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The herd sire

This is one of those stories that sound so unbelievable that you’ll know I didn’t make it up!

Mike studied the bloodlines. He checked performance records. He knew his herd like the top two layers of his tool box! He was a good young cattleman. When he decided on the course of action to improve his herd’s genetics he called the breed association rep. They discussed his needs. Plans were made for the fieldman to attend a bull sale in Texas with the express instructions to buy exactly the right bull.

The call from Texas delighted Mike. The fieldman had bought in the perfect yearlin’ bull that would carry Mike’s cows into the 21st century. $10,000… for half interest. He agreed that the co-owner, a purebred breeder from Oklahoma, could use the bull that fall. Then he would ship him to Pine Ridge country of northwestern Nebraska in time for Mike’s spring breeding.

In February arrangements were made to put the bull on the back of a load going as far as Sterling, Colo. The trucker would call Mike on arrival. Mike waited anxiously. Several days passed and nobody called. He called his partner only to find they’d left Oklahoma territory a week before! Feeling uneasy, Mike called the Sterling sale barn. “No?” “No,” they didn’t remember any bull. “Let us check.” They suggested possibly the bull Mike was lookin’ for had been bought by a trader!

“What’d he pay?” asked Mike.

“Fifty-six cents a pound.”

In a panic he tracked down the trader. He’d run the bull through the Brush sale. The trader said he broke even. Packerland had bought him as a baloney bull! Mike drove all night to Packerland in a desperate effort to save his bull!

“No,” they said, “he was too thin to kill” so they’d sent him to a feedlot in Rocky Ford!

Mike smelled like burnin’ rubber and was chewin’ the upholstery when he boiled into the feedlot in a cloud of dust! The foreman was surprised but led him over to the receiving pens. There stood Mike’s future; road weary, coughin’ and covered with sale barn tags! Mike’s knees were shakin’!

“Nice bull,” said the foreman, “But ya cut’er close, sonny. Tomorrow evenin’ he’da looked a lot different without his horns and cajones!” ❖

Farm to fork and grain to glass

From the farm to the fork, and from grain to the glass, is the motto of Upstream Farms, owned by Matthew and Joe Brugger.

The twins, who are 22 years old, are adding value to the farm that has been in the family since their great-grandparents, Samuel and Elizabeth, came from Switzerland to America in 1917.

After attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and going through the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program, the men have come back to the family farm, located near Albion, Neb.

But they knew the farm couldn’t support two more people, and they didn’t want to be hired hands.

“We wanted to be directly involved in the day to day operation but not take away any value from the farm,” Matt said.

Their parents: Norman and Keri Brugger, have row crops and beef cattle, but the twins would have to find a different way to make a living.

So they did.

It started when they were in college, having to cook. They’d gone to the store and bought ground beef, but after making burgers that didn’t taste like they were used to, they blamed it on their poor cooking skills.

But it wasn’t their cooking. As they had grown up eating beef they had raised, they hadn’t realized their homegrown beef was so much different than some found at the grocers’. “All the things I was being taught, and over four generations, that we had worked to improve,” led to better tasting beef, Matt said. Their beef was of an excellent quality, but they hadn’t realized it.

So, in 2018, the men began selling their beef, under the name of Upstream Farms, on the wholesale level. They sold it to restaurants, institutions and micro-breweries, even the training table for University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletes. Since they attended college in Lincoln, deliveries were relatively short and easy to make.

After college graduation in May of 2019, the men began shifting emphasis from wholesale to retail. They beefed up their website, and switched to retail only, for several reasons. The margin was higher and with no deliveries to make, it took less time and money.

Part of the value of selling meat retail is its quality. Upstream Farms has some Simmental genetics bred into the predominantly Angus cattle. “That allows us to have a good ribeye area to back fat ratio,” Matt said. “It’s good quality beef and also extremely tender.”

Their beef is also dry aged for 28 days at a local processor, which allows the natural enzymes to break it down, making it even more tender and palatable.

“We had been doing those things and didn’t realize we could get a premium for it.”

Another part of its value is in the relationships that are built. “The other thing that gives our product merit is us as individuals,” Joe said. “People want to put a face to a farmer and want to build relationships with a farmer.” Social media allows for that engagement, and Upstream Farms has active Facebook and Instagram accounts (@upstream_farms).

Matt and Joe own the cattle through every process. They background and finish, and also grow every feed source the cattle eat. “It allows us to control quality,” Matt said, “to raise high quality hay, alfalfa, corn and silage.”

Upstream Farms also sells pork raised by college classmate Gage Hoegemeyer, near Hooper, Neb. The Hoegemeyers’ farrow to finish operation raises Berkshires.


The men haven’t stopped with meat production. They’ve also added hops and a distillery.

This will be the third year for their hops, which includes six varieties. Their hops are grown on a quarter acre and are “honestly, very labor intensive,” Joe said. No pesticides or insecticide are used on their hops, but the return from a quarter-acre is more than what corn or beans would have earned them.

Hops were a natural extension for Upstream Farms. Their microbrewery clients who bought beef and pork always said, “what else can you grow for us?”

Their hops are sold to local microbreweries. “It’s a win-win,” Matt said. “It’s a win for the microbreweries and for us. It’s something else to add to our arsenal.”

The men have also added a fourth endeavor, a micro-distillery.

They’ve made their own whiskey at the “home level,” for a while, Joe said.

“It was something we felt had merit, like the beef. It’s a quality product.” The first step in distilling alcohol is similar to brewing beer, and one of their hops customers, HWY 14 Brewing Co. in Albion, offered his mentorship.

Their whiskey is made mostly of corn grown on the farm with some barley and rye.

The 50-year-old milk barn on the farm was renovated into the distillery, but no product has been barreled yet. Making whiskey is a long process. “We’re a little ways south before we have a product to sell,” Joe said.

The whiskey is a natural fit with the meat and the family heritage. “It’s a product that pairs well with beef and pork, plus it aligns with our roots. Our grandpa used to make dandelion wine and grew his own grapes. We’ve always found those things satisfying, carrying on a family tradition as well as creating another product on the farm.”

Whiskey must be sold through a third-party distributor, and their goal is to have whiskey available 18 to 24 months after barreling.

There have been challenges, coming back to the farm with their parents.

“You leave for four years (for college), and you’re trying to integrate your business into a family business that is already established,” Matt said.

“There’s a little bit of push and pull to that. The struggle we face is being able to manage the time for your business as well.”

Communication is a big part of the relationship between Matt and Joe, Norman and Keri. They’ve created a system. “We’ve made codes red, yellow and green,” Joe said. “If dad asks for help, he might say it’s a code green. It’s not super pressing and I would like your help but it’s not a big deal. Code yellow is I’d like one of you (to help) or both of you if you can, and code red is all hands on deck.

“The expectations versus the role you play, is a fine line and you have to be respectful of each other’s time.”

The adjustment to being on the farm with their parents and running their own businesses has gone smoothly, Joe said. Their parents are very encouraging.

“I never expected both parents to be so supportive of what we’re doing,” he said. “I think it’s because they enjoy having us around and they know this business enables us to come back to the farm.”

Norman and Keri are also good at helping their sons think through projects.

“They’re the first ones to question us and help us with those questions. They never say you can’t do something, they always ask the hard questions and say, ‘prove it to us.’”

“They raised us and they can call us out on our BS.”

The brothers love being able to farm with a new income stream.

“We wanted to do something different,” Joe said. “Being back on the farm allows us to do that.

“Getting back on the farm was the root of this all. We don’t believe we should be the end of what’s happening here. We think there’s a lot of opportunity for people to replicate this,” Matt said.

“We want to be that model, being able to think outside the box. There are ways to be back in rural communities. For us, we’re passionate about our community and we want to be the model that others can follow.”

Upstream Farms meat is available for online order at http://www.upstreamfarms.com, or, in person, for purchase at the From Nebraska Gift Shop in the Lincoln Haymarket. ❖

French lessons

As the World War I era song goes, “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?”

It isn’t hard, let me tell you. In the college year 1972-73, beginning in July, I was a student at the Sorbonne in Paris. Everyone thinks it was just fun and games because of the city. All of my classes were in French as we were a mélange of students from around the world. At break time the Chinese students spoke English with each other. We had Italian students, British, African, German, Dutch, American and other countries I have long since forgotten. Our commonality was the French language.

I grew up near tiny Oral, S.D., a hamlet that is still not incorporated. At the time the population was maybe 50 in the town. Paris had 10 million residents when I lived there. It sounds like a huge culture shock but as in most cities, we had our own little community of shops right around our neighborhood. The shopkeepers were delightful as they welcomed us into their stores so we could practice our French. An etiquette rule of the French was that normally if you enter a shop, you had to buy something. It was rude to just go to in and look around. That was a difference from the U.S. and it was a difficult habit to remember

Surprisingly, I learned more about English while learning French than seemed possible. In English, when we order at a restaurant, we use the phrase, “I want to order.” The French deem that as rude and demanding, and teach that one should say, “I would like to order.” It is a lesson that has stuck with me. It still strikes me funny that the French could talk about a habit or phrase being rude, at least in their estimation.

One French habit that surprised me is they do not believe in standing in an orderly line. I saw elderly women aggressively push their grocery carts in front of others on more than one occasion. One day when I was flying between London and Paris (students could buy inexpensive tickets), there was one person ahead of me in the check-in line, just the two of us. A French man appeared and shoved his bag in front of mine. I reciprocated with my bag and a glare. He backed off in shock as he wasn’t used to someone in London challenging him.

These days, every time I drive through at McDonald’s double lane, I think of the French. They would no more allow another driver to move forward in turn, as we do. Today I signaled to the driver whose vehicle should have been next, to move forward. When I got the checkout window, the cashier said something behind her mask, and I didn’t understand. She took it down and said, “The lady in front of you paid for your order.”

What I did was a common courtesy; her reciprocal action was a South Dakota blessing. ❖

UNL cancels tractor lab anniversary, prepares for fall

With COVID dominating this year, making plans is like riding a roller coaster with ups and downs. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln the pandemic unraveled a 100th anniversary event, and delivered a sidewinder to forthcoming fall semester traditions, but the university remains steadfast.

After putting their hearts and souls into intensive months of planning a grand celebration for July 11 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the UNL’s Tractor Test Lab, concerns about COVID-19 resulted in the celebration being postponed indefinitely.

The decision was made by Roger M. Hoy, the director of the lab and professor in the Biological Systems Engineering Department.

“The reason for originally scheduling July 11 (at the Tractor Test Lab in Lincoln) was made to also coincide with a meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in nearby Omaha, Neb. However, ASABE decided not to have a physical meeting as planned in Omaha. Many of the celebration attendees are elderly and have one or more COVID-19 risk factors,” Hoy said. Also, the university has decided to deal with most traditional in- person activities this summer by either conducting them virtually, postponing them or canceling them.

“We would like the NTTL celebration to have full attendance and not be marred by COVID-19 required mitigation measures or lack of attendance, and we want the celebration to be about a century of tractor testing,” Hoy said. “As for when the event may be held, first it will occur in the future, but we are unwilling to commit to a date at this time. I am pushing to delay rescheduling until we know we can hold the event free of Covid-19.”

Many college bound students have an interest in UNL’s Nebraska Tractor Test Lab because of its prestigious international reputation and the people making a difference in propelling the program.

Brent Sampson retired three years ago, after 41 years as a test engineer in the lab.

“During this time I was directly involved with the testing of 978 tractors,” Sampson said. He retired briefly but missed the job so much that he returned. However, soon thereafter, COVID hit and now Sampson’s work is on hold.

In the interest of safety in dealing with this COVID-19 decision, Sampson sent all employees home as the university said only essential people were allowed on campus. “Tractors that were scheduled for spring testing were moved to the fall. This basically canceled the spring season,” said Sampson.


Meanwhile, UNL’s “Forward to Fall” guiding framework is underway to welcome students for the fall semester.

“At the beginning of May, I charged the Forward to Fall committee, asking them to help us develop plans for the Fall 2020 semester and to do so in a way that brought a deep understanding of our educational mission together with the real expertise in safety culture that is at the heart of how, on a daily basis, we engage in research across our campus,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement.

Masks, Classes, Dorms, Health Policies:

All UNL faculty, staff, students and visitors (including contractors, service providers and others) will wear facial coverings when indoors on the UNL campus, with a few exceptions, and in keeping with established campus policy, which is available at covid19.unl.edu/face-covering-policy. Facial covering will also be worn during outdoor UNL activities, if safe physical distancing and gathering practices are not possible.

“We will provide two masks each to students, faculty and staff. Everybody is encouraged to self-monitor and report any symptoms of COVID-19 by using the 1-Check COVID-19 Screening app developed by the University of Nebraska Medical Center,” said Leslie Reed, director of Public Affairs in the UNL Office of University Communication. “Students have told us they want to be back on campus and have their educational experience be ‘in person,’ as much as possible. So, we all need to work together to make sure it can be done, safely.”

Classes will be a mix of in-person and remote, or completely remote. Reed said the university is striving to promote as much in-person interaction as possible within health and safety guidelines.

Regarding social distancing, UNL staff has been rearranging classrooms and installing additional instructional technology to prepare for in-person teaching this fall.

“Most instructional space will be reduced to about 30 percent of capacity,” Reed said.

Also, technology installation is being designed for various classroom needs.

“Some general purpose classrooms and other rooms will be equipped for web conferencing with student participation; web conferencing for the instructor only and lecture capture equipment to record video and audio of the instructor for sharing at a later time,” Reed said.

In the residence halls and university-approved fraternities and sororities, beds will be placed 6 feet apart with no bunking permitted. Visitors will be restricted to communal areas near residence hall entries.

Dining will include more to-go options. Seating will be rearranged to limit group sizes to no more than six at a table with 6 feet of distance between tables.

“We’re working with the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, the state Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Nebraska Medical Center to establish protocols for testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation in the event of anybody on our campus having symptoms,” Reed said.

They will also closely monitor surges of COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country. Reed said the staff is prepared to quickly change plans if circumstances require. “Also, regarding any student or faculty who may have specific health concerns or life circumstances that require accommodations, we have systems in place to provide those accommodations.”

The university politely reminds everybody about safety guidelines:

• Self monitor for symptoms and stay home if they’re sick or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

• Wash hands thoroughly and often, and refrain from touching face, eyes, nose and mouth.

• Practice social distancing by maintaining 6 feet of distance from others.

• Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces.

• Wear masks when inside.

A highlight for incoming freshmen has been the traditional Tunnel Walk, but due to COVID concerns, the university has changed that this year. Typically, incoming freshmen would run out onto the football field at Memorial Stadium and pose for a group photo on the “N” in the center of the field.

“Instead, we will use Ncard (ID) photos to create a digital N photo; superimposed on Memorial Stadium that they can use as a keepsake,” Reed said. She said there would be other changes to various welcome events.

“It takes an entire community, our students, faculty and staff, everybody, to follow personal hygiene, prevention and the important well-being measures.” ❖

— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at rotatingstorm2004@yahoo.com.

Find the opportunities during drought

Drought can be devastating to farmers and ranchers, but with careful planning producers can survive it and even come out on top financially.

“When it’s raining, it’s hard to remember what it was like when it was dry,” said Tonya Haigh with the National Drought Mitigation Center.

“That’s why we recommend planning for drought, because we know the dry spells are going to come,” she said. “Drought is a hazard. It impacts forage capacity, damages rangeland health and decreases aquifer levels. Most people think there is nothing you can do about what happens to you during drought, and that you just have to survive it and go on.”

However, Highmore, S.D., rancher Jim Faulstich has found that planning before a drought has become a critical part of getting his ranch through it. “I have actually found that drought can be beneficial,” he said. “There are positive opportunities that can happen during a drought.”

In his own operation, Faulstich has used drought to improve genetics and clean up problem animals. He keeps two herds of cattle. The second group of cows are ones with problems like big bags, bad eyes or a not so perfect disposition. He keeps these cows with his heifers and breeds them for a short season. “If I need to pull the trigger because it’s dry and we don’t have enough forage, I can easily disperse those,” he said. “It’s nice to have that option.”

Haigh reminds producers how important it is to maximize the health and flexibility of an operation before drought. “Monitor the health of resources and precipitation, as well as soil moisture and the plant, itself,” she said. “Maximizing the health of resources can be through the grazing system or adjusting the stocking rate and resource base. Maximizing the hydrologic base and plant diversity in the rangeland system are also important.”

Faulstich sees drought as an opportunity to improve infrastructure and natural resources on the ranch. “During a drought, the government will usually step forward with emergency cost-share programs,” he said. “I take advantage of that by putting in waterlines and new water sources. On our operation, we have made natural resources a priority. As a result, we have an increase in wildlife, which is a good indicator of how healthy our land is.”

Drought has also shown Faulstich the importance of wetlands, and how they can be used to survive a drought. “Wetlands have saved us a number of times when it is dry,” he said. “We have windrowed cattails, chopped them up and poured molasses on them. One winter, we fed them to the cows along with some ear corn I was able to buy.”

“While we can’t control whether or not it rains, we can control what we do before, during and after drought,” Haigh said. “Recovery can really change the impact drought can have. The more we can do to minimize the impact, the better off we are.”


A drought plan could be more accurately called a disaster plan, Faulstich said, because it should also cover other disasters like fire, storms and insect damage. “Every operation is different, so there is no drought plan that will be the exact same as someone else. It applies to large operations as well as small ones,” he said “Profitability, sustainability, and resilience are all important to the ranching business, and they require working with nature, diversity, flexibility and soil health.”

In a drought situation, Faulstich said the decisions made are the result of basic business plans he learned the hard way. He points out a photo from his own operation where a piece of land looks grazed to the ground. “It was actually one of the nicest pieces we ever had. It was 18 inches to 2 feet tall, and then we got snow and 3 inches of rain on it. It formed a layer of ice and was just like concrete. There was no grazing left. It was our winter pasture, and if we wouldn’t have had a drought plan, we wouldn’t have been prepared for it,” he said. “It is situations like this that bring us that much closer to be ready for a drought.”

Another year, they left one acre plots of corn in the field, harvesting strips in-between those one acre plots. “We moved those cows every day, but it was the cheapest we had ever wintered cows. We grazed 320 cows per acre per day,” he said. “A lot of it was poor quality corn where some didn’t tassel or make ears. It was a way to utilize that.”

Faulstich also paid for three hay sheds in three years many years ago by selling hay to a dairy farmer in another state suffering from drought. “We keep those three hay sheds full. Our goal is to never use any of that hay, but of course we do. Some of it in one of the buildings is pretty old, and will need some supplement fed with it, but another shed has some top quality alfalfa” he said.

Between harvested feed, grazing grass and standing crops, Faulstich keeps a year’s supply of forage available at all times. He has also used planning to establish flexibility in his operation. A custom grazing program was added to the operation that allows him to graze yearlings on a piece of invasive bromegrass in the spring, without having to invest in the cattle or worry about rain. “It is built into the contract that they have two weeks to remove the cattle if we are running out of grazing,” he said. “It provides us some flexibility from a drought standpoint, while giving us some enterprise opportunity.” ❖

— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at tclarklivenews@gmail.com.

Fun Fourth of July

Well, I survived the Fourth of July with all my fingers, toes and eyes intact, so I guess I can put it in the book as a safe holiday. I also can count the nation’s birthday celebration as a fun one, too.

That’s becuz all our little extended family, with the exception of the Tennessee and Colorado members, traveled to Damphewmore Acres for three days of fun, games and celebrations. It wuz the first time ever that ol’ Nevah and I have had both of our great-grandkids and their parents and grandparents together at the same time. They also brought along their five pet dogs to join the festivities.

It wuz the first time that our great-granddaughter (13 months) and our great-grandson (3 months) had seen each other. They wore matching T-shirts that read “Cousin Squad.” It took a little while for them to warm up to each other’s company, but not too long.

Our great-granddaughter is walking everywhere and pretty much wears a perpetual smile every step of the way. She loves books, empty cardboard boxes, and banging pots and pans together to make a satisfying noise. She’s also always ready for a “lick-kiss” from any of the family canine members.

We six adults mostly were entertained by the “young ‘uns” and entertained ourselves by playing card games. We three guys put two trotlines in our pond and harvested a nice bunch of catfish and crappies. In addition, we froze homemade ice cream, picked green beans, dug new potatoes, shot off fireworks and rode four-wheelers. My son-in-law helped with some repairs and help sharpen lawn mower blades.

All in all, it wuz a great family get-together. But after everyone went home, we felt like we were in a quiet vacuum. But, the vacuum wuz filled for a couple of hours when my Missouri high school classmate, ol’ Canby Handy, stopped by on his way home from a two-day western-Kansas trip — self-described as an “escape the COVID in Kansas City journey to keep my sanity.”

I know how he felt. During the three-days our family wuz here, I purposely didn’t watch the disgusting national news. When I tuned in to the news again, I found out I didn’t miss much.


Another of the old-time country-western music greats, Charlie Daniels, succumbed at the age of 81 from a stroke, not CV. Charlie Daniels was a favorite of mine because of his music, his patriotism and his unwavering support for everyone who wears a uniform. Rest in Peace, Charlie Daniels. There’ll be no Devil to challenge you to a fiddle duel in the Great Beyond.


I’ve got a chicken story to tell this week. Three weeks ago I had three hens — all hatched from the same brood two years ago — who went broody on the same day. That’s highly unusual. But, I decided to try an experiment by building three small pens in my brooder house and putting down all three hens on their brood eggs on the same evening. I suspicioned at the time that’s I’d have a bit of a mess when all the chicks hatched at the same time because hens with new chicks are highly territorial and aggressive to intruders.

My suspicion was correct. One hen hatched nine chicks from 10 eggs. Another hatched eight chicks from nine eggs. The third hatched all eight eggs. So I ended up with 24 new chicks from three broods. One old hen quickly became the boss hen by flogging her two “sisters.” The next hen down the pecking order quickly lorded herself over the hen on the bottom rung of the chicken social order.

For some unexplained reason, the boss hen decided she didn’t like two chicks in another brood that were a different color. So, at her first opportunity she turned those poor chicks into the first casualties. To give them all some “social distancing” room, I opened the brooder house door the second day and gave the hens free reign in the great outdoors.

So far, so good. Today is the third day since the chicks hatched and no other casualties. But, I know they will eventually happen. I’ll be lucky if 15 of the chicks make it to maturity. Everything that eats loves chicken.


I forgot to mention that I had a visit two weeks ago from a member of the unofficial “Milo Yield Fan Club.” Ol’ Jay Bierman from Rochester, Minn., looked me up on his way to Phoenix, Ariz., to help move his daughter. Unfortunately, Jay stopped on a day I wuz busy fishing, so we didn’t get to visit. If he ever stops here again, perhaps we can share a cold beverage that shares his last name.


Some crazy things happen during this national CV pandemic. A neighbor, ol’ Xavier “X” Ray deBaggs, had to fly recently to a family funeral in a distant town. When “X” wuz at the airport, he wuz checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, “Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?”

To which Ray replied, “If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?”

With a happy, all-knowing smile, the airport employee nodded and replied, “That’s why we ask, sir.”


Here are the words of wisdom for the week: “Some things are just better left unsaid — and I usually realize it right after I say them.” I gets me into trouble usually.

Have a good ‘un. ❖

ICYMI: Do saturated fats cause heart disease?

Advice to limit saturated fats has been a basic pillar of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 40 years. Yet this advice has never had any substantial scientific backing, according to a large and fast-growing body of scientific literature, which now includes a “State-of-the-Art Review” in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology, authored by prominent scientists, including the former chair of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and a member of the 2015 DGAC who served on the saturated-fat Subcommittee.

The conclusions of this important paper determine that further caps on saturated fats are no longer warranted.

Another paper, just published this week, in the BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine Journal, authored by an international group of 10 experts on heart disease and diet, including five cardiologists, challenges the idea that a diet low in saturated fat is an ‘evidence-based’ recommendation for people with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

Taken together, these papers suggest that the “diet-heart hypotheses,” which in the 1950s suggested that eating saturated fat raises the risk of heart disease, is an idea that could never be confirmed, despite multiple large clinical trials testing its efficacy — including quite a few funded by the National Institutes of Health. The papers cited above explain why using LDL-cholesterol as a rationale for condemning saturated fats, as the 2020 DGAC is currently doing, is inadequate.

Since the launch of the DGA in 1980, Americans have been advised to consume a diet “low in saturated fats.” In 2005, the DGA added a formal limit of 10 percent of calories from these fats, and this recommendation has endured since that time. But the past decade has seen a thorough reconsideration of saturated fats, and now, there are close to 20 review papers reexamining the evidence. These have near-universally concluded that saturated fats have no effect on cardiovascular or total mortality.

In addition, there is a growing view that restricting the natural foods containing these fats causes harm by reducing access to the full complement of nutrients essential for human health. For instance, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, with its current 10% cap on saturated fats, fails to meet nutrient targets for, among other things, iron and choline, which are most easily obtained by eating regular meat and dairy — foods that also happen to contain saturated fats.

Journal of the American College of Cardiology

A group of leading nutrition scientists, including a former member of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and the chair of the 2005 DGAC, were among the prominent authors of a “State-of-the-Art Review” in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology: “Saturated Fats and Health: A Reassessment and Proposal for Food-based Recommendations.” This review found that government limits on saturated fats are not justified by the science.

The JACC abstract reads: “The recommendation to limit dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake has persisted despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Most recent meta-analyses of randomized trials and observational studies found no beneficial effects of reducing SFA intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality, and instead found protective effects against stroke. Although SFAs increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, in most individuals, this is not due to increasing levels of small, dense LDL particles, but rather larger LDL which are much less strongly related to CVD risk. It is also apparent that the health effects of foods cannot be predicted by their content in any nutrient group, without considering the overall macronutrient distribution. Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, eggs and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of CVD. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.”

The paper also notes, “These historical facts demonstrate that saturated fats were an abundant, key part of the ancient human diet.”

The JACC paper comes after the group of scientists attended a workshop, “Saturated Fats: A Food or Nutrient Approach?” in February. Members of that workshop wrote a consensus statement, submitted two formal public comments to USDA and sent a letter to the Secretaries of U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services on their findings which concluded that limits on saturated fats are not justified and should be re-examined.

BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine Journal

In a paper published recently in the prestigious journal “BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine,” 10 experts on heart disease and diet, including five cardiologists, reviewed current dietary recommendations for people diagnosed with a genetic disorder, called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). People with FH have very high levels of serum cholesterol, typically two to four times higher than average.

For decades, people with FH have been instructed by organizations such as the American Heart Association to lower their cholesterol and heart disease risk by minimizing their consumption of saturated fat, which is found in coconut oil and in food from animal sources, such as eggs, cheese and meat.

According to David Diamond, a professor and heart disease researcher at the University of South Florida, the team searched the literature to find any justification for the low saturated-fat diet recommendations for FH. However, they found no evidence to support the dietary guidelines, which was why the title of their paper was that current diet guidelines are in an “evidence-free zone.”

The BMJ abstract reads: “We have evaluated dietary recommendations for people diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), a genetic condition in which increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). Recommendations for FH individuals have emphasised a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet to reduce their LDL-C levels. The basis of this recommendation is the ‘diet-heart hypothesis’, which postulates that consumption of food rich in saturated fat increases serum cholesterol levels, which increases risk of CHD. We have challenged the rationale for FH dietary recommendations based on the absence of support for the diet-heart hypothesis, and the lack of evidence that a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet reduces coronary events in FH individuals. As an alternative approach, we have summarised research which has shown that the subset of FH individuals that develop CHD exhibit risk factors associated with an insulin-resistant phenotype (elevated triglycerides, blood glucose, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), obesity, hyperinsulinaemia, high‐sensitivity C reactive protein, hypertension) or increased susceptibility to develop coagulopathy. The insulin-resistant phenotype, also referred to as the metabolic syndrome, manifests as carbohydrate intolerance, which is most effectively managed by a low carbohydrate diet (LCD). Therefore, we propose that FH individuals with signs of insulin resistance should be made aware of the benefits of an LCD. Our assessment of the literature provides the rationale for clinical trials to be conducted to determine if an LCD would prove to be effective in reducing the incidence of coronary events in FH individuals which exhibit an insulin-resistant phenotype or hypercoagulation risk.”

Dietary Guidelines Subcommittee one-sided and unbalanced

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees’ draft conclusions to maintain the cap on saturated fats are not surprising, given that the five-person subcommittee, according to an analysis by The Nutrition Coalition, is one-sided and unbalanced. This subcommittee includes one of the field’s staunchest foes of saturated fats and not a single person to oppose her. The subcommittee’s conclusions are also unsurprising given that advice to limit saturated fat has been in place for 40 years. These views are deeply rooted in government agencies and university nutrition departments as well as supported by many food and pharmaceutical interests. ❖

Truth in advertising

Gentle readers, there is a lot of “bull” in many of the advertisements that we see on the “telly” and on the radio, plus of course, your personal “magic box” you always have with you. “Whatever do you mean, Huckleberry?” Here’s the deal: we have all seen the ads on this place or that where the guy is extremely excited and he grabs that can of white “paste” and slaps it on something or other that is gushing water everywhere and “presto” it stops the leak instantly. Hummmm. I bought a can of that to patch a small leak in a water tub. The directions were to have a clean dry surface and when you apply it, please allow 12 to 24 hours to cure! Now see, they don’t tell ya all of that, do they? Nope, not a chance. Why, well because you might have second thoughts on purchasing it. Actually, I know it works and is a good product as far as I can tell, but don’t we wish we could just get the “facts” right up front?

I bet most all of you remember the song, “This Land Is Your Land?” Sure, it’s got a catchy tune and words to go with it. By the way, I heard Larry Gatlin, of the Gatlin Brothers say that it’s really not hard to write a song. According to Larry, “heck, all the words are in the dictionary, and all you have to do is put them in the right place.” I reckon that is as true as it can be. Good ol’ Larry. I digress. Woody Guthrie wrote that song back in the 1930s. He was a singer, song writer and he was also a communist revolutionary. He actually came from a fairly wealthy family if you compare their wealth to most of the others around them. His dad, as I understand it, was a land speculator. Woody, from what I gather just hated when some folks did good and others not so good. Of course he lived off his old man and until he wrote “This Land Is Your Land,” he was just a traveling troubadour hating America. He hated when Kate Smith sang “America the Beautiful.” Yep, to him, America was not beautiful because we weren’t all at the same level. We all needed to be rich or struggling at the same time. Well, duh! If we are all poor, who provides the jobs? OH, I KNOW!.. The government does. We all work under the commands of the government and we all share the same “miserable” living experiences, but we can be assured the government will be there to punish anyone who steps out of line and thinks or works for him (her) self!

I can remember singing that song many, many times back in the 60s. “What a great song,” thought I. It’s about America, my land, and your land. Why, well because all government land is public land and belongs to us the taxpayers and we can go and see the beauty of it all and bathe ourselves in our fortunate luck to own and enjoy AMERICA. Had I known who Woody Guthrie really was I would have not wanted to embrace that song at all. Then of course, his offspring, Arlo Guthrie, also a folk singer and hippy claimed his fame and took all of his rewards to the bank, I suppose. I never heard of him or his “hero” father giving away any of what they had acquired pretending to be just poor, wandering troubadours out to settle the score with rich white folks! I was deceived into believing that ol’ Woody was this great American that loved this country so much he would honor it with such an inspiring (?) song! Well, as Paul Harvey would always say, “and that’s the rest of the story!”

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, stay in a fighting mood, this is no time for “Kum bi yaas” (sp. whatever). Hope you got to celebrate our independence in a safe and happy way!, I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. I miss Paul Harvey! ❖

Janie VanWinkle takes the reins as CCA’s next president

Janie VanWinkle was elected as Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s 115th president during CCA’s Leadership Election and Social Hour on Wednesday, July 1. VanWinkle has served on CCA’s board of directors for over six years, and has spent countless hours promoting and advocating on behalf of the beef industry. VanWinkle follows Steve Wooten, outgoing CCA president, from Kim, Colo.

VanWinkle and her husband, Howard, own and operate VanWinkle Ranch, LLC, located in Mesa County just outside of Fruita, Colo.

VanWinkle has a diverse background, including working in a corporate environment as well as a small-business owner. The VanWinkle family have been active members of CCA for over 30 years. Janie, Howard, and their son Dean, the fifth generation on the ranch, proudly provide safe and nutritious beef for consumers in their local community and beyond.

“Thank you to CCA’s membership for having the confidence in me and allowing me the opportunity to serve as your president. It’s certainly very humbling. One of my intentions as president is to focus on our connection to the consumer. I believe that this could help us with a myriad of issues, particularly the wolf ballot initiative, which is imperative to defeat this November,” VanWinkle said. “We need to connect better with our consumers and build trust, because our consumers are the reason we are in


As the industry continues to face unprecedented challenges in the coming year, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association will benefit from its strong leadership and its grassroots connectivity to individual beef producers. “I am looking forward to advocating for CCA and its membership throughout Colorado and our country on issues and opportunities pertinent to producer sustainability. I firmly believe we must find new and engaging ways to promote our way of life,” VanWinkle said.

Fudge, DeLauro, Thompson introduce bill to slow meatpacking line speeds

Democratic Reps. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi today introduced the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act, a bill to stop the Agriculture Department from allowing increases in line speeds in poultry and meat packing plants.

In a joint news release, Fudge, DeLauro and Thompson noted that the Agriculture Department issued a final rule, implemented in December, establishing the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System, which removes federal limits on the speed of production lines.

Meanwhile, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued nearly 20 waivers for meat and poultry processing plants to increase the speed of their production lines since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, they added.

For the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act would:

▪ Suspend all active waivers issued by USDA related to line speeds at meat and poultry establishments and suspend USDA’s authority to issue new waivers in this area;

▪ Suspend implementation of, and conversion to, the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System established under USDA’s final rule published on Oct. 1, 2019 titled, Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection; and

▪ Prohibit USDA from using federal funds to develop, proposed, finalize, issue, amend, or implement any policy, regulation, directive, constituent update, or any other agency program that would increase line speeds at meat and poultry establishments.

Additionally, the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act would:

▪ Ensure the provisions of the bill are in addition to, not in lieu of, any state laws or regulations designed to further protect worker safety or animal welfare beyond what this bill provides;

▪ Require Government Accountability Office to review the effectiveness of various actions taken by USDA, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and meat and poultry establishments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect animal, food, and worker safety; and

▪ Require USDA, DOL, and HHS to issue a report to Congress by Dec. 31, 2020, including their respective actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect animal, food and worker safety.

“The meat and poultry processing industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with infection hotspots appearing in plants across the country,” said Fudge.

“Fast line speeds make the dangerous conditions workers at these plants already face even worse by packing them closer together and placing them at greater risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Waiving limits on processing speeds also threatens the safety of our food supply.

“As COVID-19 cases continue to soar at processing plants, we must prioritize worker, food, and animal safety over increased production and profits.”

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., intends to introduce companion legislation in the Senate, the House sponsors said.