Lyman's family on his fathers side has worked their land for generations in Montana. As a kid he goofs around before learning the fate of the family farm will fall to him now that his older brother has cancer. He majors in agriculture in college learning all the latest chemical technology for fertilizing, controlling weeds and pests, rapid growth drugs for fattening cattle, etc. He serves a stint in the army before returning home to run the farm. He turns the modest farm into a bustling multi-million dollar agribusiness controlling thousands of acres and thousands of head of cattle. In 1979 when he is diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor he makes a promise to himself to change the way he is running his farm, his family, and his life. He begins the process of converting his farmland to organic agriculture when he decides to run for congress. He loses a close election as well as his farm when the bank forecloses on it. Taking the opportunity to make a clean break he accepts a position as a lobbyist for the food industry in Washington, DC.
Now he fights for legislation to change the way food is raised in America, the way his ancestors grew food using natural techniques to enrich the soil and promote health among the livestock using very little in the way of petrochemical products on the animals or environment. His change of heart puts him at odds with the powerful chemical companies that promote the use of toxic or carcinogenic materials that pose a risk to the health of consumers. Mr. Lyman may best be remembered as the guest on Oprah Winfrey's show whose exposure of the gruesome methods of modern animal husbandry and risks of Mad Cow Disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) elicited Ms. Winfrey to swear off eating beef. As a result, the two became the target of a food disparagement lawsuit filed by the Texas Cattleman's Association in 1998. Mr. Lyman is now a tireless advocate of a healthier vegetarian diet and lifestyle even in his former home state of Montana.
This report prepared by David Fletcher