mission to promote agriculture, we will be highlighting a wide variety of blogs from farmers, ranchers and other agriculture professionals. If you have an idea for a submission (or would like us to feature your blog) email Julianne Johnston for consideration.

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Sep 19, 2014
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Blogging for Agriculture

RSS By: Pro Farmer Editors, Pro Farmer

As part of Pro Farmer's mission to promote agriculture, we will be highlighting a wide variety of blogs from farmers, ranchers and other agriculture professionals. If you have an idea for a submission (or would like us to feature your blog) email Julianne Johnston for consideration.

Celebrate Ag Week With Your Enthusiasm for Agriculture

Mar 20, 2013

By Julianne Johnston

Julianne Johnston is the News Editor for Pro Farmer in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is also on the Iowa Soybean Association's Farm and Food Ambassador Team. You are invited to share this editorial with your local newspaper.

How much difference can one person really make when it comes to telling the story of agriculture? The answer: A lot -- and it starts by passing down your passion to the next generation.

All too often, we look at a task and easily become overwhelmed. With increased government regulation on ag production practices and animal rights activists coming at the livestock industry from multiple angles - whether by promoting "meatless Monday" or pressing the food industry to use only pork from group sow housing systems - there are some big issues for which to talk about and advocate.

I think it's important to be well read on the issues so you can respond to consumers' questions. But I also think you can do a lot by passing your values and knowledge to the next generation. As a 4-H leader, I talk to my club members about the current events that impact the livestock industry to get them more engaged in their projects and to become an advocate for the industry they represent. Our family lives are busier than ever and every minute we get with these up-and-coming agriculturalists is important. Do they see your passion for agriculture? This is where it starts.

Last year I had the privilege of welcoming Bruce Vincent, a third-generation logger from Libby, Montana, to the Iowa Soybean Association's (ISA) "Ag Matters Series." Vincent shared his story on how activists attacked the logging industry nearly 20 years ago, and how it changed his industry forever. He explained that because of well-intended environmental regulations, our forests have more trees, but they use more water. The unintended consequence is drier forests and massive forest fires.

Vincent told the audience the political environment is dictated by activists and to "get ahead of your message" through education. "Truth without a champion does no good," he says. "There is a difference between arguing and leading. Use your tools; provide facts to change public opinion."

Vincent urges farmers to add ag activism to their business plans. "Spend one hour a week educating consumers - your neighbors and community - what it is you do and why it's important to them," he says.

"The culture is what's at stake. The industry will live on, but the question is what it will look like. If you want your industry to stay where it's at, then be an activist for it," says Vincent.

I believe that what we do today will impact agriculture for the next generation and beyond. What do you want agriculture to look like 100 years from now? What are you doing to shape that vision? What we do today through educational efforts makes our industry stronger.




Share Your Love of Food This Valentine's Day

Feb 14, 2013

By Julianne Johnston

This Valentine's Day agriculture advocate Michele Payn-Knoper is encouraging the agriculture community to "Share the Food Love" as she introduces her book, No More Food Fights!

foodfight"Food fights might seem entertaining, but there’s nothing funny about the fights taking place over food production. Resource limitations, animal welfare and biotechnology are just a few issues cropping up to create confusion in the grocery store," says a press release detailing the premise of No More Food Fights! "Ultimately, both farmers and food buyers are making a personal choice, and author Michele Payn-Knoper calls for decorum instead of mayhem in the conversation around farm and food. In an effort to break stereotypes, the book describes farmers who don’t wear overalls but who do use technology in producing food and preserving the environment, dairy farmers who work on "cow comfort," and how hard farmers work on sustainability. On the other side, the book reminds farmers that only a tiny percentage of the population lives on a farm and urges farmers to tell their stories through social media and every day conversation to correct mistaken beliefs about food production perpetuated by traditional media."

To celebrate the launch of her book on Feb. 14, Payn-Knoper has invited the agriculture community to Share the Food Love on social media. "I’m inviting you to share some #foodlove (if you’re a tweep) or Food Love (for normal people). It’s simple; extend your hand across the plate to engage in a positive conversation about food -- in person, through a blog, or on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube or Linkedin," she says.

foodloveFrom Julianne: I'm anxiously awaiting my copy of No More Food Fights! As soon as it comes I will have my nose in the book and will be tweeting some of my favorite passages... To order your copy, click here.













So God Made A Farmer...

Feb 06, 2013

By Julianne Johnston


That moment when you are watching the Super Bowl and an overwhelming feeling of pride comes over you because you can relate to an ad. That is a moment I didn't expect to have last night. The lights had gone out on the Super Bowl, but agriculture was ON FIRE when Ram Trucks declared 2013 as the "Year of the Farmer" with a two-minute spot featuring a series of stark photos of farmers at work, narrated by the late Paul Harvey, whom delivered this "So God Made a Farmer" speech at the 1978 National FFA Convention.

I was on my smart phone, tweeting away, sharing on facebook... and I wasn't alone! Within minutes of the ad, #sogodmadeafarmer was "trending" on twitter. "Trending" means that more people were tweeting about the ad than the Super Bowl game itself for around 20 minutes. That's a big deal. And it was all positive... that's an ever BIGGER deal. Here's some of the tweets:

Elizabeth BT ‏@eburnsthompson
#1 in my opinion! :) RT @JuliJohnston: #sogodmadeafarmer #3 ad from #super bowl so says today show.


Jessica Decker ‏@jessicadecker12
Just watched #SoGodMadeAFarmer for the 4th time. I think it gets better each time.

Chris Heins ‏@FarmerHeins
Incredibly humbled by the #soGodmadeafarmer commercial. That, folks, is exactly why I do what I do. Thank you, Dodge, for that moment.



Lindsay Calvert ‏@lindscalvert
Everyone should read #sogodmadeafarmer tweets to understand the ag illiteracy we face. Share your story!


Mike Howie ‏@MikeHowie
Total silence in our house for #SoGodMadeAFarmer commercial. Paul Harvey. Awesome.

NBC's Today Show picked "Farmers" as the third best ad of the night, but this morning ABC's Good Morning America said it was the #1 ad on Facebook last night, calling it "the super bowl ad everyone is talking about."

Ram Trucks... you delivered a game-winning touchdown for agriculture last night. I'm looking forward to more of this in 2013!

For more, read what farmer-blogger Val Plagge had to say about last night's ad. She reminds that every time you watch the Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial, the National FFA receives $1, up to $1 Million. She also has a full transcript of Harvey's speech included in her blog post.


Give to Local Pet Shelters, Not HSUS

Dec 18, 2012

About the blogger: Larry Sailer is an Iowa pork producer. His blog was featured in The Field Position. We highly encourage you to forward this link to your friends, family and neighbors that don't understand the difference between local pet shelters and the Humane Society of the United States.

'Give to Local Pet Shelters, Not HSUS'

Who can resist a playful puppy or a cuddly kitten, right? We’ve even received some Christmas cards featuring dogs dressed in a Santa hat or kittens peeking out from Christmas stockings.

While pets are cute, they undoubtedly require time and attention. Not everyone enjoys being a pet owner, thus we hear too many stories about animals being mistreated or neglected. This past fall I actually witnessed a puppy being dropped off along the highway as I was driving my tractor with two, full wagons of corn. By the time I crossed the highway with my tractor and wagons, this little dog was standing in the middle of the road. I jumped out of my cab and shouted for the little dog to come. Luckily, he ran toward me! Then I took him home where I placed him into a kennel with some food and water before I went back to finish my farming.

It wasn’t long before I discovered this little dog wasn’t too fond of cats. Since we have lots of farm cats, Janice and I contacted our local pet shelter but it didn’t have room for another dog. Our daughter, Sara, checked with the animal shelter in Iowa City where she volunteers but didn’t have any luck there. We kept trying to find a home for him without avail.

After about two months of trying to find the little guy a home, Janice decided to google "animal shelters." (NOTE: I shy away from the term, Humane Society, and I’ll explain why later.) Janice found the Humane Society of North Iowa. The staff at the Humane Society of North Iowa was very friendly and said they would put this little dog on their waiting list. About one week later, someone from HSNI called and said they had a spot for the little dog. Although I was getting attached to the little critter by now, Janice and I decided to check out the place.

We made the 45-minute trip to Mason City with the dog. The whole time I was driving I was thinking, "If it’s not a nice place, we’re not leaving the dog!" Even though we were being critical, HSNI impressed us with its new facility. There are lots of wide, open spaces and a big exercise area. The animal areas are very clean, and there are many people caring for these pets. Young ladies were swooning all over the little dog from the minute we brought through the doors, and we were convinced it would be a good place to leave him. The staff asked us many questions about the dog and then used that information to create a profile for him on the website. Perhaps you might even know someone who would like to adopt Phoenix. (Remember, his name may be changed by the family who adopts him. I didn’t even give him a name since we weren’t planning to keep him.)

Another reason we felt comfortable leaving "Phoenix" with HSNI is because the organization doesn’t receive funds from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a non-profit organization claiming to care for animals. This organization shows pictures of scared little kitties and abused dogs on late-night TV, then asks you to donate $19/month. The truth is, HSUS uses emotion to raise money for their retirement funds and to hire lobbyists. Only one half of one percent of the funds raised goes toward animal care! Most of your local pet shelters, even if they have similar names, have no affiliation with HSUS.

Most local pet shelters, even if they have similar names, have no affiliation with HSUS. Local shelters will even tell you that HSUS confuses the public and ends up diverting funds meant to take care of unwanted pets. It ticks me off that HSUS runs misleading ads about its support for animals and doesn’t even help support local shelters.

Please don’t give money to HSUS. If you want to help animals, donate directly to your local pet shelter! Janice and I were extremely impressed with the Humane Shelter of North Iowa. There are many more local shelters across the U.S. doing a great job of caring for animals, so I hope you’ll help support their noble efforts. As a farmer with livestock, animal care is very important to me.


Women are Changing the Ag Landscape

Dec 10, 2012

About the blogger: Shannon Latham is a wife, mother of two and serial entrepreneur. She serves as Vice President of Latham Hi-Tech Seed. in Alexander, Iowa. She is also chief pumpkin picker at Enchanted Acres, LLC. Previously she was an account executive and public relations specialist at The Meyocks Group and served as president of the Iowa Chapter of National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA). Shannon earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Ag Journalism/Public Service and Administration in Agriculture from Iowa State University, as well as an MBA from the University of Iowa. She is also the author of "The Field Position."

'Women Are Changing the Ag Landscape'

Recently I had the opportunity to spend two, action-packed days attending Top Producer’s Executive Women in Agriculture (EWA) event in Chicago. It was a great opportunity for farm women to connect with others who have similar interests and to also attend many professional development seminars. Hats off to Top Producer magazine and Farm Journal companies for acknowledging – and celebrating – the fact that agriculture is a career path for women!

The definition of "woman’s work" has evolved over the years as women became more involved in the decision-making process. "The percentage of farms now influenced by women is significant," says Danny Klinefelter, Texas A&M economist and director of The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers (TEPAP). In an article posted by Top Producer editors on agweb.com, Klinefelter said more women than ever are graduating from TEPAP. They’re becoming key decision makers and often the point person for purchasing decisions.

This trend is also apparent at Iowa State University where 47% of the students enrolled within the College of Agriculture are female. Majors most popular among the female students include: Animal Science, Dairy Science and Pre-Vet. Agronomy has risen in popularity and Ag Business remains strong. There also is a high percentage of women enrolled in Ag Education with the communications option. Food Science, Nutritional Science and Dietetics attract a high percentage of female students, as well.

"It’s refreshing to see headway made on dissolving the stereotype that agriculture is a male-dominated industry," says Mike Gaul, Director of Career Services for the ISU College of Ag. "Subsequent progress is being made to lower the ‘glass ceiling’."

Corporate America is not alone in recognizing the value of females in agriculture. As more farmers understand how business management relates to production management, Klinefelter says more women are earning business degrees and even MBAs before returning to their family farms.

Women’s roles in agriculture have evolved. During the opening session of EWA, Klinefelter said women involved in farming operations today often have the following responsibilities:

  • CEO
  • General manager
  • Public relations
  • Marketing
  • Purchasing
  • Human resources
  • Risk management
  • Information technology
  • Sales
  • Landlord relations manager
  • Data analysis


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