Tens of Thousands of Cattle Dead Due to Winter Storm Atlas

Dead carcasses lay along US Highways 212 & 34. Courtesy of Kristina Barker, Rapid City Journal

Dead carcasses lay along US Highways 212 & 34. Courtesy of Kristina Barker, Rapid City Journal

A lot of things have changed since I last posted a year ago. For one, I no longer am at Colorado State University as an Animal Science and Equine Science double major, to my heart’s dismay. I am now at Boise State University and studying Psychology with a minor in Biology so I can go on to acquire my masters and doctorate in Neuropsychology. I still have the pup and love of agriculture though, so don’t you fret. No matter how hard psychology will try, there is no way anyone or anything can take the love of cattle and agriculture and the people who make up it’s wonderful world away from me. I swear I am one of the few and the proud who rock my Tony’s on campus. And I wouldn’t ever think of being ashamed of it.


I return, after a long hiatus, to make a post that is not full of excitement. To be quite frank and direct, I wish I didn’t feel the aching in my heart to post in Rancher’s Daughter because that would mean that I could go back to studying for my anatomy and physiology lab quiz that I have tomorrow about human bones. However, this is something I could not simply ignore.

Enter: Winter Storm Atlas. Mother Nature apparently let her wrath go on Western South Dakota these past few days. And I do not say that in a joking or over exaggerate matter. Reports have been coming to light about a very heavy snowfall that came on in lightning speeds. Literally feet of snow was dumped on the Dakota plains and it is going to take an astronomical toll, emotionally, physically, and financially, on the ranchers that make up it’s population. I first read about Atlas in Rapid City Journal’s piece that was published today (October 8th, 2013). My heart ached and then broke into a million pieces. Ten’s of thousands of cattle are dead because of this storm. Tens of thousands. And, that isn’t even close to a final number yet.

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Photos of Winter Storm Atlas Casualties- WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES!

All of the below pictures are from Big Balls In Cow Town

These images are graphic and contain images of dead cattle. However, in my opinion, they are important to share as they are the damages that the ranchers of this devastating storm are having to face. See my original post about Winter Storm Atlas for more background.

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New Addition: Thoughtful Thursdays

Announcing a new addition to The Rancher’s Daughter: Thoughtful Thursdays! Basically I have taken my love (obsession) with psychology and intermeshed it with my love (obsession) for agriculture. Since I decided that moving back to Boise was the best idea for me at the time, I have had this intense feeling of loss because Boise State doesn’t have an agriculture program. So, naturally I went with my other natural instinct: psychology. But, living a life were one is non-existent makes me sick to my stomach, I am set to figure out a way to have the best of both worlds. It then occurred to me that I have an incredible gift that can channel and explain things about agriculture and our perceptions of them, as well as the opposing side’s own viewpoints. So, I hereby declare every Thursday (okay, not EVERY Thursday, but most) Thoughtful Thursday in which we will dive into the depths of the agriculture brain and try and play connect the dots. There is a good chance that I am the only one fascinated by this idea, but it’ll be here and you can take what you want and leave the rest.



Protect the Harvest & Their Plan to Protect You

Animal agriculture has been around since the dawn of time and man has made great use by specializing and with advancements in technology to gain the ability to generously feed others. However, animal agriculture is under attack by groups that want to see an “abolition” to the industry. Erik Helland, a Representative in Iowa’s House of Representatives, wanted to make it known that that simply cannot happen last Monday night on RFD-TV, Rural America’s Most Important Network, by discussing a group called Protect the Harvest. Protect the Harvest is a group of individuals that have made it their mission to put a spread the truth about agriculture one farmer or rancher at a time. They are getting these truths out using social media, face-to-face interactions, TV appearances, and radio appearances because they know how critical it is to set the record straight. Although the individuals behind this organization were smart enough to know that just talking to consumers won’t be enough to truly put an end to this battle between the animal agriculture industry and the animal rights advocates.

The main point that should be taken from the interview is this: animal agriculture is under attack and here’s what we can do to stop it. The Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, is an organization known for its commercials that show pet shelters and a celebrity holding an animal and they ask you for donations. They have what is known as a “hidden agenda” and know how to use it, in other words, they have a plan that is not the one they advertise and then do anything possible to achieve the underlying goals with the help of money from those who may have just been misinformed. Erik says that creating an awareness of this hidden agenda could make all the difference in the world. That hidden agenda is then used to scare and intimidate others into doing as HSUS pleases. Visit Protect the Harvest’s website for more information.

Overall, Erik did a fantastic job of explaining how to utilize what resources are available in this fight, and the most important one is also the simplest: be honest with your consumer and let them ask the questions. I recently did a post about that very topic and it can be found here. Protect the Harvest not only provides information on the deception of animal rights groups, but it also provides a sense of community that you can find common ground with someone who might have a completely different story then yours. Make sure to check out their YouTube page for videos like this one:

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Our First Step: Listening to Consumers

My amazing grandparents were in town this weekend and my Grandfather had brought down a copy of Future Farmers from September of 2011. He had read an article within the magazine that sparked his interest because it was right up the alley I’ve been paving for myself. His opinions were that of an agricultural background and I could hear some frustration and exhaustion in his voice when he explained his fear for the agriculture industry. Those are included in this piece.

Farmers are talking; will consumers listen?
Mike Wilson

The opinions that critics of agriculture present to the public are rarely from an agriculturalist’s point of view, in turn, providing an inaccurate portrayal of the industry and those within it. The critics create propaganda aimed at consumers that has been carefully thought out to scare consumers and provide falsified information about food. The necessity of food for survival is a fantastic way that critics play on consumer’s fear to manipulate choices and opinions.The fear of food being dangerous is a terrifying thought to all, but the actuality of these claims is not reliable. Informing consumers about food by the people who produce it is as obvious as consulting a doctor for chest pain. Becoming “transparent and gain consumer trust” will be the most important factor agriculture can have in this world, aside from feeding it.

Enter the U.S. Farm and Ranch Alliance, an alliance of diverse food producers and agricultural partners that are spending time and resources to understand and listen to American’s questions about food production. The alliance does not excel because their main concern is making a better profit, but they succeed because for the first time a concern had been make so blatantly obvious, their views on productivity were set aside to allow the big picture to be first priority . The cruciality of informing consumers about the actuality of food and agriculture was brought into the light and quickly made the focus of the industry as a whole. Spreading the message in agriculture doesn’t require a marketing or advertising degree, it takes a heart that has a passion for agriculture that completely outweighs yearly profit.

Social media works wonderfully as the starting point in communicating to consumers. In Wilson’s article he brings up a statistic, “277,000 online conversations about food and agriculture in May, but the ag industry barely joined the discussion.” My own Grandfather asked, “Well Shelby, when do agriculturalists have time to blog or time to use Twitter?” The honest truth is that each individual uses social media in their own way and and present their honest opinion so differently and diversely that it’s hard to say. What can be said about keeping up with the media and putting informative information out there is a time consuming activity on top of their tireless careers. To be as active in the social media community as most are by spending any free time checking Twitter or WordPress updates, speak volumes about those farmer’s and rancher’s priorities.

The pivotal point in this movement is to educate consumers on food, however the key is to ask the consumer to ask the questions they are curious about. Agriculture is a supply and demand industry, not a “If you build it, they will come” industry. The consumer ultimately calls the shots and thus proves the incredible importance for clearing up any misinformation. The need to be professional and talk down to consumers should be evaded indefinitely, no question about it. Speaking from the heart and allowing the passion of agriculture to come out in your tone and your words can do more for a conversation than a flip chart and a graph ever could. Remembering that the consumer is the focus is crucial, because taking this strategy and attempting to fight the critics will place both parties where they stood before hand. The ultimate motive here is to gain the public’s trust by being completely open and honest and then continue that honesty once the questions have been satisfied.

A huge problem agriculturalists face is the public’s perception on motives a producer might have. For instance, a producer that uses hormones on cows and heifers in feedlots might think they can profit more than grass-fed beef in the end, or the input costs to raise dairy cows could be cheaper than allowing a free-range environment. That perception is rarely true and really allows “rumors” to be spread that can ultimately put a farmer or rancher out of business. What consumers need to know is passion, heart, and love of what agriculturalists do for a living. There has been an untrue assumption made towards farmers and ranchers thanks to a tactic critics use that throws a cape over the women in dirty jeans and cowboy boots and the women wearing muddy muck boots and Carhartt bibs. The people who make up the agriculture population have love and passion in what they do, or they simply wouldn’t do it.

The most valuable opinion agriculture needs to hear, is that of those who buy the food.

More information about U.S. Food and Ranch Alliance Here.