Is Michigan State University promoting vegetarianism or are they just anti-beef?
I’m overwhelmed as I write this, as I reflect on a huge day in history and what I have found on the Michigan State University extension website.
Now before I carve out my pound of flesh from my alma mater, let’s remember – I bleed green. I am a Spartan through and through. My parents graduated from there, my sister graduated from there, my son is now a Spartan and I loved and benefited from my five years spent mostly on the corner of Farm Lane and Shaw Lane.
But lately, I’m losing respect for the oldest land grant university in the country. Last week, I stood in a standing room-only tent at the MSU Purebred Beef Facility as they dispersed all but 10 head of the registered Hereford herd at the MSU End of a Legacy Sale. They will close the doors to the purebred facility and all it had to offer students.
Now the emphasis will be across the road at the feedlot, but for how much longer? The university slashed the budget and showed their hand when they decided to streamline the beef herd.
With their drastic actions they said, loudly and clearly, animal production is not important; students who want to study livestock production should go elsewhere; and even though we are in a state whose second largest industry is agriculture – and that industry is second only to California in diversity of products – we really don’t care.
As one of my absolute favorite professors, Dr. David Hawkins, stood at the microphone and welcomed the crowd who came to reap the benefits of years of outstanding Hereford genetics, his tone was not enthusiastic but, instead, filled with graciousness. Dr. Hawkins is a kind man and while he has his definite opinions, class and integrity describe him quintessentially.
I can proudly say the same for the other two men who made comments about the ending of this Hereford legacy, Ken Geuns and Cody Sankey, as they pulled the curtain on a powerful influence in the purebred beef industry.
It was a difficult day for those who have had anything to do with this beef herd. From current and former students, right on up to the former Animal Science Department Chair, Dr. Harlan Ritchie, there wasn’t an alumnus in the crowd who didn’t at one point or another shake their head and marvel at the travesty they were witnessing.
But breeders from across the country clamored at the chance to tap into the genetic potential offered at MSU. They came from Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and all across this state in hopes of getting a piece of MSU’s success.
While the corner of Bennett and Cattle Road was busy selling years of hard work and genetic promise, the MSU extension website was promoting Meatless Monday, the Big Ten vegetables, getting more omega 3 by consuming fish, eating more pumpkin, cucumbers as a low-calorie snack and eating chicken instead of beef to cut calories.
You think I’m kidding? I don’t think I could make this up. These were the leading articles on Oct. 15 on the MSU EXTENSION website, written by EXTENSION agents.
Meatless Mondays? Really?
As I write this, I’m speechless. There are a ton of conclusions I could make, but I don’t feel the need to write them; you know what they are. It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s not even animal science anymore. It’s animal welfare, veganism and everything green.
I will continue to cheer on my Spartans and won’t turn my back on Dantonio or Izzo or Merchant. But as Maxwell and Bell take the field and Nix and Appling take the court, it’s plain to see they are not listening to the experts at the university they are representing. Instead, they must be listening to their mothers and eating red meat and drinking whole milk as part of a balanced diet.
Keep listening to your mamas, boys – they apparently know more than LouAnna K. Simons, all the MSU faculty Ph.Ds, 157 years of teaching and research and all the obedient extension agents. But then again, we already knew that, didn’t we?
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Those with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.