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Thursday, July 28, 2016

One Team, One Dream

Hey, guys! Danielle here, and I’m having a great summer interning at Kansas Soybean. I’m tackling all sorts of things, from learning about biodiesel to preparing an economic impact of Kansas agriculture report that we presented to our Representatives and Senators in Washington D.C.! It’s been an eye-opening experience in ways that I would never expect.

You see, I’ve always been a huge defender of conventional ag. I’m the first person to step up and say that GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are not a bad thing, and list all the facts and figures to back it up. When people say they only eat organic foods, I was always the person to criticize them and bombard them with pro-GMO statements.

Obviously, telling them all the reasons I think GMO’s are good didn’t change their mind. It wasn’t until this internship that I finally realized that organic and non-GMO agriculture is still agriculture. When you’re in the grocery store, your goal is most likely to buy food to eat, whether you eat conventional foods or not. The goal of farmers everywhere is to feed people. You see how they line up?  

I didn’t.

I got so caught up in defending the farmers who use technology to produce as much healthy, whole food as possible that I forgot about this shared goal. I think a lot of people forget about it as well. There’s so much negative advertising about conventional ag out there that misleads you, the consumer, that it’s easy to lose trust in the food system.

Infographic from

Part of my training in this internship was to learn how to talk to people who are confused about who to trust. Here’s where I started to realize that those who choose to stray away from GMO’s aren’t these people who want to ruin the lives of farmers; they’re simply people who want to make sure they are eating food that is healthy and safe. Doesn’t everyone want that?

The fact of the matter is, conventional food is just as whole and healthy as food that’s produced organically, and there are several scientific reports to back that up. Now that we all know that, let’s stop separating the two and pitting them against each other and work towards our shared goal: feeding hungry people. You’re hungry, so you eat. Farmer’s eat the same food that they provide and can’t afford to produce unsafe food.

Trust your food system, it aims to serve you. After all, without you, the consumer, farmers wouldn’t have a job. Avoid listening to all the negative hoopla about conventional agriculture that some companies use to attract your dollars, and work towards your goal: feeding yourself and feeding your family. It doesn’t matter if it’s conventional, non-GMO, or organic. It’s all food and we are all hungry!

Forks up,


Friday, July 22, 2016

Too much, Too Fast: how social and network media are dividing a country

I am absolutely sick of how our broadcast and social media have caused this great country to become divided and broken.  It seems being the first to report a story is more important than being thorough enough to learn all ramifications of our words and who it inevitability hurts.  Our country needs unselfish leadership that worries about how decisions affect our brothers and sisters rather than gets a headline or a tweet.  All leadership is local.  It starts with each one of us saying no more. 

Are there corrupt people in every profession or trade?  Yes.  There are bad apples in every race or every gender or religion or anything else people want to use to divide us.   We have to all understand that we are talking about the extremes or radicals, not the normal population.  Social media did not come with an owner’s manual.  Social media came too fast for all of us.  It forced cable news media to lean to one side or another of a topic to “entertain” a captive audience and sell ads to stay in business.  We as citizens haven’t learned how to filter broadcast and social media bias and it is costing our country in a big way.

The movements that have turned so many people against the very police officers that protect us is amazing.  Police officers protect and serve.  Military soldiers do the same.  Firefighters, teachers, doctors, nurses and other professions serve the people of our country every day.

Farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians have decided to fulfill a calling to serve mankind by producing food.  Yet every day they are attacked by animal rights groups using broadcast and social media to paint an entire group of people that produce food for our citizens as bad.  It seems harmless until you see people leave farming and ranching because of the negativity and increased cost due to increased, unnecessary regulation.  We see people’s trust in farmers, ranchers and veterinarians falsely and needlessly eroded by activist groups due to social media amplification which results in higher cost of food production and subsequently higher food prices.  But most of all, it makes me ache to see the people that suffer the most are those that will not be able to afford food tomorrow.

Like everybody, farmers, ranchers and veterinarians are not perfect.  They work hard to do things better every day.  Nothing hurts farmers, ranchers and veterinarians more than learning that an individual has done something unethical by abusing animals, land, air, people or anything else in agriculture.  However, when the media paints these acts to represent our entire food supply system, it is no different than throwing an entire religion or sex or race or profession under the bus due to an individual act. 

People in our country need food, shelter, medical care, safety and we need to start having each other’s backs.  Farmers work hard to produce safe food and veterinarians work hard to keep animals healthy.  Other service professions work hard to provide safety, peace, healthy communities and much more.  
We can’t allow activists to use social and broadcast media to increase hunger and violence in this country anymore.

Stop and think about how repeating the thoughts you see on your favorite network or social media feed will help or hurt you, your family or your neighbor.  We must think about how knee jerk reactions and blindly following ideology from social media could hurt people who will need our help long-term in this country.  We are blessed to live where you can be anything you want in life, and if you stumble, we will pick you up.  But don’t you worry.  Farmers, ranchers, and veterinarians are here to serve and care about other Americans as they do for their own family and the animals they raise.  Always here, always ready: providing food for our neighbors in America.

Dan Thomson, Riley County, Kansas

Friday, May 27, 2016

Don't Invite Food Borne Illness to Your BBQ

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and it heralds the start of a new season.... grilling season, of course!

Burgers, chops, brats, steaks and chicken will all be making headline appearances at your backyard bbq festivities this weekend and throughout the summer, but don't let tag along bacteria play a supporting role and ruin your get together. Food poisoning is a traumatic thing to endure (speaking from personal experience) and there are several steps you can follow while preparing your food that will keep it safe and delicious!

Image courtesy Colorado State

Here are five tips to keep your backyard bbq safe from food borne pathogens:
  1. Keep meat and other refrigerated products at proper temperatures when not cooking. That means keeping them OUT of the DANGER ZONE by storing cold foods below 40F.
  2. Cook all meats to the proper internal temperature and use a food thermometer!
    • Ground meats - 160 F
    • Whole muscle beef, pork, lamb cuts (steaks, chops) - 145 F
    • Poultry - 165 F
    • Egg dishes - 160 F
  3. Use separate utensils and cutting boards for cooked meat and raw meat. And don't share utensils between fresh/raw produce and raw meats without washing with hot soapy water.
  4. Bacteria can easily be reintroduced to food after it is cooked. To store leftovers, put them in a shallow container for quick cooling and then into a fridge at 40F or lower.
  5. Still hungry? Grab the leftovers but make sure you heat them to 165 F before chowing down!
You can learn more about food safety and food-borne illness prevention by visiting the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website.

Have a safe and happy weekend,

Monday, April 4, 2016

COOL is no longer cool

This week in my livestock class I was stressing out and spending thousands of paper money dollars buying cattle, or trying my best to as, MAN, that dude can talk FAST. This was for a simulation of how buying and selling cattle would be in the real world. Our auctioneer was a pro, and in five seconds he could look at a lot of cattle and give you per pound price to the cent. As he was talking about factors he took into consideration, he mentioned the COOL repeal. I’ll give you a quick rundown on what COOL is. For starters, COOL stands for Country of Origin Labeling. This is a labeling law requiring retailers to give information of the origins of certain foods. The repeal was finalized February 18th, 2016 with President Obama signing the Government Funding Bill into Law.

So, what does this mean for consumers and producers?

There are two solid sides to viewing this and according to Farm and Ranch guide, “it’s messy.” Real quick before we dive into this, here is some background information. COOL was a problem for Canada and Mexico as they would sometimes be discriminated against and lose money on their products. So, they filed complaints, the World Trade Organization’s gave their permission to impose tariffs on U.S. products. This is estimated to be up to, or even over, a billion dollars. This is not yet a set number though.

Okay, on one hand, some people do not like the repeal. These individuals simply wish to know where their food comes from, and from there they can chose if they want to “buy American.” To an extent, this also is an extra safety net for preventing any diseases from entering and becoming health concerns.

On the flip side, there are arguments for the repeal. There are the tariffs that concern many of them as that is a rather huge number of dollars. Some feel that COOL has been used much more heavily for marketing, as opposed to being used for issues such as food safety. By having to label everything, there is an increased amount of paperwork for packers and processing plants. This also has hurt import numbers because of the extra record keeping necessary and additional costs imposed.

As I was spending $750,000 (give or take) for my cattle buying simulation in class last week, I did not realize the potential influence this could have. It is important that you do your part in being informed and analyzing all sides of the story. If you want to read more, feel free to check out my sources, or also many others!

Your (not) future auctioneer,



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