Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, family, Farm, farm animals, fertilizer, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, organic, P & E, planting, Politicians, rain, tillage, Tractors, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, children, family, farm, Food, machines, plants, repairs, science, weather
Farming, like any other profession has its own lingo, and much of America does not understand it.
I just got off the phone with a gal doing a survey on farming practices who was having a great deal of trouble with her farm english. It was very hard to understand what she wanted to ask because she was murdering words left and right. You had to listen carefully and try to interpret what she wanted to say. I hated to ask her to repeat any of her questions because her pronunciation of words did not get any better. To be fair she did not sound like she grew up speaking another language, she just could not pronounce these words because they were strange to her. Kind of like trying to pronounce those strange names you find in the Bible.
Really, it is no wonder that folks with no connection to the farm do not understand us. We deal daily with names like FSA, SCS, CAFU, EPA, USDA and PCA. We go to places like the Commodity Classic and Farm Equipment shows. Farmers deal in dollar amounts that would make the head of the average person spin. We fertilize, apply pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, we deal with too much rain and not enough rain, and all so we can pay off our loan at the bank and feed our family.
Farmers talk of tractors and combines, rippers, chisels and disks, they discuss spraying and cultivating. We speak of organic, minimum till, no till, plows and erosion. Farmers know horse power, breeding schedules, days on feed, days to maturity, bushels per acre, chemical rates and livestock nutrition. Livestock producers know about sires and dams, sows and boars, rams and ewes, gilts, colts, geldings, barrows, chicks, hens and toms. Farmers deal with politicians, activists, genetically modified crops, inbreds, pure breeds and hybrid vigor. Farmers can fix many of our machines with duct tape or a welding torch, can rewire delicate electronics, and some even understand computers. No machine on the farm is complete without a well supplied tool box, and no pocket without a pliers, knife or a few odd screws. We on the farm live a complex life that our city cousins would like to understand, but have not lived, and so they can only marvel at our differences.
We hide ourselves behind jargon and numbers. What you really need to know is that farmers care about what happens on the farm. We raise our families here. We drink the water and breathe the air. We depend on the soil to feed us and our family for many generations to come. Farmers and their farms come in many sizes, but we all care deeply about what we are doing. We are here on the land because we cannot think of anything more important to do with our lives.
Despite all of the strange words we use, we are just like you, trying to build a good life for our families. So if you do not understand us, ask. We want you to know. We are not trying to hide things from you. You, our customer, are important to us also.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, food, P & E, science | Tags: agriculture, Agriculture education, Engineering, farm, Food, Math, science, technology
Want to have a job when you graduate from school, think STEAM. That stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math. Agriculture? Yes, Agriculture!
Actual farmers make up just about two to four percent of the American work force. But people who work in related industries that depend on what farmers do account for at least a quarter of the entire work force. That includes everyone from people in food services jobs to Kraft executives to commodities traders.
Many folks in Agriculture are experts in one of the other areas also. It is nearly impossible to work on a farm today without knowing something about all of the others. To be a part of Agriculture today you may not even have a degree in Agriculture, but you still will be involved in feeding the world. That’s Agriculture!
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, family, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, food, food safety, P & E | Tags: Agriculture education, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, food safety, friends
For a number of years now I have been helping Farm Bureau spread the message of what really happens on the farm. You would not think this would be something that needs to be done in a rural area such as ours, but it does. Most of our work here is to help reinforce the message the farmers really care about the land, water and people that they are taking care of. We are adding our own small voice, to those of many others, so that there are more chances for the message to get out.
Yesterday, we had a booth up at the Windom Farm and Home show. Although this is not some big city show, it does bring people of all ages to exchange ideas and visit with their neighbors. For one day, area businesses and groups turn the high school into an area to see, shop, learn and talk to friends old and new.
The county Farm Bureau had one area of their booth specifically for some educational media that we have. The new materials caught the eye of many and allowed us to spread the message that telling our story is something all should do.
If we did not see you at the show, please feel free to contact me about our activities. We are ready and willing to spread the message that farm folks care about Animals, Environment, Food and Family.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, fertilizer, Minnesota, P & E, rain, wind | Tags: Agriculture education, farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, minnesota farm bureau, rain, wind
At our last Minnesota Farm Bureau Promotion and Education conference we had a variety of speakers, but one had a quote from a friend that stuck. She was talking about how she was always so nervous when she started to talk to groups and how the butterflies in her stomach were really bothering her. She mentioned this to another, more experienced, speaker and the response was “Butterflies mean you care.”
I remember well some of my butterfly episodes in my early years. They were so strong that it made it hard for me to even consider stepping up in front of people. What may have finally gotten the butterflies under control was my first time on stage in a community play. That day I got to pretend I was someone else. It was not me on stage, but the character I portrayed.
The butterfly day that hit me hardest was when I was asked to give a short explanation on the words of Christ from the cross. I was asked to speak on “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” I only remember a bit of what I said that day, but I do remember this, when I was done I could hardly see because of the emotion I had dredged up. I felt what it meant to be forsaken. I hope my audience did too.
We in agriculture have for many years been ignored. We were the left behind, those who could not cut it in the “real” world. The feeling was that those who farmed were a bit stupid to stay in a job where you worked so hard for so little. For many of us that could not be further from the truth.
I have lived and seen the caring attitude of those who are on the farm. Yes, some of our ways at times may seem a bit callous, but if you get to know us you will know we do really care, and our outside attitude is to, at times, hide the tears.
I have cried over many pets in my life, and vowed to never have a dog on my farm, because I could not stand the thought of what I would feel if they died on the busy highway that runs so near to our house. We do have cats however, I try not to get too close to them, but still they can hurt you. We lost two half grown kittens this last week to accidents, one was to me very tragic and senseless.
The caring extends beyond animals in our care, it extends also to the land. I remember well the gullies that used to form after a rain storm in some of our fields. Soil moving off of the farm due to wind or water erosion really bothered me. I can say with pride that the changes we have made in our farming practices have nearly eliminated erosion due to wind and water. It is something I want to continue to improve.
When I think of some of the things that we used to do 50 years ago, it makes me very upset. Back then we did not understand what we were doing. Some of the early years of pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use were indeed wild. Todays farmer is trained in the use of farm chemicals and gets tested on a regular schedule to make sure the rules are followed. No fertilizer or chemical is spread on the land without an understanding of what is needed. We do soil tests and hire consultants so we can get the most out of every input we use while doing no harm.
We live on the land, we want our children to live on the land, we would knowingly do nothing to harm the land we live on. Those who knowingly do harm to the animals or land in their care are not people we need in farming. We do care about what we are doing. The butterflies are there.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, family, Farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, P & E | Tags: Agriculture education, care, children, farm, Farm Bureau, farmers, farmers care, Minnesota, minnesota farm bureau federation
So the press release said….
Farm Bureau Members Attend Promotion & Education Conference in Rochester
Nearly 100 county Farm Bureau members from Minnesota attended the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Promotion and Education (P&E) Conference January 27-28 at the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.
Attendees toured Gar-Lin Dairy, Pork and Plants Greenhouse, White Water Winery, Hormel Institute, EDP Wind Farm LLC and the Spam Museum.
During the conference, they heard from featured presenters Laura Daniels from Wisconsin and Michael Swanson, senior vice president, agricultural economist and consultant of Wells Fargo.
In addition, they heard presentations on social media, estate planning, national policy update, media training, safety panel, consumer outreach, precision agriculture, risk management and make and take – hands on classroom activities.
Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap and Minnesota Corn Growers President John Mages also addressed conference participants.
The conference was sponsored by the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation P&E State Committee. The 2013 conference is scheduled for January 25-26, 2013 in Bloomington.
For more information about Minnesota Farm Bureau contact your local Farm Bureau office, log onto www.fbmn.org.
That is not the whole story. In fact, that synopsis makes the whole event kind of boring. The meetings were anything but boring. Every year the Promotion and Education Committee spend a lot of time getting together some of the best speakers available. They were funny, they were educational and they were all about important subjects. The best part of the whole event may have been the opportunity to talk with others at the Conference about themselves.
Farmers have a bad habit of talking in numbers. We do that to help understand each others farms. The problem is that our customers, those who eat the food we produce, do not care about the numbers. They want to know about us. They want to know about our families and about how much we care. Our customers want to know that we raise our families on the land because we feel it is the best for them. They want to know that we treat our animals and our land like it should be, with care, understanding and respect. We were challenged to not talk in numbers, but to talk about the things we hold most dear.
This years Promotion and Education Conference was a lot of fun, and very educational. I’d be glad to tell you about it sometime.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, fish, Fishing, food, Hawaii, hunger | Tags: Agriculture education, american farm bureau federation, beef, Farm Bureau, fish, Food, food distribution, hunger, pork, raising cattle, shrimp industry
On my recent American Farm Bureau Federation trip to Hawaii I got into a few discussions about the food available in paradise. When we are in such a lush area we may think that getting food would be no problem. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First off you have to remember that Hawaii has a limited amount of land that is suitable for farming. Much of the big island of Hawaii is covered in lava rock and has trouble supporting a goat. The areas that are in production are mostly for raising cattle. The largest cattle ranch in the United States is in Hawaii. Little of the island is either suitable, or gets enough rainfall for production of food.
While on Oahu we drove past large areas that do get enough rainfall, and do have good soil for food production, but these areas are fallow. Since sugarcane and pineapple production moved to other countries where labor is cheaper, no one wants to farm the land.
Hawaiian acres that are farmed are mostly used for the production of high cost items like coffee and macadamia nuts. There are areas that seed companies use to get a winter crop of corn or soybeans, but again these are high value crops. Very few are raising the staples needed for everyday life. There is an abundance of tropical flowers, but most flowers cannot be eaten.
You would think there would be an abundance of fresh seafood in Hawaii as they have a tradition of farming the sea. The shrimp industry is supplied by many farm raised shrimping operations, as well as both fresh and salt water ponds for fish production. Most of these are sold to tourists at roadside seafood shacks.
But my conversation with a chef in one of the larger restaurants in Honolulu showed me some cracks in the food supply.
- Despite having the largest cattle ranch in the country, there is nowhere to process these cattle. Cattle must leave the island to be processed, so there is no major source of locally grown beef.
- The islands large chinese population eats a lot of pork, but there are no large pork producers on the islands, and pork must be sourced elsewhere.
- While Hawaii seems to be a fisher mens paradise, most of the fish eaten in Honolulu is shipped from other countries.
- Despite the large amount of vegetables used in cuisine for those who like the oriental cooking preferred by so many in Hawaii, most is imported.
- Rice, a stable in most of the meals eaten in the islands, is not grown here.
The list goes on. In short, Hawaii is a land on the edge. One person I talked to estimated that there was enough food on the islands to last 5 days, perhaps less in the more populated regions. Wow, what will it take to put Hawaii over the edge, not much. In fact, Hawaii, like most other large cities in the world cannot survive long if we have a major transportation problem.
Our modern world has become so dependent on so few to be sure it is fed everyday. A shortage of transportation fuels would doom so many unprepared people. I live in an area of abundance of food, yet a large snowstorm can decimate the shelves of the local grocery.
Hawaii and its food supply is a warning. Where is your next meal coming from. Are you sure there will be food to eat if something happens to our food distribution system.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, Farm Bureau, Hawaii, Minnesota, Politics, travel, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, american farm bureau federation, biofuels, Corn, farm, Farm Bureau, farm bureau federation, Food, friends, Hawaii, hawaii convention center, machines, Minnesota, politics
it’s 2012, the time has come again for the American Farm Bureau Federation to meet in Honolulu, and this year I decided to take advantage of the fact. Now I’m not a delegate or an exhibiter so I’m not getting my way paid by anyone, but I am a Farm Bureau Member and I do have a daughter who lives in the Aloha state, so I had at least two reasons to go.
As with any organization there were meetings for the whole group and meeting for special groups, like the Minnesota Breakfast for the about 100 of us from Minnesota, or the County Presidents Luncheon which I attended.
There were also breakout sessions on subjects that members might find interesting like these;
- Food and Farm Facts, Navigating Waves of Change in Advocacy and Agriculture Literacy
- American Farmer: Heart of Our Country
- Election 2012
- 2012 Farm Bill
- It’s Not What You Say, It’s What They Hear
- Business Development
- 2012 Crops Outlook Conference
- 2012 Livestock Outlook Conference
- Asia in the Present and Future of U.S. Agricultural Trade
- Celebrating Differences:How to Capitalize on Diversity in Times of Change
- Protecting your Estate:Essential Questions to ask your Estate Planning Professional
- Operating in and Era of Hyper Regulation
- Farm to Table, Aloha Style
Whew, I only had time to get to three of those, I wanted to go to many more.
All of this was held in the Hawaii Convention Center in Ala Moana neighborhood of Honolulu.
The Hawaii Convention Center is a four level combination of open air spaces and closed meeting rooms with all that the over 6000 farm folks could want, and plenty of space to do it in. The exhibiter area was large, There were multiple areas for breakout sessions and meetings as well as banquets and grab a quick meal areas. Several restaurants were just across the street.
The beauty of Hawaii is that the temperatures are usually good. Closed rooms usually have air conditioning, but all hallways are open to allow the out doors in. Dress code for Farm Bureau conventions is Business Casual, but in Hawaii casual is the Sunday-go-to-meeting-norm, a Hawaiian shirt is dressed up. To Hawaiians we were over dressed.
Inside and out the building was beautiful. Even from the back, everything was designed to welcome. This water wall was hidden away where few conventioneers had to go.
I expect that in about ten years the American Farm Bureau Federation will be back again to visit the Aloha State.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, food, Minnesota, P & E | Tags: Agriculture education, eating healthy, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, food safety, Minnesota, nutrition
I worked the Minnesota State Fair booth for the Farm Bureau on the Friday before labor day and mostly had a good time. There was one fellow who came into the building, looked at the displays and said “That’s a Lie.”
Now I was proud of the displays that we had there. I thought they did a good job of explaining that food comes from farms and that farmers are proud of the job we are doing. There was also a disconnect there. The part of the display this fellow was pointing to told about all of the healthy food produced for us, but the display also contained some of the most processed of foods that are available. Yes, those foods start out on the farm, but the farmer has nothing to do with the product consumers eat but except for a little raw product.
Our consumers have been demanding, and paying a premium for, easy to eat products. Foods that are quickly moved from package to mouth are flying off of shelves. Many of those products contain only a small amount of food value. They are fried or baked, some further processing is done, and a mere 9 ounces, only a few pennies worth, of that farm product sells for between $1.49 and $3.99 on the shelf. What you have on the shelf is processed to the point that it in no way resembles the farm product it contains, and it will have doubtful amounts of the nutrition it started with. I would have to agree that those foods are not really healthy for us.
The same cannot be said for the only slightly processed foods that are not so quick to make it from package to mouth. Raw meats, fruits, veggies, nuts and grains are not always easy to eat. Some make the trip from farm to mouth with only the smallest of changes, others need a good cooks attention. Surprise, those foods you buy raw or only slightly processed are better for you, and most times cheaper to buy. These are the foods that farmers can be most proud of.
As more and more people come to value the healthy value of food products straight from the farm, we are seeing more and more people buying those fresh, or only slightly processed products. I’m still proud to be a farmer who is producing healthy food for the world, but I am increasingly watching what I eat. I want the real stuff as much as possible. The foods that come with very few detours from the farms, forests and waters that produced them.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, food, Minnesota, Politics | Tags: farm, Farm Bureau, Food, Free trade, Minnesota, politics
Agriculture exports are critical to farmers and are essential to the prosperity of the overall U.S. economy. Free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama have been stalled for several years causing major trading opportunities to diminish.
Economic analysis, performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service, estimates that annual direct U.S. agricultural exports to Korea, Colombia and Panama will increase by nearly $2.5 billion upon full implementation which will create approximately 22,000 U.S. jobs.
In total, the agreements are expected to increase direct exports from Minnesota by $99.1 million per year. The agreements will particularly increase trade for pork, beef, soybeans, corn, dairy, wheat and processed food and fish, resulting in nearly 900 additional jobs in Minnesota.
As a farmer, I realize the importance of gaining long-term access to a growing market. Soybeans are Minnesota’s second largest source of farm cash receipts, which totaled $2.6 billion in 2009. Minnesota’s direct exports of soybeans and products to Korea are estimated to increase $8.3 million per year. The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) will provide access to Korea’s 300,000-metric ton market for food-quality soybeans. Korea has agreed to immediately eliminate its 5 percent applied tariff on food-use soybeans.
Additionally, there are benefits from the increased export of meat products because of the indirect increasing export of corn and soybeans. Indirect exports of corn as a result of the KORUS FTA are estimated to be $17.6 million per year. Indirect exports of soybeans and products are estimated to by $6.6 million per year.
Each day that goes by without passing the agreements provides more opportunity for other countries to negotiate their own deals and less opportunity for job expansion in the U.S. As long as the administration and Congress fail to act on the pending trade deals, our role as a major trading partner diminishes, as well as opportunity for U.S. job creation. Farm Bureau urges the administration and Congress to expedite passage of these trade deals.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, hunger, Uncategorized | Tags: ag education, animal care, farm, farm animals, Food, food safety, hunger
It is the job of everyone involved in agriculture to speak up for agriculture, you do it by your words and actions everyday. Are you saying good things about the industry that puts food on the tables of the world?
Today more and more people do not even know someone involved in agriculture, much less have a relative back on the farm. They do not know where their food comes from, or how it gets to their table. There is a disconnect between meal and raw product.
Without agriculture there is no food, and yet many who depend on us are harboring misconceptions about the most important industry on earth. Here’s some help for you.
When someone comes to you concerned about corporations in agriculture you can tell them that 98% of farms in the U.S. are family farms. Some of these may be corporations or partnerships, but they are still owned and worked by families.
When some one comes to you all upset about what agriculture is doing to the water supply, remind them that families on the farm drink that water too and would do nothing to intentionally harm it. Farmers, through modern conservation and tillage practices are reducing the loss of soil and thereby protecting our lakes and rivers.
If someone comes to you with concerns about how animals are handled on farms, tell them that farmers have ZERO tolerance for willful acts of neglect or cruelty. We believe that animal care decisions should be made by the farmer or rancher and his veterinarian. An animal that is uncomfortable does not produce the most possible food. We need healthy, comfortable animals on our farms and ranches to feed the world.
Our worlds population is expanding. We will need to produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed the 2.4 billion more people that will inhabit our world. Somehow we must do this with the same, or even less land than we are now using. Today 1 in 6 Americans do not have access to enough food. That number is higher in many other countries. How can we feed more people tomorrow if there are people hungry today?
We need you to join us in speaking up for agriculture. Without you our numbers are diminished, our voice is muted. Please help us when we ask you to speak up for the industry that feeds the world. Volunteer to sit in the fair booth. Speak up when you hear someone who tells the wrong story of agriculture. We need your voice. We need your help. Speak up today.