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Letter on burning, farming off the mark

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To the editor:
I am writing to respond to Ms. Deanna Campbell’s letter last week titled “Feed lots bigger problem than burning trash.”
I strongly disagree with her letter that defended burning household garbage, objected to garbage pickup because “some people cannot afford it” and attacked farmers — especially beef cattle farmers.
I have some knowledge of both poverty and trash pickup. I grew up and lived in Owsley County in Eastern Kentucky, and still visit regularly. It is a place of extraordinary natural beauty and extreme poverty.
For many years it was ranked as the second poorest county in the United States. During the past few years it also became one of the dirtiest, with garbage, litter and illegal dumps everywhere.
About 12 years ago a county judge was elected who had the gumption to push for and initiate universal garbage pickup. The illegal dumps were gradually cleaned up and now Owsley is again one of the most beautiful areas in the state.
It is also one of the cleanest.
Thousands of visitors come each year to participate in the organized horse and ATV trail rides. The trails are busy with weekend visitors.
Mandatory garbage pickup was supported because most people realize that it is their obligation to responsively dispose of their garbage. They also like living in a clean community, even if it is economically disadvantaged.
I also have some knowledge of beef cattle farming. I have lived on a farm and/or farmed part-time my entire life. Most of Ms. Campbell’s statements concerning beef cattle farming are misleading. She claims that cattle producers are subsidized by her tax dollars. I have raised cattle for over 40 years and am unaware of any subsides for producing beef cattle.
She claims that farmers feeding cattle in the middle of their manure pits results in “constant outbreaks of e-coli.” In fact most farmers do not feed their cattle in the middle of their manure pits (why would they?)
Most of the recent outbreaks of e-coli have been caused by contaminated vegetables, usually imported. I am not aware of any documented case of e-coli caused by consuming Kentucky beef. In fact, U.S. beef is safe, nutritious and delicious, and provides us with the protein that our bodies require.
Most farmers are good stewards of their land and the animals that they care for. Most farmers care for their animals humanely, and most local farmers follow established protocols developed and taught by the University of Kentucky and its county Extension agents to ensure that the beef they produce is of exceptional quality and completely safe for the consumer.
Food safety is the utmost concern of every beef producer because they realize that if the consumer is not confident in the safety of the meat in the grocery store, there will not be a market for their cattle.
I agree with Ms. Campbell that feeding cattle can produce odors. Maybe she should have thought of that before moving next door to a farm.
David Gabbard
Lawrenceburg