Ag department should only require product labels that help consumers
HAYS, Kan. -- Got milk? Or, better yet, do you know if the milk in your refrigerator came from a cow injected with growth hormones? The Kansas Department of Agriculture currently is debating whether to allow dairy producers who don't utilize prod...
HAYS, Kan. -- Got milk? Or, better yet, do you know if the milk in your refrigerator came from a cow injected with growth hormones?
The Kansas Department of Agriculture currently is debating whether to allow dairy producers who don't utilize production-boosting techniques such as recombinant bovine growth hormone to label their products as such.
On its face, it makes sense to have labels touting "rbGH-free" or "rBST-free" dairy products. After all, sales of "free range" chickens, "all-beef" hot dogs and "farm fresh" eggs all benefit from being able to highlight such "natural" production techniques.
But one doesn't need scratch too far beneath the surface to find solid reasons to oppose such labels.
First and foremost, cows apparently produce such growth hormones naturally. So even analysis in the laboratory cannot distinguish milk that comes from a "normal" cow or an artificially stimulated cow. So any label would be meaningless.
And if such acceptable guidance is determined, it more than likely would require extensive paper trails and an additional cadre of enforcement personnel to visit individual dairy farms. Since it is estimated more than 80 percent of state farmers do not use the artificial production boosters, those additional costs likely would be shared by consumers to monitor a minority of producers.
While we believe in full disclosure to consumers, we're not sure the proposed label will serve any real purpose. We get the feeling the Kansas Department of Agriculture doesn't either. In fact, it is accepting public comment at this time and will have a public hearing Dec. 2 in Topeka to discuss the matter.
We hope Kansas ag officials only endorse labeling systems that actually can benefit the public, not merely offer competitive advantage unfairly to a small group of dairy farmers who can't prove their milk is any different from the rest.
-- Hays (Kan.) Daily News
Transportation a strain
WATERTOWN, S.D. -- Bill Even, South Dakota's secretary of agriculture, sees the problem. He thinks it is going to worsen before anything is done to correct it.
Even has acknowledged the roads South Dakota farmers use to get their products to market are deteriorating -- along with the rest of the nation's transportation system.
In rural states, like South Dakota, where agriculture is the dominant industry, the system of township and county roads is all-important. This is important to all of us for two reasons: the income farmers receive from their products help support businesses and towns; and the more efficient farmers are in getting their products to market, the lower the prices will be when we go to our local markets to buy the finished product.
Another component to the strain on the roadways is that modern equipment -- tractors, combines, grain bins and trucks -- is larger and heavier. Heavier loads mean more damage, and that means more repairs.
At this time, road funding is problematic because federal road money is largely dependent upon receipts from gas taxes and with the run-up in fuel prices, Americans are driving less, which means the government is collecting less. Additionally, construction costs are increasing rapidly.
The secretary says he does not think the political will exists in Pierre, S.D., at this time to address the problem.
It is time to improve all transportation infrastructure, from the interstates spanning the country down to county and township roadways. We either can pay for the work on our roads, or we can pay for greater repair costs on our autos and higher food prices because farmers are less efficient getting their products to market.
In the end, it is our choice.
-- Watertown (S.D.) Public Opinion