In this world, there are heroes, and there are terrorists. This blog post has both, and while bad news always supersedes a positive headline in mainstream media, I’m going to talk about the heroes first. More than $21,000 was raised at the Aberdeen Livestock Auction in South Dakota on Jan. 9. This large sum will be donated to support the All-American Beef Battalion (AABB), a non-profit organization comprised of a group of individuals involved in the U.S. beef cattle industry. The AABB works to support the troops fighting the global war on terror.
The purpose of AABB is to organize and sponsor steak feeds, entertainment, programs, meetings and projects with service members and their families. In addition, this group of cattlemen strives to foster an appreciation, respect and honor for the troops while promoting U.S. beef along the way.
When rancher Travis Swisher heard radio personality Trent Loos speak about it on air, he knew he wanted to be a part of the action.
“This charity fits the bill for us; we knew we wanted to get involved when we heard Loos talk about it. We donated a yearling Angus heifer to help the cause. We talked to local businesses, ran radio and print ads and challenged our neighbors to support the cause,” says Swisher, whose family has been farming and ranching near Groton, SD, since the 1880s.
“We are supportive of our troops and the service they give our country. When people came back from Vietnam, there weren’t many thank you’s for the troops. We want to say thanks, but there’s more we can do. There’s no better way to say thank you than with a steak. These families will never forget the steak feed they receive, and the dinner they are able to have as a family, before the troops are deployed. We are happy to be a part of that,” he adds.
Previous auctions such as this one have raised anywhere from $1,500 to $45,000. AABB founder and Kansas cattleman Bill Broadie says one of the most memorable events was the sale of a Charolais heifer in Salinas, KS.
“The heifer raised $25,000 and an American flag was painted on her side the day of the auction. Once she was sold, that same heifer was donated back and has been resold to benefit AABB several times. We challenge other states to step up to the plate and get involved. We plan to keep pushing forward with our mission in 2012,” says Broadie.
Since 2007, the group has served more than 100,000 servicemen and their families. To donate or learn more, click here. 
America’s beef cattle producers have a tradition of doing what’s right — caring for the land and animals while feeding a growing planet. Yet, too often, we are vilified by mainstream media. However, this week’s headlines about a fire started by a terrorist animal rights group simply confirms what we already know — positive stories about farmers and ranchers don’t sell newspapers; crime, destruction and outlandish behavior does.
That’s what happened in California earlier this week, as animal rights activists torched14 cattle trucks at the sprawling Harris Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Read all about the terrorist crime here .
This type of cowardly, wanton destruction should not be tolerated, and these individuals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Harris Farms identifies animal health and welfare as one of its guiding principles, and a press statement from John C. Harris reveals the company’s thoughts on this senseless act:
“All of us are appalled by this senseless, but very alarming attack that occurred early Sunday morning. I had suspected Animal Liberation Front (ALF) may have been involved and now they are in fact claiming responsibility for it with multiple details. They are clearly a terrorist group intent on stopping American agriculture from producing the world’s safest food supply. This attack has not at all impacted our company’s operations and has only reinforced our commitment to produce high-quality beef. We are gratified by the support and concern we have received from the public and the outrage this attack has created. We must live in a society that is safe for all and no one can tolerate violence such as this. ALF and similar terrorist groups pose a real threat, and I’m confident that the many law enforcement agencies working on this case will bring them to justice soon.”
I hate to spread bad news, which is why I balanced today’s blog post with the positive story about the Swisher family and AABB. Recently, I have had a few readers request that I discontinue my reporting on animal and environmental activist groups, but I think this piece of news proves just how serious of a problem we are dealing with in agriculture.
In the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on both the heroes and the criminals in today’s post. How should agriculture respond to the crime in California? And, how can we celebrate those who support ranchers and the troops? I look forward to a great discussion!