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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fire Update

Remember the post back in April about a fire in the rural area surrounding my hometown of Satanta, KS? Well, if you didn't catch it you can go back and read it here.

I thought you might like to see an update of the ground that was involved in the fire. Months later, the fire occurred April 3rd actually, much of the 9600 acres burnt up has received little to no measurable amounts of rain. The only thing farmers have been able to combat the blowing dust and lack of growth with is irrigation in areas that are lucky enough to have those sources.

Pasture ground near Satanta, KS that was burnt by the April 3rd fire.
Picture taken on July 27, 2011.

Much of the grassland that burnt was pasture usually used to feed cattle in the area. Ranchers can utilize natural grasses to allow cattle to graze during spring, summer and into fall months. Due to the fire and then subsequent lack of moisture, the grass has not grown back. It's a struggle that agriculturists in the area must deal with for years to come on ground that has been in their families for generations.

Another view of the dry, burnt land near Satanta, KS.

It won't be making headlines that I am concerned about the severe drought my part of the state is currently experiencing. It's rough out there and I just hope the tides will change one of these days.

Kansas lawmakers are concerned about what is going on as well and have dedicated time, energy and resources to help the people affected by the drought. The Kansas economy depends heavily on what is produced by agriculturists across the state and whether these farmers and ranchers tend to the land out west, in the center or on the east side -they are working hard to put food on the table and I am proud to be from the center of the United States!

All my best,

Tera Rooney

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Caring for Animals

After a recent conversation with a consumer, I thought this post might be a good reminder for all. Animal rights, animal welfare, animal well-being, animal care, animal suffering, whatever the terms that are being thrown around int he media are - I wanted to give you my take on a few of the most important ones!

These definitions are taken from the dictionary of a person involved in animal care on a daily basis:

Animal Welfare - the physical well-being of an animal

Animal Rights - the idea that animals deserve similar unalienable rights that humans are afforded

Animal Abuse - infliction of pain on animals for reasons other than self defense

With those three definitions, I'd like to think these might be better working definitions for consumers to relate to:

Animal Welfare - doing the chores, putting your boots on every morning to insure that animals are well taken care. Animal welfare is taken into consideration every day at a farm, ranch, dairy, hog barn, zoo, research farm, feedyard and multitude of other entities that raise and care for animals. People who depend on animals as his or her livelihood, hold animal welfare standards in high regard.

Animal Rights - you won't find this definition in my working dictionary, it doesn't exist.

Animal Abuse - inexcusable, undefended and unlawful behavior that warrants prosecution by designated law enforcement agencies.

What are your thoughts as a consumer?

Happy as a "Pig in Mud"

On another extremely hot July day I just wanted to pass this picture along! An Illinois 4H'er is doing her part to keep her Duroc show gilt happy and cool. She posted this picture on Facebook and I just thought I would continue her message of love and care for the livestock industry!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Behind the Blogger: Lindsay Graber

Hi Everyone!

I am Lindsay Graber, another member of the Food for Thought organization. Last May, I graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, with dual majors in agricultural communications and animal science. Since my graduation from K-State, I have been a graduate student at Texas Tech University, pursuing a Master of Science degree in agricultural communications. My research assistantship is with the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation; my main responsibility is the communication of current research, news and information regarding agricultural water conservation practices. I am currently full-speed in my thesis research of communication channels and sources utilized by Texas agricultural producers.

Born and raised in Kansas, I call the south-central portion of the state “home.” I grew up on a family farm and ranch and am very proud to say that our family brand, the G3, has been ours since 1960. Like the other bloggers, agriculture has been an instrumental part of my life. From summer harvests, to moving cattle with my family, many of life’s greatest lessons have been learned through the agriculture industry.

My interests within the agricultural industry are quite diverse, which makes defining a future plan for life pretty difficult. Some day, I may be back home, working on the ranch, or at a university researching and teaching agricultural communications. Either way, I will always hang on to one role – advocate for the agriculture industry.

I look forward to chatting with you.

All my best,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A message from "The Hill"

As some of you may know I am spending my summer melting in Washington, D.C. as an intern for Sen. Jerry Moran (one of our former Upson lecturers!). One of my responsibilities is to answer phones and read mail from concerned Kansans on a myriad of issues. I always thought that it was silly to take the time to call or write to your various members in Congress because nothing would really ever come of it.

After working here for about a month and a half I have come to realize just how much constituent concerns and opinions matter in the formation of policy! Every day our calendar is full of agricultural groups coming in to meet with our agricultural legislative assistant or even to spend time discussing the industry with the Senator himself if scheduling permits. Giving agriculture a face and a voice in Washington on specific issues of concern can certainly exact change!

A couple weeks ago I sat in on a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of the livestock industry. I was amazed how Senators from across the country and the aisle were advocating on behalf of ranchers and producers in their various states. Even when opposing positions on hot issues such as GIPSA and ethanol were brought up it was clear that the Senators were trying to best represent the farmers and ranchers at home. It was very obvious when an invited panel of guest speakers from the livestock industry came to the front of the room how well represented our livelihood truely is.

As fellow ag advocates I challenge you to make a difference! If there is a specific issue which you feel passionately about, please contact your members of Congress. Feel free to call in to my office, I'd love to hear a familiar voice :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rain for the Weary

A Welcomed Sight

Last night we received almost 3/4 of an inch of rain at our farm in SWKS. If you haven't read some of the posts about the drought in Kansas, 3/4 of an inch doesn't sound like much.

You know what's funny about the rain we received? It completely doubled what precipitation we have received since LAST FALL! The only problem is that it was 105 degrees out today, drying up the puddles pretty quickly.

With record breaking heat this summer and the least amount of rain we have received in decades, this summer is set to be pretty rough on area farmers. They are working hard to keep up with the irrigation water and making sure that crops at least have a chance.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Enjoy The Same Benefits as the Farmers who Produce Your Food

Guest Blog - Kevin Pearia, USDA - We welcome Kevin to the blog and are excited for his post that is very relevant information for consumers in rural America. Please enjoy!

Without farmers, families across the country would not be putting food on the table. Thousands of farmers—from cattle ranchers to dairy farmers—in the U.S. purchased their home with financing from the Rural Home Loan program. However, the program no longer requires borrowers to be farmers. Whether prospective homebuyers produce the food or serve at supper, a USDA loan may be the best home financing option.

When it took shape in 1987, the Rural Home Loan program was only for farmers. The federal government intended to fill a void in the home-financing market. Rural areas were lacking the credit needed to provide homebuyers with mortgages, so USDA loans were introduced. In time the program adopted changes to provide affordable mortgages to low- and middle-income families living in rural areas. Now, however, it is no longer a requirement of the program to be a farmer.

USDA loans come jam-packed with financial benefits. Without question, the most beloved feature is paying no money down. As long as the USDA deems the home reasonably sized for the family, it’s possible to get a loan worth 102 percent of the appraised value. The Rural Home Loan program does not have a purchase price maximum, either. The program comes with a 2-percent funding fee, which can be lumped into the total loan, hence 102 percent. There are more perks to USDA loans, such as:
  • -Fixed interest rates even for loans with 38-year lives
  • -No private mortgage insurance
  • -Lower closing costs than traditional loans
  • -Financing for a purchase, repair, construction, renovation or refinance
Nationwide, there are about 800 field offices serving people who want to buy a home in a rural area. Eligible properties must be in a rural area that meets the USDA’s requirements. Usually, such areas are in or near cities, townships or villages with fewer than 25,000 people. They also do not have enough credit per the USDA’s judgment. The department will also determine if a house hold can afford the loan’s principle, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI). USDA-lenders seek credit scores no lower than 620, and debt-to-income (DTI) ratios no higher than 41 percent. Eligible borrowers currently occupy inadequate housing for the size of their family and seek housing that is an appropriate size for their family.


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