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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Factory Farming will Feed the World

I don’t like the term “factory farming”. I frankly don’t think it exists. In my mind it is nothing more than a simple-minded attempt to abolish the way of life 2% of the US population enjoy passing down through generations – kind of like picking a fight with a kindergartener at our age. I just used it in the title to catch your attention. Did my gimmick work? Keep reading.

A mere 2% of our population produces safe, nutritious and surplus food for our country and the world. The topic of hunger is one that hits everyone hard. Somewhere in the ranks of 1 billion people, as of 2009, are currently going about life hungry. These people walk the streets in countries around the world, including the US and is a widespread crisis.

World leaders look to agriculture to solve these problems. While agriculture in the US is dealing with anti-agriculture activists on a daily basis and spending millions of dollars to promote the positives of the industry to US consumers, the rest of the world is looking to agriculture to solve the immense hunger problem. Ag producers are trying to introduce the American consumer to the face of farmer or rancher while dispelling myths about factory farming and large-scale mechanized food production. Agriculture is fighting a different battle in the US, while the rest of the world needs it to help fight hunger.

At a recent United Nations meeting, the Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in New York, James Borel, Dupont executive vice president, hammered this thought home. “Agriculture is the primary driver to abate hunger and reduce poverty. Throughout history, agriculture prosperity has led to successful economies,” he comments.

Wait, wasn’t Dupont just being bashed in US popular media for biotechnology practices in crop production? Biotechnology, which undoubtedly only benefits the factory farms and evil, smoke-out-the-ears caricature of ‘farmers’ who run them. Yeah, that’s how the video went.

Dupont and other US crop seed companies have created efficient, sustainable, drought and insect resistant seeds through biotechnology. But we can’t just take our biotechnology into a developing country, teach farmers how to plant our more efficient biotech crops, fly back to the US and celebrate because we solved the problem. Those farmers will see success in the first crop. Yields will be tremendous, but there will be no infrastructure to support the surplus. Next year they will be frustrated, we won’t provide them with biotech seeds again, and they will return to how it used to be.

The point? Solving hunger and increasing overall food production around the world is a complex problem that can’t be solved with one answer. I believe what Borel says in that agriculture is in the answer, but I don’t think it is THE answer. We can battle hunger with an intricate plan including economic and agricultural development around the world.

Just my two cents,

Tera Rooney

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Foodie Feature: Focus on Food Safety

Citizens of the United States have the opportunity to enjoy the safest food supply in the world.

This is a statement that I truly believe in and like to promote. There is a network of people behind this safety factor and it is because of them that we can boast the above statement. What is this network and how is it organized?

1. Food safety begins with the consumer. WE are responsible for staying up on current recalls and alerts. WE are also responsible for preventing food poisoning during preparation. My mother teaches family and consumer science classes and here are a few of her simplistic kitchen tips that have been ingrained in my head.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!
  • CSCC - Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill
  • 165 Degrees - basic safe temperature for meat, eggs, leftovers, casseroles
2. Producers of food and food products are also responsible for food safety measures. The most important thing to remember here is that producers of food are also consumers of food. Food safety is very important to producers because it goes on their dinner plate too!
3. Food safety continues into governmental agencies. Federal food safety measures are split out into different agencies that are outlined below:
  • Food - FDA
  • Meat, poultry and eggs - USDA
  • Pet Food - FDA
  • Outbreaks and illnesses - CDC
It is in this integral system of agencies, producers and consumers that keep the food on our plates safe for our families!

Keeping in line with the regular blog feature of a "Foodie Feature" I will send you to the Food Safety website of all websites! It is produced by the agencies mentioned above. Tool around on it and learn more about this important topic. You can add them to your twitter feed and get instant updates on recalls, notices and other information. There is even a food safety widget and if you even know what that word means, knock yourself out and widget away!

All my best,

Tera Rooney

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Come Creep On Us!

Readers -

Just wanted to let some of you know that we are on facebook, so come on over and creep on our page.

We are also on twitter. Join the twitterverse and follow our tweets.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Young Producers from around the World

This video features young livestock producers from five countries - Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States - talking about their farms. I think it's interesting to see similar themes running through the lives of these young people from around the world. They're all very passionate about caring for animals and feeding the world. Additionally, they all care about the environment and sustaining it for future generations of livestock producers. Hope you enjoy the video as much as I did!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foodie Feature: Butler Agvocates

Butler Community College is a junior college located on several campuses in Kansas. The main campus in El Dorado is home to 2500 students that attend classes at this particular site. Among the many programs of study offered by Butler, I consider the programs offered by the agriculuture faculty and staff to be unmatched in quality nationwide. The tradition of excellence is truly a bright spot among Kansas Community Colleges.

This foodie feature is particularly showcasing a blog that showcases students involved in agriculture at Butler Community College. Butler Agvocates is an opportunity for readers to get a bird's eye view of life as a Butler student involved in the agriculture industry.

I commend Butler Agvocates on their work in the blogging world and look forward to hearing more information from these students' point of view. If you would like more information about Butler Community College Agriculture Department please visit this site and never hesitate to contact the man in charge - Mr. Don Gronau - he's a really neat guy.

Go check it out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

California Girls, We're Unforgettable

You know the's been on repeat mode on the radio for weeks!

For some strange reason, I don’t think Katie Perry is singing about the type of “California Girls” this post is about. In fact I know she wasn’t because she spelled “gurls” wrong, and besides, cows don’t wear daisy dukes.

California Girls, or dairy cows, make up the largest sector of the U.S. dairy industry. Only seven countries in the world produce more cows’ milk than California cows alone. Bringing in around $4.6 billion dollars a year, they are responsible for the largest portion of sales among California’s over 250 food and fiber products within the agriculture industry.

California does a great job of advertising this important industry and you’ve seen a lot of their commercials on TV. The move to introducing consumers to Real California Farm Families is a great step in putting the right face on the Dairy Industry.

Something I found really neat on the website is a wine or beer and cheese pairing tool. You can just put in your favorite cheese and it suggests beer or wine that pairs well with the flavors of the cheese. You can also go at it from your favorite wine or beer and find the cheeses that go well with it.

Also, remember that 99% of California dairy farms are FAMILY OWNED! Maybe the grass is really greener where the California Girls produce the largest portion of our dairy products!

My Best,


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interesting Advocacy

Sometimes pictures speak for themselves. Go meat!

Monday, September 6, 2010

How much is a bushel?

The air is getting cooler, the grass is browning and the mood is changing. It's that time of year.

You may be thinking, yes it is football season. Get on your gear, hop on the couch and pop open a cold beverage! But I'm talking about a different kind of season - corn harvest. Since corn is the main crop we produce, this time of year is our Super Bowl!

My family produces irrigated corn, which was especially strenuous this summer because of the amount of days over 100 degrees. When it is that hot out for that long, it's hard to keep up on the irrigation and keep the corn plants from being compromised. We're hoping for a good harvest and awaiting the yields.

You will hear the term bushel thrown around a lot this time of year in the agriculture industry. What exactly is a bushel?

  • a bushel is a unit of measurement used to describe dry ingredients
  • it is used to describe agricultural products like wheat, corn, apples, etc.
  • it contains 4 pecks or about 8 local gallons (you have to say local because UK gallons are larger than US gallons, thus UK bushels are also larger)
  • it measures volume not weight
  • bushels can help you understand yield, but you have to be careful with weights because it is probably clear that a bushel of apples weighs out differently than a bushel of corn
  • the USDA has a set of standard bushel weights that I have listed below
  • a lot of farmers will talk about wanting "250 bushel corn" and that just translates to the goal of producing 250 bushels of corn per acre planted
  • while you may see traditional bushel baskets in the grocery store holding apples or peaches; corn is harvested, taken to an elevator or barge in large trailers and weighed out on large scales

USDA Standard Bushel Weights
Soybeans, wheat 60
Flax, rye, shelled corn, grain sorghum 56
Corn-and-cob meal (ground ear corn) 45
Cracked corn, corn meal 50
Barley 48
Oats 32
Apples (Eastern) 42
Apples (Colorado) 40
Peaches 50

Enjoy your football season and think about the farmers in harvest!

Tera Rooney


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