Category Archives: AgFact

Idaho Cattle Convention – Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley Idaho Resort Social Media TrainingI  can’t believe I’ve let a month go by and haven’t updated the blog on my travels in and around Montana. (So I better catch up!) Work has definitely kept me busy and on the go. But I guess that is a good thing!

In early November, I had the great opportunity to travel to Sun Valley, Idaho to speak at the Idaho Cattle Association’s annual convention. Sun Valley is an extremely nice place in the mountains and home to folks like Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, and Tom Hanks. I certainly couldn’t afford to stay there long, especially during ski season.

The Idaho Cattlemen and women were great hosts as Lauren Chase and I presented 2 different workshops on the value of social media in the cattle community. One of the big questions we address is “Why do ranchers need to be on social media?” There’s a lot of value to being involved in the conversations that are already occurring, both on- and off-line. We would love to be able to direct folks who have food questions to the farmers and ranchers who have the most experience with the issues at hand, but it is kind of difficult if those farmers/ranchers are not making themselves more available to the conversations.

We had a great turnout to our workshops, standing room only both days. It was great to see such interest and interaction with the Idaho ranchers. While at the Convention, we had the opportunity to pull a few folks aside and ask their perspectives on why social media is important in the ranching community. Lauren captured their thoughts in this video.

So I ask you the same question. How can ranchers utilize social media to reach out to consumers who want to engage in conversations about how their beef is raised?

Idaho - The Land of Steak and Potatoes - Agriculture proudly represented at the airport baggage claim!
Idaho – The Land of Steak and Potatoes – Agriculture proudly represented at the airport baggage claim!

The trip also marked the first opportunity for me to board a plane by walking out on the tarmac. Good thing it was decent weather! (I may not have such good luck for this week’s trip, but more on that Thursday.) But it’s something I better get used to here in Montana. Alaska Airlines was great and the boarding process was much easier than the normal jetway on larger planes. I got to fly into Seattle, then to Boise. Both great airports, but I think my favorite part was watching the changes in landscapes. The drive from Boise to Sun Valley was really neat. I’m very glad I got to make the trip and hope to make it back to Idaho sometime. But I was definitely glad to make it back on the ground after an expected windy landing back in Great Falls.

Check out more photos from our #SocialBeef workshops on Facebook! Lauren and I look forward to more opportunities like these workshops in the future!

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Turkey welfare and slaughter Video with Dr. Temple Grandin

Thanksgiving turkey slaughter welfare farming
Image via

Over the past several years, I have been engaged in several conversations about transparency, animal welfare, and requests for more information about how livestock make it to our plates. Recently, American Meat Institute has teamed up with Dr. Temple Grandin, a well-know animal scientist who focuses on improving animal welfare practices, especially during slaughter. The group has put together a series of videos that explain what happens prior to and during the slaughter process and shows views what Best Management Practices look like in this process. I think these videos are a great insight to help us visualize how livestock are turned into the meat on our plates.

From a Turkey FarmerEverything you wanted to know about Turkeys

Previously I have shared videos from AMI that walk us through the Beef and Pork slaughter processes. Just in time to learn more about the food on our tables for Thanksgiving, AMI and the National Turkey Federation released a video where Dr. Grandin walks us through the process of getting turkeys to the slaughterhouse and shows us how that happens. Take 13 minutes to watch the video.

Grandin guides the viewing public with an expert eye on the growth and delivery of 253 million turkeys each year. In the video, the viewer gets an up-close look as Grandin interacts with a flock of 15,000 birds roaming easily down the football-field length of a climate-controlled turkey house. When readied for market, those turkeys ride up into conveyor loading trucks and to an orderly delivery at the processing plant.

There, the process of humanely stunning the birds renders them unconscious before processing under the watchful presence of USDA government inspectors enforcing safe and sanitary preparation. At each step along the methodical movement of rinsing, cleaning and separating the meat from the carcass, Grandin provides context and common sense explanations. The reality of raising and preparing turkeys for market is revealed in the video for what it is: a modern process that is humane, safe and efficient. — from National Turkey Federation

 This video is a part of the Glass Walls Project from AMI to improve transparency efforts from large-scale animal processors. For more information on animal slaughter, AMI has this PDF available. There are also many great resources related to animal welfare and handling at

We may not all be able to visit slaughter houses, and I don’t expect these videos to make people remove their distrust of meat industries, but opportunities to learn from a distance are extremely important. I do hope folks will receive them as a move toward better transparency.

Want to connect with a Turkey farmer? Check out these pages

#BigSkyMove: Manhattan Kansas serves up a great steak diagram

Where does your favorite cut of steak come from?

During my #BigSkyMove, I had the opportunity to visit Manhattan, Kansas, specifically my friends Brandon and Jodi Oleen. Jodi works for the Kansas Pork Association and Brandon with one of the Beef Cattle units at Kansas State University. Talk about house divided when it comes to protein choices?!? Actually, Jodi is a big beef eater and Brandon loves his bacon, so all is well.

After driving for 8 hours into town, I jumped in the pickup with Brandon to do his afternoon cow chores (Yes, I am that guy who drives across 2 states to check cows!), before joining several friends in the area for a meal. I made the unfortunate decision to show up in MHK on Homecoming weekend. Our original plans to meet at Little Apple Brewery were scraped, but we were saved with a great meal at Rambler’s Steakhouse. Great food. Fun times.

I’ve been to several steakhouses and often times the menu has some sort of history and good reading. Ramblers has a sheet dedicated to showing where our favorite cuts of meat comes from.

cuts of beef diagramI thought that was a pretty cool inclusion in the menu. I figure many folks want to know which steaks are the best choice as they’re sitting down for a meal. It also helps with a little AgFacts 101 to acquaint the steak a specific location on the animal. After a little searching, I found a more-detailed diagram for the location of our favorite cuts of beef.
best cuts of beef cheat sheetThere are several great places for a conversation about beef and steaks on social media.

  • Reddit has it’s own stream of recipes and conversation about steaks. – /r/Steak
  • Janeal Yancey is a meat scientist at the University of Arkansas and answers a lot of concern from moms on her blog – Mom At The Meat Counter. She’s also found easily on Twitter – @MeatCounterMom.
  • Amy Sipes owns a family meat shop in Kentucky. She’s sure to tell you exactly what she thinks – @KYFarmersMatter.
  • David Hayden is a fellow Oklahoma State alumnus and works in the meat industry, though he comes from a family farm background. He shares many great viewpoints on his blog, Farming America, as well as on Twitter – @DavidHayden7.
  • The American Meat Institute makes some great resources available online for consumers wanting to learn more about where our meat comes from. I’ve shared before some of their videos from inside beef and pork slaughter facilities. Follow their blog and Twitter – @MeatAMI.

There are many more folks online discussing where our meat comes from. What resources do you utilize?

Thankful for Snail Mail surprises

I guess life’s not all bad. I’m stuck in the office most of the time. I don’t mind getting there so early that it’s dark outside, but I do miss the sunrises every day. It does stink to leave the office when it’s dark too. So I am thankful daylight hours are getting longer.

Apparently the Smoky Mountains don’t hold snow quite like the Rockies do. I came home today and say a fresh coat of snow on the peaks! It’s something to get excited about. I miss seeing views like the mountain peaks in Colorado. Unfortunately, I live too close to the Smokies to see the peaks from the house. But this view isn’t too bad…

View Smoky Mountain TennesseeThen I got another surprise. I love snail mail. I’ve received some interesting gifts that only an agnerd would appreciate, and I’ve also received a lot of postcards. My postcard project from a few years back is still going strong. I don’t have all 50 states yet, but I haven’t updated my list of state agfacts in a while either. One of these days… Any way, I was excited to receive a postcard this week from Louisiana along with some great agfacts!

"Louisiana is the No.1 state in the nation for production of crawfish, shrimp, alligator, and oysters. They produce 25% of all seafood in the U.S." Thanks Caroline Roper!
“Louisiana is the No.1 state in the nation for production of crawfish, shrimp, alligator, and oysters. They produce 25% of all seafood in the U.S.” Thanks Caroline Roper!

I also received another great gift in the mail from Hays, Kansas! The Fort Hays State University Agronomy Club used my quote on their t-shirts and sent me one as a gift. Thanks for the work ya’ll and keep up the great work!

Agriculture Tshirt Quote

Agronomy Club Tshirt Fort Hays Kansas

By the way, the quote on the shirt is from my blog and pages:

Agriculture, It’s more than part of life. It’s a passion, a lifestyle, a resilient community that works hard to feed the world!–Ryan Goodman

I don’t care what anyone says, I think snail mail ROCKS! Who knows what will end up in my mail box next…