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Archive for the ‘Agvocate’ Category

Farmers and Ranchers Save Salmon

The snow pack in the mountains is gone.

The snow pack in the mountains is gone.

The snow pack in the mountains has long since melted. Tributaries to the Scott River and the river itself are quickly drying up, if not already. Contrary to what environmental activist groups, such as the Klamath River Keepers, Klamath Forest Alliance and the Environmental Protection Information Center, are saying, the drop in surface flows in the Scott River Watershed is due to a depleted snow pack, not because ditches are “running full.” Our ditches have not run “full” since the April. Our only saving grace has been two major thunderstorms, or likely all of the tributaries and the river would be merely standing pools.  This year happens to be very dry, our winter snow pack was under 50 percent of average. It was to be expected that surface water would be limited starting in July. In average years, the current levels of flow are not realized until late August and mid September.

Understanding the system and realizing that salmon fingerlings are at risk, several ranchers, in  voluntarily and cooperatively took action to save tens of thousands of young salmonids. Read more…

Resolving Animal Cruelty

Spring 10 Bull Pair

I tip my hat to the California Cattlemens Association and Assemblyman Jim Patterson for submitting AB 343 with coauthors Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, Assemblyman Brian Dahle, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein and Senator Jim Nielsen and endorsement by the California Farm Bureau.

It is refreshing to see a bill that truly works to address the issue of animal cruelty in agriculture.

Unlike bills in other states, AB343 protects the right to video and photograph, protects the worker from reporting observed abuse, promotes cooperation with local law enforcement and puts the welfare of the animals above the bottom line and above the next fundraising campaign.

AB343 combines common sense with moral fortitude. It requires that animal abuse is reported in a timely manner, in order to minimize suffering, allow for a proper investigation and see that appropriate charges are brought against the offender.

Finally, an animal welfare bill that those in agriculture and those outside of agriculture, who care about the welfare of animals, can stand together in support of.

…This bill would require any person who willfully or knowingly photographs, records, or videotapes animal cruelty to provide a copy of the photograph, recording, or videotape to local law enforcement within 48 hours of taking the photograph, recording, or videotape, and would encourage the person to provide a copy of the photograph, recording, or videotape to the owner of the animal or poultry, or a representative of the owner. This bill would define animal cruelty for its purposes as any act involving an animal, as defined, or poultry, as defined, described in prescribed criminal offenses…

Dodge Scores Big!

Team Dodge runs returns a kickoff for a touchdown! Dodge, like Ford and Chevy, has been a strong supporter of American agriculture. Last night, during the Superbowl, their “God Made A Farmer” ad went directly to the highlight reels. Dodge’s “special teams” was on fire, particularly through the use of Paul Harvey as the kickoff returner, carrying a very special essay from the FFA archives. Read more…

The USDA and Meatless Monday

Yesterday, while the Verizon towers were down in Siskiyou County, a newsletter from within the USDA, Greening Headquarters Update, was released and had a suggestion to implement the Meatless Monday Initiative within the agency. There was a quick uprising among many in the agricultural community, within the social media world. By 1:07 in the afternoon, the USDA retracted the statement in the newsletter as released in The New York Times. Now, most folks would think “Excellent, we accomplished our objective,” and move on. However, this is not the case with some, as I continue to see several rant on and now I understand several industry organizations are considering a ‘unified response’ to the matter…yes…after it has been retracted and the USDA’s position clarified.

To those who are still ‘worked up’ over this, I respectfully ask you to stop for a minute and take a deep breath. Allow the emotions to settle down and let’s take an objective look at what further actions, if any should be taken.

First, I am a beef producer and admittedly was not a big fan of the Meatless Monday Initiative. However, after taking some time to look at things objectively, I completely support the idea of encouraging folks to eat more fruits and vegetables, most do not eat enough. We should all be supportive of people eating better balanced meals that include all the food groups.

Second, let’s take a look in the mirror. What does it look like to our customers when agriculture is constantly ‘on the fight,’ ‘whining,’ and complaining on a daily basis? Folks, certainly we face challenges, but think about all we have to be thankful for. We should spend some more time showing gratitude for positives.

Third, I agree with a dear and respected friend who said, “I just don’t think people in Ag stop to think for a minute how bad they look every time I see the hunk of meat Monday’s, etc. it’s just as adversarial to me as the anti-meat campaigns.” We should be celebrating that people are now posting and sharing recipes of all kinds through a plethora of blogs and social media platforms. What could be better than more people taking the time to return to the kitchen and actual start cooking again? Think about it. If they start cooking vegetable dishes, they will most certainly expand to include meat. This is a positive, not a negative, in my humble opinion.

Fourth, to those considering continuing to beat the proverbial ‘dead horse,’ I offer the following suggestion. Be gracious to the USDA for retracting the statement and clarify their position. Recognize that the USDA does not just represent the 2% of the country that produces food, but also 100% of the customers. Politely share the current information that refutes the UN study and close with a smile and a thank you.

In my humble opinion, this continued negativity, does not promote healthy relationships with customers and will only serve to hinder the efforts of the USFRA and other organizations that are working so diligently and sincerely to encourage dialogue. Celebrate. Be thankful. Be Happy. Stay positive.

** After receiving a number of messages from those in the ‘Hunk of Meat Monday’ crowd, I want to be clear about a couple of things. First, I support your endeavor and believe it has been very successful and informative. Second, hindsight is always 20/20, consider this….what if  ‘Hunk of Meat Monday’ had been ‘Satisfying Steak Saturday,’ or ‘Fabulous Meat Friday.’ Rather than coming across to some as being ‘combative’ or ‘un-supportive’ of the idea of eating more fruits and vegetables, it may have been even more successful, promoting higher quality protein later in the week. What if ‘Hunk of Meat’ Monday had been first and ‘Meatless Monday’ had been launched after? Would we have considered that to be combative? Finally, while the premise behind ‘Meatless Monday’ in regards to health and the environment is ‘off base,’ in my humble opinion, the objective of getting people to eat more fruits and vegetables and think balance in diets is one that I do support. Please, realize that I am not trying to promote any single way of doing things…merely offering suggestions to think about and perhaps help shape a more positive effort on another issue in the future. Keep up the great work!

Fresh Food, Urban Centers and Fuel

Last week, Derek Singleton, an associate through social media, sent me a link to an article he wrote and asked if I would post a response to it.  It was a crazy week, but I finally had a chance to give it some attention. Thank you for the opportunity Derek.

The Future of U.S. Food Distribution was a look at some trends related to demand by consumers for “fresh” food, food hubs in urban centers and the potential effect of higher fuel prices on distribution.  Derek believes that the current trends in United States could cause a significant disruption in current food distribution practices and potentially lead to a system as is in place in Europe.

Demand For Fresher Foods

While I concur that demand for fresh food has and is growing, as is the demand for organic food, I feel it is important to distinguish between these two segments. It is important to mention that simply because food is organic, does not necessarily mean that it is “fresh.” I should note that when I think of “fresh,” I am applying the definition of having been just picked or harvested. Derek presents clear evidence of the growth in the US organic market: Read more…

Food, Farmers, Demons and Monsanto

Demonizing companies and individuals through the use of misleading and false information is never productive. More times than not, fissures are created, within families, communities, states, the country and even the world. It is very acceptable to question actions and results, but let us remember to remain objective in our assessment, research the origins of the information and pass on only that which is true. Passing this type of information along, without doing research on it, is just as irresponsible as passing along an email that says the world will end if you don’t forward to your whole address book.

I have seen a number of people posting on Facebook and Twitter lately, that they have signed one of a couple of petitions currently circulating with a host of claims against Monsanto. Many of these people I consider to be friends and respect. I felt inclined to write this post to provide some additional information in order to clarify several of the accusations that are being claimed. I, for one, as a small farmer and rancher, am very grateful for the work that work that Monsanto and others are doing to help farmers be more efficient and holistic in their management opportunities.

Read more…

Degrees, Could They Be More Useful?

When I saw the article on Yahoo last week, ‘College Majors That Are Useless,’ I was reminded of some thoughts I had last May when it first ran on another site. After digging around my laptop a bit, I finally found some notes I had jotted down.

First and foremost, I do not believe that ‘Agricultural Degrees’ are “useless.” However, unlike many, rather than compose a response that points out the value of such a degree, I was struck with the thought, “could agricultural degrees be MORE useful?”

For that matter, could all degrees be more useful?

Personally, I think a quality and broad education, no matter the “degree” associated with it, is only useful if the person is able and willing to apply what they have learned. (But that is another post.)

For the purpose of this post, I am referring to all agriculturally related degrees: animal science, crop science, soil science, agricultural business, horticulture, etc.

Keeping in mind, that agriculture is an ever-changing industry, constantly developing and implementing new technology, becoming more efficient and modifying production practices; are colleges offering and requiring courses for their degree programs that are relevant? Read more…

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