Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Submitted by Gregg Hillyer, DTN/The Progressive Farmer

My urban friends are constantly amazed at the amount of technology farmers use today. Many mistakenly assume the men and women who work the land resemble Grant Wood’s iconic “American Gothic.” Of course they couldn’t be more wrong.

They shake their heads in amazement when I tell them about auto-steer, GPS, computerized screens that monitor machines and field functions and sensors that assess the health of a crop to determine how much nitrogen to apply. The list of cool tech goes on and on.

Agriculture has always been defined by the technology at hand. The early 20th century, for example, saw the mechanization of farming, hybrid corn and more. We’re entering a new era of technology that could be a game-changer. I’m talking about the ability to gather massive amounts of information, analyze it and then create a prescription specific to a certain field or acre. This data can be retrieved anywhere, anytime on your computer, tablet or mobile phone.

It’s all part of a powerful platform that will allow farmers to vary crop inputs across the field to optimize efficiencies and productivity like never before. A platform that embraces sustainability and sound environmental practices, while giving growers tools to make smarter decisions. Ultimately, this technology will take yields to the next level. More importantly, it will help growers manage risk by minimizing variability from year to year.

As this latest wave of high tech unfolds, prepare to be amazed.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Livestock Myths Debunked

Submitted by Shawna Newsome, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

It’s easy for Americans to become swept away by a wave of Anti-Agriculture propaganda. But the real truth about cattle production is simple: It’s a family affair and ranchers love their animals. This fundamental idea can be explained by debunking one of the most common cattle myths: The majority of cattle are raised in large, commercial operations.

The truth is, of the 729,000 beef cow operations and the 915,000 cow/calf operations, less than 10% have more than 100 head of cattle. And 97% of cattle operations are family owned. America has a rich history of ranching. Even here in D.C., the White House lawn served as home for an assortment of livestock, including the notorious Pauline Wayne, the last cow to graze the lawn.

At the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, our job is to bring cattle back to the Capitol. No, we will never see cattle grazing at the White House again, but we can remind our Congress why the cattle industry is vital to our economy. 

As family farmers and ranchers, cattlemen have a vested interest in protecting the environment. As responsive producers, they share an interest in meeting the needs of consumers worldwide by providing high-quality, nutritious beef, while setting higher quality and safety standards than those required by the government. As individual entrepreneurs, cattlemen raise livestock in more states than any other commodity, helping sustain a way of life in thousands of rural communities.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sustainable Bacon

Submitted by David Warner, National Pork Producers Council

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t appreciate a slice (or six!) of bacon.

But how many people think about how that bacon is made? Well, thanks to America’s pork farmers, bacon is produced more sustainably than ever.

Sustainability means many different things to different people. For many farmers, sustainability means leaving the land in better condition than they inherited it, allowing for many more generations to keep farming. Sustainability is nothing new to pork farmers.

To ensure they are being sustainable, farmers use sound science and work with leading experts to determine how what is done on the farm will impact carbon, air, water and land footprints. As a result, in the past 50 years, American pork farmers have reduced their carbon footprint by 35%; reduced water use by 41%; and reduced the amount of land used by 78%.

At the same time, they have been producing more and more pork for a hungry world. In 1959, it took eight pigs to produce 1,000 pounds of pork. Today, it takes only five.

Pork farmers are not only making the right decisions on the farm, they’re also are involved in their communities. They’re on the scene, grilling and giving away hot pork meals when devastating floods hit Nashville, Hurricane Sandy destroyed parts of New York and New Jersey, and tornadoes tore apart Oklahoma. And pork farmers across the country routinely donate pork, a much-needed protein, to local food banks.

So the next time you reach for the bacon, you can feel good about how it got to your plate.