Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Using Technology to Agvocate for Farmers

It is easy to see where technology is advancing in everyday life. In your lifetime you have likely made the switch from a flip phone to a smart phone, or when you once consulted a dictionary to spell a word, you now say “Alexa, how do you spell…” and so on.

In some industries it is obvious where technology has made improvements, but it might come as a surprise just how far technology has advanced in the agricultural industry. Take CES for example. This show is a place for the unveiling of the latest and greatest technology that companies have to offer. At the show there is anything from cars, gaming devices, and virtual reality to smart appliances for your home and wearable tech. Oh yes, and a John Deere sprayer. A what? Yes – a sprayer.

For the second year, John Deere exhibited at CES in front of a crowd of more than 175,000 people. The exhibit was likely hard to miss with a R4038 sprayer sporting a 120-foot carbon fiber boom. Deere was in attendance to not only flex their ag muscle, but also their tech muscle to show how technology is changing the face of agriculture.

To John Deere there was no better way to showcase tech than to have those who uses it every day share their experience. Deere customers Jeremy and Elizabeth Jack of Silent Shade Planting Company were invited by Deere and their equipment dealer Wade Litton from Wade, Inc. to do just that. As people visited the booth, their curiosity was piqued. What was this thing and what is its purpose? As the Jacks would explain, technology within their equipment enables them to do more with less while being productive, profitable and sustainable for the future.

The Jacks farm 12,000 acres of corn, cotton, soybeans and rice in the Mississippi Delta, and they have the management of their operation down to a science – literally. With the use of technology and equipment, they can have more time for family activities while still knowing what is happening on the farm from their phone. They can also make more informed decisions for their operation and make adjustments without even sitting in the cab of a tractor. The Jacks know not every field can be treated the same, and not every acre in a given field is identical.

In Silent Shade’s quarterly newsletter, Jeremy Jack said CES provided their farm with a huge opportunity to share their story with a megaphone to a large non-agricultural audience. Until then their main source of communicating was through their newsletter and social media channels. With the display of a sprayer, the Jacks said they were a little nervous CES attendees would focus on chemical use on farms. To their surprise, that was not the case. Instead, people were genuinely curious how the technology was improving agriculture.

The Jacks were excited to be a part of CES 2020, and John Deere was happy to have them share their story and advocate for technology in ag. Like Deere and the Jacks, Ag Day also advocates on behalf of agriculture and educates people on how the advancements in farming will enable farmers to provide more food and fiber to a growing population while practicing sustainability for the future of farming.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

African Swine Fever Prevention in the U.S.

Growing up in a small town in Iowa, agriculture was all around me. My family raises cattle, has 300 acres of row crop and shows pigs. Agriculture is part of our livelihood and I saw, first-hand, the time, commitment and care that my family and so many others in our community put into growing food and raising healthy animals. That’s why it’s so important we continue to ensure our U.S. hog herd remains safe, for the livelihood of farmers and consumers around the globe.

African swine fever (ASF), a disease affecting only pigs with no human or food safety risks, is spreading throughout China, Southeast Asia and Europe. The most likely path for ASF or other foreign animal diseases (FADs) to enter the country would be through the importation of infected animals or contaminated, contraband products. An outbreak of certain FADs would immediately close U.S. pork export markets, with significant harm to our farmers, consumers and overall economy.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are doing an excellent job of protecting America’s borders and ports, we must continuously strive to strengthen biosecurity. For more than a year, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has led efforts to boost biosecurity at our borders, working with lawmakers and administration officials on funding for additional agricultural inspectors. In an important milestone in NPPC’s efforts, Congress recently passed legislation (S. 2107), which authorizes funding for 720 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports to prevent ASF and other FADs from entering the United States. That will help protect the U.S. swine herd and ensure that the farms in my community and around the country are able to continue to provide healthy, safe pork to consumers domestically and around the world.

USDA and CBP agricultural inspectors are our first line of defense against ASF and other FADs. Hog farmers across this country, in communities just like mine, are producing safe, nutritious and affordable pork. On this National Agriculture Day—and every day—let’s continue to remain vigilant to ensure the number one preferred protein in the world remains plentiful and safe.

Friday, March 6, 2020

5 Facts about Farming That Americans Need to Know


Many Paulsen employees grew up on farms or live on farms today. And while our office is much like other marketing agencies, our water cooler talk is a bit different.  In honor of National Ag Day, we asked a couple of our farmer-staff members what they’d like consumers to know.

1. If you want to know something about farming, ask a farmer.
If you drive past a farm and don’t recognize what you’re seeing, you’re not alone.

“I would encourage consumers to approach farmers with their questions,” says Brittany Lessman, account specialist and farmer. “We’re happy to answer their questions. I’d also want consumers to keep an open mind and trust that farmers are the right folks to ask.”

Account Coordinator Alix Pearson is active in her family’s sheep operation in Hettinger, N.D. “We shear some of our sheep in mid-November,” she says. “That’s because we lamb from the end of November through the beginning of March, and the wool prevents us from seeing if they’re about to give birth, so it’s a necessity.”

“During winter, someone driving by might think the sheep look cold,” Alix says. “But actually, we have a heated, insulated, well-bedded barn that they can enter at any time. And before it even gets dark, we bring them into the barn.”

2. Consider the expertise of your sources.
When you do find information, check to see where it’s coming from. Is the source a scientist? A veterinarian? An agronomist? An animal nutritionist? It might seem obvious, but the experts on farming are farmers and the people that work in the industry.

3. Farmers care about their land and animals.
A farmer’s land or animals is literally his or her livelihood. That’s why stories about farmers misusing land or mistreating animals are often untrue. Today’s farmers have excellent resources for maintaining and improving soil health. Livestock are raised with great care; several years ago Brittany laughed about how her dairy cows’ waterbeds were more comfortable than her own bed.

4. Many farmers are generous and caring.
While farmers often pride themselves on being self-sufficient, people in rural communities have traditionally depended on one another. Paulsen President and farmer Sara Steever has seen this first-hand.

“One of our neighbors who was only in his fifties passed away suddenly,” Sara says.  He had been getting ready for harvest—his equipment was out and ready to go.

“A few weeks after his funeral, on a beautiful fall day, I saw five combines and probably as many grain trucks on his land, and they took out his harvest all in one day. Then all the women in the community got together and made a big meal.”

“I think that's just so integral to rural communities,” says Sara. “They understand the power of getting together to accomplish something and just stepping up and helping a family when things go south.”

5. When it comes to food, having multiple choices benefits everyone.
Americans have a huge variety of food options to choose from. Farmers and folks in agriculture generally support this system, because everyone benefits.

“That’s the beauty of our food system,” says Brittany. “Everyone gets to choose what they want because there are so many options.”

Whether your diet is traditional, fusion, organic, vegan, paleo, keto, Mediterranean or any other type, U.S. farmers have your back.

“If everyone ate the same way, we’d have a catastrophe on our hands,” Brittany says. “Farmers and food systems wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand, and it would be damaging—socially, culturally and economically.”

“It would also create monopolies. And that would mean higher food prices across the board, which nobody wants.”

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to talk to farmers if you have the opportunity. They’ll more than likely be delighted to answer your questions and satisfy your curiosity.

About Paulsen
At Paulsen, we help brands reach the nearly 46 million people who proudly call themselves rural Americans. We know how to connect with the people who live and work in this part of the country, because we live and work here, too. Paulsen understands the challenges—and we see the incredible potential. www.paulsen.ag.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Ag is for Everyone


At times in life it can be easy to lose perspective. You get in a routine with work and life and forget to take time to look and appreciate the world around us. Sometimes you wonder if what you do even matters or makes a difference to anyone else. As individuals who make up an entire industry, what you do does matter to someone or some group of people.

If you think about it, each day would consist of major inconveniences if one entire industry decided to totally stop functioning. Eventually, society would lose some kind of product, skill or service which could ultimately impact a wide variety of other industries. Society takes all kinds of people doing all kinds of jobs to operate. In agriculture, it’s no different.

At Sage, a creative marketing agency, we work with other creative thinkers and our ag clients to see firsthand what it takes to tell the story of agriculture and make the industry work. On the surface level, it can be obvious who the contributors are of the agricultural industry – the farmers and ranchers. However, like billions of people rely on farmers and ranchers every day, these professionals also rely on thousands of others to make their jobs possible.

For example, farmers and ranchers need equipment manufacturers, mechanics, software developers, veterinarians, animal health experts, agronomists, financial advisors, economists and legal professionals (just to name a few) to operate.

Agricultural youth programs rely on teachers, extension specialists and agents, parents, volunteers and support from a variety of local businesses to ensure agriculture has a place in future generations.

In our world at Sage, we see many other roles being played to advocate and share the story of agriculture. We communicate regularly with writers, editors, designers, data analysts, photographers and videographers to deliver messages for the industry. Working with the media, we are encouraged when we see agriculture being talked about in print, online, through social media, TV and radio.

Agriculture not only produces food and fiber, but also medicine, household products, personal care items, fuel and entertainment. To make these items, agriculture and society also rely on processors, manufacturers, transportation, retailers and food services. Without agriculture and its related industries more than 21 million jobs or 11% of U.S. employment would be effected. However, the number is likely higher and does not include the number of people who use food and fiber products each day.

Agriculture truly has a place in everyone’s day-to-day activities, whether it’s part of your career or not. National Ag Day is one way you can educate and advocate for an industry everyone relies on. Perhaps this Ag Day you should take the time to find out where your relationship with ag fits into your life. Chances are, if you eat you need agriculture, but agriculture just might need you, too.