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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Conserving the Gulf Coast

I ran across a neat blog post I'd like you to see.

It's all about working together to preserve the land to the south known as the Gulf Coast.

Farmers and conservationists. Farmers as conservationists.

During the next 3 years, a program being formed by the USDA will provide farmers and ranchers in the Gulf Coast states with program assistance that will invest in the future of 16 priority watersheds in 7 major river basins. This project is being conducted with the NRCS.

The NRCS is the National Resources Conservation Services which was established during the 1930's. You'll remember from your American History courses that the Dirty 30's were a rough time for Americans because of the severe drought. Today the NRCS has expanded as a program that helps to establish conservation programs for all natural resources, and ensuring private land conservation, restoration. 

One way the GoMI program in the Gulf Coast area is working with area farmers and ranchers is to provide on-site watering technology for people who raise cattle. In the area, ranchers let their cattle graze lands that have access to streams and creeks that feed into major river basins. This can contaminate the water and threaten wildlife species. By fencing off the cattle and not allowing them to access these water sources, ranchers are playing their part in the conservation world. The NRCS is helping ranchers accomplish this goal by providing financial assistance for them to drill wells, put in wind mills or install solar-powered pumps.

I see this program as an investment in the future of this important region to the U.S. economy. The Gulf Coast employs thousands of fisherman and is home to some of the busiest tourist attractions.

What's your take on it? 

Tera

Monday, January 30, 2012

Technology Has Brought Us A Long Way

I am not a very tech-savvy person. At all. I still don't know how to use Bluetooth and that's been around for about 8 years, maybe more? Anyway, just because I don't understand it doesn't mean I don't appreciate it. Technology has made it easier for parents to teach their children the ABC's at young ages, has improved health care, has globalized  industry and in general has improved our quality of life (although the occasional IT headache does occur). Additionally, technology has made agriculture immensely more productive over time.

What do I mean? Think about it - in the 60's and 70's Norman Borlaug and his associates created new varieties of corn, rice and wheat that vastly improved the amount of food farmers could produce. In some countries of the world, for example in East Africa, food intake went up by 50%. This was achievable with the application of technology.

In his annual letter, Bill Gates highlights these facts and others about the need for technology to feed our growing world. That's right, Bill Gates has gone agvocate. Well, not really but he does make a great case for our industry.

Bill points out that in the 19th century, the majority of the U.S. workforce was in agriculture. Today, less than 2% of people are responsible for all U.S. food production however, in countries like Uganda 75% of the citizens produce the food. U.S. farmers are so productive that the average family spends less than 10% (8.9% in 2009) of their annual income on food. That is a microscopic amount compared to a country like China who in 2009 spent 37% of their income on food.

It's also brought to attention that only $3 billion a year is spent researching the seven most important crops. This amount needs to increase for the sake of our productivity - especially as our climate continues to change which could cause a 25% decrease in the crop yield if we continue to see droughts and floods like this past year. Research into soil science and crop production can help us to be more efficient with our resources, which is especially important with climate change, urbanization and our growing world population. He suggests we need to increase that amount if we want to be able to meet the demand for food over the next 50 years

Before I close, I'd like to share this picture with you. A little Food For Thought, if you will (cliche, I know):

With this picture I'm not trying to say taxes are high, I'm pointing out the extreme affordability of our food supply. We are very blessed in the states to have such 'cheap' food that has been brought about through research, hard working farmers and technology.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

To read Bill Gates full letter, click here. Photo credit from here

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grocery Shopping: No Longer Just for Women!

Men,

  Congratulations, you are no longer completely relegated to only the traditional tasks of car care, plumbing and lawn mowing. Although this unfortunately means we may have to wash a dish or fold a load of laundry every now and then, it also means we get to be involved in something we been wanting to for a long time......buying groceries!

   According to a consumer report by Yahoo and the market research firm DB5, in a survey of 1,000 fathers, 51% consider themselves to be the primary grocery shoppers for the household. With more men taking the reins of the cart, companies like Proctor & Gamble are adapting their grocery offerings to more accurately target this growing demographic.

   So-called "man-aisles" have been popping up around the country in Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens and other chains  since 2009. Some have described their inclusion as the pinnacle of western civilization. To paint a better picture of the "man-aisle" environment, I particularly enjoyed this quote from the Chicago Tribune:

       "What is the man aisle like? The man aisle is slightly colder than room temperature and smells faintly of cedar and wet dog. The shelves are eight feet high. There is a basket filled with old baseball gloves and hammers and a rack filled with cassette tapes with pictures of trucks on them. In some places there are small fires. All the people in the man aisle stand with their arms crossed and skeptical looks on their faces. Sometimes they sing rounds together, and roll an empty keg down the aisle. No one has ever left."

That description made me pretty excited to find a "man-aisle" in my area, so if anybody knows of one near Manhattan, KS let me know. I'm up for a road trip to go buy myself some beer, bacon and cheese!

Cheers,


Hyatt

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Got home with organic bananas and I'm MAD!

On Tuesday I went shopping for a few necessities at the grocery store.

I like to shop systematically to keep me from wasting money on stuff I won't really eat. I start in the fresh produce where I picked up a bunch of very green bananas. I like it when they're green they last so much longer. Moved on to the dairy. Hit up the meat counter. You get the point.

When I was putting away my groceries, I noticed that my bananas had a sticker that said:

"CERTIFIED ORGANIC FRUIT"

I was ticked. I don't normally buy organic fruit and I have a few reasons why.

  • I don't buy organic because I live in America and have so many choices for safe, wholesome and cheap food. I don't think that our food production system is perfect, but it's pretty darn good! I believe in the system that provides us with these choices, so I choose to support conventional production when possible.
  • I don't buy organic because I know many farmers and producers personally and know that they care about the environment that our food is produced in. They have to be careful with everything that they are stewards for, from the air to the soil, water and produce.
  • I don't buy organic because I know what pesticides are and they do what they say - control pests! Our government sets standards and controls for the use of pesticides in food production and the levels that are safe for even the youngest humans to consume! My dad is a farmer and he had to take a strenuous licensing exam in order to utilize pesticides on his farm.The person who advises him on pesticide decisions had to take about 10 of those exams.
  • I don't buy organic because I understand the science behind it. When I see a recall or new labeling on food products I commonly purchase, I check it out from a reliable and scientific source. When dairy products boast they are produced from cows not treated with rBST, I know that BST is a naturally occurring protein hormone utilized in dairy production to increase milk production in cows so that more milk can be produced from the same number of cows. I also know that it's kind of sad that producers can't utilize this technology that helps keep milk prices lower for consumers because consumers demanded that it not be used anymore. I doubt many of the people who demanded that change in the industry knew that BST is species specific and does not change the hormone levels or affect growth in humans because it is a bovine hormone.
  • I don't buy organic because I don't believe it is fair marketing. When people think organic they are thinking of small farms on the side of the road that are environmentally conscious and what not, right? A lot of organic produce is grown on huge corporate farms just like the conventional counterpart. When pests threaten to take over the crop, it is just transferred over to conventional practices and loses organic labeling rights. So it's basically the same thing, only pricier at times, so I don't choose to support it.
I was ticked about the bananas I got home with that were organic, but you'll notice that I didn't say I think organic food choices are wrong. Organic exists because people asked for it and that's what is so great about our food system in the US. YOU get to make the choice.


I have made mine and I have reasons why. Do you? Please feel free to share! I love to engage in dialogue about food choices and what drives people at the supermarket.

Best,

Tera

Monday, January 23, 2012

I love this website, and you will too!

Want to learn more about how beef is produced? I stumbled upon a great website today and I think you'd like it too!

EXPLORE BEEF

The link is to my favorite part, but you can tool around on it and find all kinds of information. Everything you'd ever want to know about how a steak ends up on your plate.

I had beef brisket for lunch today. It was delicious and I know it was grown in the United States under the watchful eye of a rancher who cares about the meat he produces.

What did you find most interesting about beef production?

Enjoy!

Tera

Boots on the Ground - veterinary student. agriculture advocate. family farmer.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND is a series of posts aimed at introducing consumers to a diverse group of people who have their boots on the ground working in the agriculture industry in some form. This series will bring you all kinds; from boots that do chores on a family farm in the heartland to boots that walk the steps up to the Capitol daily. You better grab hold of your bootstraps because it'll be one heck of a ride!

I'm excited to introduce the new series and even more excited about the line up of people I have for future posts. This series will really give you, as a consumer, a diverse look into the industry. Agriculture is so much more than pitchforks and corn fields and I'm excited to show you why!

What could be more exciting than officially starting off the series with a post about me?

Yeah, you're right, probably not that exciting at all! You'll have to humor me, though, because it is my series and I thought you might want to find out more about where my boots have been lately!


What is your role in the Agriculture industry?
Lets see here, I am foremost a student. I currently study at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. I want to specialize in food animal medicine so that I can someday, in the near future, work with producers who raise animals for food. We have the safest food supply in the world and it's because producers and veterinarians work hand in hand to make sound animal health decisions on the farm.

I grew up on a family farm in Southwest Kansas where we raise corn, cotton, wheat, milo and cattle. I am passionate about family farms and find the people who continue to keep that passion alive so very interesting.  My family has been farming in the area for what is now 4 generations.

How many pairs of boots do you have?
You really thought I was going to introduce you to my closet?

Yeah, not that kind of blog by a long ways! I am a person who wears many boots. Most of the time I am a student and I just have my learning boots on. I can't wait for the day when I can graduate into real work boots, the kind with a paycheck! I do get to slip into a nice pair of chore boots when I am home over breaks and those will find me doing a plethora of things around the farm.

This summer I was working on a research project for school. I was able to visit cattle feedyards (this is the best description of a what a feedyard is from someone who works on one) across the state of Kansas and perform an assessment of animal handling and housing at each yard. I got to wear a pair of muck boots and look at over 976,500 head of cattle. I had a an amazing summer meeting people who care about the cattle that become the hamburger on your dinner table.

If you could tell consumers one major thing about agriculture, have at it!
Now you know that's going to open a few doors. I sort of have a list of important things I want consumers to know from my standpoint as a person involved in agriculture since birth and looking towards a future of involvement in the industry.
  1. Food is free. We spend so little of our income on food when compared to the rest of the world that we tend to lose sight of what is important to us as consumers. Not only do I get apples year round, but I get apples that taste like grapes year round! It's almost crazy the amount of choices we have!
  2. Farmers are true stewards of the land. When the wind is howling at 60 miles an hour after a long couple weeks of no moisture, I can almost hear my dad's voice crack because he's almost sick that the precious topsoil that he is a steward of is blowing in the wind. It's easy to jump to conclusions about farming and many of the practices that hit the media, I just want consumers to be able to hear it straight from the people who do the work. You hear that crack in my dad's voice and believe that farmers participate in conservation practices daily to preserve the land that they've farmed for generations. 
  3. Agriculture is diverse. We're not only out in the boonies holding pitchforks and spitting tobacco. People are working in agriculture everyday in suits at a bank, in scrubs at a clinic, in pajamas behind a computer, among others. They're putting their boots on everyday to cultivate plants and animals to produce food and fiber in order to sustain life either directly or indirectly. 

I hope you have enjoyed the first official post for BOOTS ON THE GROUND and I can't wait for you to meet the people to come. It's an exciting line up and you won't want to miss it!

Best,

Tera Rooney


BOOTS ON THE GROUND is brought to you by Country Outfitter They sent me a fancy new pair of boots and so I'm linking them on to this series. They help put boots on the ground, and I know I will be ordering my next pair from them too!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Since when is any Education Useless?

I'm glad I’m not the only member of FFT who has some opinions about Yahoo! Like Tera mentioned, this week a Yahoo blogger posted “College Majors That are Useless,” with a degree in agriculture topping the list of the five majors listed, closely followed by horticulture and animal science (which in most universities falls under the college of agriculture). By now, if you haven’t seen the article already which was a hot topic across social media yesterday, take a look. Let us know what you think.

Here’s my spin:

Agriculture, Useless? Really?

While the list is based on U.S. Labor Department projections and the author’s opinions—it lacks some serious inaccuracy in my opinion. In the general scheme of things, yes, overall, the number of self-employed farm producers and manager positions will decline in the next few years. But this is because farms and agricultural producers are consolidating, making technological advances that allow them to work more efficiently, requiring fewer workers to be needed to work more land and complete more tasks around the farm. Today the average age of the American farmer is just shy of 60. And more and more farmers are looking to retire. Does retiring farmers mean retiring food, fuel and fiber production for the world? Absolutely NOT! The demand for these products certainly remains steady if not increasing in certain parts of the world, demanding more from U.S. farmers and ranchers. This demand means greater opportunities for college graduates who want to enter the Agricultural field; regardless of whether students aspire to return home to the family farm, become an agronomist, veterinarian, a professor in the college of
agriculture, or what have you. If you ask me, I’d say it seems as if finding a career in agriculture is more promising than just about anything.
Take a look at the article “Employment Opportunities for College Graduates” released by the USDA. Which states, during 2010-15, five percent more college graduates with expertise in agricultural and food systems, renewable energy, and the environment will be needed when compared to 2005-10. In fact, employers have expressed a preference for graduates from colleges of agriculture and life sciences, forestry and natural resources, and veterinary medicine that tend to have relatively stronger interests and more extensive work experiences for careers than those from allied fields of study.

You see, the goal or mission of farming and ranching or any job in the agricultural industry for that matter; is to produce a safe and more abundant food supply for not just their own table, but to provide nourishment for the entire World. No one cares more about being good stewards of the land, caring and protecting for their animals and family more than the American farmer and rancher. It’s because of their passion, dedication and EDUCATION in agriculture that allows them to provide you and your family with an affordable, nutritious meal every day, the fuel for your transportation to work each morning and just about 99% of any other product you come into contact with each day.
Honestly, Agriculture is just as valuable of a subject in school as math and reading. Without it, how are students going to learn:

1. Where their food comes from
2. Being good stewards of the environment and...
3. The life cycle!
Kiley

Yahoo Didn't Make Friends in Agriculture Yesterday.

Yahoo! didn't make very many friends in the agriculture community yesterday. When they came out with a list of college degrees that are "useless," several of my friends blew up my social media feeds with outrage. What is most interesting to me is that Mr. Loose quoted a statement, "Just don't expect farms and ranches to be calling you."

Farming and ranching is a huge player in the agriculture industry. It is not, however, the only job available! Agriculture is probably the most diverse degree you could obtain. I know many of my peers who studied in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University and have gone on to obtain careers in law, banking, medicine, nutrition, event planning and even international relations. They don't seem to have a "useless" degree.

Here's a blog post that was written by a woman who majored in Ag Economics from Oklahoma State University. She did a pretty good job of responding, and the post is pretty funny!

I also can appreciate this commentary on the post from Allen Levine. He presents the facts!

Want to see another rebuttal? Check this one out on another blog. She also posts the e-mail address to Mr. Loose, the author of the Yahoo! post, so that others can join in on bombarding him with our disappointment.  

Enjoy!

Tera

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Boots on the Ground - Sponsored by Country Outfitters

Coming soon to the Food For Thought Blog is a series of posts that will feature the people who work in agriculture with their BOOTS ON THE GROUND. You will get the chance to hear, firsthand, from these producers of our nation's food supply.

Can't hardly wait? I know, I'm pretty excited myself.

A special company saw some promise in Food For Thought and agreed to sponsor the series. That brings me to the BOOTS!
I received these beautiful Dan Post Roka's from Country Outfitter tonight. Country Outfitter is a website that features cowboy boots, western gear, apparel and tack. I found the website and ordering process very simple and received my boots in a timely manner. I suggest you take a look at what they have to offer because it's top notch in my book! Western wear is seen everywhere these days and is more than just functional, it's stylish too.

Come back to the blog for more posts in this series. Future posts will feature agriculturists who produce our nation's food supply by working everyday with animals and the land. I am excited to introduce you to some people who have their BOOTS ON THE GROUND so that you can get a better look at what agriculture really is!

Thanks for reading,

Tera Rooney


BOOTS ON THE GROUND is sponsored by:
Country Outfitter

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Keep Families Farming...still!

I know you all read the last post about the #Keepfamiliesfarming campaign that I participated in because of the recent DOL move to remove children as workers from farms.

If you'd like to read another one, I'm going to send you to a fellow Food For Thought blogger's personal blog. Brandi Buzzard gave her two cents on the topic also.

Also, I was remembering a few things that my dad taught me growing up while helping on the farm. These safety and conservation tips were ingrained in my mind at a very young age because I had the opportunity to help him on the farm.
  • ALWAYS slow down at a dirt road intersection that has corn growing on both sides. Even if there is no stop sign, you have to yield because you can't see who is coming. 
  • SAFETY GLASSES are the most important investment you can make for employees because our eye sight is so precious. 
  • GRAIN BINS and SILAGE PITS are the most dangerous places to be on a farm and kids simply aren't allowed there. 
  • LOOK AROUND! You have to be aware of large machinery running around the farm and keep yourself at a safe distance. 
  • ELECTRICITY is not a fun toy, it's serious business. We always had to check the electric fences for the cows and learned the safe way to do that. Also when working on a sprinkler for irrigation we always had to be sure the power was off.
  • DIRT BLOWING means that precious top soil is being lost. Farmers are stewards of the land and do everything within their power to prevent this loss to erosion.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Keep Families Farming

It's trending on twitter: #keepfamiliesfarming.

You can make a comment on this website: http://moran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/keep-families-farming.

It's an important issue on every farm in America and it really grinds my gears.

I worked on my family farm while growing up and before I even stepped foot on the farm I was informed about safety precautions that were enforced by my parents and grandparents. I worked hard on the family farm, but it wasn't work to me. It's not about the labor, it's about raising kids in agriculture.

Please share, tweet, check it out. If you are a consumer or a producer please share your views here. We'll pass them along to Senator Jerry Moran if you would like.Senator Moran is the US Senator from Kansas and he is taking an initiative to speak out on this important topic. Will you speak out too?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Foods You Don't Have to Give Up in 2012

First of all, whenever I read an article in a magazine or on a website, I tend to err on the side of skeptical at best. While it's important for a journalist or writer to be responsible when gathering facts and figures, it's just as important for readers to be responsible when deciding which facts and figures come from reliable sources.

That's why when I found this article, I bought it all. Hook. Line. Sinker.

The Top 5 foods You Don't Have to Give Up in 2012?
  1. Beef
  2. Roasted Nuts
  3. Chocolate 
  4. Whole Eggs
  5. Coffee
It comes from a reliable website.
The author is a registered dietician.
The author quotes scientific studies for which I can verify the facts.

Don't give up the "bad foods" you thought you needed to in order to get healthy in 2012. The author of this article says it best, "how depressing!" Instead, try embracing these foods and choosing better portion sizes of all food groups.

Enjoy,

Tera Rooney

Monday, January 2, 2012

Food Suppliers: I'm Lovin' It

I am in love with this new ad campaign from McDonald's. Mostly I am fond of it because it's real and you get the chance to meet the suppliers of different food products that are served up at the McD's near you.

The people are real. The videos are touching. The process is transparent.

Potato Supplier

Beef Supplier

Lettuce Supplier

Farming is a family tradition and agriculture is the backbone of the nation. Farmers are truly stewards of the land. See for yourself.

Enjoy!

Tera

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