Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Explore the Diversity of Ag to Understand Its Impact

By Ryan Tipps, Managing Editor,

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