Our farm's management practices help us to maintain a healthy herd in which antibiotics are seldom needed. In fact, none of the 199 cows in our active milking herd are currently undergoing treatment. But when antibiotics are deemed necessary for the sake of an animal's health, we have a process that allows us to help the cow while protecting the safety and integrity of the milk that leaves our farm.
In the sixteen years that I have been actively involved in agriculture, I have had the pleasure of meeting many passionate people. While I greatly admire the ardent devotion displayed by farmers, at times I find myself wishing that a prevailing sense of teamwork were intermixed with that passion. I believe with all of my heart that the sustainability of agriculture is dependent on farmers working together to share the diverse stories of how we grow food. As I look at my own daughters, their unique strengths and weaknesses, and their struggle to find common ground; I am reminded of the hundreds of thousands of farmers who work hard each day to provide for our nation, yet are unable to achieve a core thread of unity as they reach out to share their individual stories of food production.
Last week I had an amazing opportunity, I went to New York City to meet with journalists and bloggers. The point of our visit was to help share our farm story and put a face on agriculture.
As a farmer, it’s easy for me to get caught up in my own world and focus on my family and my farm. I think this is true of a lot of professions, no matter if you are an investment banker, a chef or a truck driver. Our lives are busy and it’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially if you have no idea what their world looks like from the inside.
I was sitting in a hearing on SB 633 a few weeks ago. I was sitting there knowing that my testimony was “right”, that I was going to make legislators see why this is so important to “me” and “my farm”. After I felt as though I had did just that during my testimony, Barry Bushue Oregon Farm Bureau President got up and pretty much blew me out of the water. Not in the way of making me look bad or anything, we really had very different content in what we were saying and the points we were making. But he did make me feel like at this particular issue I had completely forgotten one major piece, that even if we are organic growers, non-GMO or GMO growers, conventional, sustainable, whatever type of farm we chose to cultivate, in the end we are all still farmers.
We have really been hit hard with winter weather in the last 6 days. The first round of bad weather dumped around a foot of snow on our farm. We need the moisture but when it comes in the form of snow it means a lot more work for us. Last week when the first snow fell, Kevin spent over eight hours in the middle of the night on the skid loader moving snow out of our driveways. Then around Saturday our weather forecast started calling for more snow for last night and today. Kevin got back on the skid loader to move the already huge piles of snow further back from the driveway so we would have more room to pile the new snow.
I'm sure that many of you have Valentine's Day traditions that you follow, whether it is taking your spouse to dinner at her favorite restaurant or maybe sending flowers and candy to your special someone. For us, it is a Valentine's Day tradition to seed our tobacco greenhouse. Sounds pretty romantic, doesn't it?
Last week my daughter brought one of her text books home, not to study, but to show me something she found troubling. It was a picture of a lady standing next to a booth marked organic vegetables and the caption said “Protect our planet and support responsible farmers”. I have to admit, I found it more than troubling, I found it down right offensive.
As I type this Monday evening, I realize that last night's buzz over Dodge/Ram Trucks' "Farmer" Super Bowl commercial has continued on across blogs and social networks throughout the day. By now you are probably well-aware that the ad is part of their "Year of the Farmer" campaign, that Paul Harvey's narration was from a speech he delivered at the 1978 FFA Convention, and that his speech had been used previously in similar videos. So instead of rehashing what's already been written and said, let me give you my personal take.
Each day consumers have questions about how their food is grown and raised – and who better to answer those questions than a farmer or rancher? Each week we’re highlighting an Anderson Live viewer question from our Facebook along with a farmer/rancher answer.
Today, we are exploring: “There’s always a great deal of negative discussion about commercial farms. Are commercial farms bad? What does that mean and are they taking over smaller family-owned farms?
Each day consumers have questions about how their food is grown and raised – and who better to answer those questions than a farmer or rancher? Each week we’re highlighting an Anderson Live viewer question from our Facebook along with a farmer/rancher answer. Today, we are exploring “What has been the best new technology or management style that farmers and ranchers use to produces more food?”
Today, we announced the semi-finalists for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) Faces of Farming and Ranching search. Chris Chinn (Missouri), Will Gilmer (Ala.), Daphne Holterman (Wis.), Brenda Kirsch (Ore.), Tim Nilsen (Calif.), Eric McClam (S.C.), Katie Pratt (Ill.), Bo Stone (N.C.), Janice Wolfinger (Ohio) were all named program finalists.
We began the search for a national spokesperson in June at the Los Angeles Food Dialogues and now at the New York Food Dialogues, we’ve presented the finalists. It’s now up to the judges and the public to help decide who is going to become the Faces of Farming and Ranching. You can vote for your favorite candidate on Food Dialogues.com from Nov. 15 – Dec. 15.
Winners will be announced in January. To read more about the winners, click here.
Each day farmers and ranchers are faced with tough choices about the management of their farms and ranches. Today, more than ever, farmers are faced with the telling their stories about how food is grown and raised. A task that’s pivotal for farmers and ranchers as misperceptions in media and consumer mistrust increase.
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is helping to bridge this gap, by empowering farmers and ranchers to tell their stories about how food is grown and raised. And if you’re a farmer or rancher – doesn’t matter why type, size, management style – now is the time to F.A.R.M.
The F.A.R.M. team is an opportunity to hear the latest news from USFRA. Additionally, once you’ve joined the forces of hundreds of other farmers and ranchers on the F.A.R.M. team, you’ll get tapped into USFRA’s Grow What You Know system. This system provides updates to farmers and ranchers about misleading articles in consumer media – and sometimes articles that tell a positive story about farming and ranching, too.
Why is it important to know what consumer media is saying about today’s food production practices? Because that’s where consumers turn for information and build thoughts about how farmers and ranchers are doing their jobs.
Farmers and ranchers are limited on time and we recognize that. So, we compile articles from publications like Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post and more that highlight food and agriculture and share those directly to farmers and ranchers’ inboxes.
But the Grow What You Know system actually provides more than just links to articles of interest. USFRA also shares some ways to use those articles for posting on your social media outlets along with sources and information for your use.
The farming and ranching community is small, which is just another reason why having a big voice is so important. Become part of the USFRA F.A.R.M. team today.
By Randy Spronk, pig & grain farmer, Minnesota, and MUFSO panelist and attendee
"Let's Start at the Very Beginning” is the opening verse of a familiar song from The Sound of Music we are all familiar with, but it should also be the theme of communications we as farmers have with society.
I was amazed at the thirst for factual, “from the source” information at the MUFSO conference I attended in early October. It reinforced that we need to restart the conversation about food production, and have an open, honest, “let's hear the facts,” discussion about how and why we do things on the farm from a farmer.
I participated in a USFRA-sponsored panel, Where Does Your Food Come From? The Food Dialogues with Farmers & Ranchers, alongside seasoned foodservice operators and leaders from Sizzler International, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina and Ignite Restaurant Group. Several times after my panel discussion, conference attendees asked me, "Why hasn't someone told us this before?" The answer: conversations between those who grow food and the people involved in selling it in restaurants simply are not happening.
Farmers and ranchers need to start at the beginning of the supply chain, and have discussions with our partners that deliver our products through the chain. Make sure they understand the impacts of marketing decisions and product differentiation claims.
The common marketing phrase I often hear is "the consumer is always right." True – but not if the consumer is being misled. The problem we have is our consumers are not fully informed and are being misled by activists with ulterior motives. Let the consumer decide, but make sure they are an educated consumer not a misled consumer.
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is helping to connect farmers, ranchers and the foodservice industry, and will be continuing the conversations started at MUFSO. In early December, MUFSO and USFRA will host a public online webinar featuring my fellow panelists and me, including a question and answer session. Check back to www.FoodDialogues.com for more information and updates on this program.
Each day consumers have questions about how their food is grown and raised – and who better to answer those questions than a farmer or rancher? Each week we’re highlighting an Anderson Live viewers' question from our Facebook page along with a farmer/rancher answer.
Today, we are exploring “Did this year’s drought put farmers out of businesses? And should I be concerned of the impact I’ll see at the grocery store?”
Here’s what our farmer/rancher expert says:
Carriage House Farm We have not been put out of business. While we were hit hard by the drought, we did not lose everything and the increase in market prices will cover that loss to our commodity crops.
We have seen late rainfalls post Labor Day weekend, which have helped some things.
Our beekeeping operation saw some impact as well with honey harvest down by about a half-ton, or about 12.5%.
Pastures have rebounded quickly. We are still down 25% in our hay production and will be purchasing hay for the first time EVER in the last decade of a boarding operation.
In our organic production, we never had a decent bean crop as June heat was incredible and affected germination so badly we tilled most under and stopped planting rotational plantings. We are now hip deep in salad, root crop, and greens production, and we saw zero impact on herb production.
Paul Murray The drought caused several people to sell out their livestock; or trying to keep the best and hoping for rain relief. Three of my livestock ponds totally dry -- only one is left at 1/2 level -- and I’m concerned about the well before any rain.
I survived 144 days, but with hay crop at less than 40% of normal, winter feed prices still higher, I will be selling half of my livestock trying to keep the best. I am sure the row crop, veggies, and fruit market hit hard also.
Did you thank a farmer today or have a chance to talk to a farmer? If not, now is the time. This week we celebrated National Ag Day on Thursday, where farmers and ranchers alike come together and celebrate the traditions of farming as well as new technological advancements to help keep our industry moving forward.
A Texas farmer writes an open letter to consumers wanting to have a conversation about the food they grow and raise. Below is an excerpt from the blog that shares five things farmers are passionate about when it comes to food production.
For farmers and ranchers, it is clear that a disconnect exists between the American public and the food they serve on their dinner tables. For too long, farmers and ranchers of all types and sizes – conventional, organic, large and small – were, for various reasons, not part of the discussions taking place in Americans’ homes about where their food comes from. We want to do better. We want to continue listening to consumers and engage in open, honest conversations about food.
When 50 aspiring farmers gather at the Future Farmers of America's annual "New Century Farmer" conference next week, what they will learn goes way beyond crop rotation, tractor engines and how to get more milk out of old Bessie.