Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, Music | Tags: Agriculture education, children, family, farm, Food, food safety, history, parody
Do you want the real story, or will you believe the “shocking” news of some entertainer? I’ve seen it so many times, a TV celebrity makes a statement or brings on a guest who makes a statement, that is totally at odds with the truth, and people actually believe it. When they make those comments about what we do here on the farm it can really hurt. I’m proud to tell you that a broad array of farm folks are stepping up to tell the real story. Among my favorites are the ladies at “Finding our Common Ground.” These young mothers are telling about what happens on the farm in a way that other young professional women can believe. One that came across my facebook feed today is about GMO’s. (http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/corporate-farms/)
I’ve also watched the Peterson Brother do their thing in song parody that both entertains and informs. These young men and their sister are entertaining and informative. Check out one of their videos at
Today a really good video came to my computer from Midwest Dairy producers that is one of the best I have ever seen.
These are only a few of the many good efforts being made by agriculture today. The truth is that we few are a misunderstood group. What we do is shrouded in mystery because what we do is often hard, dirty work. Work that is rewarding in ways that many city jobs are not, but often so hard that many of our ancestors left the farm for the easier life in cities.Not only hard, but today very costly. It is harder and harder to get into farming without lots of money. For most of my life I struggled to make a living and feed my family on a farmers income. Because I was able to work with my dad I was able to keep going and now, 40 years later, can feel good about the life I live and the income I make. Today land and machinery prices are even higher and I wonder how the next generation will be able to farm.
My life is not “shocking,” but it is complex. We do things on the farm today in new ways because we have a heavier burden on our shoulders. When I started farming the average farmer fed 26 people, today he feeds 155. 98% of the farms are still family owned and account for 85% of the food you eat. In the last 100 years the average farm size has gone from 140 acres to about 500. Of interest is that there are now more farms today that there were 10 years ago, not hobby farms, but farms that are actually viable, $500,000 per farm gross profit farms.
So the next time someone tries to tell you how things really are on the farm, check out their bonafides. Do they really know what goes on on the farm, or are they telling you “shocking” story to get you to buy their book. You all are invited to check out the many farm stories that are now on the internet, and I know any one of us would love to hear from you. We’ll tell you what really happens down on the farm.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Biofuels, ethanol, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, food, food safety, genetic modification, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics, travel | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, ethanol, farm, Farm Bureau, farm bureau members, Food, food safety, government, Minnesota, minnesota farm bureau federation, politics, travel
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, food | Tags: Agriculture education, agvocate, farm, Food
Talk about food and people can get very emotional. Talk about how our food is raised with a farmer and you also get raw emotion, especially if you try to portray his life’s work as damaging to the land, our environment or those who eat the food he raises. As the consumer gets further and further from the farm, some have started to portray agriculture as something gross and dangerous. That can get farm folks a little bit prickly and some have been known to lash out. What we all need is some civil conversation.
Some in the farming community have started to understand that we need to tell our story ourselves or someone else will tell it for us and we may not like what they say. Since many of those who are spreading the untruths of our food are using social media, it has been natural that social media has also been the method used by farm folks to tell what really happens on the farm.
Don’t get me wrong, there are bad apples in farming as there are in all areas of life. The majority of the farming/ranching community does not condone the things they do. We do not, however, like it when the worst of the worst gets portrayed as the norm. There are also some common practices in agriculture that the consumer does not understand. These practices are based on science and our critics are using emotion, the two are not equal.
I have been very happy to watch many of my peers take on these misconceptions in agriculture in the social media. Most of these agvocates are young and female, but there are a liberal number of young men and even some of us older folks in the mix. Groups such as “Finding Our Common Ground” have popped up that are populated with these agvocates working to answer the questions of our food buyers.
Now there is a soon to be released book, out February 14, 2013, by one of these young agvocates that hopes to bridge the gap between farm and foodie, it’s called No More Food Fights! Written by Michele Payn-Knoper, the book is ”a call for decorum instead of mayhem in the conversation around food and farm.” Michele’s blog “Cause Matters” <http://www.causematters.com/> was one of the first I found when I started my blog.
Instead of a front and back cover, there are two sides to Michele’s book – the food side and the farm side. It is designed for both farmers and foodies to read about issues from each prospective. I know the book will get a lot of interest from the farmers and ranchers, and I’m looking for a similar interest from foodies. Hopefully this book will help us all to get rid of the pricklies.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics | Tags: Agriculture education, Farm Bureau, farm bureau federation, farm bureau members, Minnesota, minnesota department of natural resources, minnesota farm bureau, minnesota farm bureau federation, minnesota pollution control, politicians, politics
It’s been a long week. But one of the most interesting days I had this week was spent in St.Paul at the Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents meeting.
Each year the Minnesota farm Bureau’s county presidents get together to find out what is going on in our state and national politics. We have people from many different state, and if we can get them, federal organizations come in and brief us on the things happening in their area. It is a chance to get to know each other and to find out about issues we will be dealing with. Below is a picture of myself with some area Farm Bureau members as we greet our State Senator Bill Weber.The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) recently held the Minnesota Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents meeting on February 5 at the University Club in St. Paul with 120 Farm Bureau leaders, elected and appointed officials in attendance. County Farm Bureau presidents heard from state legislators, as well as Minnesota Agriculture Water Resources Center Executive Director Warren Formo, Minnesota Board of Animal Health Executive Director Dr. Bill Hartman, Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Douglas Knowlton, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Stine, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Dave Schad, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Policy and Government Relations Director Bob Meier and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Deputy Commissioner Jim Boerboom. Pictured left to right are Dave Van Loh-Minnesota Farm Bureau District III director, Kevin Bock-Redwood County Farm Bureau vice president, Mike Wojahn-Cottonwood County Farm Bureau president, Senator Bill Weber (R-Luverne), Susan Hansberger-Nobles County Farm Bureau, Tim Hansberger-Nobles County Farm Bureau president and Rachel Daberkow-Jackson County Farm Bureau president.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, history | Tags: Agriculture education, farm, history
Paul Harvey’s recitation of “God made a Farmer” in the Superbowl ad has a lot of
people talking about the changes in farming. So how much has farming changed
since Paul’s speech in 1979 and today?
Using the numbers from our most recent U.S. Agriculture Survey (2007, a new one
is being conducted for 2012), here are some interesting comparisons:
In 1978, there were 2,257,775 farms, averaging 449 acres each. In 2007, those
numbers reduced to 2,204,792 farms averaging 418 acres each. Farmers today
are actually smaller by 31 acres.
Today the market value of farmland and buildings is $1,892 per acre. That is up
from $619 per acre in 1978 – an increase of $1,273 per acre.
Today we have 922,095,840 acres of farmland in the United States. In 1978, that
number was 1,014,777,234 – a decrease of 92,681,394 acres.
In 1978, 56% of farmers claimed farming as their primary occupation and 44% of
farmers claimed zero days away from the farm work.
Today, 45% of farmers claim farming as their primary occupation and 35.3% of
farmers claim zero days away from the farm work.
Our average farmers have aged almost 7 years since 1978. Today the average
farmer is 57.1 years old.
The numbers have changed, and so has much of the technology farmers use to
produce much more food on much fewer acres, but the person remains the same.
The characteristics, values, hard work, determination, and grit it takes to work day
in and out, producing food for a global food supply, still holds true 35 years after
the late Paul Harvey first made his description.
My Thanks to Ryan Goodman for putting these figures together for me.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, family, Farm, food, hunger | Tags: Agriculture education, Dodge, family, farm, farmer, farmers, farmers and ranchers, Food, hunger
The Superbowl always gets some of the best commercials, but it is a given that all across farm country conversation ceased when the Dodge commercial in support of farmers came on. The ad is actually the first salvo in Dodge’s one million dollar challenge in support of the FFA Foundation initiative “Feeding the world-starting at home.” Check out their initiative here <http://www.ihigh.com/ffa/video_913581.html>
The ad used Paul Harvey’s reading of the poem from his address to the 1978 FFA convention. Many farm groups have used those words and added their own pictures just as Dodge has done, but this is the first time it has made it to the Superbowl. If you missed the program it can be found here <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S87BhEJX_bg>
These are indeed words that tug on heartstrings. The emotion is there despite the calm way that Paul Harvey recites the poem. Perhaps this may be a start for some to dig into exactly what farming is today, and what it is not.
For many years now the consumer of farm products has been concerned that the family farmer is a thing of the past. In some ways they are right, farming is nothing like what it was just after WWII. The young people of the rural areas wanted more than the farm could provide and moved to city jobs in droves. Those left on the farm improvised and made life better. Today the farmer is just as likely to use a computer as his city cousin. What we use them for would amaze you. We need these upgrades in machinery and computing power if we are to feed the world of the future.
Todays farmer feeds 155 people, that is up from only 26 back in the early 60′s. The farmer does this while greatly increasing efficiency. This increase in production is done using fewer inputs than our fathers did, and this increased efficiency will continue.
Today the average farmer gets about 15 cents of the food dollar. From that 15 cents he must pay for his fuel, seed, machinery, fertilizer, pesticides, electricity, hired labor and sometimes water. As you can imagine, there is not much left over to feed his family after paying all of those bills.
Oh yes, it is still a family farm. 97% of todays farms are owned and operated by families. Some folks see names like Monsanto, DuPont, Harvestland, Tyson, HyVee, Kroger, Hormel and many others on their food and think that these are the people who grow the food. Corporations are not growing your food, they are buying the food you eat from farmers and ranchers and getting it to your grocers shelves. Please do not confuse food processors with food producers. It is still the farmer who produces your food.
If you are interested in a few other commercials featuring America’s farmers, I invite you to look at these. Yes, they are sponsored by a food processor, but those are real farm folks in the ads.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Biofuels, ethanol, Farm, Farm Bureau, science | Tags: Agriculture education, car, cars, compressed natural gas, diesel, diesel fuel, ethanol, ethanol producers, farm, Farm Bureau, gas, gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, machines, transportation
One of the sessions I attended at the AFBF meeting in Nashville was a General Motors seminar on the future of motor vehicles. Since they were talking to a farm audience they mostly talked about light trucks, but automotive and heavy truck technology was also touched on. One of the items that they made plain was that the gasoline technology was not going away just yet, but they were gearing up for the future.
The biggest driver in the future of motoring was the higher mpg demands of both the public and government in this era if higher fuel prices. The problem with most of the new technologies is getting the fueling stations out for use. Although Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) are available for larger fleets where they can come to a base station every night, long distance motoring is still going to require a liquid motor fuel. The same is true of hydrogen and electric vehicles, we know how to make them, we just cannot keep them on the road once they get away from fast refueling connections. To bridge the gap until we get refueling stations set up for these fuels we are still going to have to rely on liquid fuels like diesel, gasoline and ethanol.
Despite where you stand on ethanol, the automotive industry is planning on using greater amounts of it in fuels for the foreseeable future. If they are to meet the government mpg guidelines they have no choice. Understandably the growers of ethanol feedstocks are all in favor of this increase.
While today we in agriculture are fighting a battle to keep E-15 approval, automotive manufacturers are gearing up for E-30. They are telling the ethanol producers that it will happen. Automobile manufacturers need the higher octane that ethanol gives to produce the higher performance engines of the future.
I don’t expect Big Oil to give up this battle without a fight. They want to keep us dependent on gasoline and diesel for as long as possible. They are already breaking down the gunkier oils that they used to throw away to meet demand. This costs more money, money they are getting from government subsidies and from us in higher prices. In the mean time, automotive manufacturers are planning for a future that uses less gasoline. They can already see a future of less oil usage, and it is something that I have waited for for a long time.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, friends, Music, travel | Tags: AFBF, Agriculture education, american farm bureau federation, farm, Farm Bureau, friends, meeting, Nashville, Opryland Hotel, travel
We made the trip to Nashville for this years Annual Meeting. Since my sister lives just south of the city it was a dual event. Our weather started out really nice, and then went cold and rainy. Wish we could have brought some of that rain home.
Site of the meeting was the Opryland Hotel. It’s a huge place with 2881 rooms and 15 restaurants on 6 floors. Because of continued expansion and no understandable structural layout the hotel is bit confusing. Each hotel area has a central garden area that is really stunning, with each different in many ways. The attached convention area was also a bit confusing so keeping a map within reach was really helpful if you were going someplace new. They said we had almost every room in the place booked for Farm Bureau members.
Sunday morning started out for us with a Minnesota breakfast at 7:30 gathering. It was a place to get to see most of the folks who made the trip from Minnesota. It was also a chance for President Paap and his staff to give us our tasks for the event. Since I’m not known to be shy, I was assigned 4 radio stations to call back in Minnesota at specific times.
After breakfast we gathered for the opening session. Along with many awards and introductions of important people we all needed to know, we had an address from AFBF President Bob Stallman. Bob talked about the challenges and triumphs of the past year. Included in those challenges was the lack of a Farm Bill in the U.S. congress. This lack of a farm bill leaves a lot of uncertainty for all involved in agriculture. He also addressed some disturbing government regulations that we were able to stop. These included a regulation that would have prevented farm folks from employing their children on the farm, and threatened regulations on a small chicken producer that would have forced them to get a pollution discharge permit when nothing was being discharged.
We also got to spend some time at the trade show where they had displays from each state showing what they were doing to promote agriculture, as well as displays from several agricultural companies. We had our choice of seminars put on by companies and the Farm Bureau. I got to meet some old friends and make some new ones along the way. The evening was free to spend as we wished.
Monday included more seminars and demonstrations in both the morning and the afternoon. At noon I joined other county presidents for a luncheon and a speaker. Our closing session started at 3 in the afternoon and included more awards and contest winners. We also heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who spoke of the optimism he has for the future of agriculture. The real highlight of the day was Keynote Speaker Captain Mark Kelly. He had a great story to tell.That was the end of the sessions for the general public. Tuesday brought the delegate session and regional caucuses, wednesday was the AFBF Board of Directors meeting, none of which I attended.
With the rainy and cold weather, the rest of our time was mainly spent indoors checking out area attractions including one night spent in a country music bar, we just had to check out Vince Gill and It was a fun and restful trip, but it is good to be back home.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, food, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, Breakfast on the Farm, children, family, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, princess kay of the milky way, weather
What can I say, Cottonwood County’s 2012 Breakfast on the Farm was a success. When you plan for 200 to 250 people and serve over 300, you know something went right. We stressed over having to get more supplies, but were happy to get them.The weather was perfect as temperatures and humidity dropped making for a comfortable morning. Our host family, Dean, Elizabeth, April, Chelsea, Jacob and Ethan Johnson could not have been better. There was a chance to see history as the Butter Heads of the only sisters to make finals of Princess Kay of the Milky Way in the same year were on display.
One of biggest draws was the milking demonstration. Some of the younger children got right in close to see this contented cow be milked.
The FFA and 4-H had activities for the kids including a cow pie eating contest where contestants had to find candy corn in chocolate pudding using only their face. The first one to find all five was declared the winner. Sorry, I missed the pie in the face picture, but I did get a picture of the cleanup.
One guest commented that very time he had driven by the farm, he had wanted to stop in to see what happened there. Today he got to see. It was obvious that many others wanted to see the Johnson dairy.
We had lots of help with event. Although the lead organization was the Cottonwood County Farm Bureau, the event also had the Cottonwood County Dairy Association, the Cottonwood County Beef Producers, the Cottonwood County Corn and Soybean Growers and the Windom Chamber of Commerce as co-hosts. It was a team event.
To the Johnson family, a big thank you for all you did. You made this event a success. Perhaps we’ll get to do it again some year.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, family, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, organic | Tags: Agriculture education, farm, Food, food safety, GMO, MOPS, organic
There is a powerful new dynamic abroad in our world, they are known as MOPS, Mothers of Pre-Schoolers. They are young, concerned, intelligent, inquisitive and very active on the internet. It is understandable that one of the things that they are concerned about is the food that they give to their families. If you talk to a MOPS you will be impressed. They may have a job that keeps them away from home, or they may be a stay at home mom. It is the concern for their families that draws them together.
I have found a group of MOPS that impresses me greatly, you can find them at findourcommonground.com/. They are seeing people talking about the food that we eat, that is raised by their families, and they want the world to have the answer, right from the farm, not from some rumor mill. If you have questions about food, I invite you to check them out.