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: Corn, family, Farm, farm animals, food, garden, harvest, hunger, Minnesota, Soybeans | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, eat local, family, farm, Food, garden, harvest, history, machines, Minnesota, Soybeans
We live in an area that is not exactly food diverse, because of market availability we do not raise many crops here. Our area is mainly corn and soybeans and a bit of wheat and alfalfa for field crops. For livestock we mainly raise swine and beef with a few stray sheep, goat, milk and poultry producers in the area. Fruits and veggies are relegated to gardens with only a few making their way to a farmers market. Our problem here is not lack of produce for the local eaters, nor lack of soil or climate that can produce food for our locals, but a lack of customers. We produce more food here than can be eaten in the local area. The average farmer in the U.S. now produces enough food to feed 155 people. Because of our distance from markets where our produce can be consumed, we have a history of producing products that move on the hoof to market, beef and pork. Those who live closer to a population center can and do produce the perishables that are consumed fresh.
We are lucky to have harvest facilities for both pork and beef in our area. A little to the east there are processing plants for sweet corn and peas. Most of this production is shipped to the east coast. There are a few scattered vineyards for the production of locally consumed wine and craft breweries for beer. Some local gardeners set up stands to sell their excess produce in season. Beyond that, we also ship in most of the food eaten in our area. We have no local producers of bread, pasta or rice, and tropical fruits, chocolate and seafood are still craved here just as they are in the city.
As I said, our markets drive our production. The livestock of our area are our chief consumers of field crops. Until WWII the only way to get produce to market was to walk it there. There was no interstate transportation except the railroads and most production was consumed on the farm for the horses that worked the farm. Except for wheat, milk and eggs there was not a lot of produce that was sold to others. As more and more people moved to the cities the need for food to move from the farm to the city increased, thus was born modern agriculture. Now with only a few percent of the population left on the farm we have developed machinery and crops that feed those who do not work the land. Ninety-eight percent of the food produced in our country is produced by families who care for the land and animals that feed our world.
Although some in our world would like to eat local, it is just not practical when you live in the city for all to eat that way. There is not enough food produced within a few miles of our large cities to feed the city, you need the farmers and ranchers of middle America to produce enough to feed not only the cities of the U.S., but the world. So eat local if you want to. In the mean time I and others like me will be putting food on the table for the many who do not have access to, or the money to pay for, locally produced products.
Filed under: cars, charity, hunger, make a difference | Tags: cars, climate, Food, hunger, recycle, transportation
Weather it is cleaning up our part of the world or taking care of others in this world, we can all do better. I know I am not always the absolute recycler, there are things I could do yet to save reusable things. I know I could use my car less, and thus help cut greenhouse gasses. I should be able to eat less and save more. Is it maybe because of fear that we don’t want to look for those less fortunate, fear that we may not like what we see?
Love of self is one of the first things we all show when we grow up. Young children always start out with a “mine” attitude. We have to be taught that this world is ours to take care of. Even then we still want to look out for Number 1. There is a little bit of “let someone else do it” in all of us too. So how do we get over ourselves and learn to take care of our world? I really don’t know, but I keep trying.
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 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.
Filed under: Farm, food, hunger, Politicians, Politics | Tags: Asia, cheese, farm, Food, hunger, politics
News from Bloomberg Press -- "Asia’s growing appetite for pizza and cheeseburgers means the U.S. is exporting the most cheese ever, boosting costs for Kraft Foods Inc. Wholesale cheddar cheese prices have rallied 49 percent this year as the U.S. shipped more than twice as much to Asia in the first four months of 2011 as a year earlier." The growing prosperity of Asia is drawing processed foods, especially proteins, out of U.S. markets. I expect food prices to increase as world wide demand increases. The rest of the world wants to eat like we do, and as they are increasingly competing with the developed countries for protein, you can expect world food prices to increase.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Corn, Farm, food, harvest, hunger | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, Corn, ethanol, farm, Food, harvest, history
Food demand around the world is growing by 1.1 percent per year according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fortunately, a Canadian study reveals that global grain production has increased by 1.5 percent per year over the past 20 years. With increasing resources now being directed to agricultural development in some of the world’s hungriest countries, especially in Africa, there is optimism that we will continue to grow the crops and increase production where the need is greatest.
Now producing and eating only grains is not going to get you a balanced diet, but it is a first step. It does tell you that there is indeed hope that we can continue to feed the worlds people. The increase of production over demand does tell you why we are using grains for ethanol production. We still have more of some grains than we need.
So despite all of the fear of the year folks out there, the worlds farmers are still doing their job of feeding the worlds population. Every year we produce more with less. The efficiency of farm folks should be an inspiration to all.
Filed under: Biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Farm, food, hunger, Minnesota | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, Corn, ethanol, farm, Food, history, hunger, Minnesota
There has been a bit of rumbling the last few years about how ethanol production has caused corn, and thus food prices, to go up, and “greedy” farmers are at fault. Then today I read this in the Washington Post;
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture report released last month that broke down where each dollar spent on groceries goes. Farmers received an average of 11.6 cents per dollar in 2008, the latest year data was available. That was down from 13 ½ cents 10 years ago and from 14 ½ cents in 1993, the USDA report showed.
The rest of the money goes to processing, packaging, transportation, retail trade and food service, which includes any place that prepares meals, snacks and beverages for immediate consumption including deli counters and in-store salad bars. The share going to each category has declined some, except for food service which now gets 33.7 cents of every dollar spent, the USDA reported.
“While the commodity and food prices have been going up, the share going back to the farmer has been going down,” said Chad Hart, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.
As our food prices go up, the farmer gets paid a smaller and smaller percentage of that food dollar. So if corn prices are at near record levels, why are farmers not getting a record percentage of our food dollar. The fact is that despite the assertion that everything we eat has corn in it, which is not true, corn is really cheap in a historical perspective.
Back when I started farming, you could buy a cup of coffee or a candy bar for five cents. Corn prices then were at about a dollar and corn farmers in my area produced about 100 bushels per acre. Today that same cup of coffee or candy bar will cost you about a dollar, and corn is priced at under five dollars for a yearly average and area corn farmers are producing over 180 bushels per acre. That means your cup of coffee or candy bar have gone up 20 times while the corn price has gone up five times. If corn prices had held pace with coffee and candy we’d have $20 corn now. We’d also have a lot more families still on the farm.
Thankfully we don’t have $20 corn now. If we did we would not be able to afford the steak, pork chops and chicken nuggets we all love. We’d be eating cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, potatoes and beets, bread prices would also be out of sight. Using corn to produce ethanol for fuel would be out of the question, and we would be spending closer to half of our income for food instead of less than 10%. Just think of all the things you would have to go without, and all of the jobs making those things that would be lost.
It is so easy to see prices going up and get scared that we will not be able to afford our food tomorrow, but we still live in the country that spends the smallest amount of our paycheck on food. The rest of the world would like to join us, and as they get better jobs they are starting to compete for the fine food we take for granted. We’ve had life too good for too long, if we are going to keep the good life, we need to get out there and earn it again. You can’t make the price of food go down by complaining about it with your mouth full.
Filed under: charity, history, hunger, make a difference, Politicians, Politics | Tags: Food, history, hunger, JFK, politicians, politics
Today is the anniversary of JFK’s presidential speech that had the famous phrase “Ask not what your country can do for you . . . Ask what you can do for your country.”
I’m beginning to think this country has become a welfare state. More and more I see people with their hands out asking that their government give them something. They expect that the government will give them everything. That is not the U.S. of A. I was born in. That is not the country that our fathers fought to build and protect.
Our constitution gives us the right to pursue happiness. It does not say that we will be happy. There are opportunities in our world today for everyone to work. It may not be the job we want, but it is work. I see folks complain about our illegal aliens here in the U.S. but most of them are here doing jobs we don’t seem to want to do. If you want to eat, get out there and work. Our country was built on hard work, not on a life of constant vacations.
Our entertainers have done more than anyone to break our country, and it is our fault. We value major league sports and movie actors more than we do our teachers and police force. We pay major amounts of money to watch entertainment, and then complain that the prices in the grocery store are going up a few pennies.
We are truly blessed in this country to have so much that we can complain about it. Next time you feel that the government owes you something, check out how much you have given to your country and to your neighbor first. Ask what you can do for others, before you ask for a handout.
A democracy can only last until its people realize they can vote themselves something for nothing. I’m afraid we are about to reach that breaking point, that the country that has given us so much will cease to exist. It is time for all of us to do, not ask.
Filed under: Animal care, cars, cold, Corn, Farm, food, harvest, hunger, Minnesota, safety, School bus, snow, Soybeans, travel, Trees, weather, Wildlife, winter | Tags: car, cars, cold, Corn, deer, farm, feeding deer, Food, Minnesota, school bus, snow, Soybeans, wildlife
On my morning bus route I have been seeing quite a few deer lately. Due to the cold and snow they have gathered from their scattered summer haunts to protected areas, usually in river valleys. One of their favorite areas has been a soybean field that was not harvested due to high water. The beans spent too much time underwater this fall and had to be abandoned.
A well meaning person left some corn along their path so that the deer could have a high energy snack. Unfortunately the corn was left too near the road, and four deer died.
To leave the corn for the deer was nice. But because the snow was deep it is hard to get very far from the road. Not thinking of the consequences the easy way was taken and four cars hit deer in that area in one night.
Please, if you are going to feed the wildlife, feed them in a safe area. Get the food well back into the woods or in a field. The carnage of dead deer, dented cars and the possibility of people being hurt because of the feeding of wildlife is not worth the easy way out.