Filed under: family, Farm, food | Tags: family, farm, farmer, farmers and ranchers, Food, quotes
I believe a man’s greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.
I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person’s character.
I believe that farming, despite hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.
I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in many ways that money can’t buy.
I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.
I believe farming provides education for life that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth, and maturity in such a variety of ways.
I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.
I believe that true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feel the pride that springs from their shared experience.
I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all men.
I believe that my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellowman, and by this standard I fear no judgement.
I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he’s lived.
I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.
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, Animal care, Corn, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, organic, science, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, consumer fears, Corn, emotional subject, farm, farmers and ranchers, Food, food safety, hormone estrogen, nature, organic producer, safety, science, weather
Everyone wants to believe that their opinion is right. Sometimes we don’t know why, but we are right. Sometimes we jump on an emotional bandwagon and never look back pledging everything we have to the emotional belief.
My kids say that I seem to be able to talk on any subject as if I’m always right. They in their span have also developed the ability to speak as if their opinion is the right one, I got it from my ancestors and so did they. I have yet to see any of us argue a point on emotion only. We are all prone to reading and study. We know our subject, and some of us know a lot of different subjects.
Our food can be a very emotional subject. For some the thought that there could be hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or GMO’s in their food is an emotional no. Since I work in the food industry I see things a bit differently. I see the efforts of farmers and ranchers, haulers, processors and groceries to put the best product out for the consumer to eat. We are all in this together.
Once in a while I will see a grocery put up a sign that I know is indefensible in trying to calm consumer fears that they cannot defend. Sometimes labels are to promote a food as a premium product. Here are a few.
This label is completely indefensible. Without hormones, there is no life. When placed on beef this should be worded “Grown with no added hormones.” Folks get concerned about the possibility of the hormone estrogen in their beef, but never check to see the level of hormones. Your lettuce has many times the level of estrogen in it than beef raise with hormone implants.
I’ve seen this label placed on many different products. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. The true organic producer has to go through a three year certification process. They are subject to random check and a grueling documentation process. Make one mistake and you are out for three years. There is no one that can prove without a doubt that organic is better for you. This is an emotional label. If you want to pay more for organic, great. My organic farmer friends need the money since they spend many extra hours and lots more money to produce organic foods. It is best to buy certified organic in your store, or even better, only buy from a certified organic producer. Any other produce is suspect. There are times that the organic label has been put on foods that are not organic to satisfy demand.
Produce that is grown without the use of pesticides may or may not be better for you. Many fruits and veggies can be grown without pesticides naturally. They are usually thick skinned or naturally pest resistant. Those plants that are grown with the use of pesticides are checked by inspectors to be sure they do not contain more than the allowed limit of pesticides. It is in the best interest of the grower to produce your fruits and veggies without pesticides and they use them only when needed. The extra cost cuts into their already slim profit margin.
No livestock producer wants to see their animals sick. Just as you protect your children they also seek to protect their animals. If an animal needs a shot or a bit of cough medicine they get it. Many farmers try to produce antibiotic free meat since it brings a premium from the consumer. At times whole herds of animals can be removed from an antibiotic free process when a sickness breaks out. This is a financial loss to the producer, but they will do it to get the premium label that some demand.
All medication has a withdrawal period, a time that it cannot be used before slaughter. Farmers and processors are monitored to be sure that they follow withdrawal guidelines. If antibiotics show up in the meat, it cannot be eaten.
Grass fed, free range, cages (So many sub subjects here.)
University studies show that if there is a bias on grass fed beef, it is in favor of conventionally fed. The HDL/LDL levels in beef that are conventionally fed seems be better than grass fed. An animal raised conventionally also grows faster since it does not have to go so far in search of food.
Corn is a grass. Saying that because you feed corn to an animal you are doing something unnatural is bogus.
Living out doors is better. Living out doors exposes food animals to predators and disease as well as some really nasty weather. Being in and enclosed area also allows the farmer or rancher to watch for and treat disease or injury. Just as you would not like to live in a tent or cave, food animals prefer barns.
Injury as animals compete for food is one of the biggest problems faced in raising livestock. Independent studies have found that when pigs are allowed the choice of free range or stall housing they will choose stalls 90% of the time, they feel safer in the stall.
There are diseases and parasites that live in the soil that can infect animals raised outside.
This label is the most troubling for me. There are so many genetic modifications that have been made to our food plants and animals and some people try to lump them all into the same basket. Just because a food product has been modified to grow faster, use less water, use less fertilizer or resist pests does not mean it is dangerous. One of the staunchest critics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), environmentalist Mark Lynas, recently said he had been mistaken and that the threat of GMOs had been exaggerated by him and others for years. Every piece of evidence I have seen that says GMO’s are bad for you has had hundreds of pieces of evidence brought forth to show how wrong they were.
I know that many feel in their gut that I am wrong, but when the science is so overwhelming, I know I’m right.
Filed under: Ag education, Farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, Politicians | Tags: Agriculture education, county presidents, farm, Farm Bureau, farmers and ranchers, Food, Minnesota, minnesota department of natural resources, minnesota farm bureau, minnesota pollution control, minnesota pollution control agency, politics
It is mid February and time again for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents.
I made my way to the Council of Presidents meeting a bit earlier this year, to get there in time for the Media Training Session. It is a way for those of us who speak for the farmer to get a bit of a heads up on what to expect when someone sticks a microphone in your face and expects you to have an answer.
We’ve known for sometime now that the people who eat the food we produce do trust the farmer, the problem is that farmers and the consumer do not always speak the same language. In that end, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (http://www.fooddialogues.com/?gclid=CMvomJ_eka4CFca8Kgod1CfEJQ), has started a dialogue with consumers and is tracking what the consumer wants, and how to best respond to that desire. We spent some time finding out what they have learned in their study of consumer and farmer interactions.
We were encouraged to use 4 steps to be a productive part of the conversation, they are part of the acronym EASE:
- Engage, Start the conversation.
- Acknowledge, Acknowledge people’s questions and concerns.
- Share, Talk about meaningful details about how you grow food.
- Earn Trust, Make it clear that you want to earn their trust.
We also spent some time with staff members who handed us some really tough questions which we were expected to answer as if we were in front of a TV camera. We then talked about the answers and helped each other learn to do a better job.
After a break for lunch we were briefed by officers of several state departments which have an affect on farming and ranching. There were spokes people from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Minnesota Ag Water and Resources Center, The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. We also got legislative updates from staffers of the Minnesota Farm Bureau as well as a heads up on several rule changes that will affect agriculture from regulatory agencies. All of this so we could learn how to engage in the farmer-consumer dialogue.
The afternoon was over and it was now time to get to work as many members of the Minnesota State House and Senate joined us for dinner. We did a bit of mingling and got to talk to many of those who are making the laws that affect us all. Good training for future visits with our elected leaders.
That was a full day. By the time you drive to St. Paul, attend the meetings and meals and drive home you have spent a lot of time away from home. Worth it, Yes. I always learn more every time I attend. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back again next year.