbest!

  • Brad Lakamp

    Very well said, I think most so called vegans just think meat, you rally wonder if they know what they are talking about?

  • Maureen Minard

    When I watched the Oprah show today I did not get from it that she was bashing farmers at all. I felt the point of the show was for people to be more appreciative and informed on where their food comes from. In fact, I thought I was very pro farmer. I am a city girl, as far as I can tell my meat comes from the grocery store shelf. I had never witnessed the butchering of a cow, and today I did. It didn’t gross me out, it didn’t make me want to become a vegan. It was informative, I learned a lot. I also learned a lot about vegan eating. In my opinion, when there is open dialog from all sides, then only positive results can come from it.

  • Ed

    Great post, Mike. Saw about half the show and it appeared even Michael Pollan was a little embarrassed by it all.

  • http://commonsenseagriculture.com Jeff Fowle

    A well written post Mike. Nicely done :-)

    Add another open invitation, for Oprah to visit a ranch in California.

  • Sam Wildman

    Great job Mike! What a great day for agriculture. If we coul dencourage her to participate in agchat tonight that would be great!!!!

  • Debbie

    Thank you for your words. I was raised on a working farm and ranch. I amazes me that people with so much power and influence over people, have so little common sense. I am also an elementary school teacher and it is something you just can’t teach. I am thankful every day for our farmers and ranchers, and what they do for us. I doubt if those so called so called vegans would like to work from sun up to sundown to raise their own food.

  • Danielle Hammer

    Farmer Haley you rock!! Thank you for this blog and everything else you do to provide myself and our world with food, fuel and fiber.

  • http://www.durrerce.blogspot.com Ellen

    This episode is just about to air here in the CA Central Valley, and I am already gritting my teeth! I want to Thank You for clearly (and rationally – not sure I have it in me!) explaining the frustrations of livestock producers across the US. It is difficult for those who are unfamiliar to recognize that our animals are not treated “like animals”, but as members of our family, exactly as they are and should be. They are our past, our livelihood and our Future. Kudos to you, Haley Farms!

    • Jessica

      Do you send your family to slaughter? Unless you are in fact a serial killer, please do not compare livestock to your family when you certainly DO NOT treat them as such.

      If you are a serial killer though, my apologies. Might I get your name and address so I can alert the police? ;)

  • http://sameasabovethenhitprofileandthatisWay-leneAcres Arlene De Forest

    thank you for your challenge to her. With more farmers speaking up we are getting our side out to have them consider. I post something everyday on Facebook unless I am away from here. We are a small Grade A dairy farm 10 miles from Ann Arbor, Mich. Every environmental , anti animal group has people here. THEY ARE NOT LIKING THAT WE ARE STANDING AND TELLING EVERY DETAIL ABOUT OUR OPERATION. WE MAYBE OUT NUMBERED BUT WE PROVIDE FOOD,FIBER PHARAMETICALS(SP) AND FUEL. What happens if they have to fend for themselves?Money can’t buy what is not there.

  • Star Mathis

    Beautifully written!

  • http://www.randomramblingsof.com Diane Loew

    Love it. We have a dairy farm and we are proud to be part of the team that feeds the world. Did you know we feed 18% of the world’s population on 10% of the land? If people only knew. Thanks for your great personal insight – you can add our farm on the list for her to visit :)

  • http://farmgirlchaos.blogspot.com Nicole

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas for Oprah. I watched part of the episode, and am glad that’s all I watched.
    From a farmer’s daughter, thanks for all that you do, feeding and providing for the country. There are many uneducated individuals out there. And what little knowledge they might have about the topic, they feel the need to share it with the world…..whether it is accurate or not.
    Again, thank you, and keep up the great work!

  • Pat

    Well put !!! I sure wish she would read this along with the others who think it is easy to be vegan by just not eating meat. I hope they all walk the whole week to prove they can be a vegan for a week.

  • http://www.etpwcw.org Rosemary Brizendine

    I guess those swanky boots and belts would have to go too? Oh my! Once one becomes a “thinker” on this subject of being a true vegan it boggles the mind just how much the “naked” truth would affect them. Guess I’ll just have to remember that “the West was not won while eating salad!”

    • Amy Novak

      How about wool or angora sweaters, socks, scarves, etc. Technically silk would also be out the question if you consider a silk worm an “animal”.

  • Connie Smith

    Thanks Mike . . you said exactly what we are all thinking . .!!

  • http://www.smalltowngenetics.com Kara Backman

    Our farm in California is on board with the extension of this invitation as well. I encourage a tour of family farms and support the effort to organize it. Thank you Mike Haley for beginning this walk.
    Kara Backman

  • Joanna

    Well said, Mike!

  • http://rusmenfarms.com Mendy Sellamn

    Well said! I, too challenged Oprah or ANY of her staff to come visit our farm. People don’t think things thru when they carry a sign and write a check to an organization, do they? Thank you, from one farmer to another. We MUST continue to stand up for our way of life, and our livelihood.
    Sincerely, Mendy Sellman
    Galion, Ohio

    • J. Smith

      Thank you! I beleive that there are too many people in today’s soceity that are so decended from the farm that they have no check on reality. They would rather beleive what other’s say than find out for themselves. The US has by far the highest standards on meat quality and food safety. I work in a packing plant and the policies we follow are very strict and USDA supervises every process. Not enough people understnad the process and not enough people realize that one farmer that does wrong should not shadow 100′s of other farmers that do right.

  • http://aminuteattatime.blogspot.com WeldrBrat

    Ya’ know… there’s reasonable … and then there’s just plain ole’… ANAL.

    Bottom line – the Vegan concept has developed itself into quite the little money-maker… without my help. Granted – I have arguments about all the loopholes allowing garbage to enter into the food chain. And I do prefer raising my own for the table – no differently than was done way back in the days of King Arthur!

    However… My question is… does this country have more sheep than we realize?

  • http://www.sollmana.wordpress.com Amanda Sollman

    Great post, Mike. There’s a book out there called ‘Saving the Planet with Plastics and Pesticides’ and it touches on exactly the points you mentioned here. There is pretty much no way to truly live without the good things that animals give us.

    • Caryl Velisek

      Maybe that’s why God gave us animals!

    • Mike

      The vegan lady sure had a lot of makeup on – isn’t makeup tested on those very same animals she says she “respected” soooooo much. Hypocrite!

      • Rachel

        Actually Mike there are plenty of make-up companies out there who do not test on animals. You should find out what make-up she uses before you call her a nasty name.

        • Keith

          Many companies use the claim that their products, including cosmetics, where never tested on animals. The truth is the components they use in the products where used on animals to prove they are safe for humans. Companies always have a work-around gimmick. Check thier ingredients and see if this still holds true.

          • Ali

            Caryl: I agree!
            Keith: You’re right – a lot do that. And some don’t every test ingredients on animals, depends on the company.
            Rachel: Even if the TESTING isn’t done on animals, the ingredients themselves generally have some sort of animal product within. You’d have to know your raw ingredients, and ingredients of ingredients REALLY well to know that you’re using a completely Vegan cosmetic. Additionally, as Mike states in his post – there’s transportation, manufacturing and so on – all of which touch animal agriculture and by-products of it in some way shape or form.