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, Farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, P & E, safety, school | Tags: Agriculture education, children, farm, Farm Bureau, machines, Minnesota, safety
I spent the last two afternoons at the University of Minnesota’s Southwest Minnesota Experiment Station talking to area fourth graders about safety, especially farm safety. It was an interesting, exhausting two days. First off, fourth graders are very busy, and almost totally self centered. If you want to get their attention, you have to be both persistent, and insistent. You also need a message that will grab their attention. Unluckily there have been enough bad things that have happened to me and to people I know so that I have learned to hold the attention of a fourth grader. We did these presentations 8 times each day to a total of over 700 kids.
I had the help of Dave Van Loh on the first day, and Marilyn Nickel the second day. As members of the Farm Bureau, we were presenting our deadly serious information to try to scare these kids safe. Our stories of mishaps in flowing grain, and with animals, augers, tractors, atvs and combines helped to show some of the bad things that could happen.
We used props like toy tractors, wagons and a magnetic farm yard scene to explain how the accidents had happened, and why. We talked about the injuries we had experienced and those we had seen others suffer.
We also had the use of a combine harvester to show how power moves from place to place on machinery and talk about the accidents that can happen if things do not go right.
The toughest presentation for me was the Power Take Off (PTO) demonstration which we did only once each day. We placed newspaper in disposable coveralls and showed what happens if you get caught in a machine. Since I had lost a friend last winter to a PTO accident this one hit home hard. It was my hope to scare some of those kids safe. If we can prevent one farm accident the whole effort was worth it.
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, Animal care, Corn, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, P & E, Soybeans | Tags: Corn, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, Soybeans
Details are starting to come together for the Cottonwood County Breakfast on the Farm. So many details are now coming together, but so much is left to do. There are so many players who have a part of the event that it is at times hard to hold an overall grasp of what each person is doing and what may have been left out.
Our county Farm Bureau got involved as we realized that more and more people, even here in farm country, do not know where their food comes from. For several years now we have worked with the Windom Chamber of Commerce to run the Farm City Tour and Farm and Home show. With those two players as the lead we have brought in the Cottonwood & Jackson County Corn and Soybean Growers, The Cottonwood County Beef Producers, The Cottonwood County 4-H, The Windom FFA, The Cottonwood County Lamb and Wool Growers, Cottonwood County Dairy Association and the Cottonwood County Natural Resources Conservation Service. These groups along with hosts Roy and Amy Minion will be getting together to tell the story of Cottonwood County Agriculture on the morning of July 10.
As the overall chair of the event I find much of my spare time taken up with planning. When we get a rainy period, and in the waiting for things to dry up afterwards, more time can be devoted to plans and preparations. It’s now too late to back out. People all over are asking questions about the event. Plans have progressed and advertising is appearing. We have to do this. My stomach is in knots. What did I forget? What is left to do? It’s going to be a great day, I hope.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, P & E, Politicians
I’m just back from the Minnesota Farm Bureau Promotion and Education (P & E) meeting held in Minneapolis this year. P & E is set up to help educate farm folk so they can tell their story to non farm folks. Why? because if we don’t, folks who have no idea what goes on on the farm will tell the world their version, a version with no basis in reality.
Agriculture and other non urban places are in danger of being loved to death. Folks who live in the city, drive through rural areas on their way to vacations, and see all that open space and breathe all of that fresh air, and want it to remain just that way forever. They want to protect it from those who would harm it and will believe anyone with a “horror story” of what is happening in rural areas.
The fact is that things are not a bad as all of the fear mongers tell you. The American Farmer is a scientist with a skid loader rather than a pitch fork. He is an ecologist with tractor rather than a team of horses. He is a nutritionist with computer rather than a note pad and pencil.
A farmer will work long hours, in worse conditions, for less pay, than anyone I know, and love every minute of it. A farmer takes better care of his animals than he does himself. He will see both more and less of his family then most parents, more because he works with them, less because when it’s milking time, he will have to miss his child’s big game.
A farmer can look across his field and see the weeds that no one else would notice. He can tell when animal is sick by the way it looks at him. He knows when something is wrong in the machine he is operating by the way his seat vibrates.
The American Farmer today produces more food with less water, land, fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides than he did just ten years ago. He does all of this while battling politicians who don’t understand him, city folks who want to live where he raises their food, government workers who want to regulate his every waking moment and environmentalists who don’t know that he is one of them.
I’m proud to be one of those misunderstood folks. I hope that those of you who read these posts will come to understand what I do. If you have a question, I’ll be glad to try to answer it.