𝐀𝐧 𝐀𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐨𝐧 𝐁𝐞𝐞𝐟 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐧 𝐀𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭 Katherine E. Merck Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC
Colorado Governor Polis recently declared March 20th “MeatOut Day,” encouraging Coloradans to eat a meatless diet. As Westerners, we cannot sit idly by as the governor perpetuates falsehoods about animal agriculture and undermines an industry that employs more than 170,000 of his constituents and generates billions of dollars for his state’s economy. We need to fight back.
While the governor’s proclamation is detrimental to all meat-producing industries, it has a particularly chilling effect on the cattle industry due to the long-perpetuated falsities surrounding beef production. As “Attorneys for the West” who are carrying on multi-generational legacies of cattle ranching, this fight is personal for us at Budd-Falen Law Offices.
The battle against beef is much larger than just beef – it is a battle against the entire cattle industry and, ultimately, rural America. Despite the false narrative that has created unnecessary and misplaced guilt in consumers’ minds, cattle ranchers feed American families, strengthen our local and national economies, and conserve natural resources. As all farmers and ranchers know, living on and caring for the land instills a unique sense of responsibility to ensure that it can be passed down to future generations. Farmers and ranchers are the original stewards of our environment, preserving it and pioneering sustainability long before those ideas infiltrated the consciousness of modern America. Feeding our communities and sustaining our land is a thankless job, and one that many people outside of rural communities do not even try to understand. Countless nights spent warming newborn calves, missed meals, and hours of labor are just a few things that allow each of us to feed our families a simple hamburger. But despite all the challenges, our farmers and ranchers continue to feed us, sustain our economies, and preserve our land for future generations.
While “cow fart” narratives and myths have dominated mainstream media, emissions from the cattle industry only account for 3.7% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Cattle thrive on land that is unfit for cultivated agriculture and generate 19% more protein than they eat through their unique digestive system. Approximately 90% of what cattle eat is inedible for humans, yet cattle convert this forage into healthy protein and an abundance of vitamins for our world’s increasing population. Cattle are an effective land management tool, and beef is a highly sustainable food source. The cattle industry is the heart and soul of small towns throughout our country, many of which could not survive without it.
Additionally, there are hundreds of uses for cattle by-products, many of which the average American utilizes in their everyday life. I, for one, enjoy the soap in my shower, the tires on my truck, and the insulation that keeps my house warm during our cold Wyoming winters. Plus, nothing satisfies my sweet tooth quite like a cold glass of chocolate milk. Without the cattle industry, these things we take for granted each day would cease to exist. We cannot allow misinformation and long-perpetuated falsehoods to destroy one of our nation’s most important industries.
In order to combat misinformation and combat the “MeatOut” movement, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association is coordinating with restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses to feature meat products on March 20th. Organizations throughout the country are coordinating similar efforts and encourage supporters of the agricultural industry to meet at local restaurants and order their favorite meat dishes. We encourage you to do your part to keep meat on the table – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – during March. After all, it is National Agriculture Month.
Personally, I’m looking forward to sitting down to a nice, medium-rare steak with a baked potato and all the fixings on March 20th. I did move to Wyoming from Idaho, after all.
1. The vast majority of animal owners care deeply for the welfare of the animals in their care – regardless of species. The ‘divide and conquer’ tactic is very common when animal extremist groups try to get bills of this nature passed. There are also already animal welfare laws in place in Oregon to prevent abuse of all animals including exotics.
2. Once a bill is passed, it takes a simple amendment to include currently exempted species (cattle and horses, among others). So, they should not be considered safe should this bill pass.
“(b) “Performance” means a carnival, circus, display, exhibition, exposition, fair, parade, petting zoo, photographic opportunity, race, ride, trade show or similar undertaking during which an animal performs tricks, gives rides or otherwise entertains or amuses an audience, whether or not a fee is charged.”
This image features Anna Van Norman, of the Van Norman Ranches, competing on their stallion JP Colonel Blackcatt, in the Elko County “NoFair” last September. 2020 was scheduled to be the 100th anniversary of the legendary county fair, but it was postponed until 2021. The stockhorse and branding events held their competitions in the unofficial “NoFair”, and I was fortunate enough to photograph there. The Elko County Fair stockhorse competition has a rich history of legendary horsemen competing there over the years. ~ Nicole Poyo
In today’s world, a very precious few things are as relevant—much less as vital—as they were a century ago. However, the horse, as an essential tool of the trade and working partner for ranchers, has rather uniquely stood the test of time. On ranches across the country, the horse remains an invaluable, irreplaceable asset in the mission to feed America and the world. It is safe to say that very few people today realize that their daily lives are affected by something seemingly as anachronistic as a ranch horse. However, even people that don’t eat meat benefit directly from ranching—and from cowboys and their trusted horses-- because of the myriad of byproducts of meat production that are found in hundreds of commonly used items.
Modern American beef production is one of the most naturally sustainable and streamlined sectors of agriculture. Cattle ranching is the first step in the process. Ranchers own cattle and raise calves to be sold into the beef market. Cattle, as well as sheep, can be raised in arid and rugged areas completely unsuitable for farming. They convert raw otherwise unusable forage into nutritious food and byproducts that humans can utilize. It is also very important to note that properly managed grazing works in harmony with the ecosystem, and can greatly benefit the environment in several ways, such as sequestering carbon and mitigating wildfire risk.
𝐇𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐧 𝐈𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐑𝐨𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐁𝐞𝐞𝐟 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
For centuries, ranches have relied on horses to help move and manage livestock in mountainous, rough areas that are otherwise inaccessible, even by today’s motorized vehicles. Riding horses allow ranchers to not only cover rocky or brushy country effectively and efficiently, but in the eventuality that a cow needs veterinary care, also to safely, humanely catch, restrain, and treat her, quite literally in the middle of nowhere, without the aid of corrals or chutes. This allows the rancher to treat the injured or sick cow as quickly as possible while minimizing the amount of stress she is under.
The value of quiet, efficient stockmanship cannot be overstated. A horse can move quietly through a herd without disturbing cattle as his rider examines the cows for any issues. A capable or “handy” rider mounted on a willing and well-trained horse can accomplish much in a short time, even a long way from any type of corral or livestock handling facility. In the photo above, the heifer (young cow) has been safely caught and restrained so the cowboy can administer the necessary medication. The horse knows to keep the rope taut and the heifer under control until the job is done.
The horse is far more than a vehicle, however. Cowboys rely on their horses’ senses and instinct in numerous scenarios. Many ranch breeding programs across the country raise horses in the same terrain and conditions that they will work in later, making them keenly attuned to their environment and therefore incomparable working partners. A horse naturally senses danger much more quickly than a person does, whether it be treacherous ground or a nearby predator. His sharp senses serve in other ways as well; horses see, hear, and smell things long before humans can, whether it’s another rider approaching from miles away or a missing calf bedded down in the brush. A good cowboy knows to watch where his horse watches.
𝗥𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵𝗹𝘆 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗔𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿
The many and varied experiences had by young ranch horses work to develop the blend of prowess and level-headedness ranch horses are known for. The traits of such seasoned horses are essential for the rancher and working cowboy. In addition, the horses’ abilities are of substantial financial value in the worldwide horse market. The demand for true ranch horses is strong since they can easily transition to any number of purposes for both competitive and recreational riders. Thus, the raising, training, and selling of horses from a ranch’s breeding program is a great way for ranchers to diversify and improve their operation’s overall profitability.
Just as numerous ranches are multigenerational, a great many ranch horse breeding programs are too. There is immense value in this, not only for the ranchers but potential ranch horse buyers as well. Ranchers have a deep understanding of the horses they raise and their lineage. It inspires and merits great buyer confidence when a ranch horse breeder knows the traits, strengths, and weaknesses not only a horse itself but of its sire and dam (parents) and other ancestors. The value of this is evident in ranch horse sales across the country, where finished horses frequently command prices in the tens of thousands of dollars.
The horsemanship necessary to mold young horses into productive partners is an art in and of itself; rodeo and horse shows are a testament to that fact. The skills necessary in a ranch horse and the competitions based upon them comprise a massive sector of the horse industry. Passing the knowledge, training methods, and love for the equine down to future generations is an integral part of ranch horse breeding programs, and thus, the continued success of many multigenerational family ranches as young people follow in their parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps.
All of that said, it is important to understand that the human/ranch horse relationship is far from one-sided. A wise old cowboy once said: “A horse needs two things—something to eat and something to do.” The truth of this can be seen on any number of ranches across the nation, where the hard-working, purpose-bred horses meet their riders at the gate, eager for human companionship and the day’s work ahead.
The sad reality is that despite the age-old symbiotic relationship between humans and horses and the essential role it plays in our food production system today, animal extremist groups are actively campaigning to end any type of animal use.
Former Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) executive Wayne Pacelle infamously stated, “we have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals.”
Patrick Battuelo, the founder of the group Horseracing Wrongs, stated: “...Tracks will close/consolidate over time (like what’s happening now); with that, businessmen being businessmen, less breeding. In other words, the racehorse population will gradually decrease according to time-tested economic principles. When the time arrives for the last track, or cluster of tracks, to close, there will be ample funds to “re-home” what’s left. Then, sterilize to extinction – a planet devoid of Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Standardbreds, and everything in between...”
Even if a person has never seen a horse in person, has never had a pet of any kind, and even may choose not to eat meat, the broad attack on animal use and ownership affects them. It profoundly affects everyone. The ability for ranchers to saddle their horses and go to work out on the land, producing high-quality food and byproducts is not mere nostalgic Americana—it is a very real, very necessary component in safely, sustainably, and affordably feeding a hungry nation and maintaining quality of life in the 21st century.
Several of our Western Justice staff members are multigenerational ranchers that breed, raise, and train our own ranch horses. We know firsthand how incredibly important and valuable they are to our livelihood. This is one of the many reasons we seek to represent the horse industry in legislative policy situations and educate the general public on horse-related topics.
Buster Welch rode Peppy San Badger, Hall of Fame Class of 2008, to many wins throughout his career. Buster has been tied to many of the horses in the Peppy lineage and once said Mr San Peppy out sired himself with "Little Peppy."
Stephen J. “Tio” Kleberg, who was managing the King Ranch, brought Peppy San Badger back to the land of his ancestors to take over for his sire, Mr San Peppy.
In 19 seasons, Peppy San Badger sired 2,325 AQHA registered foals that have earned more than 7,200 points in all divisions, and won more than $25 million. The National Reined Cow Horse Association World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2001 illustrated just how prolific Peppy San Badger’s offspring have become. At the Snaffle Bit Futurity, four of the top 10 open horses were by sons of Peppy San Badger. At the NCHA Futurity, four of the top 20 finalists in the open and non pro were by Little Peppy sons.
Learn more about Buster and Peppy San Badger online at aqha.com/halloffame.
Interested in supporting the Hall of Fame through a donation? Donate online today at aqha.com/donatetoday. ...