Fairy Tales and Magical Thinking Mask Truth About Food in Y2K

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This is an interesting essay on the food supply. Just when one thinks maybe it won't be so bad after reading this one thinks again.

-- mb (mdbutler@coastalnet.com), April 25, 1999


Thanks, this is a good one.

a href="http://www.arkinstitute.com/99/up0424.htm">arkinstitute

-- Wanda (lonevoice@mailexcite.com), April 25, 1999.



-- Wanda (lonevoice@mailexcite.com), April 25, 1999.

Let's try again...


-- Don (whytocay@hotmail.com), April 25, 1999.

Fairy Tales and Magical Thinking Mask Truth About Food in Y2K by Geri Guidetti

there's no place like home, there's no place like home...

-- Max Dixon (mcdixon@konnections.com), April 25, 1999.

Please have a look at Paul Davis' essay on food here.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 25, 1999.


Something about this board causes people to enter links incorrectly: Here's the correct link to Paul Davis' essay.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (smpoole7@bellsouth.net), April 25, 1999.

two interesting bits of advocacy journalism - Guidetti assumes TEOTWAWKI and Davis assumes speedbump...for those of us who see a potential result somewhat less than TEOTWAWKI and somewhat more than the '3 days' advocated by the speedbump types we have a few more options available.

I do need to qualify that statement however, by saying that I have already stored enough seeds for two years of living primarily off of stored and home grown food...and that's my perspective....


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), April 25, 1999.

Ahem; if we got down to grits and boiled wheat it would be a mite more than a speedbump. But I can't see how we could possibly have a shortage in those items.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), April 25, 1999.

Paul, It is arrogant to say you can't see how we'd run short on those items. Do you have enough stored to share with all of us? It feels as though you're saying, well, even if we run out of some stuff, we can always eat cake. If we run out of food, we run OUT of food.

-- DontB Pompous (marie@ntoin.nette), April 25, 1999.

If you check out Paul's article, also read the discussion about its content on an earlier forum thread:


-- Wanda (lonevoice@mailexcite.com), April 25, 1999.

I did read that thread. I agree that many people who live on a diet of fast food and prepared frozen and microwave foods are not going to have the slightest idea what to do with whole grains. People under stress are not going to change their diets easily. They could very well starve looking at that bucket of grain. Not to mention no way to cook it even if they could figure out what to do with it. Those of us who have prepared alternate cooking methods such as propane, coleman and solar ovens etc will have a big jump and won't be clogging up the FEMA and Red Cross lines trying to get scarce food and water because we are already well stocked at home and are able to help our DGI neighbors.

-- mb (mdbutler@coastalnet.com), April 25, 1999.

READ/reread Bonnie Camp's latest!

Read Robert L. Dabney's "Secular Discussions", order at Sprinkle Publications, P.O. Box 1094, Harrisonburg, VA 22801, (540) 434-8840, sprinklepub@juno.com

In the past my people could grow their own victuals and make their own britches if they had to. We were not and I and me people like FLINT/Davis.

We were/are a we and us people.

FLINT, the EMPORER wears no clothes!!!! FLINT you wish to take people down with you.

SHAME!!!! The same goes for you Paul Davis, SHAME!!!

Deo Vindicie!, Brother Rat

-- brother rat (rldabney@usa.net), April 25, 1999.

Yes, but you left the URL and didn't talk about fairy tales and magical thinking...which I think would be pertinent on a forum board that gets a lot of "browsers".

Shall we talk about the fairy tale of food coming from the super market/grocery store? Shall we talk about water coming from the "faucet"? I have been planning a "BASIC TRAINING Course for children, adolescents, teens and adults who don't quite understand HOW THINGS WORK. Many cannot understand what happens when you throw a switch for a light in your house, let alone understand what happens when you pull a lever in a voting booth...TIME for some PLAIN TALK is in order me thinks...

Can you say "Cause and Effect"?

She who is digging up grass, and adding more garden space for seedlings.....

-- Donna (moment@pacbell.net), April 25, 1999.

Paul Davis, having just reread your essay - the point isn't about calories, it is about interconnections of systems.

Did you grow up on a farm or ranch, have you raised beef or pigs for market, have you worked the wheat, oat, barley, flax, & corn fields or helped with harvest? I have. You seem to be woefully, even painfully, unaware of the shear number of interconnected links in the food chain the end result of which is food for your table.

First. I grew up on a large cattle ranch, and while those types of enterprises still exist, they are far outnumbered in product number output by cattle manufacturing enterprises. These giant feedlots are the popular means by which the cost of beef is kept low enough, for those who wish to eat beef on a regular basis, so they can and not use their total food budget.

Giant feedlots, whether cattle, pigs, chickens, or turkeys are all tightly connected into the web of distribution. These are industrial sites. They demand baby product to be delivered just when they need them by the hundreds of thousands.

Think about the infrastructure that delivers 200,000 3 day old baby turkeys or chickens. There are the fertilized laying hens which need feed, care, water, waste disposal. Egg collection facilities, and then incubation facilities. Then transportation of the chicks in specially made boxes, transportation capable of maintaining life conducive environment.

The chicks at the industrial site need warmth and light or else they will die. The air must be moved by fans when it gets too warm. They need food to eat. Their water must be clean and on demand. Their waste must be removed on a regular basis.

Turkeys have a big obvious impact because of Thanksgiving. The industrial site now has 12-18 pound turkeys and it is two weeks before the holiday. Slaughtering 200,000 turkeys is a big job, (I kill my own home grown turkeys and chickens and it takes me about 5 hours to process 18 chickens from squawk to freezer - obviously industrial slaughterhouses are faster). At the industrial level, the adult turkeys need transportation from the warehouse in which they have grown, to the slaughterhouse - many times the two facilities are not in the same area. This slaughterhouse must deal with the feathers from 200,000 turkeys, they must be able to deal with the visera and offal. This slaughterhouse must be able to kill and process these 200,000 birds in an expeditious and timely manner, clean and disease free. They must have bagging facilities, a stock of plastic bags, and freezer units capable of freezing and storing the 200,000 birds.

Then those birds must be taken to food distribution warehouses. Then to your store. Then to your house.

Consider there are perhaps 75 million or more turkeys eaten at Thanksgiving in the USA. JIT.

Consider that there are _always_ unfrozen chickens and chicken parts available at the grocery store, birds that were crowing and clucking in the prior 72 hours.

Consider that McDonalds uses 70,000 head of cattle a DAY.

I'm not even touching upon the monetary movement that is intimately connected with every meat from baby to table. The currency movement is facilitated by telecommunications, credit at banks, stock exchanges. The cost of animals is determined largely by grain futures, meat futures, cost of transportation, cost of electricity, cost of fuel, cost of money, cost of labor, various govt subsidies, and various taxes.

Now, consider industrial grade animal food. I know this because I've participated, and I have a reliable connection within the Calif Dept of Agriculture Animal Division. All commercial food is a mixture of grains, animal excretia, antibiotics, discarded food from grocery chains and large restraunts, and ground up dead animals (unused beef, pig, chicken, turkey, sheep parts, and horses) from the slaughterhouses and from county dog pounds. These animal remains are processed so that no disease can be passed on to the eating animal. Yet, as we now know, because of the prion based "mad cow" disease in Britain, that process of killing the bugs in the dead meat is not always 100% effective. These recycling practices bring the cost of animal food down to the point where you and I can actually afford meat.

Now I personally see quite a few possible places where y2k glitches could happen. Depending upon the glitch, it could be no more inconvient than higher prices or lack of on-demand availability. Or various glitches could result in a more severe outcome, one which would be characterized by interruption of the bird to egg cycle, in the turkey example. But these same disruptions could easily be applied to chickens, pigs, sheep, or cattle as the chain of grain, credit, transportation, labor, raw materials (baby animals), processing, storage, and sale are similar for all the animals.


Grain production is just another industrial process. Enough wheat and barley and oat seed is usually kept on hand by the farmer for next years crop. But new seed for planting is bought about every 5 years. Soybeans are controlled completely by the govt, they ship the seeds to the farmer every year and demand the total crop.

There is an intricate web surrounding grain production. The local banks are part of that web, but just a minor part when compared to 30 or 40 years ago. Govt subsidies, without which we would not have cheap grain, tax laws for equipment depreciation, govt insurance against crop loss from weather or pests are big aspects in todays agribusiness. The fertilizer industry, the pesticide industry are both intimately involved. The grain futures markets in Chicago must function perfectly in balance with the banks, govt, and food processing businesses. Fuel is a major cost, contributing to everything from soil prep, to planting, aircraft planting and spraying, harvesting, rail costs, fertilizer & pesticide costs. Machine manufacturing is a y2k vector via imports and steel. Harvest is now performed in the grain belt of the US by contract labor businesses having their own machinery; they begin in the South and move North as the grain ripens. Relatively few farmers have their own harvesting equipment or grain trucks.

Grain production and agribusiness in general is a highly leveraged structure. Not only within the cost and payments structure, but growing, transportation, and storage. The banks, the futures markets, the railroads, the wholesale facilities, the processing mills, the trucking transportation, the equipment manufacturing plants, etc. must be working at near perfection.

In addition because we practice monoculture agriculture using green revolution seeds there are two additional risks which aren't directly related to y2k now, but could be. Monoculture agriculture is wide open to disease and pests, this is a very well know fact. Green Revolution seeds are hybrid seeds which do not necessarily breed true, but must be continually bred into that genetic configuration. An interruption of the substructure that deals with the pests, the agriculture that grows these hybrid seeds, will result in poor in no or insufficient yield and hungry folks.

Many of our common grocery vegetables are sprouted in climate and light controlled greenhouses. Then are transported to field where they are either planted by hand or by machine.

Even ground preparation itself is at y2k risk. Because of fuel, banking, transportation. An interruption of any of these will interrupt the plowing, summer fallowing, sprinkler irrigation, flood irrigation, or harvest. Without those the winter wheat crop could be interrupted, and the following spring wheat would not be able to go into the ground. Same can be said for vegetables.

It is my hands on knowledge that tells me that food should be a major y2k concern both here in the 1st world and in those countries who are not reliant upon computers in an obvious. The vectors of y2k exposure are manifold. What is Hawaii going to do with thousands of acres of pineapple, either unable to harvest, store, or ship? What are countries going to do with sugar cane or bananas if they are unable to ship? What happens to the people in those countries, will their economies and organization survive if they must immediately begin feeding their own populations from their own soil? What happens to ecosystems if y2k is bad? A few million acres of formerly tilled land, no longer being utilized is going to have an impact of some sort.


Now as to whether or not meats and grains can be shipped in from other countries. Well, again this action will demand a near flawless infrastructure within the futures markets, domestic and international banking, domestic and international transportation, fuel, functional port facilities, functional wholesale nexus. It means that the large regional refrigeration facilities be functional and reliable. Mills must be functional. National and regional transportation systems must not only remain functional, but must remain cheap in order that the product on the store shelves is not priced out of nearly everyone's means.


Vegetable production, fruit production, nut production, dairy products are all highly vulnerable to y2k interruption, whether at primary location or distant infrastructure.

All of agriculture is also dependant upon the packaging industry. Paper and plastics products are in almost total use. In the vegetable industry these products are even used in the fields during growing, not just in final packaging for store shelves. Glass and metal are used in canning. Canning requires large amounts of cheap energy. Canning demands that there is labor on demand when the crop is harvested.


Paul, I'm not saying that all of this is going to happen. I am saying that the potential of Food Chain disruption through various vectors is high enough to warrent attention, not trite dismissal. I am saying that you present an extremely narrow view of the Food Chain as it is represented in your essay and Yourdan writings.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), April 26, 1999.

That is a fantastic rebuttal. Paul, your thoughts?

-- mb (mdbutler@coastalnet.com), April 26, 1999.

Definately a "keeper" Mitchell!

Thanks for the explaination.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 27, 1999.

BTW, Mitchell ... thought this was an interesting little exclamation point to your comments!


Tue., Apr 27, 1999
Burgers Of Destruction

And the 2nd nastiest ecological hazard on the planet? No, not politics. It's meat. Lots and lots of meat.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/04/27/MN13651.DTL

Environmentally speaking, the worst thing you can do for the planet is drive your sport utility vehicle to the local steak house for a prime sirloin. ...


... The industrial production of beef, poultry and pork pollutes waterways and air, fouls the land and gobbles up valuable resources, ...


But Leon said researchers were surprised when meat production showed up second only to vehicles in terms of environmental destruction. ``We knew meat production would have some kind of impact, but we didn't expect it to be so significant.''

In terms of water pollution, said Leon, beef is 17 times more damaging than all that goes into making pasta. This is because of water pollution from manure, as well as the amount of electrical energy, fuel, fertilizer and pesticides needed to raise cattle fodder.

``The contamination to the nation's waterways from manure run- off is extremely serious,'' he said. ``Twenty tons of livestock manure are produced for every household in the country. We have strict laws governing the disposal of human waste, but the regulations are lax, or often nonexistent, for animal waste.''

Beef production is also 20 times more damaging to wildlife habitat than pasta production, said Leon, because it uses far more land.

Poultry is somewhat easier on the environment than beef or pork, Leon said. ``Chickens are able to convert feed to meat more efficiently than cattle or hogs, so they ultimately contribute less pollution per pound of meat produced,'' he said.


He also said not all animal husbandry is the same in its environmental effect. ``Huge commercial hog farms are more likely to have a serious impact than range cattle,'' Gough said.

Vegetables, fruits and grains are third on the group's list because their cultivation usually entails large quantities of pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers and irrigation water.


``Food will always remain a resource-intensive industry, but we can ease the burden on the environment by buying organic produce and eating less meat,'' ...

[snip -- to end]

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), April 27, 1999.

Bravo, Mitchell !

I'm going to buy more rice. ASAP.

-- Grrr (grrr@grrr.net), April 27, 1999.

May I suggest that we focus our critical thinking skills on balanced, realistic and cost-effective improvement of productivity and stewardship practices, rather than painting the agriculture/meat industry with a broad brush of condemnation. It is a fact that food does not magically materialize in the store and is a biological necessity for human beings. The US food production industry is held to the strictest environmental and food safety regulations in the world. Would you prefer to eliminate domestic agriculture and cut a few more rainforests so that you can import your meat, produce and fiber? Would you like your food produced from countries that haven't the standards of safety and environmental protection that we have in the US?

You may not care for meat products. That is your prerogative. You may not care for "bioengineered" (not necessarily "terminator" type) seed. However, take a realistic look at the stats. I believe the following information is compelling - particularly the last lines. According to a the Alan Shawn Feistein World Hunger Program, Research Report, The Hunger Report: Update 1993, 1994, the support potential for the world's agricultural land supply in relation to its population in 1992 reveals the following:

(1) If we were to feed everyone in the world a strict vegetarian diet - losing nothing to insect loss or crop damage, and feeding nothing to livestock - the world could have fed no more than 115% of its population (this provided a 15% margin of famine safety.)

(2) If we to upgrade that diet to include a minimal animal source caloric content of 15%, the world could have fed no more than 77% of its population; and

(3) If we were to upgrade that diet to the accepted "full but healthy" (lean) nutritional standard, the world could have fed no more than 59% of its population.

A 1994 study by the World Watch Institute indicates grain production has been lagging behind the world population since 1984. In addition, the world's population was expected to double in the next decade, requiring a 50 to 70 percent increase over current grain levels just to meet the demand for food.

The foundation also reports in Poor People and Threatened Environments: Global Overviews, Country Comparisons, and Local Studies that there is little untapped agricultural land to call upon in the hungry Third World to make up the caloric deficit. At least 1/4 of the world's population inhabits "threatened" environments: highlands which are undergoing rapid deforestation and erosion; semi-arid lands, of which by one 1984 estimate at least 60% were already desertified (had lost more than 25% or more of their productive capacity); and tropical forests with transient fertility which are being cleared at a rate of somewhere between 1/2 to 1 1/2% per year. Altogether, these threatened lands make up approximately 55% of the earth's land area.

From Introduction to Agricultural Economics by John Penson, Rulon Pope and Michael Cook; as of 1981 in the U.S., there were still 413 million acres of cropland and another 127 million acres that could be converted to cropland. However, it was projected that by the year 2030, that we will need 462 million acres to meet demand. If we continue to lose cropland at 1 million acres per year, we would lose about 50 million acres from cropland and would need to increase yields by 1.1 percent per year to avoid being short of the cropland needed by 2030.

According to researchers at Washington State University, cereal plants have reached a plateau where applying more water or fertilizer will no longer increase production. Bioengineered plants are the direction in which agriculture is now moving to increase output.

From the brochure Cattlemen: Stewards of an American Tradition, published by National Cattlemen's Association:

"... 64% of the continental U.S. is agricultural land and 2/3 of agricultural land is classified as grazing land. 92% of land classified as grazing land is not suitable for crops. If this land were not grazed by cattle, it would have no value as a food resource."

-- marsh (siskfarm@snowcrest.net), April 27, 1999.

If we WERE the BEST REGULATED in the world, our meat would be welcome in more countries. We allow the use of hormones, and antibiotics which makes our meat contaminated by many countries' standards.


POP!! Another bubble breaks.

-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 28, 1999.

No bubble broken. It is the way that other countries prevent import when tariff's are forbidden by the WTO. There are lots of protectionist strategies like that in many world markets. Did you know that there are hormones in all milk? Imagine that!!!!

-- marsh (siskfarm@snowcrest.net), April 28, 1999.

Mitchell, I have a few more minutes free here, so will try to put in something while I have a little time.

My point about food production is simply that we store a tremendous amount of grain through each winter. And grain is food. You seem to assume that no one will take any action in case of trouble. In fact, the military is authorized in emergency to commandeer whatever is needed (actually the officer in charge gives the owner a chit and the govt. arranges fair payment later) and use it as is deemed necessary. In other words, you could expect the grain storage areas to be opened up pretty quickly and distribution to begin. Also, the minimum preparation for wheat is about as simple as it gets - boil it for an hour. That does not require much instruction.

Now I very much doubt that we are going to get to anything like that status - I was just trying to show that widespread famine is simply not going to happen. It just is not required for everyone to be 100% Y2K compliant for Y2K to have a less than catastrophic impact. What is required is that enough comes through intact that when a company fails others can come in and pick up the business. And I think we passed that point some time back.

Now as to the points about environmental impact of the meat industry - unfortunatly they are pretty much true. I have seen a large confinment hog operation more or less close down a small community. And yes, I have farmed - born on a KY farm and stayed there for 25 years. But throwing out the baby with the bath water doesn't work - much land is only suitable for grazing, and much grain is contaminated with weed seeds and such that make it unsuitable for human consumption except in case of emergency (not unsafe, just less palatable).

Now excuse me, I have to get off this boat and find something to eat.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), April 28, 1999.

Thank you Paul for taking the time to respond.

I can only hope that your optimistic view of overall remediation is borne out.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), April 28, 1999.

I'm not a farmer. But what the heck, I'll have my say anyway.

I usually see pollution to be litter. For example, many campers do not clean up after themselves, and leave a spoiled campsite. Some environmentalists may argue that the number of campers needs to be reduced, but the problem is not one of camping but one of failure to pick up after oneself.

If the cow manure runoff constitutes a case of serious pollution, I bet the problem is not one of production of manure, but rather one of the failure of the beef farmers to adequately take care of the litter their business produces, for the purpose of maximizing profit.

I understand that requiring the producers to do the job right will raise their costs and therefore the costs of the customer/consumer. But I say that this is not a problem caused by the size of the operation. Rather, it is the result of the beef people not doing the entire job.

Anyone who knows better is welcome to disagree.

-- GA Russell (garussell@russellga.com), April 29, 1999.

I can't speak to feedlot operations, but, as far as rangeland operations, I believe you may be open to learning more about the function of large cleft-footed ruminants (and their wastes)in the fertility and biodiversity of rangeland ecosystems:

A May 11, 1994, article in Ag Alert states that "Nitrogen is the primary building block for amino acids, protein and plant protoplasm. It is critical for flower differentiation, rapid shoot growth, bud vigor and fruit set. It increases size and quality of fruit and acts as a catalyst for other nutrients."

"There are tremendous quantities of nitrogen in the environment. "The air we breathe contains about 75% nitrogen, making up 35,000 tons of nitrogen over each acre of surface."

"This large pool of nitrogen is useless to higher plants. It must first be converted to useable forms primarily by microorganisms either associated with the roots of legumes or free living in the soil. Some nitrogen is also converted by lightning and rainfall (about 5 pounds per acre per year)..." "The large quantity in the atmosphere, however, is only about 2 percent of the Earth's total nitrogen. Most of it is in the earth -soils, rocks and coal."

"In the nitrogen cycle, according to the American Society of Agronomy, a key principle holds: Nitrogen cannot be produced; it can only be converted."

According to a December 14, 1993 presentation on nutrient cycling made by Professor of Range Ecology, Dr. John Menke, (University of California - Davis, on loan to the Klamath National Forest,) cold climate mountain grassland systems have the highest natural organic component of lands (3.5-4% organic nitrogen) with the exception of peat lands. The deterioration of roots and digestion by microbes is slowed because this action shuts down in cold weather.

Dr. Menke explained that the major component of nitrogen in the range/pasture system is the organic soil (about two times greater than other combined contributors.) Plant biomass (shoots and roots) ranks next with contributions of microbial biomass, inorganic soil nitrogen, biomass from insects etc., and contributions from large herbivores (dung and urine) ranking evenly. In addition, lightning charges rainwater with from 2-4 lbs. of nitrogen per acre.

In forage systems, approximately 5% of the nitrogen in the forage is retained in mature grazing animals and the remaining 95% is returned to the system. Growing calves retain more nitrogen than mature cows. Nutrient content of manure and urine is directly related to the content of the forage ingested. Grazing animals do not mysteriously create additional nutrients that are not already in the system - in fact, they remove a small portion. This portion is exported from the immediate rangeland system when cows are returned to home pasture and calves are sold.

Although high quality dairy feed results in a greater nutrient content in dung and urine than range cattle, a study of dairy animals conducted by Hutton et al. (1965, 1967) gives some idea of the disposition of the various nutrients that a bovine animal acquires through feed.

NITROGEN - 26% is eliminated in feces; 53% is eliminated in urine; 17% is passed on in milk; and 4% is retained.

POTASSIUM - 11% is eliminated in feces; 81% is eliminated in urine; 5% is passed on in milk; and 3% is retained. PHOSPHORUS - 66% is eliminated in feces; 0% in urine; 26% is passed on in milk; and 8% is retained.

SODIUM - 30% is eliminated in feces; 56% is eliminated in urine; 8% is passed on in milk; and 6% is retained.

CALCIUM - 77% is eliminated in feces; 3% is eliminated in urine; 11% is passed on in milk; and 9% is retained.

The potential impact of grazing animals on nutrient levels in waterways is greatly dependent upon the incidence of direct delivery of waste products into the water body.

The California Rangeland Watershed Program - Fact Sheet No. 20 states; "fecal material deposited upon streambanks will reach the water only under conditions of overland flow, (when rainfall and/or snowmelt rates exceed the infiltration capacity of that particular soil.) U.S. Weather Bureau records indicate, however, that overland flow events occur less than one percent of the time in most of the arid west.

"An analysis of streamflow and weather data for the Bear Creek watershed in central Oregon revealed in a six-year period (1975-1981) there were 29 runoff events, an average of almost five per year. Of these 29 events, six were related to snowmelt, six to rainfall on frozen snow-covered ground, and 17 due to rainfall. Two-thirds of the rainfall induced runoff events occurred during the summer months. This analysis indicates that for over 99 percent of the time, the water quality of a stream in a rangeland pasture is dominated by the direct deposition of animal fecal matter, rather than fecal material which is "washed" into stream during a runoff event."

Studies have also been done on the frequency of direct delivery of cattle wastes into water bodies. In the grassy foothills of California under a Mediterranean climate, studies conducted by Wagnon in 1963 determined that cows spent from 3-6 minutes per day per cow drinking in the water. In the arid areas of Eastern Oregon, a study by Sneva in 1970 indicated an average drinking time of 17 minutes per cow; and a study by McInnis in 1985 indicated an average time of 26 minutes per cow per day.

According to a herd study by Royce Larson at Bear Creek, Pineville, Oregon, cattle spent an average of 5.2 minutes each in the creek per day. Bulls were not observed to defecate directly in the creek. Cows and calves were found to have an incidence of .19 average defecations into the creek, each per day. Both the amount of time and incidence of defecations were found in the study to increase in August. It is assumed that the cattle sought water as a soothing mechanism during hot summer months for the avoidance of botflies.

Based on Livestock Waste Facilities Handbook, Midwest Plan Service No. 18, Moore and Willrich - 1982, the stream loading of nutrients per cow per year (assuming a 1,000 lb. cow, 12 defecations per day, 60 pounds total of "manure" per day with an 88% water component - or 1 cubic foot per day and 7.5 gallons per day, comprised of .34 lbs. nitrogen; .11 lbs. phosphorus; and .24 lbs. potassium per day) was: 2.5 lbs. of nitrogen per cow per year; .8 lbs. of phosphorus and 1.8 lbs. of potassium. Dr. Menke indicated that this was an incredibly low amount of nutrient contribution when viewed in the context of the entire system of which the grazing animal is a part. (It must also be recognized that other large grazers, such as elk, deer, antelope, pack animals and wild horses may exhibit similar behaviors.) The issue is not so much amounts, as timing of delivery into the system when flows are low. The relative concentration of nutrients will be dependent upon the volume of water present and the speed of movement of water or rate of replenishment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ According to a Capital Press article dated October 9, 1992, pg. 18, Kirk Gadzia, vice president of field services for the Center of Holistic Management in Albuquerque, New Mexico stated at a National Cattlemen's Association regional meeting in Pasco, Wash., that studies show a myriad of examples of grazed land being healthier than adjacent ground that has been rested for many years.

Gadzia stated that in many cases, the rested land can't re-establish biodiversity without the nutrient cycling ability that cattle bring to the land. The dung provides the bacteria that recycle decayed plant material, making nutrients available to other species of plants, insects and wildlife. Rested lands are often dead lands because there's no nutrient recycling and the land is not desirable for wildlife because it lacks biodiversity.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In a March 15, 1994, presentation on progress made by the "Upper Stony Creek Watershed Cooperative Project" or USCWCP, Wendell Gilgert, District Conservationist for the Soil Conservation Service in Willows, California, indicated that areas excluded from grazing in the project have experienced a general decline in vegetation. In a comparison study, three ranches in the watershed have been managed with different approaches: total cattle exclusion; ambient grazing; and time intensive grazing. On the ungrazed land, it has been determined that soil caps become hostile to seed, vegetation becomes thatched and "wolfed", and there is evidence of a proliferation of medusa head. Hoof impacts from cattle break up the soil cap, while the animals distribute nutrients through dung and urine into the soil, creating a more successful seedbed for the re-establishment of perennial grass. ~~~~~~~~~ As an addendum, cattle operators cannot pass on costs to consumers. There is currently a situation of "meat packer concentration" (monopoly of basically 3) and prices been kept as low as what cattlemen got for their live cattle product decades ago, despite what you see in your supermarket. Most barely make more than it costs to feed them and some haven't broken even in recent years.

-- marsh (siskfarm@snowcrest.net), April 29, 1999.

Marsh - I think most of the environmental work in the East has been done re confinement operations. Used to read quite a bit of that stuff - haven't for some years now though so am a bit out of date. But the confinement operations are going to be limited in expansion in the future both for environmental and economic reasons.

And you don't have to tell me about the monopoly in the beef packing industry right now - my father and brother gripe about it every time I see them - my father is 83 now and still raising cattle. He does not have kind words about the current price of beef.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), April 29, 1999.

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