Livestock group to go on offense

Weary of criticism of its industry, the Kansas Livestock Association will go on offense during its convention Thursday and Friday at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

"The environmentalists and animal activists want to paint a picture that's really not true," KLA president Todd Allen said Monday. "We need to tell the real story.

"If we don't, others are going to tell it for us."

During a two-hour session that begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, Kansas State University veterinarian Dan Thomson will talk about attempts by activist groups to eliminate livestock production through public information campaigns, ballot initiatives and federal regulations.

Later in that session, Clayton Huseman, who heads up KLA's feedlot division, will present best management practices. Others will discuss activists' legislative and regulatory proposals and how producers can get information on their handling practices out to the public.

With only about 2 percent of the U.S. population directly involved with agriculture, Allen said it's imperative that producers tell how they do what they do.

"Most producers are humble and don't like to toot their own horn," Allen said. "That's allowed activists to fill the void.

"We have to be more vocal and tell that story. We need to tell the facts, open up our farms and invite people in."

Just from a profitability standpoint, Allen said, it's in producers' best interest to properly care for their cattle.

"Cattle don't perform well in mud, miserable dust and polluted water," he said. "We'll go broke if we don't take care of the environment and the facilities.

"All our water comes out from under that feedlot. It's in our best interest to take care of our environmental footprint."

Allen said it's important that producers have the latest information.

Friday morning's speakers include Forrest Roberts, CEO of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback. An outlook on the cattle market will also be presented.

The convention will also mark the end of Allen's one-year term as president. Mark Smith, a Wallace County rancher, will be his successor.