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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dust to Dust

 A dust storm approaching  Stratford, TX - 1939 
by: DJ Rezac

This week most Americans are looking forward to spending some quality time with our families, logging time on the couch and of course the all-important Thanksgiving dinner. Here in the United States, we set aside this Thursday every year to give thanks for the people, places, and things we love the most. Although I like to think I do it more than once a year, it is admittedly tough for me to keep things in perspective in this fast paced world that we live in and to take time to gives thanks for all that I have. However, this week I found something that really did the trick. 

World renowned director and producer Ken Burns, famous for his documentaries which include The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, has hit another home run with the most recent addition to his trophy case, The Dust Bowl. This two part film, which aired on most PBS stations on the 18th and 19th, chronicles the hardships and perseverance of tens of thousands of people living in the plains during a time period known as the “Dirty 30’s”.  

 During the 1930’s, as a result of the use of farming practices suited for the heavy, moisture rich soils of the east as well as 10 years of drought, billions of tons of top soil were blown away in massive dust storms that blacked out the sun and anything else in their path. Towns were decimated, livelihoods destroyed, families uprooted and many lives lost. The film includes firsthand accounts from several people who scratched out a living during the Dust Bowl as well as hundreds of striking photographs and rarely seen video footage. I strongly encourage everyone to take the time this week to watch this film on your local PBS station which will replay the series. To find out when it will air on your station visit the PBS website . The series can also be purchased on DVD or downloaded from iTunes.

Today, as the US experiences what we perceive as “hard times”, I think it’s important to remember the things that we have experienced as a nation not so long ago. Survivors of the Dust Bowl tell how their parents refused to go on “Relief” (government assistance) until the point of starvation for no reason other than their own pride and determination to remain self–reliant. What would another Dust Bowl-like event bring today?  

Though the rains eventually returned and soil conservation practices were adopted to restore the ability of the ground to support agriculture, the area now relies largely on irrigation from the Ogallala aquifer to sustain the necessary crop production. The recent drought in the area has put a strain on the aquifer and unless rains return to recharge it or decrease usage the subterranean river will likely continue to be diminished. 

The good news is that through technologies including genetically modified (GMO) drought tolerant crops, precision agriculture, No-Till farming, judicious irrigation and continued use of the soil conservation methods we are producing more food with fewer resources than ever before. Clearly if we hope to sustain our population we must continue to embrace technologies such as these and continue to improve them. It is important to keep our errors and lessons vivid in our memories and look back as well as to the future to prevent another Dust Bowl.

This Thursday, besides being thankful for my family, loved-ones and how truly fortunate I am to live in the greatest nation of earth, I will be especially thankful for the mistakes I have made as I realize now their true worth:

The mistakes we make today are the seeds of tomorrow’s harvest.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Member Alert - Kiah Gourley

We have some fresh faces around Food For Thought these days - we held a membership drive in August and September and have some great new minds who are excited about agriculture among our ranks! Periodically, you'll see their bios here so that you can get to know them. This post is about new member Kiah Gourley, a sophomore majoring in Animal Science here at K-State.


 Hi, I am Kiah Gourley.  I am from Philomath, Oregon.  I grew up raising pigs and showing livestock in 4-H.  I am excited to be in Food For Thought because it gives me a chance to learn how to talk to the consumer about where our food comes from. I want to get involved so I can hear from very inspirational people, and fellow peers on how to present agriculture in a positive way. I would love the opportunity to take these ideas back to the west coast, and put them into action.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

ULS Secretary Rodman - Success!

Well, Secretary Rodman spoke about Kansas Agriculture in the year 2025 on Monday night and we are thrilled with the turnout - almost 250 people showed up to learn more about our state's most important industry. Thanks to all who attended and we hope you gained a better perspective of Kansas' role in global agriculture.

As previously announced, the hashtag #ULSRodman was the handle to follow and there were some great tweets by the audience. We've also included some pictures from the evening.

A great turnout for our guest, Secretary Rodman

Secertary Rodman addressed many important issues including water conservation, population and food interactions, future opportunities for young people in agriculture and the desire and capability for Kansas agriculture to expand and meet global food demand.

Thanks again for all who attended - we appreciate your support of agriculture, Food For Thought and bridging the gap!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, November 5, 2012

Upson Lecture with Secretary Dale Rodman Tonight!

Tonight is the night!

Tonight we welcome Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman to Kansas State University. Secretary Rodman will be speaking on the topic of Kansas Agriculture in 2025 in the Main Ballroom in the Student Union at 7 pm. Many factors affecting agriculture and food production will be discussed and Rodman will answer questions following the lecture.
If you are unable to make the lecture, be sure to follow along using the #ULSRodman hashtag on Twitter. Updates will also be posted to Facebook and you can also follow the @fftgroup Twitter handle.
We are looking forward to an informative lecture that will shed light on the challenges that lie ahead for Kansas agriculture. Don't miss out!
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~


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