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Hadrick had been a 25-year-old ranch hand at the time, taking care of No. 534 and corresponding regularly with that now-famous scribe:
Adding insult to injury, says Hadrick, are Pollans hugely successful Omnivores Dilemma which was derived from the seminal Sunday-magazine article his appearances on national television programs like The Oprah Winfrey Show and his lucrative speaking gigs across America. (Pollan commands $20,000 a speech; the Hadricks get $2,000 to $3,000).
Perhaps worst of all was the floating of Pollans name in the mainstream press as a potential U.S. agriculture secretary. Hes not an expert, Hadrick sums up for the Fargo crowd. You are. And youve got to get out and tell your story so some journalism professor at UCBerkeley that would be Pollan doesnt do it for you.
After the session the Hadricks describe how their feeling of betrayal by Pollan propelled them into activism. He called [the day after the article appeared] and said, I guess youre not too happy with me, Troy recalls. He ended up talking with my father-in-law and basically admitting, you know, that to make it a good story that people would read, he had to sensationalize it.
Through an assistant, Pollan declined to be interviewed for this article.
Advocates for Ag urges farmers and ranchers to take every opportunity at state fairs, meat counters, even at ride lines at Disney World to tell consumers one-on-one about the animal care and science that go into producing cheap meat. That way when the curtain goes up on a movie like Food Inc., viewers will have heard the other side from the horses mouth.
Just because youre a big farm doesnt mean you dont care about your animals, Hadrick emphasizes. Is it negligence when a rancher brings a calf into the house on a winter night and warms it with a blow dryer? Or uses ultrasound to monitor a pregnant heifer? Its so frustrating for us to hear people say were abusing our livestock, says the rancher.
The Hadricks say their speaking has accelerated over the past year and a half. Theyve been to both coasts and up and down the nations midsection, speaking to meat cutters, veterinarians and farmers of all stripes, handing out I Met a Rancher Today stickers at every stop.
Stacy works a nine-to-five job at the state ag departments extension office, is studying for a masters degree and keeps house with three kids. Troy toils on his blog, where he runs down press on everything from poverty to activist outrage at the sport known as donkey basketball. He has been urged to shoot another clip like the Yellow Tail rant, but the right opportunity hasnt come along yet.
Though they miss day-to-day ranching, for now this is the right tack, the Hadricks say even though beef cattle arent a current Humane Society target.
Say tomorrow they got pig crates, veal crates and [chicken] cages banned throughout the country, Troy posits. Theyre not just going to stop there and say, OK, we met our goals. Theyre going to say, Whats next? If we dont talk about the care that hog and chicken and veal producers put into their animals, then there wont be anybody left to help stand up for us when its our turn.
In early 2007 Wayne Pacelle ran into Colorado governor Bill Ritter and announced his intention to go for the jugular in his state. Ritter persuaded Pacelle to meet with farmers instead. After the first tête-à-tête, at a Colorado steak house, it was clear a negotiator would be needed.
Enter Bernard Rollin.
They had 12 million bucks allocated to do this referendum, and the livestock association told me that their people told them that if they dont fight it, theyll lose three to one, and if they do fight it, theyll lose two to one, recalls Rollin, a professor of philosophy and animal science at Colorado State University. They didnt have the money to fight it, so they asked me to fight it. Well, I had never met Wayne Pacelle. I work alone.
Two months later Im on a panel with Pacelle and he came over and said, I really admire your work, Ive used it, and so forth. And I said, Then with all due respect, dont screw me in my own state.
The conversation eventually concluded, according to Rollin, with Pacelle acquiescing. He said, OK, if you can broker a deal, Ill cancel the referendum. And 150 hours of unpaid time later, we had the deal. My wife will still tell you how many dinners I ate with one phone in each ear and the face in the plate.
Rollin is an unusual animal, as it were. He authored the first ethics textbook for veterinarians and was an architect of a federal law enforcing certain standards for animals used in research labs. A New York Jew who settled in Colorado 40 years ago, hes a weightlifting enthusiast who owns three motorcycles and flips the bird at helmet laws.