Category Archives: Ag Day

5 Things: Food On My Mind and ‘Type A’ Personality Problems

My blogging in 2014 = sucks. Life and work have been crazy busy, but in a good kind of exhausting way. I traveled much of December, January, and February, then it got really cold with a lot of snow. Now that we’re moving into Spring, the snow sticks around for shorter periods of time, the sun stays up much longer, and I’m finally getting things lined out. My Type A personality is finally able to breathe a sigh of relief!

So instead of trying to blog about everything I need to catch up on, I thought I’d make headway with the 5 things on the top of my mind today.

Early mornings are no excuse for poor diet choices.

Last week, CNN’s food page posted a story following an anchor as she switched gears from an afternoon broadcast to anchor their New Day morning show. Brooke Baldwin marveled and laughed about her diet high in sugar, coffee, donuts, poptarts, champagne, two meals a day, and how all that ended up in a spell of food poisoning. No wonder…

I asked the crowd in the I am Agriculture Proud Facebook group their thoughts and suggestions and the responses were pretty much in line with what I expected. Early mornings are no excuse to eat poorly. I start every morning with a glass of water, a chocolate drink mix, milk, 2 eggs, greek yogurt, and banana/orange. Kick off the day with plenty of protein and vitamins, lay off the sugar, and fit in some exercise. I aim for at least four, 45-minute workouts every week. Everyone is different, but my routines are working pretty well for me. What is your advice for getting a great start and powering through the day despite early morning starts?

Pork Chop, Bacon, and T-bone

One of my co-workers is out of the office this week and on vacation with his kids while they’re on Spring Break. That means I get to take care of their 4-H projects! This is Pork Chop and Bacon. In the background is T-bone the steer. In all reality, I don’t know what their names are, but I do know that’s how I named my animals when I was showing as a youth.

4-H Show PigsMy vegan experience

Actually, my experience doesn’t entail indulging in any changes of my diet or wardrobe, but I do have the opportunity to work with a future Montana Beef Ambassador this week. I’ll be playing the role of a vegetarian/vegan to gauge their ability to respond to situations where they may encounter people who challenge their stance on issues surrounding beef.

I again turned to Facebook, on the I am Agriculture Proud page this time, to poll the audience on how I should prepare. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough about the situation, but I was a little disappointed in the tone of several responses. Sure, we can have fun with stereotypes, and we do frequently joke of our love of beef (that in no way means I don’t have my healthy portions of all the other food groups as well), but there were definitely some statements that I’d hope wouldn’t be made in the conversation with someone about vegetarian or vegan diets/lifestyles. Might I suggest these tips for better conversations and a bit more respect shared in earlier blog posts.

So people’s comments = #SMH

CNN Eatocracy reshared my 2013 article about National Agriculture Day and it received quite the traffic after being tweeted out on the @CNN account. That also brought in some interesting comments from the gallery. *cough*trolls*cough*

If we believed the comments made, farmers only work 10 hours a year; only work with pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and subsidies; and bring in $1.5 million each year with little to no investment and live off the tax payers’ wallets. Like I said, SMH. We have quite a bit of ground to make up according to some folks’ perspectives.

Technology malfunctions may drive me crazy.

That ‘Type A’ personality I mentioned above…. Yeah, it doesn’t do so well with malfunctioning technology. Website design isn’t my area of specialty, but I have done everything with the tools available to me to try and make my work website function properly. It’s not happening. I’ve even watched several hours of video tutorials from tech pros. It’s not happening. The bread crumb trail has traveled around the world and back again and everyone I talk to trying to gather all the pieces back together only have another vague name or email address for me. *Throwing hands up in the air* Now I’m seeking help from a professional. If you know an expert in WordPress websites (or are one), give me a shout. I need help.

On a brighter tech note, I LOVE trying to explain the basics of technology to Montana ranchers! We’re talking, how to open/send an email or click on hyperlinks on a webpage. Weird, right? But I love the challenge of having to take a step back and be able to explain things from the start, especially things I’ve been doing since I was in high school. In turn, these ranchers are probably teaching me more about life than I’ll ever realize. But hey, what’s life without a challenge?

Image credit: Idaho Cattle Association
Image credit: Idaho Cattle Association
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Common Misconceptions in Food and Agriculture

agriculture misconceptions jersey chocolate milk cow
Chocolate milk comes from brown cows? No, but that’s what people tell dairy farmers like Carrie Mess.

On a weekly basis, I usually receive 8-10 questions via my Ask A Farmer contact form from folks who just want to know more about agriculture in general. I’m just one guy with an opinion who is willing to share my opinion. I try to incorporate links with perspectives from others as often as possible when replying to these questions.

Being that last week was National Agriculture Week across much of the country, many folks have been sharing their opinions and expressing why they are proud to be a part of agriculture. One post that stands out for me is from Virginia Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Matt Lohr (@Mjlohr71 on Twitter).

Matt has a Top 10 list of common misconceptions about agriculture. These are similar to many questions I receive, so I wanted to share another perspective on the issues. Below are the numbers 10-6. The final 5 can be viewed on the Virginia Department of Agriculture website.

#10 – Small farms are unimportant. In many ways, small farms are the backbone of Virginia agriculture. They range in size from three or four acres to 150 acres or so, but they probably do the best job of any farms to provide local food. Many small farms sell directly to the consumer through roadside stands, on-farm sales, farmers’ markets and events. They are at the heart of the Buy Local movement and not only provide food but also provide that all important one-on-one relationship between farmer and consumer. They are also one of the fastest growing segments of Virginia agriculture.

#9 – All large farms are corporate farms. In Virginia nearly 90 percent of our farms are family-owned and operated. Many family farms are incorporated for business purposes or to ensure an orderly transition from one generation to the next, but incorporated is not the same as corporate. The vast majority of our farmers live on the land they work, and they have a very special bond with the land that may go back generations. Their roots run deep.

#8 – Farmers are destroying the environment. This is absolutely not true. In fact, farmers are the original good stewards of land and water resources. These resources are, after all, how they make their living, so it makes sense to protect them. I find it interesting that many of the complaints to our Ag Stewardship Program about perceived environmental problems are unsubstantiated. What the public perceives as an environmental problem often is not. At the same time that farms give us environmental benefits such as green spaces and wildlife habitat, they use far fewer resources than the average urban or suburban home.

#7 – There’s no future in agriculture. I’ll admit that for a few years, many of us were concerned about the future of agriculture and the next generation of farmers. But things are changing. Fox News recently ran a feature that said ag degrees are the hot ticket for job growth. They quote data from the Food and Agriculture Education Information System that says enrollment in U.S. college and university agriculture programs are up 21 percent since 2006. The data show more than 146,000 undergraduates in ag programs. This growing interest is critical for the future of food production, as world population growth is creating a greater demand for food, and the average age of farmers in many states is near 60.

#6 – Farmers are uneducated. This is a persistent myth and one we need to bust. The days are long gone when you learned everything you needed to know about farming from your grandfather. That doesn’t mean we discount grandpa’s advice, born from years and years of experience. It does mean that today’s farmers need post-high school training in a variety of areas: animal science, agronomy, environmental science, business, marketing, communications, perhaps even law and psychology. Today’s farmers also need to be life-long learners. If you’ve been on a farm recently, you’ve probably seen a farmer using his cell phone in the field to make decisions about planting or applying pesticides or fertilizer. That’s the kind of on-the-job training every farmer needs these days to stay competitive and make a profit.

Read more on how Ag Commissioner Matt Lohr responds to misconceptions 5-1 on the Virginia Department of Agriculture website. These misconceptions include:

  • The cost of food goes directly into the farmer’s pocket.
  • Food costs too much.
  • Our food is unsafe.
  • Farmers abuse their animals.
  • All farmers are rich.

Did any of these address concerns you have about agriculture? What would be on your Top 10 list?

Submit your questions via the contact form on my Ask a Farmer page.

CNN Eatocracy: Celebrate National Agriculture Day and talk to a farmer

How long has it been since you visited a farm? Vote in the poll.

In case you missed it, yesterday was National Agriculture Day. I had the opportunity to share a few words on CNN Eatocracy and hopefully encourage folks to consider how agriculture impacts our lives daily.

Even though farmers and ranchers may be overlooked when it comes to influence on our food supply, this group of folks has a huge impact on our daily lives. Most of the non-food products we use on a daily basis include by-products from livestock animals and crops. Cotton fibers make up a large amount of our favorite clothing and many crops are used to generate energy and fuel. Agriculture has a huge impact on rural business and economies, providing jobs, sources of tax revenue, and many farm organizations make large food donations possible for crisis and hunger relief.

One of the first steps in transparency for our agriculture systems is encouraging folks to become more aware of what actually happens in agriculture. Can you help make this happen?

Read more of my thoughts in the full post on CNN. Be sure to share this with your non-farm friends and encourage others to answer the poll at the bottom of the post.

CNN Eatocracy Agriculture Day 2013 Farmers
Click image to view entire post on CNN Eatocracy

National Agriculture Day Through the Eyes of Farm Bloggers

Naitonal Ag Day 2013Today is National Agriculture Day. the one day of the year when Congress encourages everyone to  stop and think about agriculture.

We are thinking  about all the people involved in agriculture and all of the things they are accomplishing!

  • Farmers who are producing food for their families and a few neighbors as well as the farmers whose crops are sold on the larger market.
  • The many people who work in co-ops and farm supply stores, providing important services and products for farmers regardless of the production practices employed.
  • Employees at grain elevators, cotton gins, distribution centers, barges, trucking companies and more are ensuring grain, fiber, fruits and vegetables continue to move through the system.
  • People are buying and selling products to fill the shelves at the local market or to deliver critical food aid to a country in crisis.

What is their day like? And what are they thinking about as they observe National Ag Day? Read the following blog posts to find out!

  • Planting Knowledge in Others – Illinois State University Student, Steven Beisswenger, discusses the technology and management that goes into conservation work for corn farmers across the country.
  • Food EthicsLiz from the Wyoming Stock Growers Association takes a look at the progress Agriculture has made in food production since the 1950s and the conservation work they’re doing to feed a growing population in the future.
  • Relish the Food Choices Available – Katie Pinke of North Dakota emphasizes her appreciation on food choices instead of food guilt when it comes to choosing food for her family.
  • The Farmer, Ag Week Special – Kathy Hasekamp of Missouri shares what she’s learned while farming with her husband raising cattle, hay, corn, soybeans, and wheat.
  • Teaching Our Grandchildren – Wanda Patsche of Minnesota is proud an honored to share the experience of raising hogs, corn, and soybeans with her grandchildren.
  • City Girl Meets Ranch Life - Briána Belko was a city girl with a Liberal Arts degree when she decided to work on a family member’s calf ranch in California. Now she’s sharing her passion for agriculture through her urban roots.
  • Slow Money Farm – Jan Hoadley, an Alabama farmer, recognizes that we seek out the experts in many life situations, why not look to farmers when it comes to food?
  • Shouldn’t We Have Parades – Suzie Wilde, wife of a Texas cotton farmer, is looking for a little fanfare to be tossed the way of farmer for Ag Day.
  • My Other, More Exciting Self – Lara Durben utilizes her experience working with Minnesota poultry farmers to shed some light on the truths of raising food.
  • Pride, Humility, Courage and the Long Haul - Beyond the Rows provides some perspective on farmers and the way they approach their days at work.
  • From One Generation to the Next: National Ag Day – North Dakota rancher Val Wagner says “Generations Nourishing Generations” is almost our farm’s motto – and as we raise the next generation, we strive to ensure that we’ve done our best for the future.
  • My Plans for National Ag Day - Janice Person talks about the typical day in agriculture for her as she works in agricultural communications in St. Louis.
  • Ag Proud on National Ag Day – Taylor Short from Missouri is proud to be a part of agriculture and works to share that message with college students
  • The Daily Cowman is Ag Proud – Larry Olberding, a Washington cattleman, takes time to spell out why he is agriculture proud and gives thanks to those who have contributed to his journey.
  • An Ag Day Poem: A Day in the Life of My Farmer – Iowa farmwife Val Plagge wrote a poem for ag day talking about some of the things her husband is doing as they raise corn, beans, pigs and kids.

Be sure to check out the Agriculture Proud posts from earlier this month celebrating National Ag Day:

Be sure to catch some great interaction online with farmers, ranchers, and the agriculture community throughout the week. On Twitter follow the hashtags #FoodD and #AgDay.

Tune in tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern as the AgChat Foundation hosts an Ag Day party. Follow on Facebook through this event page or join in on Twitter by following the #FoodChat stream.

Go. Celebrate National Agriculture Day! Have you thanked a farmer?