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More Than Tradition Feeds the Beef Industry

July 19, 2002

I read "Last Roundup at Irvine Ranch Ends 2 Centuries of Tradition" (July 15) with a growing sorrow. In man's insatiable hunger for red meat there is an insensitivity that is sadder than the "lone bellow echo[ing] from one cow pen like a half-strangled bugler playing taps." Your story treats the growing extinction of the cowboy with a reverence that overlooks its insensitive treatment of the cattle they herd to slaughter.

It comments offhandedly about cows and their calves being rounded up, with the calves "running after their mothers and bawling once they realize they won't be allowed to stop and suckle." Then they are separated: "half a dozen nervous calves tumbling over each other up the ramp," while the wrangler croons a ditty and another explains, "This is our favorite haul ... " as he pushes the animals in with a long battery-charged prod.

I would be relieved if this, indeed, were an end to two centuries of tradition with the demise of the Irvine Ranch. It isn't. For what the cowboy did to support himself and his family, the meat industry does to feed greed, the bottom line and the stockholder.

This results in even greater insensitivity and inexcusably more abusive treatment to these harmless creatures ... their fear, pain and bellowing ending up on the plates of America.

Madeleine Fisher-Kern

Los Angeles

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