Wednesday, May 20, 2015



The Truth About HSUS and How to Protect Your Operation – Former Investigator Tells All
Courtesy of 'Chris' being interviewed by
It's to make videos, to generate revenue, to create an agenda you can publish and show the media to garner more support and effectively get more money.
- Former Undercover Investigator for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Animal activist groups attack the animal agriculture industry and state’s laws involving the industry. How do we know this? A former undercover videographer for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) gives a ‘tell all’ about his firsthand experience with HSUS. He wanted to remain anonymous, due to fear of retaliation from HSUS. So, we used ‘Chris’ as his name for the purpose of the article.
“Chris’ first heard about the job, as an undercover investigator with HSUS, from a friend who saw it on Craigslist. “It was kinda strange for a multimillion dollar lobbyist group to be posting ads on Craigslist to hire for undercover investigators,” said ‘Chris’.
After he was hired, ‘Chris’ found out they thought he was a meth addict and it seemed to be no problem to HSUS – as long as he could ‘do his job’. ‘Chris’ started on his first assignment in upstate New Jersey with a fellow investigator.
Mary Beth Sweetland, HSUS director of research and investigation, was ‘Chris’ boss. She is in charge of all the investigators – which is about six, ‘Chris’ once included. He says there is no chain of command because there is only one person above her.
When it came to finding jobs and places to investigate this is what ‘Chris’ says would happen:
Sweetland would give a state to work in and he would go. Once he was there, she would tell him what type of industry to work for – such as beef, poultry or swine. Sweetland would then have a list of all possible aspects of that industry to apply to. Those lists could range from one hundred to a thousand locations. ‘Chris’ would start apply around the original location he was told and then she would send an amended list to where she really wanted him to be.
Once he was hired on at a place, he would wait one day to start work in-order to tell Sweetland he had the job and to prepare for it. He typically would not video record anything till after one week. ‘Chris’ would only write what he saw. “Then I would start to see how I could get a camera in here, (like) ‘this is how I could wear it without being found out’, etcetera,” said ‘Chris’.
‘Chris’ said he wasn’t working for HSUS very long when he started to ‘get rubbed the wrong way’ about what he was doing. As previously stated, New Jersey was the first state he worked in for HSUS and it was also his first experience “of HSUS taking film and not exactly skewing what I filmed but, definitely being instructed to blatantly mislead,” said Chris.
The official change in ‘Chris’ opinion came when he actually did discover animal abuse and Sweetland didn’t act any differently compared to non-abuse footage. When he stopped believing in what HSUS was doing, he changed how he worked for them. In his reports about the content of his videos, he stated in detail what actually was going on so, nothing could be skewed as animal abuse.
“The public never see the reports we do unless it goes to court, but going to court – that is a complete possibility. So, if I am going to put something like that (details saying there is no animal abuse occurring) in a report, that’s going to have heavy hits. She (Sweetland) can’t misconstrue that as animal abuse any longer, because her investigators themselves (who are) out there said it wasn’t. So, she can’t take that to court. Therefore, she wouldn’t want to use the footage either,” said ‘Chris’.
‘Chris’ believes that Sweetland and HSUS knows that what they are doing is blatantly lying to the public half the time. ‘Chris’ said she has told him, “Every farmer is doing something illegal and it is your job to find it.”
When ‘Chris’ tells people that he use to work for the Humane Society for the United States (HSUS), they think that he worked in an animal shelter. And when it comes to turning people away from HSUS, “That’s what sways them right there! No one knows, for some reason, that HSUS doesn’t run a single animal shelter,” said ‘Chris’. He goes on to say that does a ‘brilliant’ job of getting an in depth look of what HSUS really does.
Animal activist groups also target state and national laws affecting animal agriculture. Some of the most known bills are referred to as ‘ag gag’ laws. In short, they typically require you to report abuse within a certain time frame from first witnessing the abuse. So how could organizations that wants to protect animals be against these laws?
According the HSUS website, “They (ag gag laws) also sometimes require mandatory reporting with impossibly short timelines so that whistleblowers must “out” themselves before they can document a pattern of abuse.”
‘Chris’ response to HSUS? “Utter nonsense. HSUS is not a government organization. They have zero legal authority. They shouldn’t be the one’s to decide when they should turn that information over. If they spot a crime, they should have to immediately report that crime. There is no way you should allow a crime to continue, if anything that is aiding and abetting! That should be illegal in my opinion,” says ‘Chris’, “Elongating animal abuse that you witness daily, it doesn’t make any sense. That’s the opposite of what you should do if you want to stop animal abuse. Why wait? The answer is easy, I know the answer: it’s to make videos, to generate revenue, to create an agenda you can publish and show the media to garner more support and effectively get more money.”
As to an investigator having to ‘out’ themselves? ‘Chris’ says you can make an anonymous tip to the authorities. They will investigate and stop it if it is happening and an investigator doesn’t have to break cover.
‘Chris’ also says there have been investigations that have gone on for over a year before the FBI shut it down. “That is a year’s worth of animal abuse that HSUS just only documented. They documented. If there was a state that had a ‘Good Samaritan’ law, HSUS would be banned if that law could be applied! They just watched animal abuse happen for a year straight and didn’t do anything about it. There is no set time that they could sit on footage, it could be up to a year or a couple weeks,” said ‘Chris.’
He offers up advice to employers within the industry to protect themselves from investigators. ‘Chris’ said, “Believe you and me, farmers have this on lock down right now. They are pretty good in the game of detecting an undercover investigator but they don’t take it to a level necessary.”
His advice for the interview process:
  1. Look at when that license was issued. Most states require you to change your address within the first 30 days. And if they haven’t, ‘Chris’ says, they are either lazy or an investigator.
  2. If the license is from another state, that should be the first red flag. If they are an investigator, they will probably have a story as to why they are ‘new’ to the state.
  3. They will put an address down on the job application. Google it! Most farmers don’t do that says ‘Chris’. Investigators, he says, typically stay in hotels so they will use an UPS address on applications. ‘Chris’ would use the Walmart address because it would ‘look good’ on paper.
  4. Don’t be afraid to drive by and check the place out. ‘Chris’ said, “It sounds kind of weird but, it could mean the difference between keeping or losing your farm in a legal battle.”
  5. If they claim to be from the area: vet them on how well they know the local area and surroundings.
His advice on if you think you already hired them:
  1. Move them to another section immediately. Preferably away from the animals such as clerical work or driving trucks.
  2. Then tell them they will be there for a while. Sweetland pulled him from a job when he spent a week driving trucks because he wasn’t getting any video footage. If they quit one week after you moved them, that is a good indicator they were an investigator.
  3. If you have moved them away from the animals and they continue to ask about those operations, when it doesn’t impact their new job duties, it is a good indicator that they are an investigator.
  4. See if they eat meat. Most of the investigators are vegans but will eat meat on the job. He says you can also tell by their body type if they keep animal protein as a steady part of their diet or not.
  5. Limit employee clothing choices. Have shirts with no buttons. Investigators will have to get real creative on hiding cameras.
“The only other piece of advice would be – without video an investigation is useless. Utterly useless,” said ‘Chris’.
He also gave us this link, from the Animal Agriculture Alliance, of known investigators (which he confirmed) to help if operations think they might of hired someone.
Watch the full interview with HE

Monday, March 30, 2015

Is it Safe to Use Roundup?

Is it Safe to Use Roundup?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup made headlines last week when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, departed from the scientific consensus to declare glyphosate to be a class 2A “probable human carcinogen.” With the speed of the internet and the reach of social media, the spin began on both sides. Consumers wondered if it was safe to eat food on which glyphosate had been used, and farmers worried about being sued if they kept using the product. Historical perspective, science, and common sense were left in the dust as the rhetoric spun out of control. So setting aside the posturing, here are a few things to consider as you make up your mind on this issue.

First, glyphosate has undergone testing and scientific study for more than 30 years. The U.S. government has declared the chemical safe for use on crops and in agricultural production. The standards used by the government are as follows: “The U.S. EPA develops strict limits (or tolerances) for residues at 100 to 1,000 times lower than levels are at which health impacts might occur. These tolerance levels are considered safe based on average daily food intake by adults and children.” Those  opposed to biotechnology or the use of almost any agricultural chemical say these standards are not safe.  “It is the amount of exposure to a chemical that determines the potential for harm, not simply its presence or absence,” said Carl Winter, PhD, UC Davis. Levels 1,000 times lower than needed seems reasonable to both scientists and regulators. In addition, no credible evidence of health problems have been documented over the past 3 decades.

Second, consider the fact that the ARC study is just one study compared to a much larger body of work that has drawn a different conclusion. “Scientific experts who have considered the body of relevant research do not agree with a categorization of glyphosate as carcinogenic for a very simple reason – it’s clearly not. There is nothing in the data to support such claims, and nothing in the deep reservoir of real world experience with glyphosate, to justify such a move,” said   L. Val Giddings, with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He also points out that the ARC study does not present any new research, but bases its conclusion on previously released research. Whether you believe the new study or not, keep in mind that, to date, the vast amount of science is on the side of glyphosate safety.

Should farmers stop using glyphosate? The Organic Consumer Association says yes.  In a statement released just moments after the ARC results were made public, they said, “The OCA calls on the U.S. EPA to do its job: Ban glyphosate now.” I do find it interesting that the same groups that say 30 years of testing on GMO food is not enough to prove their safety are calling for a ban on glyphosate based on one report.

As for farmers ready to head to the fields to plant a new crop, should they be worried about using glyphosate? Could they be sued or caught in a class action suit? Todd Janzen, ag law expert for Hoosier Ag Today, says no, “Nothing has changed with respect to EPA approval of glyphosate. All we have is one organization classifying it as something that ‘probably’ is carcinogenic.”

So, as you sort through the mountains of media coverage and the megabites of comments on social media, keep this in mind: As of today, glyphosate is safe to use on crops, and food from those crops poses no risk to your health.

 By Gary Truitt

Friday, March 6, 2015

Farmers do what it takes for their animals.

Indiana farmer uses hot tub to save baby cow

ROSSVILLE, Ind. - A Carroll County farmer took matters into his own hands to help save the life of a baby cow.
Dean Gangwer discovered a newborn calf in a snowbank this week. The third-generation farmer said he must have missed one of his cow's give birth.
"She decided to go off by herself, which a lot of cows do, they want to be alone, big old pile of snow, I found this calf laying in there," Gangwer explained.
He could tell the animal was in danger -- the calf’s body temperature was extremely low, he was barely breathing and he could hardly keep his eyes open.
Gangwer managed to get the calf -- now named Leroy -- in the back of his truck and took him home. Once home, the pair sat together in a hot tub. Although it was unconventional, Gangwer hoped it would help bring Leroy's body temperature back up to normal.
"I jumped in fully dressed, held Leroy up so he didn't drown, and him and I had a nice bath for an hour, so we both came out warm and I think the end story's gonna be great for him," Gangwer said.
After getting out of the hot tub, Gangwer took Leroy inside his home to dry him off. Then he wrapped the animal in electric blankets to help warm him up even more.
A day and a half later, Leroy's body temperature was back to normal and he even nursed for the first time Friday morning.
"Leroy's officially done hot-tubbing. Some sunbathing is definitely in his future out in the grass, but definitely his hot tub days are done," Gangwer said.
Gangwer said Leroy was getting stronger by the minute and he should be joining the rest of the herd soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dates to Remember

Putnam County Farm Bureau is preparing for an active March.  This week we will have our second Legislative Update session, Saturday morning at 8 am.  In March we will be holding our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 10th.  Newsletters and cards are on the way.  March 14th is AG DAY in Putnam County starting with breakfast, a program, and the mini farm fest open to all.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Crop Management Tool

Crop Management Tool Helps to Control Inputs

360 Yield Center – Logan Welker at Trupointe Cooperative

DCIM100GOPROCrop management just got a little easier as a new precision agriculture tool has hit the Indiana market. Using big data to make on-farm decisions is quickly becoming the status quo in agriculture. The 360 Yield Center, a new precision agriculture tool, is designed to deliver those decisions says Trupointe Cooperative’s Logan Welker.
“It helps them out with nitrogen utilization and efficiency. Ensuring it with the  weather patterns that they’ve experienced on their farms, it helps them judge what actual nitrogen rates they need to be using right at that moment.”
Welker says growers tend to question the rate of nitrogen they should be applying to their fields.
“This will help us to determine, judging by that farmer’s field, their location, their soil types, how much nitrogen to put out there as well as their seeding populations based on what type of hybrid they’re using.”
The math just works for growers: when you effectively apply nitrogen, you save on your bottom line.
“This will help them maintain their yields as well as help them save on nitrogen application. I mean, maintaining yields and increasing yields is where we want to be; but if we can do it more efficiently, I think that’s where this tool can really help out.”
Welker says for farmers who do invest in precision agriculture, they get paid back.
“A lot of it is determining how it functions and how it best functions on their farm. It’s something that’s real and it’s something that needs to be helped with. Growers needs to understand it’s not just spending money on things, it can also save them money on their inputs. That’s kind of a big discussion piece and understanding we have to go through.”
The 360 Yield Center has four different components:
360 SOILSCAN – provides you with zone-specific soil nitrate analysis results right in your field in as little as 5 minutes, with accuracy that’s comparable to lab resultsSOILSCAN1_675x425
360 COMMANDER – generates optimized, actionable seed, nitrogen and irrigation recommendations based on real-time information
360 UNDERCOVER – mounts easily to your 360 Y-DROP riser and glides smoothly through the field for targeted fungicide, insecticide and nutrient applications. It also gives you multiple nozzle choices, which allow you adjust your application speed and pressure accordingly
360 Y-DROP – gives you more control over when and where you apply nitrogen to your crops – now even up to tassel. And since corn uses 75 percent of nitrogen after the V10 stage, a late season nitrogen application can help improve yield in ways you haven’t been able to before

Get more information on the 360 Yield Center.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Farmland Property taxes

Purdue Ag Economist Deboer Outlines Farmland Tax Issues

Purdue University agricultural economist Larry DeBoer has outlined the major issues involved in the current legislative discussion of farmland taxes. “It seems likely that something will be done about farmland property taxes,” DeBoer writes in his latest “Capital Comments” column for Purdue Extension. “How it will be done, and who will foot the bill are the big questions.”
Among the possible options the legislature could consider is changing the formula used to calculate farmland assessments to better reflect current market conditions, DeBoer writes. The current formula calculates the taxable value of farmland based on four-to-nine-year-old data, including commodity prices, yields, rents, interest rates and other costs.
But calculating this year’s taxes based on more recent data could increase tax bills in the short term, according to DeBoer, because market conditions have been generally favorable to farmers over the past few years, resulting in higher land values.
Another option could be introducing new deductions for farmland owners, DeBoer writes.
DeBoer’s column appears monthly in the “News Columns” section on the Extension homepage, DeBoer and Tamara Ogle, an Extension educator in Cass County, also have an active Twitter account, @INTaxRockstars, focusing on farmland tax and assessment issues.