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Last week, I was sad to read an article on Yahoo news that said agriculture was the #1 useless college degree. Last time I checked, I still needed food to live. How can farming be useless, if that’s how we get our food? Maybe the author thinks food just comes from a big factory.

The author based the claim on the fact that land grant universities are cutting their agriculture programs and mega farms are becoming so efficient that they don’t need workers. Both are true! But shouldn’t statistics like this give alarm for concern instead of being taken for face value to steer students away from this career. Leaving our food supply to less than 1% of the population to grow is a pretty big risk. Meanwhile, if re-branded, farming could be the green job of tomorrow…Sustainable agriculture programs could be training food producers, land stewards and soil carbon ranchers. And by decentralizing the farming industry, smaller farmers would begin to populate rebuilding agricultural ecosystems and putting people back to work.

Adding insult to injury…On Monday, January 23rd, the Supreme Court overturned California’s 2009 law which required that non-ambulatory (a.k.a. “downed”) livestock be euthanized before slaughter. These are animals who can’t stand on their own  because they are too sick and weak. Seems reasonable and humane! How could this even be contested? It seems sometimes that our judicial system gets so caught-up in the process that they forget their common sense.

The despicable, harvesting practices of unethical slaughterhouses were magnified in undercover videos released by the Humane Society in 2008. If you have ever seen these videos, it will make you sick just thinking about it. California took swift action to set new guidelines which were by no means transformative but were at least better than before. The California law left the heart strings out of the court room and just focused on the food safety concerns of meat from sick animals; knowing social and health issues were the best way to get the bill passed. But  for animal rights activists, it was a huge win and a step in securing more, humane, husbandry practices. Pork producers sued saying, “it interfered with federal laws that require inspections of downed livestock before determining whether they can be used for meat.” They just wanted more money. And they obviously had the money to get this Supreme Court decision. House of Representative Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY, and Rep. Peter King, R-NY have “introduced legislation this month which will hopefully close a loophole in federal laws that allow the slaughter of some types of non-ambulatory animals.” Hard to believe this much time is needed to address an otherwise black and white issue.

Sorry to be a Debbie downer with this news report. i usually keep it pretty bright and hopeful. But sometimes it rains on my parade.