Friday, March 16, 2018

The Time is Now

By Madeline McGarry, Communications Intern, National Pork Producers Council

Agriculture – it’s everywhere. We live out this universally known, yet often taken for granted, notion every day. From the food on our table, to the clothes on our backs, America’s farmers and ranchers play a major role in our well-being and quality of life.

There are numerous challenges and rewards that come with a producer’s implicit yet awesome responsibility of feeding and fueling the world: from enduring droughts and inclement weather to finding enough labor to care for animals on the farm. But, arguably, one of the greatest challenges our producers face are rooted in misconceptions about the industry. Consequently, bridging the gap between the reality of agricultural production and consumer perception has never been more important.

Consumers are asking more and more questions about the source of their food and how it’s produced. As producers work to address these concerns and educate consumers, they are often faced with deciphering between truth and fiction relayed through the media.

Contrary to perceptions of those less connected to the farm, the methods behind agricultural production are fundamentally anchored in common sense. Farmers and ranchers themselves are closer to their herds and fields than anyone else; they have mastered the ability to identity the individual needs for each and every one of their animals.

Thanks to digital communications, we have new opportunities to connect consumers to agriculture. Farmers and ranchers are committed to transparency and are increasingly telling their stories in unfiltered ways to an American population that is more removed from production practices than they have ever been in our history.

Coupled with digital communication advancements, the emergence of new technology has allowed producers to master their trade and deliver quality to consumers across the globe. Looking forward to the next generation of producers, America’s future farmers are limited only by their imagination and vision for innovation as they work to improve production practices. Technological advancement has created boundless potential for the industry and it is behind their longstanding commitment to continuously improving how they feed the world responsibly, efficiently and sustainably.

The work of our nation’s producers is reciprocal: it allows our farmers to maintain a prosperous rural lifestyle for their families while supplying safe, nutritious and affordable food to a global population . On this National Ag Day, let us encourage storytelling from those who are most informed about agriculture that accurately projects modern agriculture production practices that play such a vital role around the world.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How Technology Continues to Impact Agriculture


By Natalina Sents, Digital Content Editor, Meredith Agrimedia

Walking the aisles of any of the recent agriculture trade shows, it’s apparent: technology is changing agriculture at a rapid pace. Farmers and ranchers are producing more with less than ever before. Growers now have real-time seed and soil information at their fingertips from the comfort of their air-conditioned cabs. Sensors tell livestock farmers that their animals are sick long before symptoms can be seen by the human eye.

Technology has deep roots in agriculture. Innovation has been helping farmers and ranchers raise better food, feed, fuel, and fiber more efficiently for decades. Just think about the dramatic improvements on family farms around the country when the John Deere Waterloo Boy first made its way to the countryside 100 years ago. Since horse-drawn planters revolutionized farming in the 1800s, farmers have grown to cover up to 48 rows in a single pass.

As the world continues to change, agriculture has led the early adoption of autonomous machines and advanced genetics. Farmers rely on Successful Farming to keep them up to date as technology becomes available for their operations, and impacts the markets they sell to.

So, technology has also revolutionized the way we share stories with farmers. The Successful Farming magazine is now 116 years old and still delivers the news and information farmers need to be successful. But now, growers can get that information in their email inbox, on their television, through radio, social media, and even the Alexa home device.

Agriculture will continue to transform as the capabilities and the supportive infrastructure for technology continues to advance. What will the future hold? It has been said, the best way to predict the future is to create it.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Diversity Drives Agriculture

By Mindy Ward, Senior Content Director, Farm Progress Publications

"Whoa. They're all black." That is the initial response when young kids enter our sheep barn and take one look at the baby lambs. Immediately, we can tell they are puzzled. 

These are not the white lambs with pink noses portrayed in many children's books. They are also not those from the nursery rhyme "Baa, Baa black sheep." Our lambs arrive in the world pure black, but later become like their mothers grazing in the nearby pasture--black headed, black hooved with white wool all over their bodies.

In that moment, our education of the future consumer starts. We share how our sheep industry is diverse. There are lambs born in many colors--white, black, red and even those with spots. Some will grow wool, others just hair. Some sheep breeds produce meat for a gyro, while others yield fiber for coats and mittens. 

There are more than 88,000 sheep farms and ranches across our nation, each one unique. Out west, ranchers nurture lambs grazing green grass while roaming pastures. In the Midwest, farmers care for lambs in a confined building by feeding grain and providing water. Some sheep producers use conventional breeding methods, while others embrace technology through artificial insemination. Each farm has its own production technique to suit their individual farm needs. There is no "better" or "worse" method, just different.

Ag Day offers a great way to celebrate agriculture diversity. Take time to tell your ag story to the next generation. They need to know that America's farmers and ranchers don't allow our differences divide us. Ultimately, we all work together to produce food and fiber for our world. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Your Voice is Important and People are Listening


By Sarah Gallo, Government Affairs, Director, CHS, Inc.

When people talk to me about working as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., they always ask how the political landscape has changed in recent years. But I want to discuss how the conversation about agriculture has evolved. In meetings with policy makers, the viewpoints of producers are considered alongside those of both traditional and non-traditional allies and opponents. And while the diversity of voices should be applauded, it also serves as a reminder that being present in policy and regulatory conversations is critical.

Agriculture is an exciting and innovative sector in our country. Students participating in Congressional meetings during National Ag Day activities can provide important perspectives as lawmakers craft legislation and regulations that will shape the farming industry for decades to come.

I am proud to work for CHS and have opportunities to interact w
ith young producers, particularly when the conversations are centered on navigating the complex, and often confusing, intersection of policy and politics. I strongly believe that this close connection to the people for whom I advocate has made me a more effective lobbyist.

There is a certain thrill about walking the halls of Congress and participating in the democratic process. But opportunities for producers to showcase their operations, or speak firsthand about their experiences, don’t stop in Washington. Being an advocate for agriculture at home, on your farm, and in your community is what shifts the minds of lawmakers and transforms the landscape so that future generations can thrive in rural America. To that end, keep telling your story, and I promise to share it with everyone willing to listen.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Explore the Diversity of Ag to Understand Its Impact

By Ryan Tipps, Managing Editor, AGDAILY.com

Growing up in northern Indiana, agriculture was driven largely by the corn and soybean markets, a common sight across the Midwest, where farms are routinely measured by the thousands of acres. That perspective, however, shifted when I was in my mid-20s and moved to Virginia. There, I got a taste (literally and figuratively) of the diversity the agricultural sector had to offer.

All of a sudden, I found myself driving past peanut and strawberry farms, dairies, hog farms, and herds of cattle on rolling pastures. I was even surrounded by more non-edible products than ever before, such as cotton and Christmas trees, as well as the horse barns and hay fields that are increasingly common the farther I went to the western part of the state. 

The view I had of agriculture became much more well-rounded, and it made my understanding of the industry -- and my ability to write about it -- all the better. Seeing large and small farms alike as being vital to our nation’s food production gave credence to the idea that agriculture is an industry rooted in a broad skill base and possessing near limitless possibilities. It also sewed a unifying thread in my mind as I was able to see first-hand how so many people successfully and sustainably harness our land for the good of so many.

That’s really what Ag Day is about -- as an industry we’re not disparate people operating in a bubble but rather we are an industry with the power to speak with a singular voice. We should do everything we can, every day, to celebrate our farmers and rancher. We can move forward with purpose and passion on a path that reflects the good that so many of them do.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Welcome to the Smart Barn

By Kevin Waetke, Vice President, Strategic Communications, National Pork Board

Technology changes are part of everyday life. But nowhere are technology changes more prominent in the past few years than in the pork industry. 

Pig farming has changed dramatically in the last few decades, and both the pig and pig farmer benefit through improved employee and food safety, animal well-being and a reduced environmental impact.

“My grandfather raised a lot of pigs outside and I did too as a young person. We were always challenged by weather patterns – from keeping pigs cool during hot summer months or warm and comfortable in the extreme cold,” says Divernon, Illinois, pig farmer Nic Anderson. “As farmers, we are there to protect our animals and keep them as comfortable as possible.”

Many of the improvements in animal welfare have come through new technology. Though the “Smart Home” has become all the rage with consumers in the last few years, pig farmers like Anderson and Richards, Missouri, farmer Everett Forkner, have been using technology to turn their pig barns into “Smart Barns.” That has occurred years before Amazon’s Alexa started flipping light switches and controlling thermostats.

Learn more about Smart Barns at RealPigFarming.com

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Telling the Story of Agriculture

By Beverly Flores, North American Media Relations and Communications, John Deere

Agriculture – its’s behind all of our food and much of our clothing, shelter and fuel. And yet, when we talk about any of those we don’t often think about agriculture or all the people involved in producing these daily necessities. National Ag Day is an opportunity to encourage that dialogue and bring together an industry and serve as advocates.

We need storytellers in agriculture—to share our enthusiasm, our energy and our passion for what we do and how we do it. We need to share our stories proactively. We need to take the time and effort to help off-farm consumers connect with our on-farm stories

As a mom of three boys, in my house we often talk about agriculture. We talk about the passion and dedication, the commitment. In fact, a portion of our spring break was spent helping feed cows and checking calves—what a great trip!  But, for the vast majority of consumers they don’t get that same opportunity. They won’t get to see the rancher counting the cows as he throws out the hay- the care and the knowledge behind his actions. They won’t see his lifelong commitment to something bigger than himself. They will, however, see the food and clothing. 

My hope is that we commit to telling just one story more tomorrow than we do today. I encourage you to find your story; to remember when someone asks about their food, they are really asking, “Where did my food come from?” Take your time, paint a picture of enthusiasm, energy and passion for agriculture.