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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farmers Fighting Hunger

Over the past few weeks, the month of March has been recognized as National Nutrition Month. The month represents a nutrition education and information campaign sponsored annually by the American Dietetic Association. The campaign strives to focus attention on the importance of making informed food decisions and developing sound eating and exercise habits.

However, for many individuals, these choices may not only be a decision of eating healthy, but a concern of, “Am I going to eat at all?” According to the U.S. Census population, there are currently more than 2,818,747 people living in the state of Kansas. Of these families, an alarming 13.7% of them live in poverty.

The Kansas Beef Council (KBC) announced this month the beginning of its Farmers Fighting Hunger campaign in Kansas. KBC along with its farmers and ranchers, are joining the fight against hunger in our communities. By working along side the Kansas Foodbank and Harvesters, as well Feeding America member food banks, they are hosting a county challenge amongst its farmers and ranchers in raising donations for fighting hunger.

You see, farmers and ranchers are dedicated to providing safe and nutritious meals for our families. Check out this short video on the importance of our communities’ farmers and ranchers. You can watch the clip by clicking here

Interested in how you can help?

  • Donate! From March 1 to May 1, 2011, you may submit your pledge card and monetary donation to the Kansas Beef Council or KLA representative within your county. Or, Donate directly to the National Feeding America Fund
  • Remind your neighbors, friends and family that hunger exists in your own backyard by passing this information along to them.
  • For more information, visit the KBC website.

Until next time,

Kiley Stinson

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break 2011: SWKS or Bust

I just got back from a long-awaited, luxurious break in tropical.....

Southwest Kansas

The only thing actually tropical about SWKS right now is how terribly dry it is. I haven't seen it this dry in a long time and the farmers in the area could really use some moisture. This fall, KSRE documented only .65 inches of precipitation in my home county. It's a "farmer rumor" that we have not received more than .11 inches of precipitation since the first of the year.

And even though I didn't get to hit up a beach on my spring break, I had a blast out at the farm and helping my dad. I got to clean out our calving barn because during calving season it tends to get a little messy! The best part of my trip was getting to check in on these little babies:

One of our first calf heifers, #123, with her baby heifer ready to nurse.

We have a set of first calf heifers that calved in the beginning of March. First calf heifers are female cows that are having their first calf. They take extra attention and management to make sure they raise a healthy calf.

When compared to older cows, heifers have a lot more calving difficulty. When a calf experiences a difficult birth it requires special attention because they often take longer to nurse and may have compromised immune systems. That makes getting them colostrum even more important than normal. If you don't remember what colostrum is, check out this post.

Two of our heifers, #123 and #125, nursing their calves.

We have all of our cow-calf pairs out on the corn stalks directly behind the farmstead, which would be where the yellow star is. They can walk up into the pens where the red star is, and get water and some extra hay that my dad puts out a couple of times a week. We also have protein lick tubs available for them. Our calving barn, blue star, is close to the pens so we can walk the cows up to it if they are having any trouble. Inside the calving barn is a large chute and three pens. That way, we can keep a cow and calf inside and out of the weather if needed. Obviously this winter, we haven't had to do much of that because the snow has not been an issue. Sometimes dad will keep a pair in the barn if the wind is terrible when it gets cold.

It was a much needed break from school and studying to be back on the farm and involved in production agriculture again! I also got a chance to explain to my little nephews that the cows Papa works with everyday become the beef that we enjoy on the dinner table. That is why agriculturists take pride in the animals they raise, because it feeds hungry mouths. The food we produce at our farm feeds my nephews and yours, and that makes it imperative that we produce a safe, nutritious and affordable product.

My Best,


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is a major problem in the world and even in our country. I sometimes fall to the naivety that the US doesn't have as big of a hunger issue since we produce so much of the world's food supply.

What does it mean to be food insecure? The USDA puts it simply in saying that it is the lack of access to enough food to provide for a healthy and active lifestyle. Food insecure households are not necessarily always in such a state. In one family it could mean that during a month they had to make the choice to pay for medical bills rather than spending that money at the grocery store.

Feeding America is a pretty neat organization that is working to reduce the amount of food insecure people right here in America. With the Map the Meal Gap tool on their website you can see exactly how many people are food insecure in your home county. I think the numbers will actually surprise you in some cases!

The population is growing and this problem won't be easy to overcome. I choose to support agriculturists because they are working hard to feed the world.

Go check it out and tweet about the #mealgap interactive tool from your account! Remember to follow us on twitter also - @fftgroup



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Upson Lecture: Senator Jerry Moran

We are pleased to announce that the Spring 2011 Upson Lecture will be given by United States Senator from Kansas, Jerry Moran.

Senator Moran is deeply rooted in Kansas Agriculture and hails from Hays, Kansas, where he raised his two daughters with his wife, Robba.

Senator Moran will be on campus at Kansas State University on April 28th at 7 pm to give his lecture. We are very excited to get the official press release out and I will post more information as soon as it is available.

Make plans to attend this lecture, it is sure to be the event of the semester!

My Best,

Tera Rooney

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Agricultural Extension: Still relevant?

Recently, the Progressive Farmer ran a cover story to herald in the upcoming centennial anniversary of the University Extension system and to discuss its relevance to today's farmers. Over the past few decades, Extension has been in the crosshairs of legislators looking to find places to trim budgets. Critics argue that Extension has outlived its usefulness and that it fails to reach out to a populace that has changed over time.

In 1914, 31% of the population in the U.S. were employed in agriculture. Extension was created as an experiment that would attempt to bring a science-based approach to an industry that had been based on tradition and trial by error by providing a middle-man between land-grant universities and farmers. The system was put in place before the U.S. became the agricultural power that it is today, and Extension deserves enormous praise for effectively disseminating scientific discoveries into practice in rural America. With advancement, today's farms are larger and more efficient at producing our food, with less than 2% of the populace employed in agriculture. Although today's farms are still 98% family-owned and operated, their operators are more educated and business-savvy than their counterparts at the turn of the century, and thus some are not always as reliant on Extension as in the past.


While I understand that times have changed, that is not necessarily a justification for the end of a program that has changed rural America for the better. Extension was founded on three principles: research, education, and family living(which includes 4-H) and it still has a tremendous value in communities across the nation. From my limited experience abroad (South Africa and now Australia) you hear very little about the link they have in place between farms and universities. Furthermore, I've yet to see a country with a youth program like 4-H that not only helps train the up and coming generation of farmers, but exposes over 7 million kids a year to agriculture and its values.

I'd have to agree with Alison Robertson, a native of Zimbabwe now working in Iowa State Extension who states, "The Extension system has been the envy of people around the world. I hate what is happening to it."

No one can argue that for Extension to remain a viable, it must be able to reach out to an increasingly urban population. However, it also needs to take more credit for its role in disseminating information to the 2% of people who put food on the table for the rest of the country.

For those interested in the full article, check it out at

Hyatt Frobose

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kill it, Cook it, Eat it

Sounds pretty gruesome doesn't it? Actually, I'm quite a fan of this show featured on BBC that started in 2007. This show takes a group of 6 participants through the process of how livestock are raised in the UK, slaughtering and processing the carcass and eventually eating the resulting product. Designed similar to a reality show format, this show is not simply a tutorial of how to butcher animals, but brings together participants from a wide array of backgrounds and everybody gets their hands dirty. Participants are shown everything from how to castrate baby pigs and deliver vaccines to properly stunning and exsanguinating the animal to maintain the integrity of the meat. After slaughter, trained butchers take participants through the process of how the carcass is utilized for a variety of meat products.

In the 2011 season, the cast includes both vegetarians and meat-eaters, including those who were raised on the farm and urban socialites. Throughout each episode, there is dialogue between the participants about how animals are housed, slaughtered and consumed and their personal opinions about each step in the process.

Designed to show viewers the real process from pasture to plate, Kill it, Cook it, Eat it does a masterful job of providing an unbiased view of livestock production and the slaughter and butchering process. Whether you are an avid meat-eater, cautious skeptic, or a life-long vegetarian, this show has appeal for everyone so be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Farm is Coming to Town

Monsanto has announced a new Mobile Experience! The story of America’s farmers is making its way to your backyard. The America’s Farmers Mobile Experience is a 53-foot tractor trailer that folds out into 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. Step into this Mobile Experience and get a first-hand look at not only the demands global agriculture faces, but also how farmers truly are the solution. And learn it all in a mere 24 minutes.

Click here to learn more about the Mobile Experience.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Hormone Casserole

I've seen some prevalent advocacy being done by a veterinarian from my home county, Haskell County, Kansas, lately. Dave Sjeklocha (pronounced like "so close ya" almost missed it!) is a DVM at the Haskell County Animal Hospital and I have seen his response to hormone usage in food production to many articles on the internet. This is his response, as a licensed veterinarian, and it has been posted on several parenting sites, the Wall Street Journal, among others.

He breaks down a response to the hormone debate in a way that consumers, like myself, can easily understand! I also trust his break down because he is the veterinarian working with cattle producers to regulate the use of growth-promoting hormones in production. Great job Doc Sjeklocha!!!

  • Hormones: Growth-promoting hormones used in beef production include estrogens, trenbolone acetate (TBA) and melengestrol acetate (MGA, progestin). Estrogens are the most commonly used.
  • Safety: Growth promoting hormones in cattle production have been declared safe by several scientific organizations worldwide. These would include the Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization, the European Commission Agriculture Division and the Codex Committee on Veterinary Residues.
  • Hormone levels: Hormone levels are measured units called nanograms. A nanogram is one billionth of a gram. Three ounces of beef from a steer that was raised with growth promoting hormones contains 1.9 ng of estrogen. Three ounces of beef from a steer that was not raised with growth promoting hormones contains 1.3 ng of estrogen. Three ounce servings of other foods would contain the following levels of estrogen:
    • Soybean oil 168,000,000 ng
    • Milk 11 ng
    • Potatoes 225 ng
    • Ice cream 520 ng
    • The human body naturally produces many hormones. Estrogen is just one of those hormones. Levels of estrogen in the human body would be as follows:
    • Non-pregnant woman 480,000 ng
    • Pregnant woman 3,415,000 ng
    • Man 136,000 ng
    • Male child (pre-pubertal) 41,500 ng
    • Female child (pre-pubertal) 54,000 ng

  • Summary: Growth-promoting hormones used in beef production have been scientifically tested and proven to be safe. When compared to levels in other foods, or to levels naturally occurring in the human body, beef hormone levels are very low. Also, the use of these hormones helps to conserve our natural resources by improving the efficiency of beef production.
I'm making a casserole tonight for dinner that contains: meat, potatoes, corn, green beans, carrots and some milk products. I might just change the name of the recipe because it is clearly a hormone casserole! Now that I have read Doc Sjeklocha's response, I know that it is a naturally occurring hormone in a lot of the foods I eat.

My best,

Tera Rooney

Hormones in meat are the reason why people are reaching puberty early. Right???

Not quite so fast. Puberty is a result of reaching a certain weight and has nothing to do with the age of the individual. Once a person reaches a certain physical weight, the body tells itself that it has reached a mature enough level to move on to the next phase of production. Obesity percentage has been consistently increasing throughout the year, especially here in the United States (Figure 1). This increase coincides with the decrease of physical activity as shown in Figure 2. There are several reasons why activity levels have decreased but most of them have been associated with the level of technology. Whether you believe this is good, bad, or indifferent, it is what we have to work with each and every day.

Figure 1. Obesity Level

Figure 2. Physical Activity

So now you may be asking yourself, “Why do producers use hormones?” Producers use hormones to add to the effects that are already naturally occurring inside the body to increase production. All food that you eat has hormones in it, even if no artificial hormones were added. Hormones do not affect the quality or taste of the product either so it is a win-win situation.

As my fellow colleague Tera pointed out, the consumption of food has been dramatically increasing especially in meat and eggs. This is in large amount due to the fact of population growth. Figure 3 shows that by 2050 that there will be an estimated 10 billion people in the world. 10 billion people! We will have to be able to feed all of these people too. The best way to do this is to use hormones to get more production out of our current animals.

Figure 3.

The next time you go to the grocery store and see the advertisements, “No hormones added,” or “Hormone free,” remind yourself that there are still the same level of hormones in these products compared to the commercial products.

Take care,

Miles Theurer

Friday, March 4, 2011

Heart Healthy BEEF

The American Heart Association just recently identified three beef cuts that fit its Food Certification Program. The program places a heart check mark on products that meet criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol content. The three beef cuts that met the American Heart Association's criteria for extra lean and now are certified to display the heart-check mark include:
•Boneless Top Sirloin Petite Roast (select grade)
•Top Sirloin Filet (select grade)
•Top Sirloin Kabob (select grade)

The certificiation is due in large part to efforts by The Beef Checkoff Program. The heart check mark is a easily identifiable icon to consumers - in fact, 75% of primary grocery shoppers say that the heart check mark improves the likelihood that they will purchase the product.

There are over 25 cuts of beef the meet USDA standards for 'lean' including the T-Bone, sirloin, flank steak and 95% lean ground beef. "Lean beef helps Americans build a healthy diet and manage their waistline because one three-ounce serving provides 10 essential nutrients for about 154 calories, helping you meet the new Dietary Guidelines," says Cheryl Hendricks, a registered dietitian with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

So next time you're at the grocery store - fill up your cart with some heart healthy beef, chock full of ZIP (zinc, iron and protein) products like the sirloin. Your family will love you for it!

** Statistics and information in this post were taken from Sirloin earns heart-healthy rating, an article recently featured in Drover's CattleNetwork ** 

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Feeding the Increasing Population

Today I listened to Dr. Luis Rodriguez, from the USDA Agriculture Research Service at Plum Island Animal Disease Center speak about the importance of a one health approach to foreign animal disease eradication.

One health is the focus of healthy animals, healthy people and a healthy environment. This is an important approach to creating a safer, more healthy world.

This graph was in Rodriguez's presentation and really drives home the point of what we are up against. The x-axis represents three-year time intervals over the past several decades. The y-axis represents per capita consumption of different food groups.

You will see that the per capita consumption of eggs, meat and milk are significantly higher than other food groups. Eggs are the cheapest protein source on the market and can be easily incorporated into countries with traditional agriculture practices being a family's main source of food.

We will have a larger population to feed in the future, and it clearly will not be a population of vegetarians. Food animal production will become even more important in the years to come. Foreign animal disease research is vital to production and Manhattan, KS will be a huge player in this research with the building of NBAF.

My Best,

Tera Rooney

I am Angus | Chelsea Good

In December American Angus Association's Crystal Young, known to many as Crystal Cattle, came to Topeka to interview me about law school and how it relates to agriculture. The results aired last night in this 4 minute video that was part of the Angus Association's I am Angus series on RFD-TV. Hope you in enjoy it!



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